The 32-minute messenger bag tutorial

This little bag pattern is “easy-peasy-chunky-cheesy” as my 5-year-old likes to say.
You will feel so proud of yourself when it’s done in no time!

For an adult/bigger-kid size bag the fabric requirement are 2 coordinating half yards.
For a smaller child’s bag you will only need two pieces at 3/8 of a yard.

I will demonstrate with the larger bag
and give the measurements for the child’s bag at the end.

First: from both half-yard pieces, cut a 4″ strip off one end.
This will be for your strap.
Cut the remaining piece down to 14″ x 30″.
(You can save the remnant for a pocket, if you want.)

If you are going to put a pocket on, do it now. To make the pocket, fold the remnant in half and sew three sides shut with a 1/4″ seam, leaving an opening to turn right side out. Clip corners and turn right side out. Press, tucking edges in at opening. Fold outside bag piece in half and center the pocket where it will appear on finished bag. Pin in place and sew close to the edge along three sides, sewing opening shut as you go.

Now on to the bag: Place two 14″ x 30″ pieces right sides together and pin together at ends.
Sew 3/8″ seams on either end.
Now take to your ironing board.
Bring the seams to the center and match them up.
Press seams open.
You will now have your lining-piece folded in half on one side and
your outside piece folded in half on the other.

Pin open sides together, leaving a 3″ opening on one side of the lining fabric
for turning right side out. Sew 3/8″ seams on both sides.

Turn bag right-side out and top-stitch opening closed. It will look like a flat, empty pillow.Tuck lining fabric inside the outside bag fabric.
Now it’s starting to look like an actual bag!
To make the band of trim around the top of the bag,
roll the lining fabric above the bag about 1/4″.
Pin to hold fabrics in place and press.
Top stitch around the edge of the bag at the top of the outer fabric
AND at the top of the lining fabric.
This is easy, and it will give the bag a nice, finished edge.
Now, place both strap pieces right sides together
and sew down both long sides using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Turn right-side out, press, and top-stitch along both edges.
Now is the time to decide how long you want your bag strap.
(This strap is meant to be worn diagonally across the chest.)
For an adult, it’s about the right length as it is.
For an older child, you might want to cut-off a few inches.

If you leave one end with selvage edges on the end you don’t
need to do anything to the strap before you start sewing.
If you cut-off one end, you may want to tuck raw edges under and press.

Now, pinch the end of the strap in half to find the center.

Line up that pinched crease with the seam on the side of the bag.
Place end of strap about two inches inside the bag.
Pin the strap in place
And sew around the edges and along the top of the bag,
creating a rectangle to secure the strap in place.
Repeat with other side.
And Voila! You are seriously done. Pretty awesome, huh?
To make a child size bag cut a 2 1/2″ strip off the side of both pieces.
Then cut the bag pieces 11″ x 24″.
Repeat all the same steps.
(You will probably want to shorten the strap.)
These are so fast, you really might get addicted. And the possibilities are endless.
We used a heavier, canvas fabric on the cowboy bag.
The other bag is made from the Wonderland by MoMo collection for Moda.

Have fun!

(and please feel free to ask any questions so I can clarify these instructions where needed!)

**A couple of people have asked where this fabric is from:
It is part of the Wonderland by MoMo collection for Moda, Spring 2009.

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  • Reply
    April 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm


  • Reply
    April 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Another great tutorial! Thanks for sharing and for having lots of photos in your tutes. I need them:)

  • Reply
    AmyF Hackworth
    April 15, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I love this! I can’t wait to make a bag. This is so great, Amy. What a fun project.<br /><br />And I like "Easy peasy, lemon squeezy," but "chunky cheesy" adds a nice variety. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 7:19 am

    This is terrific! Thank you for sharing such detailed and thoughtful tutorials. I love makings bags, and this one will be well used!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Life with 4!
    April 16, 2009 at 7:50 am

    these would make great library bags. Maybe I should make one for me and each of the kids for our library outings. That way I don’t have to stack and balance all the books to carry. <br />YOu have sooooo much talent!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Great Tutorial. I love the picture of your son watching every step.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 11:52 am

    great tutorial–thanks, amy! i love the detail at the top to let the lining show through.

  • Reply
    V and Co.
    April 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    nicely done!

  • Reply
    The Tregeagles
    April 16, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    You’re so creative, this bag would be perfect for church!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    This is so cool! I wish I could sew! Can you make me some? LOL

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    You’re Brilliant! Thanks for the great tutorial, I can’t wait to get started!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    This sounds doable. Thanks.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    oooooh– i really want to make this! can you tell me what the finished measurements are for both the adult and child size bags?? thanks!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    great idea! any clues as to where to purchase that cute fabric?

  • Reply
    Amy@Let's Explore
    April 16, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Awesome! I foresee a weekend project… 🙂

  • Reply
    April 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I’m wondering about where to get that fabric as well. Is it moda?

  • Reply
    April 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Hey Amy! I just made one of these and it turned out great. Plus, it really only took 32 minutes (or would have if I had no been distracted by a baby). <br />Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    this is great! thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. I can’t wait to make one. It’s a great idea for all those random scraps of leftover fabric…or an excuse to browse the Hancock Fabric’s scrap bin!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Very Cute! Nice tutorial too! Thanks

  • Reply
    Simone de Klerk
    April 21, 2009 at 11:03 am

    This is just waht I needed, for a bag I am making for a swap. Great and clear pictures. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Mary O
    April 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Amy you are awesome. My Stephanie just sent Diary of a Quilter to me and I’m so impressed but not surprised.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Chunky Cheesy! That’s great! Really nice tutorial. Thank you!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Really great tutorial!!!!<br />i think i’ll ad ti on my blog and i’ll try to make one bag ;)<br />thank you so much ,also for your lovely blog!<br />Simona

  • Reply
    April 28, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    This was a great tutorial! It’s just too bad I like the bag so much… I’ve decided to make eight of them for an Indiana Jones birthday party for my soon-to-be five year old! Wish me luck.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I have one comment. the ends of the straps should not be visible. I sew them to the bag in an earlier step. Etti from Israel

  • Reply
    June 15, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Thank you!! I love your designs. They are very inspirating! <br />I am a spanish mother who is learning how to quilt and I was lucky to find your blog!!!<br />plantabosques.blogspot.com<br /><br />María

  • Reply
    DIY Bag Lover
    July 1, 2009 at 1:13 am

    I have listed your wonderful tutorial in http://diybaglover.blogspot.com/<br />Hope u dont mind =)

  • Reply
    July 2, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Wow great I have no word to say that<br /><br /><a href="http://www.gotapparel.com/p-116_1114-anvil-messenger-bag.aspx&quot; rel="nofollow">http://www.gotapparel.com/p-116_1114-anvil-messenger-bag.aspx</a&gt;

  • Reply
    I wanna be creative
    July 29, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I haven&#39;t sewn much lately, but immediately started again once I saw this tutorial. Thanks so much. Pic at http://www.flickr.com/photos/iwannabcreative/3770591343/

  • Reply
    August 22, 2009 at 5:45 am

    I&#39;m a new sewer and needed a bag to go down town germany but had no patterns. And then pops up yours the same day I needed it. <br /><br />Wow your tut is superb. I was never once confused like I so often am on other tuts. Thank you so much for this

  • Reply
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    November 21, 2009 at 6:07 am

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  • Reply
    T. Luna
    December 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Kinda late in the game here, but this tutorial was awesome. Thanks! It was so easy to make.<br /><br />http://theincidentalcraftster.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    Amy Renee
    January 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Just wanted to let you know how much I love this bag. This has become my &quot;go-to&quot; gift for so many different occasions. I&#39;ve made several as gifts for little kids in all different shapes and sizes (depending on what scraps I have), and I&#39;ve got to say, each one is so awesome. The first one I made was earlier this year when I first dusted off my sewing machine. It took A LOT

  • Reply
    April 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I just found your blog from V and Co. I am completely in love with it! I just spent the last little while growing through a ton of your posts. I just love this messengar bag. Love it. I am going to blog about it (giving the credit back to you of course) I really love the way you have made it. I hope to try one soon!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I love this tutorial. It really did only take around 30 mins. Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Can you tell me the measurements to cut the straps? I&#39;m using fabric I already have, so it&#39;s not necessarily in 1/2 yard dimensions.

  • Reply
    amy smart
    February 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    @amy – I didn&#39;t have an email to reply to your question – hopefully you&#39;ll see this here.<br /><br />I cut my straps 4&quot; wide x width of the fabric. Then I shortened them, depending on the size of the person the bag was for. Sew the strap to one side, and then measure and trim before you sew the other side.<br /><br />Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2011 at 3:46 am

    thanks for the tutorial. love the bag, and the fabric was nice too.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I love fun and fast projects like this one! So cute! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I&#39;m planning on making one this week. Can you tell me the finished size of the bigger bag? Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Brecca Theele
    August 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I made this today and it was fun and easy!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks Amy for making this so easy! It took me more than 32 minutes the first time, but next time it&#39;ll be a breeze. Love your quilt tutorials too. You&#39;ve given me the confidence to start. Made one last week and already started on my 2nd one. Have a great weekend!! God Bless!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have been working on a 4 square heart quilt, and I was having some trouble matching up the center seams of each heart block on each row. I needed a break and needed a quick project that I could be successful at before returning to the 4 square heart project. This messenger bag was perfect! I love the bag, and can&#39;t wait to make my daughters one!

  • Reply
    Colette Jo
    March 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

    This was my first sewing machine project!! I&#39;m so proud of myself and so thankful to you for sharing this!! I learned a lot from this project like what I need to do better next time and how much fun sewing is!! It took me longer than 30 minutes due to my beginner status and the fact that I used fleece as my outside fabric. That gave me some issues to figure out with my machine. Once I

  • Reply
    Mama G
    April 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I just made this as a last minute birthday present for a little boy-and it was very quick as promised. It turned out so great-thanks for the tutorial!

  • Reply
    Maham Arshad
    July 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Gotta love it! amazing.<br />I also made a bag. check out mine :)<br />http://lavagirlart.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-to-diy-girly-sling-bag.html

  • Reply
    Blooms And Bugs
    October 24, 2012 at 7:58 am

    This is so cute. I featured it here:<br />http://sewprettysewfree.blogspot.com/2012/10/messenger-bag-sewing-tutorial.html<br />Thanks,<br />Anshu

  • Reply
    May 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    how big is it in diameter. I want to see if I will be able to fit my tablet in it

  • Reply
    June 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Hi<br />I like this tutorial, so have linked to it on my blog – http://alittlebirdmademe.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/list-of-30-free-bag-tutorials-and-patterns/<br />Thank you for sharing it!

  • Reply
    Alina John
    April 1, 2014 at 11:20 pm

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  • Reply
    August 17, 2019 at 7:43 am

    This is one of my favorite tutorials. I make these as gift bags. Everyone loves them!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial. I did the kid’s size, and somehow I , apparently, mixed the dimensions, since mine is wider than higher.
    One more think – such a nice double-faced bag, but the strap kills it. It is quite easilly posible to sew it directly in and then one get gorgeous double-faced bag.

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