Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Ruffled Messenger Bag Tutorial!

Remember this messenger bag that I showed you yesterday?

To be quite honest, I originally bought the drop cloths to make a slipcover for one of our (very tired) couches, but first I was distracted by my super-simple table runner idea and then by this messenger bag.  I am going to work on recovering the couch this weekend... I'd *love* to finish it before I have hip surgery Monday.

I'll try to take photos as I go, so perhaps I'll have another semi-helpful tutorial to share sometime soon.

My other big project this weekend is to do some batch cooking.  The children are helping me put some beef meals in the freezer during the next few days.... I'm using this batch cooking plan.  It'll be so good to "feed our freezer" again~ I *love* having these meals to draw from on busy days... actually that would be almost *every* day here (and I wouldn't have it any other way)!

Back to the messenger bag though...  when I began planning what I wanted to sew, I used ideas that I have saved in Evernote and on Pinterest like these:

(And yes, I want the truck too, but that'll have to wait until we find just the right truck, and I talk the boys into refurbishing it for me in their "spare time".... um guys??)

I *loved* the ruffles, but I really wanted more of a messenger-type bag with the longer single shoulder strap (since I'm on crutches right now) and a flap rather than an open top.

I decided to use this messenger bag tutorial and simply add my own ruffles!  I think Alida's tutorial is fabulous, so I won't redo it, but I will tell how I adapted it so I could have my ruffles, plus I decided to line it a slightly different way, which I think turned out pretty nice.

Ruffly Messenger Bag Tutorial
  1. Cut out the pieces for outer bag, pockets and lining as detailed in Alida's messenger bag tutorial.
  2. In addition, cut out 8 strips for the ruffles as follows:  4 pieces 5 1/2" x 30" for the back and 4 pieces 4 1/2" x 24" for the front pocket. 
  3. For each ruffle strip, serge or hem to finish the long edges.  If you choose to serge the fabric, one of the long edges then needs to be turned up and hemmed.  
  4. The other long edge needs a double row of basting stitches sewn the length of the fabric so it can be gathered.  
  5. Follow Alida's instructions, attaching the magnetic snaps, sewing the pockets and sewing the shoulder strap together.
  6. Stop before Alida's instructions to "sew the bag sandwich" together, since you need to attach the ruffles first!
  7. Gather the ruffles for the front flap and the back and adjust to fit the outer fabric pieces.  
  8. I spaced the ruffles and placed them, one overlapping the other and baste them in place.  The bottom three ruffles I simply basted with the gathered, serged edge flat, but for the top ruffle, I placed it upside down and then basted it down so that when it was flipped down there would be a finished edge.  
  9. In addition to basting across the gathered edge of each ruffle, I also basted the short edges all the way down the long the edge of the outer flap.  That way, when you sew the lining to the flap, the ruffles with stay where you want them.  I didn't baste the side edges of the bottom front flap ruffle though, since I wanted it to drop below the edge of the front flap, so I needed to be able to keep it out of the way when sewing the outer fabric and lining of the front flap.  Here's a few pictures which might help show what I did:        

10. Now you will need to place the four ruffles on the back of the bag.  The will be gathered and basted on the same way as the ruffles on the front flap were.  Be sure to leave the side edges of the bottom ruffle free~ don't baste those side edges down since that bottom ruffle will extend below the bottom edge of the bag and you will want it to stay free of the stitching when you sew the back of the bag to the front.

11.  I decided to sew my bag lining in a slightly different way than Alida did.  First I layered the front and back flap, right sides together and stitched along the three sides of the flap, being careful to keep the bottom ruffle free of the stitching.  Clip the bottom corners and then turn right side out.  

12.  Next, layer the front and back outer fabric, right sides together and sew around the side and bottom edges of those pieces.

13.  Now arrange the lining, front and back, right sides together and sew around the sides and bottom of those pieces.  

14.  It is time to sew across the bottom corners of the bag, both outer fabric and lining~ see Alida's fabulous tutorial and pictures to do this step.  

15. Finally it is time for the exciting part of placing the lining in the bag~ you're getting close to the end now!  Turn the bag lining inside out and slide it down into the outer bag.

16.  To finish the top edge of the bag, simply turn under the top edges of the bag and lining so the unfinished edges are hidden and then topstitch all around the top edge.  

17. Don't forget to make some fabric flowers for embellishment!  I tried several tutorials like this one and this one... pretty fun!  **editied: This one is really good too!

Enjoy your messenger bag!  Thanks Alida, for the fabulous tutorial!  I *love* my bag!

If you have any questions, please ask away and I'll try to clarify my instructions!  Enjoy!


  1. Too cute ~ the sweet bag you made! And you look terrific Susan! :)


  2. What a pretty bag!! I might just have to make one, too:). Susan, you look so great...and I will pray that your surgery goes really well!


  3. ~Thanks Camille!

    ~Thanks for praying Julia.... really! I'm pretty nervous. If you make a ruffly bag, be sure to send me a pic, ok? I'd love to see it!

  4. I love this bag, and the drop cloth fabric you made it from! Great idea!

  5. Love this and I am in the process of making it! My ruffler foot hates the drop cloth fabric, looks like I will have to figure out how to make the ruffle a different way. My 11 year old daughter can't wait to show it of at school.


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