One craft scares me more than any other- sewing.
It’s also one of the crafts I’d like to learn the most.
Sewing means a lot to me.
Growing up I was often lulled to sleep by the humming of my mum’s sewing machine in the next room. She made many of my clothes and a lot of our soft furnishings. Then, as I grew older, it became an annoyance. It always seemed to go on just as I was taping something really good on the radio, or got to the good part of Cagney and Lacey (my husband would argue there were no good parts!) or Hill Street Blues on my little black and white TV, and that meant heavy interference. Oh yeah, those were the days!
Even though my mum was always sewing, I only ever learned the basics. I keep saying I’m going to learn, but the sewing machine scares me a little, so I keep putting it off. At the beginning of 2015, I told myself that this would be the year. The craft room is finished (yes, I will share pictures soon) and I’ve run out of excuses.
So when I saw the lovely Roman blind and curtain fabrics in the Hillarys craft competition 2015, I knew my time had come. I fell in love with the gorgeous Safi Turquoise, which is a lovely soft turquoise fabric with a beautiful large leaf pattern.
After throwing some fun ideas around that were way above my skill level, I decided to make a cross-body art bag that would show off the fabric in all its glory. I carefully cut out the pieces so I had a full leaf on both sides of the bag, as well as one on the flap. I also embroidered along the entire leaf shape on the flap of the bag using 6 strands of embroidery thread to make it stand out more. I love it! The fabric is wonderfully tactile anyway, but the thick embroidery gives it even more texture.
How to make a messenger bag
* 2 pieces of outer fabric, 28 cm x 38 cm (for the base, front and back)
* 2 pieces of lining fabric, 28 cm x 38 cm
* 1 piece of outer fabric, 27 cm x 36 cm (for the flap)
* 1 piece of lining fabric, 27 cm x 36 cm
* 1.4 metre bag strapping/ webbing
* 1 button (optional)
* seam ripper (optional)
* fabric scissors and/ or rotary cutter
* sewing machine
* fabric marker
If using thinner fabric, you’ll want iron on interfacing too, matching your fabric pieces in size, or just smaller.
1. Zigzag all the edges of your fabric.
2. Lay all the larger pieces of fabric on top of each other and line up the edges. Mark 5 cm in and 5 cm up at the bottom corners of the fabric. Carefully cut out these 5 cm boxes through all the layers of fabric.
3. Now lay the two outer pieces of fabric belong to the base right sides together. Using straight stitch, sew along the sides and bottom (but NOT along the box shape you’ve just cut out). I used the edge of the sewing machine foot as a guide. Repeat with the lining fabric. Don’t forget to back stitch!
4. Open up the small box shape and line up the edges and seams. Pin together, then sew across using straight stitch. This gives the bags its box shape.
5. Turn the outer fabric the right side out, but leave the lining inside out. Put the lining inside the pouch-like bag made from the outer fabric. Fold the upper edge of each bag in by 2 cm and pin in place. Press so that the fold stays in place when you remove the pins. Start at the seams to make sure they line up.
6. Now lay the two pieces of fabric belonging to the flap right sides together. Using straight stitch, sew along the sides and top.
8. Cut the two corners off at an angle, making sure you don’t cut the seam.
9. Turn the right sides out, press, and top stitch along the top and sides.
10. Sew on the button hole if using.
11. Remove the pins along the back edge of your bag. Centre the flap and insert it in the gap. Line up the open edges of the flap with the edges of the other fabrics. Pin in place.
12. Remove the pins by the side seams. Insert the strap and line up the edges. Pin in place, making sure the strap is straight.
13. Carefully try the bag on. Shorten the strap if necessary. Feed the bag onto the free arm of your machine, then slowly sew the flap and strap in place using straight stitch. I used the edge of the foot as a guide, then added another seam just to the right of the first one to make sure it was all in place.
14. If you’re adding a button, split open the buttonhole with a seam ripper, mark where you need the button to go and sew on by hand.
And there you have it- a lovely, handmade messenger bag! I’m planning on using mine as an art bag so I can bring my art supplies into the garden, the park, and even the beach. How will you use yours?