This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Toddler Messenger Bag Tutorial

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Toddler Messenger Bag Tutorial

So I used to make these bomb toddler messenger bags in my etsy shop. They're super cute and I love them, but I just don't have the time to make and sell them anymore.  However, I still get emails occasionally asking if I make them and so I thought I'd just do a tutorial for anyone who would like to make their own.  Now this isn't difficult to make, but can still take some time, I'd say give yourself at least 3 hours.  So here we go!

18"x13" outer fabric
18"x13" lining fabric
9"x10" outer fabric (for flap)
9x10 lining fabric (for flap)
5 1/2"x28"fabric  (strap--should match outer fabric)
5 1/2'x4 1/2" fabric (pocket)
2 4"-5" pieces sew on velcro 
sewing machine+iron

First we're going to start with the strap.  Instead of sewing the two sides together and then turning it inside out, I like to iron a 1/4 inseam on both long sides.  Then fold in half the long way until the sides match up, then iron down the seam and pin.  Now top stitch the open side closed, THEN top stitch the other side as well.  Strap is done.

Now gather your two bigger pieces of fabric for the main body of the bag.  Remember one fabric will be your outer fabric (should match the strap) and one will be your lining.  Fold each piece of fabric in half the long way and sew down both short sides to create a little pouch.  Do this for both pieces and iron your seams.

Now to create a little structure you're going to take the bottom corners of each bag, line them up so the seam is in the middle of the bottom of the bag (pretend there is a seam in the bottom of the bag and line them up).  Now measure the corner two inches wide and draw a line with pencil/tailors chalk and pin this corner together!  Do both corners on the outer fabric and lining. Now sew directly on that line and snip the corner off leaving about 1/4 seam allowance.  And now your bag has corners.  Exciting.

This next step is not 100% necessary, but it does add some nice structure as well as being visually pleasing. For the record, I always do this step. Now that you have corners you're going to take your iron and press 6 seams around your bag to create a box-type dimension.  See pictures.  The bag has a front and a back, so you'll do this on the right, left and bottom on both the front and back of the bag.  Again see pictures.  Make sure your iron well because you don't really need pins on this part, but you'll want tight seams. Now you're going to top stitch down each seam leaving a teeny-tiny seam allowance.  As you can see by my picture, I put the edge of the fabric in the middle of the presser foot on my sewing machine.  Now sew a straight line on all six sides, starting and stopping on each side and reversing at the beginning and end of each line so your stitch doesn't come undone.

When it's done your bag now has a nice shape to it that won't disappear in the wash or with crazy toddler usage.

Now take the small piece of fabric for the pocket and press a seam in on all 4 sides.  Now sew along one side (a long side).  Next pin this picket down on the lining of your fabric, with the one side you already sewed on top (and all the seam allowance underneath).  Now sew the other 3 sides to your lining, making sure you don't sew through both sides of your lining!

See... a lot of work goes into a little bag.

Now we're going to work on the closing flap.  Get your two smaller pieces of fabric and take the lining and put two sides of your velcro down.  Now I have put the velcro in different places--sometimes one on each side going vertically--this time I decided to just put them both along the bottom horizontally.  You'll want to make sure they're close to the bottom along the shorter side (I know this fabric is only 9"x10", so it's along the 9" side), but don't put them too close to the bottom to allow for a seam allowance + a little space.  Also the velcro should be on the right side of the fabric! Pin them down, and sew them on.

Now place your outer fabric on top of the lining with the velcro (right sides together--again, you should have sewn the velcro to the right side) and sew along the longer side, the bottom by the velcro, and back up the other longer side.  Leave the top completely open.

Before you flip the fabric right side out, clip the corners.  Then flip and press with iron.  Now top stitch around all 3 sides.  Again, not completely necessary, but if you top stitched the strap and body, you should really top stitch this as well or it will just look silly and your sewing friends will make fun of you.

Now you have to sew your coordinating velcro to the outer fabric.  For this part I like to put my opening flap in the top--push it down about an inch to simulate how it will be after it's all sewn together and then close the top onto the main pouch to get an idea where the velcro should go.  Next, just take your two velcro strips and pin them to the outside (i.e., the right side) of the outer fabric and sew those bad boys on.

OK! Almost done! Now you should have these 4 pieces. A strap, your outer pouch with velcro on the outside, your inner pouch with a pocket sewn on the right side of the fabric, and the closing flap with the two fabrics sewn together and velcro on the lining.

OK now to put everything together.  First you'll want to turn your outer fabric inside out (seams on the outside) and you're lining will be turned right-side out (seams on the inside).  First, take your outer fabric and place the strap inside, lining up the middle of the strap with the side seams.  Pin together.

Now take your lining and place it on the inside, lining up the side seams.  Make sure the pocket on the lining is on the opposite side of the velcro on the outer fabric.  Make sure that strap isn't twisted inside the bag! Pin in place (you may want to remove the pins holding the strap and re-pin to include the lining).

Lastly, take your flap and put the velcro and sewn edge side down, between the outer fabric and lining.  Make sure to place the flap on the pocket side of the bag and that the two lining sides of the fabric are touching and the two our sides of the fabric are touching.  This part can be confusing so read again and see picture below.

Now this is what it all should look like--all the raw edges lined up, that the strap and the flap are between the outer fabric and lining and then pin in place.  Leave a 3-4 inch gap marked with pins, because as you're going to sew around the top you need to leave an opening that you don't sew around.  Now sew a stitch all around the top of the bag, except for the 3-4 inch opening and give yourself a nice wide seam allowance.  It's also a good idea to use a basting stitch for this part in case you make a mistake and need to pick out the stitch.

Now take the bag and through the little opening you're going to flip everything inside out (actually right side out, but whatever.)

And you're bag will look like this.  Now is the time to inspect the bag and make sure the straps are lined up correctly and not twisted and that the flap is in the right position.  If you need to go back and fix anything now is the time!  Simply turn you bag inside out again, unpick the basting stitch and move it around.  (For this bag I had to fix the strap and it moved a little during sewing).

Now if everything looks good, take an iron and press the top of your bag and get a nice crisp edge around the top, then finally top stitch around the entire top of the bag and close that gap.  Again you want to make sure that top stitch is nice and close to the edge (very small seam allowance).  And you're done!  

Zuzu was a reluctant little model at first, but she came around. And while it's a little big for her now, she'll grow into it soon enough.  Size wise, I think this works best for 2-3 years old.  You can always make the strap longer or shorter if needed!

Cute right?
Feel free to email me with any questions!
Maybe next I'll do a tutorial on my play tents... remember those?

Also, as a disclaimer:  It is OK to freely use this pattern and make your own toddler bags.  Please do not sell pattern or bags made from pattern.


  1. Hi Miggy,

    I just made this cross body bag and love it! Thanks so much for the tutorial <3

  2. Very nice post. I like it, Thanks for sharing.

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