Picture of Lined Messenger Bag
Finished bag.jpg
How to make a messenger bag with inner lining. This is a wool felt bag lined with vinyl (for some waterproofness).

The basic idea is to make a bag shape out of both fabrics then slot one inside the other and join them around the opening. This means there are no rough seams on the inside. It also means you don't have to sew through more than two layers of fabric which is important if your fabric is thick and your sewing machine less than industrial.

The design was inspired by this site. We liked the design and there were heaps of helpful pics through some of the links on that page.

We actually made this in two steps. We completed the bag in one sitting without too much thought of the strap system. We then shopped around for strap hardware and designed the strap system afterwards. It worked out ok but if you are going to do something different with the straps think hard about how it will work before sewing anything.
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Step 1: Gather materials

Materials for bag:
fabric for outer - we used wool felt ~1yd
fabric for inner - we used black vinyl ~1yd
matching thread
velcro ~1/2 yd is enough
bias tape - for making a neat edge - I got wide double fold from JoAnn
some nylon webbing
some reflective tape (optional)

We got all of the above from a local discount fabric store here

Materials for strap system:
2in nylon webbing
1in nylon webbing
2in triglide
2in cam belt clip
1in side release clip
2 2in plastic swivel hooks

We got these from REI and a local outdoor fabric store.

Step 2: Make pattern

Picture of Make pattern
Mock up.jpg
Measure out pattern.jpg
Finished pattern.jpg
This is the general pattern we used. We mocked up a bag using these dimensions out of brown paper and decided it was a good size. If you are making changes to the pattern I recommend doing a mockup just to check it all works out.

Once your pattern and dimensions are sorted out you'll want a full size pattern. We used baking parchment to do ours. Take special care to get your lines straight and angles square. Mark on the pattern which edges need seam allowances (marked in photos). Cut out.
A lil advice for the part where you said the "sewing machine did not like having the vinyl on the top side". you might want to try some powder. on the vinyl surface and the underside of the machine's holster.
P.S: Really well executed Project! :)

TigerNod4 years ago
Interesting. Exactly what is the advantage of using wool and vinyl in this case?
it is soft and looks cool
Hm, fair enough.
Robnoir5 years ago
This has been the first real instructable I've followed to the end. I have to say that this was completely worth all of the effort. I made the entire bag for less than 5 dollars. I used some old bleached canvas for the outside and some black cotton fabric for the lining. I came across an old cam corder bag and stripped it for its strap. I found it all at a local creative reuse store. My machine actaully broke half-way through so the bias tape and the straps were sewn by hand but ultimately the bag holds its weight. I just finished the design on it and am rather proud of the bag. Once again thank you and keep up the good work.
those look sweet as. ten points ! the second one is mint
Robotrogue4 years ago
Where did you get the Locking Cam for the shoulder strap? Great build/writeup.
we got them from discount fabrics on san pablo. but the other day i seen (as to say saw) some is Achem's out doors repair store. also in san pablo
where do i find some reflective fabrics in orange?
try discount fabric on San Pablo ?
If hunting is big in your area you can probably find something cheap with reflective orange fabric and cannibalize it.
Robnoir4 years ago
I felt the need to go it again and make another bag using this pattern with a few alterations. I modeled the strap mechanism after Chrome's famous clip strap and decked the bag out in reflective tape. Anyway here's the new digs. I can't stress how much I love this pattern.
Peek5 years ago
Thanks for the info. I've been wanting to make a messenger bag for ages. If you are ever in need of free, YES FREE! buckles got to, chose your region and order up to five "buckle samples". Submit mailing info and in less that a week you will have your buckles. I have about 40 now!!
Kaber5 years ago
I think I will try this for my son, but use fabric straps. This is a good shaped bag, but I think he'll be fine with fabric straps sewn to the bag. THANKS for the instructions. Maybe I'll even post a picture when I'm done.
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cwickham (author)  DELETED_surrealies6 years ago
I guess we spent about $40 on the materials. We splurged a bit on the wool felt and had enough left over for another bag. If you are flexible on fabrics you could probably halve the cost. The straps and hardware are probably the least flexible in price if you are buying new but its possible to salvage them from old bags.
Nenona cwickham5 years ago
I suggest you both check out ITW Nexus(only a google search away), and apply for some samples. They send you up to a maximum of 5 of 5 different types, and they have really great buckles and other things for messenger bags. A lot of amatuer bag makers use them for theirs, including the guy who made the Golden Mean Messenger bag, and Leif Labs(on blogspot). Neither has ever had any trouble with the buckles from ITW nexus, so I recommend you hop on acquiring some:
sk1875 years ago
Can you fit a 15.4 inch laptop in this bag? a 17inch laptop? i was drawing it out and everything and I am skeptical even a 15.4 inch will fit. Btw, nice job on it! It looks amazing.
shelly35326 years ago
I'm having a hard time understand the pattern. Is there anyway you can email it to me or something? I love your bag! I'm going to get the material right now!
cwickham (author)  shelly35326 years ago
Hopefully this is a slightly higher res version with a couple of additions. The red lines indicate edges that need a seam allowance added. Let me know if you need more pointers.
Ikotoo6 years ago
Nice Threadless shirt!
Nice. It looks very nice. I suppose using cordura for the underside and another fabric to give a nice touch will work as well. Could buckles be added to provide for a way of transporting say a fleece picnic cloth on the back and using e.g, leather straps for wearing it. I have two bags I like but not really one as a picnic bag. I had wondered in making a bag of my own, but never could really figure out how to do it. And besides the last time I sewed there were holes in the fabric but not wire going trough them.
Southpole6 years ago
awesome. i made a "Golden Mean" bag myself about a year ago, from black truck tarp and cotton lining (not recommended). someone should start a gallery with bags based on federico's pattern. your execution is nice an clean, although i wouldn't use a felt bag in rain (is there rain in SF? in know there's fog...) i noticed one bigger problem though: the bike in step 9 has gears and brakes!
cwickham (author)  Southpole6 years ago
Yeah, probably not great in heavy rain. And yes we get some rain but not too much. Yup, I have gears and brakes. I'm just not fit/strong/coordinated/motivated enough to tackles hills without them. Maybe one day....
threadless shirt on the model!
Doctor What6 years ago
Sweet. I got a messenger bag, but wasn't happy with the design. Now mine can have duck print!
omnibot6 years ago
That is a handsome looking bag.