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messenger bag tutorial (part 1)

So, I had a couple of requests to do a tutorial for the Moop knock-off that I did a while
back... goodness, has it really been a whole month??? How time flies. Anyhow, it's still my
absolute favourite bag that I've ever used (I can even squeeze my camera into it when I
need to!), and I've decided to share how I made it.
There's a lot of steps to follow, so I'm dividing it up into bits so that it won't be so
Today I'm going to give you the materials list, and the cutting out.
For the outer bag:
Use a heavy-weight fabric... home-dec type, or denim or canvas. Interface it if necessary, or
add a layer of flannel or thin batting to each piece as interlining.. I'm using 10-oz waxed
canvas, and it doesn't require anything additional.
The fabric I used is 56" wide, and to start with, I cut it into three strips. A 12" strip, a 6"
strip, and a 3.5" strip.
The 6" strip gets set aside til later - it's going to be the strap.
From the 3.5" strip, cut two 22" long pieces for the the bag sides. Trim the remaining piece
(approx. 12" long) to 3" wide to use for strap pieces.
From the 12" wide strip, cut the following:
1 22" long piece for the main bag body
2 6" pieces for the front and back pockets
1 1" piece for the top of the zippered pocket
1 5" piece for the bag base
1 12" piece for the flap
1 3.75" piece for the front strap
For the lining:
Use a lighter-weight fabric... quilting cotton, linen or a light home-dec fabric. A sturdy silk
(like dupioni, for example) can be used if you want to get fancy, but it may require more
care and attention to prevent fraying.
From the main lining fabric, cut:
1 22"x17" rectangle for the main bag lining
3 6"x12" rectangles for the outer pocket linings and flap lining
From a coordinating fabric, cut:
1 5"x18" or 9"x10" rectangle for the inner pocket (I use scraps for this, generally, so I do
whichever size fits the scrap I have. You could also use 2 5"x9" pieces.)

1 4"x10" rectangle for the key-ring strap

You will also need:
a zipper - minimum 12" long. I find it easier to use one that's a bit longer.
3 1.5" rectangular rings
1 1.5" rectangular slide (optional, if you want your strap adjustable)
a snap (and whatever hardware you need to install it)
a 1" swivel hook
So there's that. Any questions? Tomorrow I will start with the outer pockets, and
assembling the main outer bag.

messenger bag tutorial (part 2)

I lied. I couldn't wait til tomorrow. Here's the next chunk of instructions.
Previously: Fabric requirement and cutting
Time to start assembling the main outer bag!
Oh, I should mention right off... all seam allowances are 3/8" unless specifically stated
First, make the strap piece from the 3"x12" rectangle that you trimmed after cutting the side
bag pieces. This will be cut into bits later on, to hold the rectangle rings in place. Fold and
press the edges of the strip toward the middle (wrong sides together), and stitch two rows of
top-stitching down each side. Yes, this leaves the raw edges exposed, but it will not be a
problem, as you will see later on. Set this piece aside.

Next, make the pockets.

For the front pocket, stitch together one outer fabric and one lining fabric 6"x12" rectangle,
right sides together. Press the seam open, and then turn the pieces wrong sides together and
stitch two rows of top-stitching along the seam.

The back pocket is made in a similar fashion, but it has a zipper inserted into the seam.
Make sure that you have the right side of the zipper facing the outer fabric when you pin it
in place.

Stitch the 1"x12" fabric to the other side of the zipper, making sure to line up the fabric
with the zipper closed, so that the pieces are not off-set. Press the fabric up away from the
zipper, and then turn down the raw edge to meet the seam underneath the zipper and press
down. Set aside til later. (Do not topstitch this piece yet.)

Now assemble the pocket unit.

With right sides together, place the 5"x12" rectangle on the bottom (non-zipper) edge of the
back pocket. Stitch the seam, and press the raw edges away from the pocket.
Stitch the other side of the base piece to the front pocket, leaving a 2" gap in the center of
the seam, and again pressing the seam allowances away from the pocket.

Now it's time to attach the pocket unit to the main (22"x17") bag body piece. Fold this
piece along the 22" sides to find the center, and mark it on both edges.
Also, find and mark the center points on the edges of the bag base piece, by folding it so
that the two seams match up. Make sure that you do not just fold the entire pocket unit in
half, as the two pockets are not the same depth, and this would make your bag lop-sided.
Place the pocket unit on top of the body piece, pocket wrong side to bag front side (so that
both fronts are facing up), matching the marked center points. Pin in place along both

Topstitch (two rows, again) along the edge seam of the base piece on the back pocket side.
Then, making sure that the pocket is flat, topstitch along both sides of the fabric strip above
the zipper.

Again, making sure that the pocket unit is flat and even, make a line in the center of the
front pocket, and make a double row of stitching to divide the pocket into two sections.
Make sure not to stitch into the base fabric where the gap was left earlier.

Now cut a 2.5" piece of the strap that you created earlier, and feed it through one of the
rectangle rings, with the raw edges to the inside.

Place this piece into the gap between the base and the front pocket, and then stitch the two
rows of top-stitching along the front edge of the base.

There! Now you've stitched down the whole pocket assembly to the main bag section.

Now take your two 3.5"x22" strips, and sew them on; one on each side. Trim off any extra
zipper after the side piece is sewn on; press (with both seam allowances toward the side
pieces), and topstitch.

And there you have it - the main outer body all finished... two front pockets, a ring for the
fastener strap, and a big zipper pocket on the back.

messenger bag tutorial (part 3)

In this installment: the lining and inner pocket, and the side seams
Part 1: fabric requirements and cutting
Part 2: outer bag assembly
To make the inner pocket, fold the pocket piece in half, or put the two pieces right sides
together in such a way as to make a 5"x9" rectangle. Stitch a 1/4" seam around 3 (or 4)
sides, leaving a small opening through which to turn the pocket right side out.

Trim the corners, turn right-side out and press.

Lay lining fabric out, and place pocket on it, approximately 3.5" from one of the 17" edges,
and centered on the lining; making sure that the turning opening is at the bottom of the
pocket, where it will be stitched down in the next step.

Mark the lines where you would like the pocket divided. I have put 3 3/4" pen pockets
roughly in the center of the pocket piece, leaving two larger pockets on each side. Stitch
around the three sides of the pocket, and along the dividing lines.

Now it's time to sew the side seams on both the lining and the outer bag.
Fold the lining in half (with the 17" sides across the top) and sew a 1/2" seam along the two
sides. Snip the seam allowance open at the bottom fold, so that you can press the seam
open. Lightly press a fold line along the bottom of the lining.
To box the corners, match up the seam line with the fold line, starting at the bottom corner
of the lining, and mark a 3.5" line perpendicular to the side seam. Stitch along the marked

Press the resulting triangle toward the bottom of the lining, and top-stitch close to the seam.

Do both corners in this way... and that's the lining done. Set it aside for now.

Fold the outer bag in half, the same as you did the lining, but this time, stitch a 3/8" seam
allowance. Press both seam allowances toward the back of the bag, and stitch a double row
of top-stitching as far down toward the corner as possible.

This will involve a little bit of wrestling, and maybe a few bad words, but it is possible to
get fairly close to the bottom of the seam.

Now, box the corners of the outer bag and stitch them down, exactly the same as you did
with the lining.

And there you are.

messenger bag tutorial (part 4)

Okay... getting back in the swing of things...
Part 1: fabric requirements and cutting
Part 2: outer bag assembly
Part 3: lining and side seams
And now, to make the flap and put all the bits together.
First of all, take the 3.75"x12" front strap piece, and trim it down to 10" long. Fold it in half
lengthwise, and stitch down the long side and one short side. Trim the corners at the
stitched end, turn strap right side out, and topstitch two rows of stitching along the three

Place the raw edge of the strap, centered, on one right side of the 12"x12" flap, and place
the 6"x12" flap lining over it, right side down. Stitch along the 12" side.

Press seam allowances toward the lining, and stitch a double row of topstitching along the

Fold flap in half, crosswise, and stitch the two edge seams.

Trim the corners, turn right side out, press, and stitch a double row of topstitching along the
three finished sides, making sure not to catch the strap in the stitching.

Baste the flap onto the outer bag, right sides together, with the outer side of the flap on the
zipper-pocket side of the bag, making sure that the flap is centered on the middle section of
the bag.

Now, we're going to pleat the sides, and attach the shoulder strap hardware.
Cut two more 2.5" sections of the strap that you used for the rectangle ring in part one.
Thread each of these through two more rings, and set them aside.
Make a mark 1.25" on each side of the side seams.

Fold the bag at these marks, and bring them toward the seam, creating a box pleat.

Pin in place, and baste a ring strap in place over the pleat.

Do the same on the other side, and set the bag aside for now.
Find the 4"x10" strip of coordinating lining fabric. Fold it in half lengthwise, and press.
Then open it up, and fold each side inward to meet the center fold line. Press in place, then
fold the strip along the original center fold.

Stitch along each long side, and thread this strip through the 1" swivel hook. Baste the raw
edges to the outside of the flap, close to one of the edges. (Sorry... forgot to take a picture of
this... but the last photo will show where it ends up.)
Mark the center front and back of the bag and lining.
Turn the outer bag inside out, and place the lining inside it, right sides together (the lining
will be right side out), making sure that the pocket side of the lining is on the flap/zipperpocket side of the outer bag.

Pin the bag and lining together, matching the centers first, and working toward the sides.
Pin the excess lining into pleats at the sides, to match the pleats in the outer bag.
Stitch around, leaving an opening on the flap side of the bag, for turning.

Carefully turn the bag and lining right side out, and slip-stitch the opening closed.

Press the seam flat, and stitch (I bet you can guess) two rows of topstitching all the way
around, keeping the swivel-ring strap pinned out of the way on the flap.

Now all we have left to do is the shoulder strap and the snap!

messenger bag tutorial (part 5)

Wow, it's almost done!! Just the finishing touches today!
Part 1: fabric requirements and cutting
Part 2: outer bag assembly
Part 3: lining and side seams
Part 4: flap and assembly
First things first, you'll need to determine what kind of strap you want, and how long it
needs to be.
The strap can be either a fixed length, or adjustable; in which case, you'll need to add a 1.5"
rectangular slide to your list of requirements.
To determine how long the strap needs to be, attach a measuring tape to one buckle with a
bull-clip or paper clip or some such non-marring fastening system; hook the tape over your
shoulder, and adjust it to where it feels comfortable. Voila, you have your basic
measurement. Add 3-4" to this number to allow for fold-overs.
I am using my full fabric width of 56", and making the strap adjustable.
So, to start with, fold your strap fabric in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
Open it up, then fold each raw edge in to the middle, and press again.

Open up the folds again, and fold each short end in 1/4" and press; then re-fold the strap
again, enclosing the raw edges, to make a 1.5" wide strap.

Stitch the usual double row of stitching along each of the long sides of the strap.

If you are making the strap adjustable, feed one end of the strap through the slide, and stitch
the strap together in a box-with-an-X configuration.

Feed the other end of the strap through one of the side strap rings, from the inside of the
bag toward the outside, and then loop it through the slide.

Now loop the free end of the strap through the other side ring, from the outside toward the
inside of the bag, and stitch it down with a box as well.

If you are not making the strap adjustable, just stitch each end to one of the rectangle rings,
as shown above.
That's the strap done.
Now, following the instructions that accompany your snaps, apply one set of snaps to the
fastening strap as shown here:

To close your bag, just loop the strap through the center rectangular ring, from top to
bottom, and fasten the snap.

And you're done!

If you have any questions, or if any of my steps seem unclear, please let me know, and I'll
try to explain better.
And if you do make one of these bags, I'd love to see it!!