Make a beautiful bag with this step by step easy to sew messenger bag sewing tutorial. Find more sewing tutorials.
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Sometimes I use my blog to motivate me to try something I’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t actually gotten to. This easy-to-sew messenger bag is exactly one of those instances! Jo-Ann sent me two yards of Waverly fabric to make something with. I decided to conquer my fear of bag-making with this gorgeous Waverly print.
If you have been looking for an easy to sew messenger bag tutorial, you’ve come to the right place! This messenger bag has two pockets, but requires no sewing skills beyond sewing a straight and slightly curved line! I made it in between feeding and caring for four children and packing for a cross country move (come back tomorrow if you want more details on what THAT looks like!) If you are looking for a more satchel-type bag, check out this satchel messenger bag pattern!
Messenger Bag Sewing Tutorial
- Fabric – I used Waverly décor-weight fabric (love their prints, and I was sent 2 yards to use to make whatever I wanted!) and duck cloth for the green fabric.
- Quilt batting – this will help the bag hold its shape.
- Sewing machine, thread, scissors
- Pockets: cut 4, 2 in each fabric. Size is flexible; mine were 8 inches wide by 6.5 inches tall, plus seam allowances. Remember that pocket sides and bottoms need double the seam allowance of the bag sides. So with a 1/4″ seam allowance, you would need 9 inches wide by 7 1/4 inches tall.
- Bag sides: cut 6, 2 in each fabric, plus 2 from quilt batting. Mine were 8 inches by 8 inches. 8.5×8.5 inches with a quarter inch seam allowance.
- Bag body: cut 3, 1 in each fabric, plus 1 from quilt batting My bag was 15 inches wide by 41 inches long; 15.5 inches wide by 41.5 inches long with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Strap: cut 3, 1 in each fabric, plus 1 from quilt batting I cut my straps 3 inches wide and about 40 inches long; the length of the strap will vary based on your height and how you want the bag to sit. Remember when cutting the strap to add about 4 inches to accommodate the reinforcing on the sides of the bag (see instructions below.
Note: It is generally advisable to iron fabric. I didn’t, because we’re moving and my iron was packed. The bag still works; it just has some wrinkles (like any bag would get after being used for a while).
Messenger Bag Sewing Steps
Baste quilt batting to the wrong sides of whatever fabric you plan to have on the outside of the bag at the end. This holds it in place and keeps you from making silly placement mistakes while sewing the bag together (speaking from experience).
Sew pockets, right sides together. Leave an opening at the top to turn right side out.
Trim seams and turn right side out. Top stitch across the top – this will close the opening you used to turn the pocket right side out.
Baste pockets to the sides
Stitch sides, right sides together, to the center of the bag. Sew the outside bag and inside bag separately – you are making two bags that will be sewn together to become a single reversible bag.
Sew strap pieces together, right sides together. Stitch with the same side of the fabric facing up on both sides – this will help keep the strap nice and smooth.
Turn strap right side out and top stitch edges.
Attach straps to one of the bags. There should be a couple inches overlap with the bag so that you have room for reinforcement stitching.
Pin bags together, right sides together. Stitch, leaving an opening for turning right side out.
Turn right side out and topstitch. You have a beautiful new bag!
I was sent two yards of the Waverly print used for this project. I received no other compensation for this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.
Please share photos if you use this tutorial to make a bag of your own!
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MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.
45 thoughts on “Easy to Sew Messenger Bag Sewing Tutorial”
I’m finding that I will need to take a much bigger seam allowance when attaching the side panels to the bag. If I don’t make it smaller the flap won’t overlap like its supposed to although my measurements match yours. Any idea what I’m doing wrong? Thanks!
Unfortunately, I”m afraid you found a typo in my measurements. The bag length should have been 41″ (41.5″ with seam allowance) and I wrote 31. You can make the bag narrower (as you suggested), or add a front panel. I am very sorry that it took a year to find this mistake! I have updated the post thanks to your taking the time to comment here; I do appreciate that.
Haha no problem. I’m just glad to know I’m not crazy and bad at following patterns. Thanks so much!
Thanks for being so understanding about it!
How long did it take for you to make the bag?
Maybe a couple of hours? But it will take longer if you have less experience sewing (and less time if you are very experienced).
When basting the pockets to the side does it matter which fabric I baste it to? Thanks! Going to try thing bag soon!
You baste the pockets to whichever side of the bag you want the pockets to end up on – does that make sense? Good luck!
That helps a lot! THANKS!
Hi,i am too a rookie and wondering for the pockets and body,which measurement is length and which is width?this is a beautiful little bag and im just dying to try it:)thank u muchly..
I added some clarifications on this for you – let me know if you have any other questions!
thank u so very very much:0 will let you know how mine turns out,as I will be doing it on Friday:)this is so pretty I hope mine turns out half as good:)thank u again..
I hope you are happy with it! We have enjoyed this bag.
I am gonna start this bag tomorrow instead of Friday and I may have to bug you lots as you explained the measurements better for me but putting the pockets on and how it ends up a bag confuses me..im sorry I am such a rookie and tired of making placemats..I need to learn this lol:)
Wow, nice fabrics! At a RS activity in May they have a sewing workshop, so I am hoping to use that as a chance to really warm up to my sewing machine, so also my girls get inspired. Well, actually they have been wanting to do things but I am so hesitant and easily stressed with the machine.
It’s hard to sew on a machine with little ones helping! I hope your RS sewing workshop helps!
What is the finished dimensions on this bag? It looks super cute.
My bag was 15 inches long and eight inches tall, also 8 inches wide. Sort of an unusual shape. You can change the size by changing the dimensions of the pieces. I’m planning a tutorial for a smaller messenger bag soon, but need to find the time to make it!
I know I’m asking a lot here but I’m confused on the instruction. I love the bag and want to make one right away. I am also very new at sewing anything more than quilts. I’m trying. Is there away you would be able to simplify or even add more pictures for us beginners who just don’t get it. I’m really sorry. It’s probably just me…
Where do you start getting confused? I’ll see if I can clarify…
So confused I can’t seem to figure out when you sewed the two bags or how to put it all together. It looks like a pile of fabric to me. I’m an unskilled young sewer. I love this bag
Do you have to the two bags sewn (so they each look like a complete bag, minus straps?)
Sorry to jump in, but this is exactly the point I’m currently stuck at! I have the two bags done, and the strap, and now it all needs to come together but I’m tying myself up in knots trying to work out how!
I agree pictures of all steps would be super helpful. I am also new to this
So how many yards of each fabric do I need? They sent you 2 of the flowered…did u need 2 yards? Then how much green did you use? I need a new purse badly and I LOVE THIS!!
You need the same yardage of each fabric. The length of the strap determines how much fabric you need – my strap was quite long at 40″, so I needed a little over one yard. Width-wise, I have a lot of fabric left over for more projects. I would probably size this down a little for a purse, and I bet you could get it out of one yard.
Perfect! Thanks so much!
Super cute! I’m going to give this a go! looks like a good little boy’s gift! I really need to stash up my gifts box!
Wow! This makes me want to make one, even though I can barely sew a straight line. :) Thanks for the inspiration!
I hope you do give it a try!
Wow! It looks awesome! Makes me want to make a messenger bag!
Thanks! I was thrilled with how it turned out!
Oooh! Lovely! Well done, MaryAnne! You did that fabric justice. I saw that JoAnn announcement too and was tempted – until I realized I had zero time (actually negative time, since I’m backlogged all the way to June) and too much fabric already. Sniff. I shoulda said yes, because that fabric is lovely!
Thank you – and especially for your series that helped me overcome my fear of bag making!
Your bag looks awesome. I find it hard to believe you made it “in between” packing and taking care of kids. It would probably take me forever :)
I love that fabric – your bag turned out beautifully!
Thank you, Jody! Isn’t the fabric gorgeous?
I do love some of those prints. Maybe instead of fiddling on my computer tonight I’ll go upstairs and work on the dress I’m halfway through sewing.
Is that the dress that your dog was being a pattern weight for? Looked like some neat fabric!
This is so lovely. I love the fabric. I’d love to have a messenger bag like this!
Thanks! I was thrilled with how it turned out!
That’s some really pretty fabric, and I love the bag you made with it! I’ve been meaning to sign my daughter up for sewing lessons- I’m sort of horrid at it…
I loved the print they sent! And I was so pleased to make a bag that looked nice!
What a gorgeous bag! I hope you are all doing alright with your drive.
Thanks, Catherine! I was so happy with how it turned out! So far the drive is going well :)
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