Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Repurposed Messenger Bag Tutorial

This bag is made from repurposed clothing (2 t-shirts, 3 pairs of pants)
and left-over upholstery fabrics.

The first thing to do, when making this bag
is to cut out all of the pieces.
You will need:
*1 front 16'(W) x 11"(H)
*1 back/flap 16"(W) x 18"(H)
*1 bottom/sides 4 1/2" (W) x 39" (L)
* (cut out these same sizes for the lining pieces)
2 large pockets (plus 1 for the lining) 16" (W) x 8" (H)
1 strap 5 1/4 " (W) x 44" (L)
2 Overall type straps 3 1/2" (W) x 3 1/2" (L)

^Hem all large pockets (2 outer - front and back,
And 1 inner -out of your choice of liner fabric
^Sew jean's pockets to front pocket.
I simply cut the pockets out of my daughter's, to small
and rather worn corduroy pants.

I simple cut out to pants pockets and zigzag stitched rick rack around the edges.
I left the pocket edges raw. This is sewn to the large front pocket.


Sew velcro pieces to inside of large front pocket and line it up with the front of the bag.
Mark where the vecro will go and sew opposing velcro to bag.
Line up pocket carefully and stick to front of bag. You are now ready to pin the bottom/sides
piece to the front. Pin all three layers  together (front, pocket, and bottom/sides).
Stitch around bag, removing pins as you go.
Repeat these steps to secure and sew the back pocket, back and bottom/sides.
The only difference, in this bag is I used two buttons on the back pocket.
I sewed the button holes in first and sewed the buttons on after the bag was finished.
You now have the outside shell of the bag.

Sew the lining, the same way as the outer shell. I only added one pocket, to the lining and I stitched it to the front piece, adding the velcro to both sides, before I attatched the pocket, front and bottom/sides pieces. Once you have both the shell and the lining complete, turn the lining inside out, and stick the shell into it. The right sides of both bags will be facing. Pin all around the flap and top of bag, leaving about a 5" space in the center/front of bag. This opening will be how you turn the bag right side out. Stitch around flap and top, making sure that it all lines up perfectly.

Trim excess fabric.


Once the lining and the bag are stitched together  (minus the opening),   pull bag and lining through the hole, turning the bags right side out.

It should look something like this. The shove the lining down into the bag. Also make sure that corners are pulled out. Then turn the opening edges, under and pin. I also like to pin around the whole area, before I topstitch. Other people like to iron these seams.

Fold open edges under and top stitch

Top stitch around whole flap and bag opening. Starting at the bottom of the flap, and continuing around flap, sides and front of bag.

To make front closures, cut out two pieces of 3 1/2" x 3 1/2". Since I used t - shirt material, I wanted to strengthen the straps abit, so I cut out a thicker fabric insert. The insert is a little smaller than the finished piece.
Here's what I mean....


I stitched up the open sides (with right sides together).  Then I cut a piece of fabric to fit inside. Then I folded one end under and hemmed it. The other end I left open, because it will be hidden under the strap.  I topstitched along the entire r piece.

I then stitched the overall closures in,   using a zigzag stitch (this is the edge that I left raw).

I stuffed the bag with grocery bags, to see the natural shape of the bag, and then I pinned the overall straps to where they should be.

After I pinned them, I stitched them on using a zigzag stitch.

The upholstery  fabric that I wanted to use for the strap, wasn't quite long enough, so I pieced jean fabric onto either end of the straps. I then appliqued the peace sign (t - shirt fabric) to it.

Fold strap in half, right sides together, length wise and seam along the open side. Then turn strap right side out. A yard stick helped me abit.

Hem ends of strap and topstitch around the whole strap. I also ran a seam down the middle of the strap too. Line the ends of the strap up with the top middle of the sides. Pin and securely stitch.

Finished Bag!

Inside lining



  1. Good tutorial and I like the outcome. One comment - bigger pictures would be better. But the tutorial is clear to a person like me who can sew.

  2. What a great tutorial - very detailed and well illustrated by your photographs, good of you to share you expertise (I do have a sewing machine but it's one of the crafty skills I just can't master!)

  3. I think it is a fantastic tutorial. I'm impressed at how many pics you posted and how detailed it is! Love the pants pockets!!! I'll save this tutuorial for a future sewing project. Working on organizing my sewing room/yoga/meditation room this week. Great work and thanks for sharing!

  4. Nice! I love all the random fabric you chose. Love it!