Introduction: Making Your Own Messenger Style School Bag

As everyone knows, students have their own responsibilities when attending school.  Such as having supplies for class ready and keeping track of all of their books.  Some people carry their books, but as many of us know there are just too many classes; not to mention books to go along with them.  So at some point you are going to need something to carry those books in.  I have an excessive amount of fabric so I decided to make my own bag for school type uses.  

This is how to make your own personalized messenger bag, with a pillow lap cushion and an adjustable strap.   You can even make it big enough to fit your laptop in it.


Let's get started!


Step 1: Required Equipment, Material, and Knowledge

First we are making the base for the bag

*= optional
( ) = explanation

~Equipment

Sturdy scissors (which are sharp enough to cut fabric.)
Sewing Machine (Unless you want to sew it all by hand which would take forever and a day)
Measuring Device (ruler, yard stick, or tailors tape.
Straight Pins
*Iron (if you chose to add the iron ons to the bag)
Chalk (to mark the measures)
Needle
Spool of thread
Adjustable strap connectors ( 1 three bar and 2 single.



~Materials

*Iron ons (with different motifs)
Button or Velcro for the closure on the bag
Quilt Batting
Pillow Stuffing
A lot of Fabric in colors of your choice

~Knowledge

It is recommended that you know how to hand sew because some parts will be too thick for the sewing machine and will have a chance of breaking the needle. 

You need to know how to sew on a button and make a button hole.  (If you want to go the easy way use Velcro. :) )

Step 2: Cutting the Material and Putting a Seam Around the Squares

Write down the width and the length of the laptop; if you are going to put a laptop in your bag.  If not take the size of your biggest book or your binder.  Add about 3-4 inches to each measure, and mark each measure on your fabric.  Cut the fabric by using a straight edge or a yard stick to keep your cuts fairly straight.  They don't have to be perfect we will fix this later.  You should have something in the shape of a rectangle or square.  You must cut out 9 more of these squares, but instead of measuring individually I used the first one as a stencil.  

The reason why we added 3-4 inches around the perimeter of the square is for seam allowance.  You can put a seam around the edge of each square you cut out to make sure they don't  fray.

Step 3: Time to Decorate

This step is optional if you use colorfully designed fabric you may not need to decorate.  You may not even want to.  If this is the case skip this step and go to the next.

If you decorate with the iron ons before you sew, it makes it much easier.  It is nearly impossible if you wait. 

Heat your Iron up and position your iron on.

After the Iron is heated, follow the instructions on the back of your iron on.


Step 4: Sewing the Components of the Base of the Bag

*You can also pin the fabric with straight pins to keep it from moving around.

~The front flap of the bag.

Sew this one similar to a pillow.  Take the sheet of fabric with the design on it and face it inwards and the faded side out; same for the backside.  Come towards the middle about 1/2 inch to an inch away from the edge and sew like you did the seam around each individual square.  Leave one side open and turn it inside out; stuff it a little then sew that end.  Push all the stuffing towards the top and pinch along the bottom; leaving a 2-3 inch gap from the stuffing and the bottom sew horizontally along the top of the gap.


~The other four main pieces.

Match up each square in pairs.  Put the faded side of the fabric facing out and the vibrant side inside.  Cut some batting into a square or rectangle slightly bigger than your square. and put in on top of one side.  Flip the entire thing over and sew along three edges then turn inside out and sew the last edge.  Do this with the other 6 remaining sheets of fabric.

Step 5: Sewing the Base of the Bag

~Sewing the bottom of the bag

Take your two squares you are using for inner dividers for the bag and take the fabric that you want to show on the bottom.  Cut out a long rectangle the length of the bottom of one of  the squares you are using for the inner dividers and the width that you want the middle pocket to be.  Then take the two squares you are going to use for the outer sides and cut a rectangle for them in the same fashion but the width this time will be the size you want the bottom of the bag to be (should be bigger than your middle pocket).   Take the fabric you cut for the inner dividers and use that to sew the bottoms of them together and leave some space between them.  The space between the dividers is going to be how big the inner pocket will be.  Do the same for the outer sides and the fabric you cut for them.  Now is the tricky part.  Put the inner divider and its bottom on top of the outer sides and the bottom to them.  Sew the inner divider bottom to the middle of the outer side bottom leaving some space on each side for the outer pockets.  It should look similar to a book with a cover and 2 pages in the middle when you are done. 

~Sewing the sides of the bag

Now it's time to make this look more like a bag instead of a book.  Take your material for the outside of the bag's side.  Cut 4 long rectangles the length of the bag's side this time and width is up to you.  How wide do you want your bag to be?  Do the same thing you did with the squares and the batting but do that to the sides of the bag as well.  Have the two inner dividers flipped to the out side on either side and the outer sides of the bag on the inside.  Sew the left side of one of the padded sides to one of the outer sides which are now facing each other on the inside of the bag.  Do this to the right side of the padded side and the other outer side.  Keep in mind what is showing on the outside now will not be showing on the outside of the bag.  In other words the fabric you want to show on your finished bag on the sides you should face inside at this point.

Flip the bag inside out by grabbing the bottom of the middle and pulling it inside out.  It should now look like a bag, somewhat.  You should notice that there holes in the bottom of the sides we will fix that later with a bit of hand sewing.

Step 6: Sewing on the Pillow Flap

First we will cut out the cover for the top of the bag; cut enough fabric so it will cover the top.  Cut two of these and pad this just like you did the padded sides and the squares for the bag.  Turn the padded piece upside down and also the pillow, and sew them together.  Sew the other side of the flap to the side of the bag that you wish to be the back of the bag.  The place where you sewed it, should be facing the inside of the bag.  So when you close it the outside is a clean stitch.

Step 7: Making the Adjustable Strap

~Making the Strap

You will need a three bar strap connector and a single connector.  (I took mine form an old ripped up adjustable strap.)

Cut out a length of fabric about how long you want your strap to be but add about 6 inches on to that.  Make it twice as wide as you need it to be.  Sew it down the side and on one of the ends.  You can flip this inside out by pushing the sewn end through the middle with a long thin stick or metal rod then sew it on the end that isn't sewn after you flip it inside out.  If you didn't flip it just sew both ends to begin with.

~Making it adjustable

Take the three bar connector and pull the strap up one side and over the bar in the middle and down and out the other.  Pull the strap and put a single connector on the side of the strap you pulled through the three bar connector, and loop it back around through the three bar. 

Take the opposite end and add the second single connector, loop it, and sew that one shut next to the connector; this one will be fixed in place.

Step 8: Sewing Done by Hand (Finishing Up)

You will need:

Needle
Spool of thread (color of your choice)

What you do:


~The holes in the bottom

Simple as that,  flip the bag inside out again and sew the bottom of the bag and the bottom of the padded side together by hand.

~The strap
Sew the strap connector on the top inside of each of the padded sides of the bag.   You will have some of the string showing on the outside of the bag from where you attached the connector to the side of the bag.  You can cover this with more decorations or embellishments or just leave it as it is.


~The button

Sewing the button on the front of the bag under the flap.
~The button hole

Sew around the button hole, doesn't have to be perfect just to keep if from fraying and ripping.

Step 9: Finished School Bag!

Touch up your newly finished school bag and now you are finished!

If you are going to use it as a laptop bag you have a lap cushion but you will need to put a hard board in one of the outer pockets (or a large hardback book).   You flip the outer flap to the back and put the board or book in the front pocket and set your laptop on the hard surface. 

Enjoy!

Comments

author
Crystalline_Chaos (author)2011-09-17

I'm actually thinking about re-doing this in jean pants material, and maybe making a design with fabric paint or something. I purchased a new camera,(unlike the last one) this one works fairly well. So the picture quality should improve in theory. Re-construction may have to wait, as with my current living conditions, I am lacking the space to do much of anything.

As of now, if anyone wants to do this project, just use a thicker or stiffer material of some sort instead of what I used. You can still use my instructable as a guideline, use some of its principles, or just a few steps even. You would have to make adjustments accordingly; thicker material, depending on what quality of sewing machine you are using (if any) can end up snapping the needles and prove difficult to work with.

So, I will be finding choices of possible material(s) and developing my methods in the mean time, and maybe uploading a few "smaller" projects if everything permits.

author
EngineerJakit (author)2011-07-10

This looks quite good, but why not use a pic of yourself wearing the bag as a size reference? That way, any reader would get the full view of the bag.

author
Goodhart (author)2011-05-10

This is VERY well written.

author
craftyv (author)2011-05-08

I definitly think a stiffer or thicker fabric should be used, at least on the inside. It also might benefit from an extra line of sewing around the edge to give it support.

Taking better photos; Try hanging the bag, in the way it will when being used. Put something inside to pad it out. Try for a plain background so it stands in relief.
Add more light.
We all tweek our Instructables, from time to time. It shows you are trying to improve. Well done.

author
TheEbonyEmoFairy (author)2010-10-20

I used recycled shirts.

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