First...pictures of my finished messenger bag
Back pocket/side view
Top view showing zip closure, front pockets and magnetic snap
Close up of zip closure
Inside view with zippered pocket
With my library books inside
Let me just say I am not a sewing expert at all. Please excuse me if I am sometimes at a lost for proper sewing terminology. My methods may not be the best, so you may, in the process, want to incorporate your own and/or change some things. These steps just work for me.
I came up with this step-by-step tutorial upon the request of a fellow 'craftster'. I have divided it into several small parts. You will notice that I cut my materials as I go about sewing. I do not enjoy cutting, that is why I don't do it all at the beginning of a project. For this reason, dimensions for the fabric pieces are provided as you go along each part of the tutorial. I personally find that if I do one small part at a time and take breaks in between, I end up with good results. I suggest you do the same.
Considering my lack of expertise, I am truly happy with how my messenger bag turned out. I hope you will be, too.
So...enough of that already and onto the tutorial. Good luck and happy sewing everyone!
But wait...before we begin
**For this project, you will need:
about 1 meter plain medium weight fabric
about 1/2 meter printed medium weight fabric
open-end zipper, at least 13" long
all-purpose zipper, 6" long
about 1 1/2 meters fusible interfacing/stabilizer, appropriate for medium to heavyweight fabrics
1 set magnetic snap closure
**After cutting your fabric pieces for the front/back of outer bag, front/back of lining, and flap, use a protractor or any curved object to shape the bottom left and right corners,as illustrated.
**Use a 1/4" seam allowance throughout, unless otherwise instructed.
**As a prerequisite to this project, you need to know how to install magnetic snaps and make zippered pockets. Here's a link to a useful tutorial : http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=150
**Except for the pockets, fuse all fabric pieces with interfacing. Only instructions for lining the handle will be provided in this tutorial.
**Towards the end of this project, you will be sewing through a thick layer of fabrics. Have an appropriate sewing machine needle ready.
How to Make a Messenger Bag with Zip Top Closure
Part A. Front panel/pocket
11" (H) x 12" (L) plain fabric for bag front
14" x 12" plain fabric for pocket
1. Fold pocket piece in half, wrong and long sides together. Press.
2. Topstitch along folded side about 1/4" from the edge.
3. Pin and baste this pocket piece to the main bag front, aligning bottom (longer) edges.
4. Stitch down along center of pocket to create two equal slots.
5. From the top center, measure 6 3/4" down and mark this spot. Attach the flat half of your magnetic snap right below the mark.
Part B. Back panel/pocket
11" x 12" plain fabric for bag back
18" x 12" plain fabric for back pocket
Use steps 1 to 3 above (for front panel) to create your back pocket.
Part C. Flap
11" x 12" plain fabric for inner flap
11" x 12" printed fabric for outer flap
1. Find bottom center of inner flap piece and measure 1 1/4" up. Mark this spot. Attach other half of magnetic snap right above this mark.
2. With right sides facing each other, stitch outer and inner flap together along sides and bottom. Leave top open.
3. Turn flap right side out and press. Topstitch 1/4" from the edge.
Part D. Zip panels
2 pieces - 3 3/4" x 12" plain fabric
open-end zipper, 13" long (or more)
1. Fold both short ends of zip panels 1/2" in.
2. Fold zip panels in half, wrong and long sides together. Press.
3. Open zip all the way to separate its two sides.
4. Take one zip side and pin along folded edge of one zip panel. Start with the bottom end of the zip, as pictured.
5. When you reach the other corner, neatly curve zipper to go around the shorter end. Cut off any excess zip length.
6. Do the same with the other zip piece and zip panel.
7. Stitch zipper to panel. You can change your presser foot to a zipper foot at this point. As you can see, however, from the photo below, I did not find using a zipper foot necessary.
Part E. Handle
6" x 42" plain fabric
3" x 42" stiff interfacing
**Take note that handle length can vary according to your requirement. You can also use a d-ring and slider if you wish to make your handle adjustable. Also, if you do not have enough fabric to cut the entire handle length, you can cut two strips and sew them together. That's what I did.
1. Center interfacing along the length of wrong side of fabric. Fold in long edges towards the center and press. (Please excuse my stained/burnt ironing board cover!)
2. Fold fabric in half to end up with 1 1/2" wide handle. Press.
3. Stitch down 1/8"-1/4" from the edge. Do both long sides.
Part F. Attaching Gusset
3 1/2" x 34" printed fabric for outer gusset
1. With right sides together, pin gusset around bag front panel (or back panel -- it doesn't really matter which one you start with), starting from the bottom center, going around the curved corners and up the top edges. Trim any excess gusset fabric.
2. Carefully stitch around. Remove pins and clip into curves.
3. Do the same with the other panel.
4. Turn bag right side out.
Part G. Assembling the Main Bag
With main bag right side out,
1. Align and baste flap (magnetic snap side up) along top edge of bag back.
2. Take zip panel with the zipper pull side. With wrong side up, align and center raw edge along the top edge of the flap/bag back. Pin and baste.
3. Take the other zip panel. With wrong side up, align and center raw edge along the top edge of bag front. Pin and baste.
This is what you will have so far.
4. Center, pin and baste one handle end to the bag gusset. Do the same with the other end.
2 pieces - 11" x 12" printed fabric for front/back lining
3 1/2" x 34" plain fabric for inside gusset
6" all-purpose zipper for pocket
8" x 14" printed fabric for pocket (to be folded in half)
1. Make zippered pocket on back lining.
2. Assemble lining using same procedure as outer bag (see Attaching Gusset). Increase your seam allowance by about 1/8" (from 1/4"). This ensures your lining will sit nicely inside your bag. Leave a 6" opening on one side of lining bottom for turning later.
Final Bag Assembly
1. With right sides facing each other, put main bag inside bag lining. Zippered pocket in lining should be on the same side as the back of main bag. Pin in place, making sure the gusset seams are aligned. Be sure, too, that the bag handle is neatly sandwiched in between main bag and lining, going down straight along the gusset and the rest of the handle length tucked in the bottom.
2. Stitch around the top edge, using a 1/2" seam allowance this time.
3. Pull main bag out of the lining opening.
4. Slipstitch close the opening. It is good to press the bag at this point.
5. Topstitch 1/4" along the top edge. Make sure flap, handle, and zip panels are up and not inside the bag when topstitching. Remember to open up the zipper completely to separate the two zip panels.
Wheew...that's the last step! Your bag is finally done. You should now have something like this...
Finished bag size is 11 1/2" (L) x 10 1/4" (H) x 3" (W).
I hope everything was clear enough. Please feel free to ask questions. Comments are most welcome! And I would love to see your own creations...