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.
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.