The Replacement Messenger Bag
May 26th, 2009 | Link

Last August I made a black corduroy messenger bag from a slightly modified version of the Burda Style Diana pattern. And I was happy with it, except for a couple of things. First, it had no pockets or separations in it of any kind, and my keys, cell phone, etc. kept falling to the bottom of the bag. Second, the strap was just slightly too short, because I ran out of fabric when I made it.

With this in mind, and influenced by Kirsten’s bags and by my old Jack Spade bag (in a style no longer made), I revamped the Diana pattern and came up with this:

Messenger bag

The flap fabric is the Urban Type design from Green Olive Textiles on Etsy. The other fabric is a light-weight denim stretch fabric I bought a while back on eBay (I made a skirt from it, and had some left over). I feared originally that I should have used interfacing to sturdy up the shape, but now that I’ve worn it everywhere for the last month or so, I like the slouchiness of it. It curves around my hip when I wear it alone, or flattens out against my lower back when I’m carrying it under my commuter backpack. It sinks against the wall or down to the floor when I put it down. It’s casual.

(After I sewed the outside of the bag, and was ready to attach the flap, I was suddenly nervous about having the Urban Type fabric facing outward. I was very tempted to put the Urban Type fabric on the inside of the flap, and have the whole outside of the bag made of denim. But my husband talked me out of it, and wisely so.)

Messenger bag - strap and bottom detail

The seat belt webbing strap idea came from Kirsten. The 1-1/2″ wide webbing was purchased from Seattle Fabrics, along with the slide and other hardware (including a key ring hook). I used the adjustible strap tutorial from You Sew, Girl.

Messenger bag - outside pocket detail

The bag is lined with red linen that is pretty close to the Urban Type background. This time I added an outside pocket that makes up the full width of the bag and starts about two inches down from the top. This is great for my work badges, passport and plane tickets while I’m at the airport, etc.

Inside, I added a zipped pocket for my wallet and a slip pocket for my phone (following the Sew, Mama, Sew tutorials), and a hook for my keys. There is also plenty of room in there for my journal, iPod, and glasses, a paperback, and even a small knitting project. (When I made the black corduroy bag, I reduced the width and height by an inch each. This time, I used the original pattern dimensions.)


  • kirsten says:

    fantastic! it looks sensational.
    (i think this fabric is PERFECT for a messenger bag – certainly something i think i will do with one of my pieces, too.)

  • Shannon says:

    Thanks Kirsten! And thanks for turning me onto the seat belt webbing. I quite like the way it feels–it’s softer than the webbing on most of my purchased bags, but feels stronger than a fabric strap. And also looks darn cool

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My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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