Rebecca from Our Busy Little Bunch shows you how to whip up a cute messenger bag in today’s tutorial, complete with an optional divider. Give students a little handcrafted style, whether they’re taking the messenger to the first day of kindergarten or to a big college class! Learn more about Rebecca and her sewing and giveaway blog in her introduction, then be sure to visit Our Busy Little Bunch. Rebecca also has a Busy Bunch shop, where you can purchase some of her quilts and more. Rebecca modified the messenger to create a lunch sack for her daughter too. Enjoy today’s tutorial!

Step One: Cut out all your pieces

  • For the main bag piece – cut one from outer print and one from lining – 28″ x 18″
  • Also cut one or two layers of interfacing, batting, or fleece ~ depending on desired thickness of finished bag
  • For the inside pockets – cut the following from outer print – 10″ x 10″ (for divided pocket) and 8″ x 12″ (for zippered pocket)
  • For the bag flap – cut from outer print and desired batting/interfacing/fleece layer – 32″ x 11.5″
  • For the strap – cut from outer print and desired batting/interfacing/fleece layer – 10″ x 40″ (to be cut down to desired length later)

You will also need: a 7″ zipper, an 8″ piece of double-fold bias tape (or make your own), an 8″ piece of hook-and-loop tape (Velcro), 12″ piece of trim such as large rick-rack or ribbon, 6″ x 11″ dense foam or very stiff interfacing (for base of bag), thread, and basic sewing supplies.

All seams are 1/2″ and finished bag is approx 12″ wide x 11″ tall x 6″ deep.

Step Two: Make the pockets

For the divided pocket – Fold fabric in half, right-sides together, and sew side seams. Turn right-side out, tuck in lower edge about 1/4″ and press. Center on right-side of main lining piece, about 4″ from top. Sew side and bottom edges, making sure to sew bottom seam closed. Top stitch some pencil-sized pockets if desired.

For the zipper pocket – Fold fabric in half, right-sides together, and sew side seams. Turn right-side out, tuck in lower edge about 1/4″ and press. Attach zipper to upper edge of pocket, making sure to tuck in ends. Now pin and sew a piece of double-fold bias tape to top edge of zipper, tucking zipper between folds of tape, and again tucking and sewing in ends neatly. Center on right-side of main lining piece (opposite side from other pocket), about 3″ from top. Sew side and bottom edges, making sure to close bottom open seam. Also sew upper and side edges of double-fold bias tape.

Step Three: Prepare the main bag

Sew Velcro strip (hook side) 9″ from top of main fabric piece, centered.

Sew side seams of outer main bag, right-sides together. Now box out the bottom corners – mark and sew corner 3″ from point to stich line, 6″ accross. Make a second stitch line 1/4″ from first to reinforce.

Repeat above steps for main lining piece of fabric, but leave a 6″ opening in side seam for turning the bag through later.

Step Four: Prepare the flap piece

Fold fabric in half, right sides together. Lay piece of trim between layers, and pin to side seams about 1″ from folded end, making sure it is smoothed out. Stitch side seams. Turn flap right-side out and press. Place the non-sticky (loop) part of Velcro to the opposite side of flap as the trim. Center it, and make sure it lines up evenly with the trim on the opposite side. Pin on trim side. Stitch close to top and bottom edge of trim, all the way accross.

Step Five: Prepare the strap
Press fabric in half wrong sides together, then fold these halves to center and press again.

Insert batting/interfacing/fleece layer and then press in half. Finished strap should be 2.5″ wide. Topstitch close to both long edges of strap. Pin strap to unfinished main bag piece and check for desired finished length of bag. Cut strap accordingly.

Step Six: Assemble the bag

Center bag flap on main bag piece, right sides together, and stitch. Center strap on side seams, making sure raw edges are together and strap is not twisted, and stitch.

Place outer main bag inside of main bag lining, right sides together. Pin top edge and sew, making sure to double stitch over straps.

Step Seven: Finishing the bag

Turn bag right-side out through opening in lining. Insert piece of dense foam or stiff interfacing for bottom of bag, pushing firmly into corners. Sew opening in lining shut by hand or machine. Machine stitch top edge of bag.

Optional: Divider

Cut one piece of fabric 12″ x 21″, and two pieces 12″ x 16″. Press smaller pieces in half wrong sides together so they measure 12″ x 8″. Layer two small pieces on top of each other. Now fold large piece of fabric in half, right-sides together so it measures 12″ x 10.5″. Lay smaller pieces inside larger piece of fabric, lining up all raw edges. Stitch side seams. Turn right-side out and press, you will now have a divider piece with a pocket on each side. Slide an 11″ x 10″ piece of stiff interfacing or cardboard into opening on bottom, and stitch closed. Handstitch top and bottom corners of divider into desired place in bag.

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