Lined Messenger Bag




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.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

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

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.

Step 3: Cut Inner and Outer Fabric

Attach your paper pattern to the inner fabric. We used tape to avoid putting any extra holes in our vinyl fabric.

It's really helpful later if you transfer the edges of the pattern onto the fabric on edges that need seem allowances. I got a neat little tool and special transfer paper from my Mum. It looks pretty retro but I'm sure you can still buy them. You basically place the transfer paper under the fabric then run along the edge with the little roller and the help of a ruler and it transfers a line to the fabric.

Cut around the pattern remembering to leave about 1in seam allowance on the necessary edges - I forgot two :(

Repeat steps for outer fabric.

Step 4: Add Velcro and Pocket

Before sewing anything into a bag shape now is a good time to add velcro, pockets and any other decorations.

Put the inner fabric on top of the outer fabric and fold both into the bag shape. Lay out the velcro where you want it and pin to one layer of fabric. We put the fluffy velcro on the inner fabric and the pricky side on the outer fabric. Sew the velcro in place.

We put one pocket on the front inside of the bag. We just took a rectangle of the wool felt and hemmed the top edge. We then sewed the other three edges onto the lining fabric (we didn't bother hemming these edges but you could). We also ran a few vertical lines of stitching to demark a few compartments.

We also added a strip of reflective tape to the outer flap (no pics here but you'll see it later).

Add any other decoration you want. The idea of this step is to attach everything you need to the two layers before we start making things 3d.

Step 5: Sew Bottom and Side Seams and Add Webbing Loops

Take the outer fabric and pin the bottom seam (i.e. the 6 inch seam) with nice sides (the side you want everyone to see) of the fabric together. Sew seam remembering to go back and forth a few times at the start and end of the seam.

Now pin the long sides together including that little triangles that attach to the flap. Now is a good time to put in any hardware you need to attach the straps. We just put webbing loops into the seam at the top and bottom of each side. Sew the side seams - go over the webbing parts a few times.

Repeat with inner fabric - again with the good sides together.

Trim the seam allowances to 1/4 inch. Then turn each right side out.

Step 6: Attach Outer to Inner

Slot inner inside outer and match the openings up. Pin and then sew around to attach the inner to the outer. This step is kind of tricky - you'll be manipulating the entire bag around your sewing machine. We found the sewing machine did not like having the vinyl on the top side.

Once done you'll have a messenger bag with some rough edges and no straps.

Step 7: Finish Opening Edge With Bias Tape

Pin the bias tape around the opening. Half of it will lie on the inside and half the outside wrapping the unfinished edge. Sharp corners are tricky - make little folds to help turn the corner. Sew bias tape to edge.

Step 8: Add Straps

This is probably the most poorly documented part of the construction.

Hopefully you can figure out our strap system from the picture. Using plastic swivel hooks made things easy. We just hooked them onto the webbing loops sewn in earlier. It also means the strap can be completely removed or flipped around.

Bottom strap:
Sew one end of strap to triglide. Feed the loose end through swivel hook and back through triglide. Then sew this end onto the cam belt.

Top strap:
Sew one end to other swivel hook. Feed loose end through cam belt.

Stability strap at shoulder strap:
Sew one end to shoulder strap. Sew the other to a side release clip.

Stability strap at bag:
Sew one end to webbing loop on bottom corner of bag. Pass other through the other piece of the side release clip.

Step 9: Finished!



    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge
    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest

    26 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 6

    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! :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 8

    Where did you get the Locking Cam for the shoulder strap? Great build/writeup.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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

    If hunting is big in your area you can probably find something cheap with reflective orange fabric and cannibalize it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    9 years ago on Step 1

    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!!


    10 years ago on Step 8

    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.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    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:


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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.