Monday, April 8, 2013

Easy Messenger Style Book Bag Tutorial


If you read my blog at all in August, you would have seen that lots of back to school sewing was going on in my house (here and here and even here.)  For Heidi's Girl Friday Sews blog hop, I decided to make a small messenger style book bag to carry a book (as my daughters are rarely without at least one book in their hands) plus all the fabric-covered journals, pencil cases, and pouches that we made last summer.  I've included my measurements but so you can make this bag whatever size you want, I tried to include some guides on how to figure that out.

The only materials I used were quilting cotton, flannel, and batting.  I started by cutting a piece of flannel for the flap (9.5"x10.5").  And then using the quilt as you go method, I covered the entire piece of flannel with scraps and some essex yarn dyed linen.

                                                                                                           {QAYG in progress}

Next I cut a piece of fabric for the back of the flap the same size as the panel I just quilted, placed them right sides together, and stitched around the two sides and bottom (for bags I usually use a 1/2" seam - not sure why!)


Then I clipped the two bottom corners, turned it right side out, ironed, and put it aside.


Hmm, now that I am looking at the photos, I am not sure I should have chosen that big print right next to the typewriter - oh, well - too late now - moving on.

For the main body of the bag, I cut an 11" x 25"piece of the linen, the lining fabric, and some batting.  Basically you want this fabric to be about double the length of your flap plus 4" and you should add 2" to the width as well.   Note:  if/when I made this bag again, I'll use a flap piece that is about an inch longer and only have the main exterior fabric be double the length plus 2" so that not as much of the main exterior fabric shows under the flap.  Also, note that the flap and the handles are very close together - I prefer it that way but if you don't then maybe add 2.5" or 3" to the width of the main exterior fabric.

Lightly quilt the batting to the bag exterior.  You can use flannel or home decor weight/canvas in place of the batting.   Or you could use your favorite bag interfacing. Whatever you decide to use, take the lining, fold it right sides together, and stitch up the two sides.  Do the same thing with the exterior.  If you want to box your corners (I did slightly - about 1/2" on either side), I explained how to do that in this tutorial.  (*As you can see in the photo below, when I made this bag, I quilted the batting to the lining fabric instead of the exterior fabric because I didn't want the exterior to have the "quilted appearance" - I like the way it looks but I wonder if things inside the bag will get caught on the stitching - has anyone done this? any problems?)



To make a scrappy strap, cut rectangles 5" x variable sizes from a few different fabrics and stitch together until it is your preferred length and trim.  My strap measured 4.25" x 34" - I measured it on my 10 year old wearing it messenger bag style.


I like to use batting as a padding to make the strap comfortable.  First, I fold in one long side of the strap fabric about 1/2" and press.  Then, I cut a narrow piece of batting (2-3"), double it,  and place it on the wrong side of the strap fabric.  (*Important:  leave at least 4 - 5 inches on either end of the strap without batting so that the part you attach to the bag isn't crazy thick!)  Fold the side of the strap fabric with the raw edge onto the batting and then cover the raw edge with the neatly folded side and stitch several lines along the length to quilt the strap being sure that one of those lines gets close to the folded edge (hopefully, the photo below helps.)


Get all your pieces out and baste the straps and flap to the exterior fabric - right sides together.  Re-check the strap length to make sure you are happy with since it is easy to change at this point (just make sure that if you shorten it that you will still be able to have the part without batting attached to the bag.)


Place the exterior inside of the lining right sides together (the lining should still be inside out) and using a 1/2" seam, stitch around the top leaving an opening on the front of the bag for turning.  If you used batting, some of this is really thick.  Go slow and use the right needle - well, basically do whatever you usually do with your sewing machine when sewing over thick seams.  And then flip everything right side out.  Now, normally I would then top stitch around the entire top opening but since my machine doesn't have a free arm and this bag was too thick for my daughters' machine, I just top stitched the front of the bag closing the opening I left for turning.  I could have hand stitched the opening but I just used a thread that matches the exterior fabric and I think it looks fine.


Let me know if you have any questions or if you make your own.  You could easily customize the bag with different pockets and compartments or a top/recessed zipper but I chose to keep it simple since everything that this bag is going to hold is either large (journal/book) or already in a pouch of its own.  

This post was written for the Girl Friday Sews blog hop at Fabric Mutt.  It was sponsored by the wonderful fabric shop, Sew Me A Song.

218 comments:

  1. What a great giveaway! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is such a neat idea--I have to sew up some library book bags for my kids!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the Wild Carrot in blue from their shop - reminds me of riding horses out in the fields and stopping in field that was just acres and acres and acres of Quenn Anne's Lace!

    ReplyDelete
  4. favourite in that shop: Blue Marguerite Daisy by Suzuko Koseki for Yuwa of Japan so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a pretty bag! I love the off center look.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am already a follower. Thank you for the tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Already a follower. Love the giveaway fabrics!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great project and a wonderful giveaway chance! Thanks for both :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am a happy follower of your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love the Low Volume bundles at Sew Me a Song.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great giveaway! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. My favorite at Sew Me a Song is the Geekly Chic by Riley Blake- Fat Quarter Bundle- love to have it :) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great messeger bag - you make it look so simple!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am your follower too - an old one since 'meeting' you in your Let's Get Acquanited Blog Hop last May.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love the Topograph in Green - I love anything green really!!! I ordered a Text bundle not long ago from Sew me a Song and it was delicious!! (I didn't eat it but I certainly drooled on it)!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love it, and the fabrics are soooo cute, thanks for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Just went to the shop site (I want that fabric sooo much) and the "Clams and sand" fabric caught my eye! Thanks for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great tutorial!:) i love messenger bags:)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sew me a song has so many lovely fabrics! I am currently in love with architextures' foliage in green and ledgers:)

    ReplyDelete
  20. A great tutorial - thanks! Must get some of that essex linen - I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  21. So many wonderful fabrics at Sewmeasong! My favourite today is the Love me some black and white FQ bundle!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am a follower of yours on Bloglovin - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Brilliant instructions, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love hands on deck, the grey and hints of turquoise are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a cool bag! I haven't tried sewing bags or baskets yet and really do want to try. I love the typewriter fabric you used on yours.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sew Me A Song is one of the Etsy shops that I check out a lot but haven't yet ordered from. I love their Geekly Chic collection, the low volume b&w bundle, and their text prints are always fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  27. & I'm a plum & June follower:)

    ReplyDelete
  28. My favorite thing at sew me a song right now is their text bundle- I've been drooling over it for weeks!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Cute bag! Thanks for the tutorial and the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I checked out Sew Me a Song and one favorite item is the Love Me Some Black and White- Fat Quarter Bundle.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You always make the cutest bags, love this one!

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a lovely bag! I might have to make one too,lol!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am a follower of your blog too!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for a very explicit tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I haven't blogged about it yet, but your first quilted tote tutorial saved my rear last week, when a challenge project I was working on for my quilt guild fell apart in the wash. I turned it into a quilted tote! Now that I've made THREE of them, I will have to branch out and try this. It is so cute, and I love the scrappy strap.

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a great bag for little ones. Thanks for a fab tutorial :) x

    ReplyDelete
  37. And from Sew Me a Song, I would definitely order some First of Infinity. (It's actually sitting in my Etsy cart waiting for me to decide on a project to make that will justify the buying!)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you for a wonderful tutorial! I love the typewriter fabric!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I love the green and yellow pear fabric! In fact I am ordering some :) thanks!
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/98325302/on-sale-yellow-and-green-pears-by-yuwa?ref=shop_home_active

    ReplyDelete
  40. What a great bag! I think I have to try it out for a few gifts. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am a follower and love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Great fabrics - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love the 'ledger' print from Architextures

    ReplyDelete
  44. I love this little bag! I've been thinking of making something similar for a friend's daughter... I'll be looking closely at your pattern when I start that project. Thanks for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love sew me a song. I love their lecien fabrics..

    ReplyDelete
  46. Great bag, thanks for tutorial. And thanks for the lovely giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'm a follower of your blog, via GFC & Bloglovin.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Great bag. Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Cute! Love that patchwork front and the scrappy strap. Best of all is combining them with linen... so gorgeous!

    Thanks for the fun tute, Beth, and the chance to win.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'm one of your happy followers. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  51. My fave item at Sew Me a Song is the Low Volume bundle.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I absolutely love messenger bags so I might give this a go!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I follow your blog via Bloglovin'.

    ReplyDelete
  54. My absolute favourite in the shop is Geekly Chic.

    ReplyDelete
  55. great bag Beth and thanks for including instructions on how to recreate!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Terrific bag tutorial. Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  57. And I'm among your happy followers!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Love the bag - an d the fabric looks yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Love the Yoko Saito linens!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Love your bag. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Sew Me a Song has so many things to choose from. I love the low volume bundle. I've been collecting for an upcoming quilt.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Such a cute bag!! Thanks for the great give-away!

    ReplyDelete
  63. I love the Color Stack Basics II Blue- Fat Quarter Bundle! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Beautiful tote, and thank you for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I love this bag!!! It's so cute and seems pretty easy to make! Thanks for sharing!
    Thanks for the chance to win this pretty fabric!

    ReplyDelete
  66. FOLLOW VIA BLOG LOVIN'!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  67. HELLO! NEAT SHOP>I'D CHOOSE "SMALL DOTS" BY RILEY BLAKE! THANKS FOR A GREAT GIVEAWAY!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  68. HI! LIKE YOUR BAG-LIKE THE BOCK!
    THANKS FOR SHARING!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. Love the messenger bag! Thanks for the chance to win the fabric bundle.

    ReplyDelete
  70. There are text prints in this bundle!!!! I love those! So I really had to join ;) And the messenger bag looks awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  71. I'm also one of your exsisting followers ;)

    ReplyDelete
  72. And my favourite article in the shop would be the 'Love Me Some Black And White' Bundle or 'Texting For Sewists' :)

    ReplyDelete
  73. i liked her greekly chic by riley blake

    ReplyDelete
  74. Love the cute bag, thanks for the tutorial. Fabulous gift giveaway. I love reds and whites.

    ReplyDelete
  75. I follow you by email, as a matter of fact I get 2 at a time. LOL not sure how that happened.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I like the Pearl fat quarter bundle. I've seen several projects made with this fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Wow! Great bundle. You did an awesome job on the tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  78. I like the Fashion Sewing fabrics. She has such a great assortment.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Great bag! Thanks for the tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Oh my gosh! There are some lovely fabrics @ Sew Me a Song, wow! My favorite is the Color Stack Basics II Blue- Fat Quarter Bundle - so pretty!!!

    ReplyDelete
  81. Love the style of your bag... I gotta make one, it would be perfect for a run around! Thanks for the great tutorial and inspiration!!

    ReplyDelete
  82. I am following you via Bloglovin'!! Thanks for the chance to win a very sweet bundle of fabric - love what you chose!!

    ReplyDelete
  83. Thanks for the tut. Very cute messenger bag and useful, too.

    ReplyDelete
  84. I am a follower with GFC and G Reader - yet.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I visited Sew Me A Song and saw lots of lovely fabrics. I immediately saw one I liked but wanted to browse a bit and saw Pearl Bracelets and Pure Elements which intrigued me along with others but...I came back to "Diamonds from Color Basics". Then I clicked on the Diamonds and discovered that it's a Lecein fabric - I want to try some Japanese fabrics so that is definitely my choice.

    ReplyDelete
  86. This tutorial totally makes sense. I've been promising a friend a bag forever and I think I can modify this to finally make her one :)

    ReplyDelete
  87. I am a follower and that giveaway bundle or fabrics is very cute. As is the Nicey Jane and linen.

    ReplyDelete
  88. What a great, useful bag - love your fabric choices! Thanks for the tutorial. These would make great gifts!
    ellen(at)myerly(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  89. I follow you be email - thanks for all of the inspiration!
    ellen(at)myerly(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  90. Great tutorial! Thanks! wonderlandbyalyce at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  91. Sweet messenger bag Beth! Must try one for my kidlets!

    ReplyDelete
  92. I like the Melody Miller Records fabric. Great shop - I have purchased from Sew Me A Song before. Thanks for the giveaway!
    ellen(at)myerly(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  93. Darling bag! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  94. I'm a blog follower (via Google Reader and BlogLovin')!

    ReplyDelete
  95. Cute bag - I don't mind the large print next to the typewriter. I think it helps to have a variety.

    ReplyDelete
  96. I love the sewing notions fabric (Yuwa).

    ReplyDelete
  97. Great bag and a wonderful tutorial. Thanks for the inspiration Beth!!

    ReplyDelete
  98. And you know I already follow you!!

    ReplyDelete
  99. So many awesome Japanese imports at sew me a song. I like the stripes ones with the Eiffel Tower printed on in black.

    ReplyDelete
  100. I think the red looks awesome. I like how it goes with the red flecks in the pink fabric. Good choice!! Thanks for the chance to win ;) I'm going to bookmark your page and try to make one. Your tutorial is very easy to follow ;)

    ReplyDelete
  101. I LOVE sewmeasong!!!! I looked through all the pages (which took awhile!) and I think I like the Live Life collections. I also like the bundles of accounting for sewist, texting for sewist, its just a bunch of words, and all the bakery prints on page 7. She has a TON of fabric at really great prices! Thanks so much for introducing me (again, apparently because i had her bookmarked-but now I can put her in a better bookmark!!)

    ReplyDelete
  102. such a cute bag, I love using messenger bags :)

    ReplyDelete
  103. Loved looking through Sew me a song -
    I totally need a low volume gray bundle, but I also like those geekly glasses, plus I am totally loving architextures right now

    ReplyDelete
  104. The bag is cute. I like the colors you used. I love pink.

    ReplyDelete
  105. Love the fabrics. Thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  106. Cute bag and very useful! Curious what print you'd replace the text with? Thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  107. Blue Marguerite Daisy by Suzuko Koseki print would be awesome! I love Sew Me a Song!

    ReplyDelete
  108. Very pretty bag! I love the scrappy handle and how you placed the feature block off center.

    ReplyDelete
  109. Love this bag! I can imagine sewing one with my daughter, or maybe one for her and one for me:D

    ReplyDelete
  110. Beautifully scrappy! I am a(n oldie but goodie) follower!

    ReplyDelete
  111. So much to love and Sew Me a Song- Red Scissors, Geekly Chic bundle, low volume yellows bundle, flowers and fruit, and basketcase all tickle my fancy!

    ReplyDelete
  112. Love this bag! So cute and very functional :)

    ReplyDelete
  113. I visited Sew Me A Song, and I love the low volume teals and blues bundle. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  114. I follow your blog via email. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  115. I love the bag! The combination of denim and color and craft is delightful!

    ReplyDelete
  116. I really love the small gingham print bundle for Riley Blake.

    ReplyDelete
  117. Great giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  118. The tote bag is adorable - thanks for the tute!

    ReplyDelete
  119. Another fabulous bag! I love the prints you chose and that linen is awesome. Hope all is well :)

    ReplyDelete
  120. And I'm a follower of course :)

    ReplyDelete
  121. The colours are really good, the contrast is very effective. Love the fabrics your giving away! I will definitely check them up.

    ReplyDelete
  122. i love this bag... I have to make me one :) You always have the best fabrics. Great tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
  123. Thanks for the tutorial, and for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  124. Sew Me A Song is one of my favorite shops. I love "Les Patisseries", among so many other beautiful choices.

    ReplyDelete
  125. As always Beth, I love the way you combine fabrics. I wish I had your eye. Gorgeous bag.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Sweet little bag. Thanks for tut and giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  127. I love the colour combination of the bag...the grey contrasts beautifully with the pink and other colours.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    leena

    ReplyDelete
  128. I am a new followed.Love your projects.
    leena

    ReplyDelete
  129. I love the Japanese Daiwabo collection-especially the rescue vehicle series at sewmeasong shop.

    leena

    ReplyDelete
  130. I would love to win this fabric, thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  131. this messenger bag looks like a good size for the tablet computer!

    ReplyDelete
  132. I've ordered from Sew Me A Song- and love the First of Infinity collection!

    ReplyDelete
  133. HAPPY TO FOLLOW YOU >BLOG LOVIN'!

    msstitcher1948@yaho.com

    ReplyDelete
  134. VISTITED THEIR SHOP>LOVE "LES PATISSERIES COLLECTION! THANKS SO FOR SHARING!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  135. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TUTORIAL!
    LOVE YOUR BLOG!
    THANKS FOR SHARING!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  136. I love those fabrics! Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  137. I am still a Plum and June follower.

    ReplyDelete
  138. I love how it turned out, and thank you so much for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  139. I follow the plum and june blog too, of course!

    ReplyDelete
  140. I love the Word Definitions print, I haven't ordered from her for a few months so I guess its time to browse the new stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  141. Love your bag and one would be welcome to the new season!!

    ReplyDelete
  142. I do follow.Thanks you for the tutorial!!

    ReplyDelete
  143. There are many favorites and If I have to choose one item at Sew Me a Song would be the Low Volume blue and teals bundle.Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  144. Love the bag. I really liked the way you did the batting and lining to keep the outside smooth so it didn't show the quilting. I'd be interested to see how the stitching holds up on the inside like that.

    ReplyDelete
  145. I am already a follower of Plum and June via email subscription and GFC

    ReplyDelete
  146. I really love the Stripe Tease Fat Quarter Bundle.

    ReplyDelete
  147. I like easy peasym should book bags. Nice job. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  148. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  149. Thanks for the chance to win! i follow you in my rss reader!

    ReplyDelete
  150. The yuwa crossword puzzle fabric is super cute. Thanks for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...