I found this cute little messenger bag on All People Quilt here. I thought it was a perfect size for my elementary aged girls who are completing book recitals this summer. They have been working on this book for 2-3 years, and I thought I’d mark the occasion with something special and individual. The bag measures about 8 X 7 inches, and is simple to put together. However, after constructing one I have some suggestions that I will share.
I cut strips of coordinating fabrics in the each girl’s favorite colors, and a 9 inch square piece of batting.
The original directions have you sew the strips onto the batting with raw edges, assuming you will cover every one with trim, but I didn’t want to be that committed, so after determining my layout, I sewed the strips on, right sides facing, so that every edge is finished.
Once that is finished it is time to embellish. I used bits of lace, rick rack and ribbon. I audition the ribbon and buttons first, then sew on the ribbon. After that, I raid my embroidery threads, and Girl #1’s left over beads to see what works.
Next, we square up the patchwork to 8 1/2 inches and sew on its facing, leaving an opening of about 2 inches to turn it. For this piece, I have elected to NOT press first. Instead, I turn and pin, then go back to the machine to do the 1/8 ” top stitching, pulling the pins out just before they go under the foot. This seems to give me a more exact edge than if I press first.
With the main decorative item finished, we can move on to the main body of the purse, which is really a pretty quick sew. I used the fusible batting, and highly recommend it for this project! After fusing the batting to the bag material, it is easy to do the bag and lining at the same time, since the steps are identical.
With fabrics placed right sides together, stitch three sides together (two long, one short). All these seams need to be pressed open. I used my point presser, and had them done in less than five minutes. Doing it on the flat would be more challenging.
The next step is to make the square bottom, which is actually very simple.
Start by matching up the side seam and the bottom seam to make a triangle. Pin the seams so they don’t shift, and do the same on the opposite side. Now it is a simple task to lay a triangle flat and draw a line, one inch from the point.
Sew down that line, and Magic–you have a square bottom. Check it before you cut that seam allowance to 1/4 inch. I didn’t the first time, and messed up. I was able to fix it, but but it would have been much easier to do it right the first time!
Now to attach the lining to the actual bag. First press under 1/2 inch on the lining, then nest it into the bag (wrong sides together) There will still be 1/2 inch of lining sticking up above the bag. Just fold it over and top stitch.
Now we attach the flap to the bag.
Measure 1 1/2 inches from the top edge of the bag; this is where you line up the flap edge. Make sure your bobbin thread matches your lining, as the stitches will show. I chose to sew a rectangle on the flap, matching the top stitching on the three edges, then finishing my rectangle by sewing across in an area where the thread would be easily concealed.
The final step is to construct the straps and attach them. The directions have you cut two 2 X 42 inch strips, but the entire adult length strap measures 49, so you don’t need such a long second piece. Start by pressing under 1/4 inch on both sides of the strap. Next, you tuck you batting under on fold, then turn the fabric over. You will sew this edge down; I opted to do a 1/8 inch seam to close the strap, then do another on the other side.
To sew the strap onto the bag, measure in 3/4 of an inch from the edge of the flap (on the back) and place the straps. Sew them securely. I opted for a rectangle with an x as in the picture above.
The biggest challenge in sewing this bag is probably making sure that you don’t sew it closed! Ms. Necchi has a free arm, which came in very handy, and made it quite smooth and trouble free.
If you want to try this little bag either for yourself, or a little friend, download the pattern from AllPeopleQuilt. Their instructions are quite good, though I wish the diagrams were placed within the text. I would think it quite a simple thing to size this bag up or down according to whatever you wish!