the story of the messenger bag

I get most of my ideas for the sewing classes from the community of people that take them, people otherwise known as my friends.  it’s a great feedback loop because then I get to see more of them!

often there is a suggestion for a class that is a super great idea but something I have never made.  that’s when I head to the drawing board and hunt around for the right book/ existing pattern or draft my own pattern.  a process that involves lots and lots of making and tweaking.  it was exactly this road I went down for the messenger bag class.

messenger bag

it’s a pretty fun process, actually.  a bit of a puzzle.  but it can be a balancing act.  I want to keep the cost of class supplies at a minimum so I have to be aware of the cost of a book and pattern but I want it to be simple and high-quality at the same time.  I also don’t want to bust my own budget purchasing too many new books and patterns attempting failed trial runs and, consequently, use up too much fabric with the process of making prototypes.  In this case, I ended up drafting a pattern that I’m really excited about.  but that is not where the story begins.    little messenger bag

it starts with this child’s messenger bag from the meg mcelwee book growing up sew liberated.  I made it with some fabric salvaged from an old shower curtain and while it turned out cute I worried that it look too much like a purse.  [as an aside, I am totally in love with meg.  I’m taking her craftsy class and she is so funny and warm and she doesn’t know it but I secretly think of her as one of my best friends.  it’s not creepy-like, I don’t think.]

anyway, on to the next! carry me messenger

this time I switched gears to adult messenger bags.  I tried out the messenger bag from the book carry me (which is filled with wonderful, inspiring bags but be forewarned, the instructional language is pretty slim and tough to follow as a result of being translated from japanese, I guess).  I liked the look of this bag but it was really time consuming to make and way too floppy.  so, I went to the other extreme.
the cute onethis somewhat lovely looking bag was a serious wrestling match…and the bag won.  I lined it with thick heavyweight interfacing which ended up making it nearly impossible to maneuver while sewing.   it actually slammed me in the face once.  the stitches came out uneven in parts because of all the wrestling (you can tell by looking at the bottom of the bag) and the final product was a stupidly stiff bag.  don’t ask me why I took the time to hand-stencil the front of a bag that I don’t really like, sometimes I just can’t say no when inspiration strikes…[meg understands].

finally, I took what I learned from every other attempt and drafted my own bag pattern and came up with this:


it uses a mix of light, medium and heavyweight interfacing and a straightforward method of construction.  It has a gusseted pocket on the inside because bags need pockets and I added a more subtle embellishment to the front of the bag.

view of detail on m.bag

I used some of the fantastic wool that I got from my grandmother and inside is linen from Ikea.

inside m.bagas always, there remain additional things I will change when I make this bag again such as  simplifying the strap, using thicker webbing and canvas fabric.   but, those lingering ideas and tweaks are what keep things interesting.  for the most part, another puzzle is solved!

6 Comments on the story of the messenger bag

  1. Kathy Kleeman
    March 8, 2013 at 9:20 am (5 years ago)

    If you know of any chess players, making a special chess bag would be appreciated. Years ago, I made a drawstring bag for my son’s chess pieces — found a black and white checkerboard cotton and lined it with black “satin” that was perfect. But if he were still playing and I was doing this again, I’d make a bag that had room for the roll-up boards a lot of chess players use, as well as the chess clock and the pad and pencil used for recording games. The drawstring part was important to keep from losing pieces.

    • ahappystitch
      March 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm (5 years ago)

      What a good idea! I do not know many chess players but, then again, my boys are still young…maybe the day will come!

  2. Anne
    March 8, 2013 at 11:16 am (5 years ago)

    Love this bag, & so sad that I wasn’t able to sign up for quilting AND messenger-bagging!! It’s really beautiful, as is the super-heavy slammed-you-in-the-face one.

    • ahappystitch
      March 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you. I really don’t know why people consider sewing to be a gentle, calm activity. I find it pretty physical most of the time!

  3. Yvana
    March 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Just found your blog. Any chance you make and sell these bags?

    • ahappystitch
      March 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm (5 years ago)

      Yvana, I’m so happy you found me! And, how lovely of you to leave a comment. Unfortunately, I don’t make these bags to sell at this time but if the stars align one day soon and I can make some to sell I will certainly be in touch! Thanks for your interest!


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