Tutorial: Super Easy Patternless Child’s Messenger Bag (or Adult)

Don’t you hate Tutorials without picture?? Sorry.

Simple messenger bags are pretty easy to make. Perfect for a last-minute gift for anyone on your list this year.


  • Fabric for outside
  • Fabric for inside
  • Interfacing if desired
  • Webbing or other material for strap
  • Buckle if desired
  • Fastener for flap if desired

1. Decide what size you want. Let’s say you want a bag that’s 12 inches by 24 inches and 2 inches wide.

2. Cut out pieces. A front, a back, a flap, and a strip for the width.
Front and back: 13×25 (Your desired bag size plus 1/2 inch seam allowances on each side)
Flap: I chose to cut mine the same size as the front and back. You may go shorter or longer. You may opt to shape it as a rectangle, or to angle the edges in a bit, or to make it a half circle.
Strip: 3×48 (the 48 comes from adding up the three lengths that the strip will be sewn to. 12+12+24, the 3 is the bag width plus two half-inch seam allowances.)

You’ll need to cut the whole bag out of both your main fabric as well as your lining fabric. If you chose to use interfacing, cut the bag out of that, too, and iron or sew the interfacing to your lining fabric.

3. There are several ways to go about assembling the bag at this point. These directions will give you just one option.

4. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew the two fronts together, right sides facing, along the top edge. Turn right sides out and iron the seam flat. Topstitch if desired. Baste around three unfinished edges.

5. Sew the two strips together, right sides facing, along the two short edges. Turn right sides out and iron the seam flat. Topstitch if desired. Baste along two long edges.

6. Sew the two flaps together, right sides facing, along three sides, leaving one long edge open. Turn right sides out and iron the seam flat. Topstitch if desired. Baste along open edge.

7. With wrong sides together, baste two back pieces together along all four edges.

8. Pin and then sew strip along the sides and bottom of front piece, right sides together. Clip strip at corners to enable smooth turning. Repeat with back piece. Turn right sides out.

9. You now have a little bag that just needs a flap and strap!

10. Sew flap to back, right sides together.

11. Finish all exposed seams however you desire – overcast, pinking shears, seam binding, etc.

12. Determine how long you want your strap material and sew it securely to either side of the bag. (If you decided to use a buckle, now is the time to assemble that and attach.)

13. If you desire to fasten the flap, assemble and attach whatever you have chosen as a fastener.

And you’re done.


More Slow Progress on Christmas Gifts

OK, staying out of my office is really hard for me. I enjoy what I do. I like making awesome products for your families. I don’t like not making awesome products for your families. It’s frustrating to not be working.

Actually, what I need to do is take down my Planning Board, because it’s still got my plans through mid December on it, and it yells at me every time I see it, “You’re behind!! You were supposed to restock Cycle Pads last week!!” (And I’m currently plotting to see if I can’t get enough sneak to the office time to get them restocked anyway…  shhhhhh.)

It’s not like I’m on bedrest or anything; I’m not. I’m just not supposed to be doing as much work, and I’m supposed to be resting more, and there’s the ever-dangling-over-my-head threat of You Might Need To Have A Baby Right Now.

But I have been sneaking down to my office every now and again to continue plodding along on Christmas presents. As I posted on Facebook recently, knowing that family won’t appreciate their planned handmade gifts doesn’t give me the money to buy them Big Box Store-ish presents like they actually want. Plus, I really do think that one of these years, I just might wear them down and they will suddenly appreciate the thought, time, and effort that goes into their gifts.

(please note: if you believe you are one of these people who might be getting a gift from me this Christmas, I recommend stopping here.)

Over the last two weeks, I was able to quickly bust out quite a few simple gifts. Actually, these gifts started a few months ago, when I happened across a clearance sale at Hanes.com. (No, I don’t normally shop there, I think I saw a post about it at Want Not.) Zip front hoodies were on clearance for far less than I’ve ever seen plain hoodies ever, even at Target on clearance, and these were the nice Hanes ones. Score! So I bought a hoodie for all the kids on my list, and one for me (I wear a boy’s large, lol), and then some adult size ones for a few adults on my list, too.

I was planning to do some screenprinting, but the process of screenprinting, while not difficult, is somewhat labor-intense for what was going to be REALLY small runs. I ended up switching to Wax Paper Stencils and Appliques instead of screenprinting. As a bonus, this allowed me to work in short bursts, whereas the nature of screenprinting pretty much requires the whole process to be done at one time.

Christmas Gifts Christmas Gifts Christmas Presents
This guitar sweatshirt is for my 16 year old nephew (who plays the guitar) and I also made one for Wally (who also plays the guitar). It’s a reverse applique, so the flames fleece was pinned underneath the sweatshirt before I stitched the outline of the guitar and then trimmed away the sweatshirt fabric from the inside of the shape. Super easy, but somehow seems “cooler” than an actual applique. The butterflies and the flowers are also reverse appliques, and are for a friend’s daughter, and my Miss G. (Genna’s flower sweatshirt also has a more traditional applique on the pocket.) I AM aware that these are really bad pictures.

Christmas Gifts Christmas Presents

These two sweatshirts are freezer paper stencil. The rocket for a friend’s 4 year old son, and the Jeep for her husband, who is the proud owner of a new-to-him Jeep Wrangler. (A Christmas present AND a gift to welcome him to the Wrangler club.) On the right is a set of four White Sox luggage tags. They, along with a White Sox travel shoe bag that’s not pictured, are for my Father in Law, who travels a lot and loves the Sox.

Genna Socks spider socks

And I finished these socks for Miss Genna and the Spider Socks for Mr Wally. (Genna’s socks took about a week. Wally’s? The entire month of October.)

Baby Socks Baby Socks Baby Socks Baby Socks

And these four little pairs of socks for the new baby, and for a friend’s baby for Christmas.

I’m NOT posting the details of what I made for a friend who I KNOW reads this blog, lol. So I’m all done with the sewn items. Now I need to learn how to make paracord survival bracelets! I’ve still got some knitting that I’m working on, as well –  a sweater for the baby, a pair of socks for my doula (just the toe of one sock remaining), and possibly one for whoever shows up to watch the older kids while I’m busy having a baby. Um, and because some idiot (*ahem* me) made needlepoint Christmas stockings for everyone else in the family, I have to track down a nonugly needlepoint Christmas stocking kit that does not feature Santa and get that done, too. Fortunately, the baby won’t know if he or she doesn’t have a stocking for Christmas this year, but I don’t see me having MORE time to do needlepoint once he or she is born, so I’d really rather do it now.

Remaining giftless are all of my brothers in law, who are all really hard to decide about. I have trouble with men’s gifts in general, I’ll be honest. DH is not helping at all with ideas, and since they’re boys and he’s a boy (and two out of the three are from his side of the family), I’ve generally put him in charge. This means that they usually get Best Buy gift cards, and thus the most expensive gifts out of any. We’ll also purchase some sort of small toy for my 5 year old niece, and I’m kicking myself that I wasn’t focused on this need when I hit the clearance aisle at our local Giant Store to find a few small goodies for my own kids (foam bath letters and a suction cup bath mirror for $5!).

Personal sewing

I was an extra good girl over Labor Day weekend and worked hard to get my Work work finished. Then I snuck down and took some time to get my own projects finished. I continued working on these in snippets throughout the week – they’re all small, fast projects. I love having them done!

Personal sewing
Three jumpers for the fall for Genna. I’ve been hoarding these corduroy prints for several years, so now that cord costs far more than I’ve ever seen it… I didn’t have to pay the higher prices for it. Yay! All based on the same pattern, but each with slight differences. Experimenting with how I like to do the facings.

Personal sewing
Baby gown.

Personal sewing
Found these all but finished in my Unfinished Projects box. They were originally going to be embroidered or painted and listed on Etsy, but with new laws in place now, I’m choosing not to list children’s products with zippers. And of course they’re too small for Miss Genna. Fortunately, I know people having babies.

Personal sewing
Fleece sleeper for new baby, made with leftover scraps from the pouch (below).

Personal sewing
New fleece pouch for new baby. Not sure I like it now that it’s finished.

Personal sewing Personal sewing
Two fall/winter skirts for me.

Personal sewing
New carseat cover for Genna. Her old one was FILTHY. This one is kind of busy, but I have several Disney prints I bought for a particular project that I never did and I’m kind of trying to use them up. She was delighted.

More spring sewing

I haven’t felt much like cleaning lately. I mean, I’m doing the minimum – picking up toys and washing dishes and cleaning up the 8,000 messes that the two kids and husband make every day. But I haven’t felt like REALLY cleaning – scrubbing and sorting and A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place. Instead, I’ve been reading, knitting, and sewing personal stuff. I tend to hate February. Hate it. Longest month of the year. Cold, depressing. So very winter. ugh.

So, you know, I’m hibernating.

At any rate, I made myself three more skirts and Genna two dresses. A pair of new PJ pants has been requested by Wally, so I hope to get those done next week.

spring skirt spring skirt

(please ignore the lack of ironing, but feel free to admire my awesome socks.) These two skirts are both made from linen – the green is a nice organic linen I picked up on clearance. The tan is the same linen I use for many of my Wallypop and Boulevard Designs products. I always have a bolt or two on hand. I used my Super Easy Patternless A-Line Skirt tutorial, but actually made myself a paper pattern for a two-panel skirt (a front piece and a back piece) and then cut it out on the bias for both of these skirts. I don’t tend to do bias-cut skirts often, because they use SO MUCH fabric, and I’m cheap that way, but I love the drape of bias skirts.

The green one, I cut out a wedge from the side of the hem and inserted a little ruffle. I think this might have worked out better with a less stiff fabric, but it still looks ok. The green one is made with a zipper at the side waist. The tan one, I cut wider and bound the waist with Fold over Elastic (the elastic binding sometimes used on diapers and covers) to make an easy pull on skirt. I totally borrowed the idea from, I think, Amy Karol at Angry Chicken. I’ve used FOE to bind gathered edges of tops, and on children’s clothes, but never on a skirt waistband.

spring skirt
This one is another made from leftovers from ring slings. It’s a four-panel skirt, using the ideas in the Super Easy Patternless A-Line Skirt tutorial, but making the waist wider to use elastic instead of a zipper.

wrap dresssundress

Genna’s dresses. The blue one is made from a McCall’s pattern (I do actually own patterns, too!). The wrap dress is from this tutorial at Tiny Happy. It would have looked way, way cuter with handmade bias tape, but I was quickly running out of naptime and decided for forgo the pretty, wide bias tape in favor of something pulled from my Bin Of Bias Tape. The dress is actually quite large, and probably won’t fit her well until next year, which is a little disappointing, particularly considering that I could have easily figured this out by just taking a minute to think about it. Ah, well.

Sundresses are my absolute favorite for Genna. They can be made appropriate for winter simply by putting a long sleeve shirt underneath, and maybe some pants or Little Leg Warmers. In spring, or cooler days in summer, they are matched with a short sleeve shirt and Little Leg Warmers if needed. And of course, they can be worn as is for hot weather. Many sundresses also last for several years, if they’re wide and drapey, which is an added bonus.

Travel Documents

Some of you might know that our family has an upcoming trip, one for which we need passports.

Fortunately, Thimble, a blog I follow, posted a handy little Travel Documents project about a year ago and I bookmarked it! (And, in an unusual twist, a project I wanted to complete was actually still online when I went to look it up later. Usually, I go back to look at my bookmarks and the webpages have been taken down, lol.)

Travel Case

Travel Case

I made the mistake of doing the topstitching with the inside facing me, so it looks a little sloppy from the outside, but it looks like it’ll work perfectly for our needs. I think that she made hers out of all cotton – I used all bottomweights, because I’m running a little low on cottons, and that consequently make it pretty thick and hard to sew through in places. I was hand cranking my machine, and that’s saying something. (I have an industrial machine that will sew through practically anything.)

On a related note, if anyone has tips on air travel with two year olds, I’m open to suggestions!

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/20343339@N00/5412975917/&#8221; title=”Travel Case by sarahtar, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4145/5412975917_bd7fab849e.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”349″ alt=”Travel Case” /></a>