Quilted Messenger Bag Tutorial
©2014 Jamie Lewis
Thank you to Aubrey Marshall of Southern Fabric for teaming up with me to bring you this fun project!
(The first 3 photos courtesy of Southern Fabric.)
Wear your favorite fabric any day of the week with this oversized, plush quilted messenger bag!
I’m going to show you the abbreviated version of how to make this bag in my tutorial. If you want the detailed version with all the measurements and steps, you can download the free PDF for a limited time from my blog under the PDF patterns tab.
Design considerations: I designed this bag based on a bag I bought in Ghana, Africa and wore until it was threadbare. I loved the soft, pillowy feel of the batting, so I recommend a polyester batting with a ½” to ¾” loft. You may certainly choose a different batting, but the bags sewn above were made with ½” and ¾” loft batting and it gives them a puffiness that I really like.
Let’s get started!
What you will need:
· 100% polyester batting (1/2” to 3/4” loft), 48” wide: 1.5 yards
· Fusible interfacing, sheer weight, 20” wide: 1.5 yards
· Closure: 3-inch strip of Velcro or magnetic snap
o 2 small strips of felt, slightly larger than closure
· Quilting cotton fabric: (included if purchased in a kit)
o 8 coordinating prints: 1 fat quarter (18” x 22”) of each
§ If using non-directional prints, you will only need fat quarters for two of the prints, but fat eighths (11” x 18”) for the remainder of the prints.
o 1 coordinating solid: 5/8 yard
Step 1: Press and cut
From the fabric and materials above, cut your pieces:
Fabric A: 17 ½” x 16”
Fabric B: 5 ½” x 16” and 2 ½” x 12 ¼”
Fabric C: 4 ½” x 16” and 2 ½” x 3 ½”
Fabric D: 8 ½” x 16” , 5 ½” x 15 ½” and 2 ½” x 3 ½”
Fabric E: 8 ½” x 15 ½”
Fabric F: 4 ½” x 15 ½” and 2 ½” x 17 ½”
Fabric G: 7 ½” x 15 ½” and 2 ½” x 17 ¼”
Fabric H: 8 ½” x 9 ½”
Solid fabric: 16” x 34.5”, and two 2 ½” strips x width of fabric (WOF)
Cut interfacing and batting:
Interfacing (20” WOF): three 2 ½” strips x WOF and 16” x 34 ½”
Batting: 2 ½” x 52”, 16” x 34 ½”, and 12 ½” x 15 ½"
Helpful hint: Use pieces of interfacing (already cut to size) as templates for cutting the batting
I have included the diagram from my pattern. If you’re doing this on the web, I recommend printing just the diagram. If you have some moderate sewing experience, you should be able to make the bag using the diagram and pictures in this tutorial.
After you have all of your pieces, trust me, the prep-work step takes the longest. The sewing is a breeze.
To conceptualize this project, think of it as 3 separate quilt "sandwiches".
- You have (1) the strap, which consists of the pieced strap, the solid fabric, and the batting/interfacing. The starting dimensions of this sandwich are: 2.5"x 52".
- You have (2) the flap, which consists of the flap outer, the flap inner, and the batting/interfacing. The starting dimensions of this sandwich are: 12.5"x 15.5".
- And lastly, you have (3) the main part of the bag, the "bag body" which consists of the bag outer, the bag lining, and the batting w/interfacing. The starting dimensions of this sandwich are: 16" x 34.5".
So let's build our sandwiches...
Step 2: Piece strips for the strap to get 52” long strips
Join multiple strips to get your 52" long strips for your strap, as shown:
Step 3: Assemble strap
Sew together the pieced strap, GDFCB, following the diagram, with 1/4" seams.
Lightly fuse the interfacing to one side of the batting. (Your batting looks slightly wrinkled when it has fused.)
Why sheer interfacing, do you ask? When we sew the quilt sandwiches together, the batting is always the top layer. It is a PAIN to sew across the top of polyester batting, so I included the sheer interfacing as a smooth surface to sew on for each of these steps:
Layer the pieces for your strap "quilt sandwich": First, the solid strap, facing up. Then, the pieced strap, facing down, and lastly the batting with interfacing lightly fused to the top.
Sew around 3 edges, leaving one of the 2.5" sides open for turning. Trim excess batting before turning:
Carefully separate the two layers of fabric by rubbing between two fingers. Once you have a hold of just one layer of fabric, insert a ruler or dowel and start to push the seam upward through the tube:
If you are using the 3/4" loft batting, this step will be tricky because of the bulk, but gently work the edges downward over the tool and you will get it.
Once you see the finished edge poking through the top, you can remove your tool and finish turning right side out by hand:
Tuck the edges of the open end in, and topstitch around the whole strap, as close to the edge as you can. I did mine about 1/8":
Your strap is done! Set it aside.
Step 4: Assemble bag outer
Now piece together fabrics ABCD according to diagram. Mine looked like this:
Step 5: Assemble flap
Piece together flap outer (EF) and flap inner (DG), according to diagram. Here are mine:
Attach your closure (Velcro or snap) to fabric D, in approximate place shown on diagram. Mine was about 2 3/4" from the top edge of my fabric:
See how I folded my fabric in half and made a crease to find the center? Good little tip. This is also where you use the small pieces of felt, slightly larger than your closure. This helps give it stability:
Now assemble your quilt sandwich for the flap, starting with panel EF (flap outer) facing up, adding DG (flap inner) facing down, and batting with interfacing on top:
Pin and sew around 3 edges, leaving fabrics E and G open:
Trim and turn right side out, topstitch around the same 3 edges at 3/8" seam allowance, and safety-pin baste the layers. Decide on your quilting pattern and quilt the flap (recommended quilting lines no further apart than 4 inches).
You're done with 2 of your 3 quilt sandwiches now! On to the biggest one...
Step 6: Prepare and attach pocket
Fold the pocket (H in diagram) in half along 9.5" side, right sides together. Sew around 3 edges leaving a 1-2 inch opening for turning:
Now you have a double-sided rectangle. Topstitch across the top edge at 3/8" seam allowance. Pin the pocket onto your solid bag lining fabric, centered, 6" down from top edge of fabric. Here you topstitch around 3 sides of the pocket, leaving the top open:
Step 7: Assemble bag body
Time to put the biggest sandwich together. I made an extra diagram for this step because it is a little tricky. I even did it wrong on one of my 3 sample bags when I was working late one night. Here is how you layer your sandwich:
Start with the solid bag lining (pocket attached) facing up. Add the quilted flap, aligning raw edge with top edge of solid fabric. The quilted flap should have the flap inner facing down against the solid fabric, so the snap or Velcro is touching the pocket. Next, layer the bag outer (ABCD) face down on top of the quilted flap. This is where I messed up. I had the edge of fabric A lined up with the top of the quilted flap. NO. It should be fabric D. Here are some visuals:
(the edge of fabric D in my picture above should actually be the tiger print, not the antelopes)
Another note: The quilted flap will be about 1 inch narrower in width (on both sides) than the other layers. This is correct, just be sure to center the quilted flap. The extra width on the bag body is being reserved to finish the side seams later.
Pin the layers and stitch across the top and bottom edges of the sandwich at 3/8" seam allowance. Trim excess and turn right side out. You will now have something that looks like this:
Step 8: Attach closure
Before you quilt the remainder of your bag, you need to affix the other side of your closure (Velcro or snap). Fold the bag as shown, to find where your ends will meet and mark the fabric.
Attach your closure according to package instructions.
If you used a snap, it would look like this. Attach the snap to the bag outer fabric only:
It will be somewhere near the center of fabric A (shown by diamond icon in the diagram):
Step 9: Quilt bag body
Let your imagination run wild with this step! Pin baste your layers again...
...and quilt whatever you want. I did a wavy line quilting pattern with a peekaboo heart on this bag. My other bags were more geometric style quilting. Just be sure to not quilt over your pocket. It will render your pocket unusable. If you want to quilt all over the bag, and don't mind hand-sewing, you can hand-sew the pocket on as the last step. I just made a vertical quilting line that dissected the pocket in half to make it into two smaller pockets:
Step 10: Finish side seams with French seams
Now you just fold the bag body so the edges meet beneath the flap. You will be doing French seams to finish the bag. This gives you a nice finished seam on both the inside and outside of the bag. Pin, and sew along the side seams (while the bag is right side out) at 3/8" seam allowance.
Trim as much excess as possible:
Invert the bag, working corners to a point. Sew the same seams again, with a 3/8" seam allowance, backstitching at both ends. This will encase the raw edges of the first seams you did. Turn your bag right side out again. You're almost finished! One last step.
Step 11: Attach strap
Pin the strap to either side of the bag. I'm 5'11" and I like to wear my cross-body bag low on my hip, hence the long strap. I sewed my straps 3 inches down from the top edge of the bag body. Try it on before sewing to make sure you like the length. You could even cut the strap shorter if you wanted significantly less length.
Sew a square with an X inside to attach the strap to each side:
Hooray! You're done. Check out these three samples, and don't forget to CLICK HERE for the PDF pattern from my blog if you want to save this project for later. Thanks for reading!