Messenger Bag Tutorial

Hi! I’m Terra and I blog over at mama says sew. I’m excited to be a part of the Bag Lady Series! Today I’m going to show you how to make this messenger bag.
Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog

I made mine with some fun Free Spirit fabric.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
This bag features a front flap with a velcro closure, a roomy interior, and some large front pockets. You could pad this and it would make a great laptop bag. The front pockets would be perfect to organize folders.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
You will need:
Main Fabric: 1 1/4 yards
Lining Fabric: 1 1/4 yards
Contrast Fabric: 1/2 yard
Interfacing: 2-3 yards, depending on the thickness of your fabric and how sturdy you want the bag to be
Scrap of Velcro 
Sewing Supplies (thread, scissors, etc)
Optional: Cutting mat and cutting wheel

Start by cutting out your pieces. Here are the measurements I used for my bag.

Bag Piece (cut 2 of main fabric, 2 of lining and 4 of interfacing): 18 1/2 inches by 14 inches
Flap Piece (cut 1 of main fabric, 1 of lining and 2 of interfacing): 17 1/2 inches by 14 inches
Base Piece (cut 1 of main fabric, 1 of lining and 2 of interfacing): 45 inches by 4 inches
Strap Piece (cut 1 of main fabric, 1 of lining and 2 of interfacing): 45 inches by 4 inches
Pocket 1 (cut 1 of lining fabric): 18 1/2 by 9 inches
Pocket 2 (cut 1 of contrast fabric): 18 1/2 by 11 inches
Bias strips (contrast fabric): Cut it 2 inches wide. I didn’t measure the length, I just kept cutting until I thought I had enough. 2 1/2 to 3 yards should be plenty. You can also substitute a package of 1/2 inch wide double fold bias tape.

Round the bottom corners of each bag piece, each flap piece, and each pocket.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of each corresponding piece. If you have a sturdier fabric (like a home decor weight) you can interface only the main fabric pieces. I wanted my bag to be pretty sturdy, so I interfaced both the main and the lining pieces.
You can cut the interfacing a little large, then trim it once you’ve attached it to your fabric.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Fold your bias strips in half and press.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Unfold and press the outside edges in to the fold line. You can skip these two steps if you’re using packaged bias tape.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Open up your bias strip and match it to the top of one of your pocket pieces. The RIGHT side of the bias strip should be together with the WRONG side of the pocket.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Turn the pocket over and fold the bias strip over the front of the pocket. Topstitch close to the fold of the bias tape to enclose the top raw edge of the pocket. Repeat for the other pocket.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Line up the two pockets with one main bag piece and baste the outside edges of the pockets to the bag.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Match the strap pieces wrong sides together. Sew along each long outside edge, leaving the ends open.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Turn right side out and press. Topstitch along the long edges.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Sew a strip of Velcro to the front through just the top pocket.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
With right sides together, sew the main base piece to the front bag piece.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Sew the back main bag piece to the base piece.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Repeat for the lining bag pieces and lining base piece.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Sew the other half of the Velcro to the front flap piece you don’t want to show when the flap is closed. 

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Match the two flap pieces WRONG sides together and baste together around the sides and curved bottom edges.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Finish the edges of the flap with bias tape, the same way you did for the pockets.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Here is the front flap. The top edge will be enclosed in the bag, so you don’t need to finish the edge.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Turn the main bag right side out. Pin the raw edges of the strap to the raw edges of the top of the base on the main bag. Make sure the strap doesn’t twist.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Pin the flap to the back edge (the side without the pockets) of the main bag with the velcro side showing. Baste the straps and the flap to the bag.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Insert the main bag into the lining.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog

Sew around the top edge of the bag, leaving the front open to turn.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Turn the bag right side out and stuff the lining down inside the bag. Fold the raw edges along the top in and topstitch closed, to finish.

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Enjoy your new bag!

Messenger Bag Tutorial - The Ribbon Retreat Blog

Visit my blog for other fun tutorials.


Thank you Terra! This is such a wonderful and super cute bag! It is so functional and fun! You are so talented, and I am so happy to have you with us today for our first project in our Bag Lady Series! Thank you again Terra!
For more amazing tutorials by this talented lady, stop by to tell her hi at mama says sew. She will inspire you to sew, sew, sew!!! :)

It is only day two, and I am already in LOVE with our brand new Bag Lady Series! This fun series is just bound to get better and better as we continue to have AMAZING bag tutorials, just like today’s, brought to us by our awesome Contributors. For more fun and FABulous bag tutorials, check out our 20+ Brilliant Bags! post where we share 20+ terrific bag projects that are beyond adorable!

See you tomorrow for another brilliant bag in our Bag Lady Series!

Happy Creating & Happy Bag Ladies!
Signature - The Ribbon Retreat Blog

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6 Comments

  1. Queenie
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Nice work! love the material. Would love to try this tutorial sometime. I

  2. Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! This is perfect for the current charity project at Hopeful Threads! Shared!!!

    • Posted January 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kristy! Thank you so much! So glad you like this awesome bag! Have a wonderful day! Michelle :)

  3. Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    What a fabulous bag Terra created. Great tutorial as well!
    I am loving this bag ladies series!! What a great way to start out the new year… :)

    hugs x, Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

    • Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Hi Crystelle! You are so awesome and so sweet! I have loved this fun fun series too and can’t wait to make all of these bags and add them to my bag collection!!! :) Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for stopping by! Michelle :)

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