Messenger Bag – How To Make DIY Messenger Bags
A lot of people get into sewing because they want to try their hand at making handbags. That’s how I started as well. Handbags are great beginners projects, because all the measurements don’t have to be 100% right, (the end product doesn’t have to fit a person…) and you don’t really need as much fabric, as, say, for a dress. I remember my first sewing project was a messenger bag. So I decide I should write a tutorial to show you how to make a DIY messenger bag.
A messenger bag is an easy and nice DIY sewing project because you can easily individualize your messenger bag by decorating the front flap in any way you want. This messenger bag tutorial will guide you through how to make a basic messenger bag. Once you mastered the basics, you can easily come up with your own design.
Messenger Bag Supplies
- large sheet of paper (e.g. newspaper) for the pattern
- small plate (or other round object)
- approximately 20in of sturdy (upholstery) fabric (or you can use thinner cottons, but you’ll need stronger interfacing just use a fabric without stretch)
- the same amount of medium weight interfacing and lining fabric
- 1 magnetic snap (or 1 or 2 buttons) for closure
- matching thread
- sewing machine
Messenger Bag DIY Instructions
1. Making the pattern for your messenger bag
Start out with a rectangle that’s going to be approximately the size of your messenger bag. Just think about what you want to carry in your messenger bag (books, notebooks, etc.) or how big you want the bag to be. Draw a rectangle that’s a bit wider and a bit taller (around 2~3 inches) than the item you want to carry inside.
Then you’ll need to draw two squares at the bottom of the rectangle at each edge. Those will later make the bottom of the messenger bag. So think about how big you want that to be. For my case, a square with about 2in is perfect (then the bottom will be around 4in wide). This is going to make the body of the bag.
Now for the flap – draw a rectangle just as tall as the previous one, but ~1in (or ~2cm) narrower. You can leave it at that, or if you want the flap to have round edges, place the small plate/glass/round object and draw around it at each of the lower edges.
Lastly, you can make a pattern for the inside pockets. I have learned through the years that I never really use pockets in my bags, except the one for the mobile phone, so that’s also the only one I make. For that one, just draw a rectangle that is about 2in larger than your phone in each direction. If you want more pockets in your messenger bag, you can also make one on the other side of the lining, as wide as the lining but approximately ½ of the height and separate it into more pockets with vertical stitches.
You’ll also need a strap for your messenger bag, but I don’t think you need a pattern piece for that.
2. Cutting the fabric
Cut 2 pieces of the outside fabric out with the messenger bag body pattern and two pieces out with the flap pattern. Cut 2 pieces with the bag body pattern out of the lining fabric and cut all of the pocket pieces out of the lining as well.
Also cut fabric for the strap just measure the desired length of the strap and cut out a rectangle of fabric with that length and around 4in wide (this will make a 1.5in wide strap, so if you want a wider/thinner strap, adjust the measurement accordingly)
3. Sewing the flap
Decorate one (the front) piece as you want. I embroidered a designed on it with machine embroidery, but you could also embroider something by hand, appliqué a design, piece more pieces of colorful fabric together, etc… On the other piece, insert one half of the magnetic snap (around 2in from the bottom in the middle).
Pin the pieces with right sides together and sew around the side and bottom edge, leaving the top open. Cut away the sewing allowance. Iif you decided to make rounded edges, cut notches into the reaming sewing allowance around them. Turn the flap right side out, press the seam and topstitch it.
4. Sewing the body of the messenger bag
Prepare the pockets – press all of the edges and hem the top edge of them. Pin them to the lining to where you want them and sew them on. Attach the other part of the snap closure onto one of the outside fabric body pieces, in the middle, 2in up from the rectangles at the bottom.
Pin the body pieces with right sides together. Sew the side and bottom edges as shown in the picture. Do this both with the outside of the bag as well as the lining.
Now you have to construct the bottom of the bag, which is slightly trickier to describe. At the bottom, where you cut out the rectangles, put the side and bottom seams together, while folding the bottom to make a box shape. Sew on both sides of the outside fabric and one side of the lining.
5. Sewing the strap
Fold the strap in half (right sides together) and sew the long edge so you get a tube. Turn the tube right side out and press it so that the seam is in the middle of the backside. Topstich the edges.
6. Putting everything together for your messenger bag
This part is probably the trickiest one. Now you have all of the elements of your messenger bag, but you still have to put it together. This will require a bit of pinning, patience and magic :). First turn the outside of the bag wrong side out (so that the stitches are on the outside) and pin the flap to the right side of the back of the body. Now pin both sides of the straps to the sides of the bag (make sure the strap is not twisted) . Lastly, place the lining of the inside on top of everything, with the right side out (so the right sides of everything touch). Sew all around the top twice (just to be sure) and go over the straps a few times.
Now you have to turn everything right side out, and this is where it’s kind of like doing a magic trick. Through the hole that was left on one side of the bag body lining, start pulling out the outside of the bag and with it turning everything right. Do it quite gently (not to tear any stitches) but firmly (otherwise you won’t be able to do it).
Now that everything is right side out, push the lining into the bag, press and topstitch around the front edges. And you have made a messenger bag! 🙂 How does my messenger bag look? Do you like it?