Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

I love this bag!  As a mama, it carries everything I need and is not the typical “mom bag”.  I use stylish fabric and I easily transform this bag into something that is perfect for everyday use.  It holds a few extra diapers, tissues, wipes and all the other stuff I need, while my cell phone, car keys and wallet have individual pockets to keep me organized.

My teenage nieces love this bag!
It is a fantastic bag to carry around school from class to class.  It is admittedly not big enough to carry as a school bag that needs to hold
several giant textbooks, but it is great for going from locker to class where you only need one  notebook and one book.  Plus the front pocket is big enough for most laptops or tablets.

My 6 year old loves this bag too!  Use a novelty print and it is perfect for boys or girls who are a little older to carry to school or for an art supply bag when you travel.  There are loads of pockets to keep all the goodies that little ones carry safe and secure.  

 Here is a FREE PDF pattern for my very favorite messenger bag.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

What you need

- Fabric – You will need ¾ of a yard each of two coordinating fabrics, one for outside and one for the lining.
- Rotary cutter and self healing mat (or scissors will work too)
- Iron
- Tread
- Hook and loop – I typically use ¾” but you can use whatever you have on hand.
- 2 – 1½” rings
- 1 – 1½” slide for the adjustable strap (optional)
- Sewing machine
- Fusible interfacing (optional)

Time and skills
 Advanced beginner to intermediate sewing skills and experience are needed to make this bag.  There are many pieces and steps to keep track of, which may be a little overwhelming to a beginner.

 This takes about 3 hours to cut and sew depending on your skill level.

 You need to know how to use a 1/8” and a ¼” inch seam allowance. 

 Keep these tips in mind   

1. Always prewash and dry your fabrics if you are using 100% cotton quilting weight
fabric.  Here is why –  
a. When using multiple fabrics in one bag some may shrink more than others and
you will eventually end up with a misshapen bag if you do not rewash first.
b. Fabrics are sometimes treated with chemicals (usually formaldehyde) and you want to wash as many of these out as possible.
2. If you are using a heavy home decor fabric for this bag, be sure to look at washing instructions and wash as instructed.
3. Always pin before you sew. Pinning helps reduce the shifting.  Be sure to pin perpendicular to your sewing and just sew right over the pins.  Pull them out when you are done with the seam.  It will save you time in the end!
4. Don’t waste any fabric with this pattern.  Take the 13” x 13” and 13” x 10” cutouts from the outside and lining and cut them to size for the inside pockets, outside flap and the outside pocket.   

Step 1 – Cut your fabric and batting

Outside Fabric
 Cut 1 – 37” x  26”
 Cut 1 – 11” x  10” for outside pocket
 Cut 1 – 11” x 13” for outside pocket
 Cut 2 – 11” x 11” for outside flap
 Cut 1 – 6” x 43” for straps
 Cut 2 – 6” x 6” for straps (to hold d-rings)

Inside Fabric
 Cut 1 – 37” x  26”
 Cut 2 – 3” x 12½”  (for side pockets)
 Cut 1 – 11” x 12½”  

For the outside main piece and the inside lining of your bag you will have to make a few additional cuts.  Follow these painless steps.   

Cutting for the outside of the bag  
1. Lay your fabric out so that it measures 37” across.
2. Cut 13” x 13” squares out of the top 2 corners. (Cut these pieces to size and use for your outside pocket, flap or pockets.)
3. Cut 13” x 10” squares out of the bottom 2 corners.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Cutting for the lining of the bag
1. Lay your fabric out so that it measures 37” across.
2. Cut 13” x 13” squares out of the top 2 corners. (Cut these pieces to size and use for your outside pocket, flap or pockets.) 

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Step 2 – Make the strap and d-ring holders

First make the straps using the binding tape strap method below.  It is quick and easy, plus gives you a strong, sturdy strap.
1. Take the 6” X 43” piece of outside fabric and the two 6” x 6” pieces.  Use the flowing instructions to make the straps. 

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

A personal preference of mine is to always use heavy fusible interfacing with straps.  I find they are more durable this way.  Adding the interfacing is an optional step.  
If you choose to use interfacing simply follow the instructions that come with the product and then continue with the steps below.    

1. Fold fabric in half and iron, right side out – wrong side inside.
2. Open it up and fold in one side to middle crease, iron.  

3. Repeat for the other side.  

4. Now fold the whole strap in half again, iron. 

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

2. Once the 6” x 6” pieces are ironed they will measure 1½” x 6”.  On ONLY these two pieces, sew
1/8’ from both outside edges.  Set aside for later.
3. Now you need a finished edge on each end of your strap.  Take the long length of strap and open up each end.  
4. Iron the ends in about a ½”, then closed back up and re-iron as needed at the ends.  
5. Now sew each end and each side of the entire strap with an 1/8” seam allowance.  
6. This is now your completed shoulder strap.  Set it aside for the last step when completing the bag. 

Step 3 – Make the outside flap  

1. Put the two 11” x11” pieces right sides together.  

2. Sew along 3 outside edges using a ¼” seam allowance.  Leave the top of the flap completely open.  
3. Turn the flap right side out.  Iron all the edges so they are tight against the seam.
4. Topstitch around the 3 finished edges using an 1/8” seam allowance
5. Set aside for later.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Step 3 – Assemble the outside of the bag 

1. Take the outside piece that has the corners cut out.  Now take the 11” x 10” piece for the outside pocket.  
2. Put these 2 pieces right sides together.  Sew across the rough edge using a ¼” seam allowance.

3. Now take the 11” x 13” piece for the outside pocket.  Line up the rough edge with the 11”x
10” piece you just sewed on.  

4. Sew along the rough edge using a ¼” seam allowance.  These pieces sewn together should look like the diagram 1 on the right.

5. Now fold the outside pocket as illustrated in diagram 2. Iron the top edge so there is a nice
straight line.  Now topstitch the two 11” x 10” pieces together.  

6. Fold the pocket again and pin it together. Use a 1/8” seam allowance and sew the entire outside pocket together.  

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

diagram 1


Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

diagram 2


Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

diagram 3

7. Before you go any farther it is a good time to attach the hook (scratch side of the
hook and loop) to the outside flap if you want to.
8. Make a mark with your vanishing marking pen that measures down 5” f rom the top of the outside pocket and is centered 5” in from each side.

9. Attach a ¾” x 1” piece centered in the bag.  Attaching the hook can be tricky because occasionally the tread snags on the hooks. Go slow, stay close to the outside edge and you will be find
10. Now sew the outside of the bag together.  Fold each side together as illustrated below in diagram.  Make sure you are putting right sides together.  Sew up each side using a ½” seam allowance.  I like to sew using a serger or sew two or three seams to make sure it is very secure, especially if you going to be filling it with lots of heavy art supplies.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

11. Once all four sides are sewn together, you need to attach the flap.  With right sides together, sew the flap on the back of the bag using a ¼” seam allowance.  This will be the opposite side of the big front pocket you just completed.

12. Now take the 2 - 6” sections of the strap you ironed earlier.  Place a d-ring in the middle of the fabric and fold it in half to make a loop.    

13. Place the edge of the loop up ½” from the top edge. The flap and d-ring will be pointing down.

14. Now sew this onto each side of the bag using a ¼” seam allowance.  Backstitch several times to make sure that they are secure.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Step 7 – Sew the lining

You can adjust the pockets in this bag to fit your own needs.  Change the sizes or leave them out, whatever fits the purpose of your bag.  Below are the basic sizes I use for my bags.

1. Take the 11” x 12 ½” piece of inside fabric.  Fold it right sides together so that you have a
rectangle that measures 11” x 6 ¼”.  Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew along the rough 11” edge
to make a sleeve.  
2. Turn it right side out.  Iron it flat with the seam on the bottom edge.
3. Now using the diagram below as a guide, position the pocket on the larger 11” x 13” side.
Measure down from the top 4” Use your vanishing marking pen to make a straight line across.
Now place the top of the pocket at this mark.  Make sure the top of the pocket is the folded side
and the bottom is the seam side.
4. Using a 1/8” seam allowance, sew across the bottom of the pocket.  
5. Use your vanishing marking pen to draw the lines to make pockets.  I measure from the outer
edges 1½” and then once more 5½” inches in.  This will create 4 pockets.  
6. Straight stitch along these marks being sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of each line.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Step 8 – Put it all together

1. Leave the lining wrong side out.

2. Put the outside of the bag into the lining so that right sides are together.  The d-rings and flaps will lie against the bag and will point down.
3. Make sure that the inside lining pockets are on the opposite side of the large outside pocket.
4. Pin at all seam intersections to keep neat and to stop shifting while sewing.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

5. Start at the middle front of the bag.  Sew along all short sides, the back (where the large closing flap is) and then return to the front again.  Leave a 3” to 4” hole to turn the bag right side out.
6. Turn the bag right side out.  Iron along the entire top seam Turn the raw edges in from the hole and iron these as well.  Be sure to pull the d-rings and the large outside flaps up.  Do not iron them down.
7. Top stitch continuously along the entire top edge using an 1/8” seam allowance.  Be sure that you do not stitch down the d-rings and the flaps.  They should be pulled up. 

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Step 9 – Add shoulder strap

This step can be a little complicated, however it is optional.  If you do not want an adjustable
strap, just attach the strap to the d-rings and you are done.  
But if you want something adjustable, follow the steps and pictures below.
1. Take the strap you previously made and put one end through the d-ring.  Sew it together
making sure that the end is on the inside of the strap.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

2. Take the other end and insert into slider. Go in through the bottom on the top of the slide, over the center slide, and then back down the bottom side of the slide.  
See the picture to the right to help you with this process.
3. Now put it through the d-ring.

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

4. Bring it back up to the slide.  Loop the end of the strap around the center slide. This will require that you pull what you have previously laced out a bit.  Once you have laced it through the slide, sew it together several times to make a secure connection.

5. Now you are done! 

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

Free Messenger Bag Pattern & Tutorial

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