Reader Tutorial: The Not-so-Big Messenger Bag

Welcome to Reader Tutorial week here at Sew Sweetness! Each day this week will feature a wonderful step-by-step sewing tutorial from one of my readers. Today’s guest post is from Kim at Kim’s Crafts!


I want to thank Sara for letting me do this! I love her blog and making her bags! I hope you enjoy my tutorial! If you have any problems or questions, let me know.

Not so Big Messenger bag


Main body pattern
½ yard fabric for front and back (I used corduroy owls)
1 yard accent fabric
3 yd. Pellon SF101 interfacing
7 inch zipper
Coordinating thread
2 D rings
1 bar slide buckle
½ inch magnetic snap
Zipper foot for sewing machine
Cutting the
From the Main
1a. Using the template for the main panel, cut 2 pieces
Accent fabric:
1b. For the handles, fold the selvage edges together (I refolded
mine the opposite way it was folded on the bolt and lined up the edges evenly).
Ensure that the edge is straight and then cut 2 6inch strips. This will give you
a total of 88 inches for the strap. If you would like a longer strap, cut an
additional strip.
1c.Cut 2 bottom pieces measuring 4 in by 34 inches (I did this right
after I did the strap cuts since I knew I had a long straight edge
1d. Using the template for the main panel, cut 2 pieces
1e. Cut 2 pieces 9x7in for the pocket
1f. Cut 4 pieces from the main panel template
1g. Cut 2 pieces for the bottom measuring 4in by 34 in
1h. Cut 2 pieces for the pockets measuring 9×7
Interface the pieces
2a. According to manufacturer’s instructions, attach the
interfacing to each piece. Every piece will have interfacing except for the
handle strips.
Assemble the interior

The zipper pocket
3a. I will not lie and say that I have come up with the perfect
way of doing this. The tutorial I use for doing this is located
here ( There are a
couple of changes for this bag. Finger press one of the interior panels in half
and then measure down 3 inches- this is where your zipper will go. You will
also notice that our pocket measurement is smaller because our bag is smaller. The top mark is where the snap will go. The second one is for the zipper.  For width I use a ¼ inch. The first one I did was a ½ inch and it was too big.
The snap
3b. Finger press each panel in have and make a mark 2 inches down.
This is where you will be inserting the snap.
3c.Using the prongs of the snap make 2 marks that line up with the
prongs. These should fall above and below the mark you made 2 inches down.
3d. Carefully snip these 2 marks, making sure to cut thru the

3e. Repeat steps 3c and 3d on two 1.5in square pieces of scrap fabric
or fleece.
3f. Insert one side of the snap thru the front of the panel and
then put on one of the scrap pieces onto the back of the fabric.

Insert the washer that comes with the snap and press down so
that the prongs lay flat (may need a small hammer for this). Repeat for the
other panel.

Attaching the
bottom/side piece
3g. Make a line 1 inch down on one of the bottom pieces. This will
be where you will start attaching the panels.

3h. Starting at the mark, start pinning the bottom piece along the
side panel, right sides together. When you make it to the curve, curve the
bottom piece around it as you pin it.

3i. When you have pinned the entire way around the panel, sew with
a 1/4inch seam.

3j. Repeat steps 3h and 3i for the other interior panel.
Assemble the
Exterior Panels

4a. Repeat step 3g, 3h, and 3i for the exterior panels

Connecting the
Exterior and Interior

5a. There are a couple of ways to do this. The way I chose may not
be the best for everyone but I like it! Insert your interior into the exterior,
so it looks like the bag will look. (sorry for the horrible picture)
5b. Line up the orange sides. The orange is going to be longer
than the rest of the edges of the bag so we need to trim them to make them even
with the rest of the bag. I drew lines across and trimmed them.

5c. Now, starting at the orange sides, fold the lining and
exterior down about ¼ inch towards their wrong sides, and pin together. Be sure
to match up the seams at the edge of the orange. Once both orange sections are
done, to this the rest of the bag.

This is the front after being pinned.

5d. Once the entire top is pinned down, sew along the top with a
1/8 inch seam, making sure that both edges are being sewn. This completes the
body of the bag!


6a. Now it is time to go back to those handles. Now is the time to
decide how long you want them to be. If you remember, we have about 88 inches
in length to use. You will need to trim the selvage off of each end and then
sew the 2 lengths together and press the seam down (minus any length you cut

6b. Fold entire length of strap in half and press. Open back up.

6c. Fold the bottom edge up to the middle crease line and press.

Then fold the top edge down to the middle crease line and press.

6d. Now fold the strip in half along the original middle crease
line. Press and pin in place.

6e. Starting with the side that is pinned, sew together with a
1/4inch seam. Repeat on the other side.
6f. Now you need to grab your slide bar buckle and D rings.
You will take one end of the strap and pin it around the middle
bar on the buckle.

With my zipper foot, I sewed it as close as I could. I went back
over the seam a few times to make it stronger. Then I trimmed the excess edge.

6g. Now take the opposite end of the handle (without the buckle)
slip a D ring over the end and just let it flop around.

6h. With the same end, you are going to thread it thru the buckle.
It will go under the outer bar on the side where the seam is showing, over the
middle bar, and under the bar on the opposite side (be sure your strap isn’t
twisted). Pull some length thru the buckle.


6i. Now take the other D ring. On the flat edge, you are going to
pin the free end of the strap. Going back to the zipper foot, you are going to
attach it to the D ring. I sewed mine back and forth a few times and then I
trimmed the edge. Then rotate the D ring so that the strap is attached on the
round side and the straight side is free.
6j. Now you will need some 2 scraps fabric. I used the orange and
used some of the strap that I cut off. Because of this, the pieces that I am
using are 6in by 3 in. Fold in half so that it is 6in by 1.5 in and sew the
long side and one end with a ¼ inch seam. Leave the other end open so that you
can turn it inside out. Press well.

These are the pieces that you are going to use to attach the D rings
to the bag. Finger press one orange side so that you can see where the middle

Thread one of these thru the first D ring.

Line up the middle of
the D ring with the crease you made.
Pin to the bag just under the D ring. There should be about a
2inch strip hanging down from the ring. The end on top should also be the end
that is sewn closed. You can see that the back of the strip is longer than the
front. We will take care of this in a minute.

Using your zipper foot, sew as close to the ring as you can. Sew
back and forth a couple of times.

Now is the time when we are going to trim off the excess on this
piece that is hanging down. Trim it so it is just shorter than the front piece.

Pin it back down.

Sew close to the bottom of this piece, making sure that you are
sewing down the back piece. Sew back and forth a couple of times.

Repeat this for the other side and you are done!

Here’s one in green!
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