Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Lisa Lam Organised Office Bag

This post is part of Purse Palooza 2012.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!

Sarah from Fairy Face Designs has a beautiful blog. The first project I remember seeing on her site was her tutorial for the Picture Box Quilt, which is still one of my favorites. She wrapped up {Sew} Get Started last month, a helpful series with articles and tutorials that would be great for the beginning seamstress. Check it out!
Solids Messenger bag hanging

Thanks so much to Sara for having me do one of her reviews for Purse Palooza! My review is of The Organised Office Bag from Lisa Lam’s “The Bag Making Bible”. This is essentially a messenger bag, and is a really great project.

This pattern is part of a great book, which is full of all sorts of techniques and tips for making bags. There are a number of technical sections, and also a number of full bag patterns.

Materials & Interfacing

The pattern calls for home dec weight cotton, but as I was making this bag for the For the Love of Solids swap, I used quilting weight cotton for it, and I had no major problems with it. Mine was not intended as a laptop bag however, and I think if it was to be used for this purpose the heavier fabric would be necessary to give it the strength required.

I used all solid fabrics to make the bag. The background was Kona Ash, and the colour splashes were a variety of Kona colours. The interior was a Klona lime green solid.

The pattern also called for different types of interfacing, including medium weight woven fusible, fusible fleece and some ultra firm fusible for the bag flap and front main body reinforcement. I used the interfacing recommended with the exception of 1 piece of the ultra firm in the main body. I found the interfacing gave the bag great structure.

There were also a number of other notions required including metal rectangular rings, D rings, slider, zip etc. These were easily available from Lisa Lam’s U-handbag.com website, where I also was able to source the correct interfacing really easily (all Vilene brand).

Pattern Pieces

There were a number of pattern pieces for this bag, although as I made a number of adjustments, I didn’t use them all. They were easy to cut – the hardest bit was that as I decided to make a pieced front & back and flap, I had to work out the measurements for that myself – but if you were making this bag from a single fabric, you would have them cut in no time.
Solids Bag Flap WIP

The only small complication I had was in cutting the ultra firm interfacing (using part of the pattern pieces), which I got a bit mixed up on originally, but I soon figured it out.


One of the great things about this book is the fab, illustrated instructions. They are very comprehensive, and the fact that there are lots of different techniques shown for various components of bags means you can mix and match to get the look you want.

Messenger bag back

My fave bit was making the slider strap which was totally clear and way easier than I expected. The finish looked really professional, thanks to the great instructions.


The major modifications I made were to make the exterior of the bag a pieced one, for my swap, rather than using a single fabric. Also, because I quilted the bag flap and I wanted to make a feature of it, I bound the exterior of it. This meant a slight adjustment to the measurements. Secondly, I didn’t make it as a laptop bag, so I left out a number of the interior features within the bag such as the laptop harness and strap, and I made my pockets non-elasticated, because I just preferred that look. I also added a phone pocket on the interior on the opposite side from the pen pockets.
Back panel pocket 

Thirdly, I added metal snap buttons instead of the ones on the pattern – mainly because I was quilting the exterior bag flap and didn’t want to break the look of the straight line quilting. This pattern was easy to change up.

Messenger Bag front

Difficulty Level

I would put this bag at confident beginner level, although I think a beginner would manage most of it.


I certainly would make this bag again, it is a great, versatile design and really useful too! I really had fun making it and it was a very satisfying project to work on.

Messenger bag finished

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