Messenger Bag Pattern - Sewing Tutorial

Messenger bag pattern - and a sewing tutorial. Sew a large messenger bag with internal pockets using this free messenger bag tutorial. It's been long since I made a bag pattern (it got really popular) and finally, it's time for a new, sturdy and large bag. This is a free pattern. All measurements, free pattern and step-by-step instructions included! Scroll down to get the free cutting template and start sewing!
Messenger bag pattern
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First off, you might not know it, but I've got tons of FREE PATTERNS on this site, including these you will really want to check out:

Now, on to the messenger bag: This bag would make a great birthday present or a diy Christmas gift, especially if you select a special fabric that resonates with the person you're sewing for. This might be THE thing to sew this year. And this tutorial includes a free cutting template. You'll love it!

A real multitasker here! You will be able to carry nearly anything and everything in this large messenger bag.

(If you need a smaller one, check out this popular slim-sized alternative!)

A messenger bag is one of the most useful (and popular) handmade gifts ideas, and a very versatile item to sew. A messenger bag like this one can be used pretty much everywhere and by everyone: as gym bag, for school, as diaper bag, for trips and hikes, and for any errands you run, even for grocery shopping (easier to carry than a simple tote). 

Messenger bag pattern

Practical, sturdy and probably the best diy gift to sew for a sports fan - especially if you get your hands on a fabric with cotton prints like these!

This is a huge messenger bag, larger than any I've noticed so far, and it will house tons of stuff. Perfect as a gym bag, or as school bag if you need to tuck in a jacket too. Plus, you'll always know where your phone is: a dedicated phone pocket, large enough for any phone model. :)

messenger bag pattern with pockets

Messenger bag finished size is 16" width x 12" height x 4" depth (LARGE. I mean it.)
Large full-width pocket - finished size is 15" wide x 9 1/2 " tall
Small Pocket (Phone Pocket) - finished size is 6 1/2" tall x 6" wide

Let's see how you can make this messenger bag yourself.



  • exterior fabric and lining fabric: 1 yard each, (some fabric will be left)
  • accent fabric for bag flap: half yard
  • contrasting fabric for inner pockets: a little over fat quarter (or use exterior fabric)
  • stiff fusible vowen interfacing for straps: 43" by 3" for strap
  • fusible fleece: 41" by 45" (Pellon Fusible Fleece has 45" bolt width. Check out yours.)
pattern for messenger bag


Instead of using contrasting fabric for pockets, feel free to cut them from main and lining fabric - it will be enough left if you've got one whole yard of each, exterior and lining fabric.

Off course, you'll get away using less fabric than stated here if you play around with the placing, but do mind if your print is directional. (I've drafted the fabric placement image to take into account the directional prints too!) Also, if you use a lower variety of prints, less fabric will be required.

Cutting Template And Instructions

1) First, cut from accent fabric
For Bag FLAP: 17" by 15" (2 pieces) + 16" by 14" fusible fleece

2) Cut from exterior fabric
front and back pieces: 17" by 13" (2 pieces) + 16" by 12" fusible fleece (2 pieces)
gusset:  43" by 5" (1 piece) + 43" by 4" fusible fleece

For Bag STRAP:
43" by 4" stripe (2 pieces)
+ 42" by 3" fusible fleece (1 piece)
+ 42" by 3" stiff woven interfacing (1 piece)

3) Cut from lining fabric:
For bag LINING:
front and back pieces: 17" by 12 1/2" (2 pieces) + 16" by 11 1/2" fusible fleece (2 pieces)
gusset:  42" by 5" (1 piece) + 42" by 4" fusible fleece

4) Cut from various contrasting prints:
Internal full-width POCKET:  20" by 16" (1 piece) + fusible fleece (!) 9 1/2" by 15"

Internal Small POCKET: 14" by 7" (1 piece) + fusible fleece (!) 6 1/2" by 6"


Please note: bag exterior and bag lining pieces are NOT exactly the same measurements!! This will make your sewing project super neat, you'll soon see how.

As you will also have noticed, the fusible fleece pieces are just a bit smaller than the exterior to prevent bulk when sewing. Since we're using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, measure accordingly.

(!) - the pocket will be folded in half, hence the measurements of the fusible fleece do not match. Just in case you were asking yourself why the discrepancy...

Cutting Template For You

This cutting template will make your project even easier. I tend to forget to cut a piece or two if I only have a list to resort to - so, in addition to the cutting list above, here's an image for us, visual learners :)

pattern for messenger bag
Please click on the image to enlarge. It is meant as a visual aid for cutting, you'll still need to measure your pieces on the cutting table.


Let's start.

pattern for messenger bag
1) Cut your fabric and fusible fleece as per cutting instructions above.

messenger bag pattern free

2) Using a cup or another round object of approximately 2 1/2 inch in diameter, round the bottom corners on the flap piece, and all 4 pieces of the bag body bottom (4 pieces - 2 lining, 2 exterior). You can round the corners before applying fusible fleece, or after - whichever you prefer.

free messenger bag pattern
3) First, we'll stitch the flap: place the 2 Bag Flap pieces on a flat surface, right sides together.

messenger bag pattern with flap
4) Stitch, then notch the seam allowance at the 2 rounded corners to make turning a breeze. Take care not to cut into stitches. (I wanted to be on the safe side and made sure to stop cutting approximately 1/8" away from the seam.) Then turn right side out and press.

messenger bag pattern
5) Topstitch along all three finished edges. (Isn't this Riley Blake Designs' Varsity print adorable? More HERE!)

messenger bag pattern
6) Flap finished, set aside for now.

Make Bag STRAP

diy messenger bag
7) Let's make the bag strap now. It will be quite wide, 3 inch finished width. I opted for a fixed length of 43" which I find ideal for a bag of these proportions, for men too. You can make adjustable straps if you want a crossbody version.

First, apply fusible fleece to one part of the strap fabric, and apply stiff woven interfacing to the other part. This is what I do when I want to make very stable bag straps.

diy messenger bag
8) Then stitch the two stripes right sides together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Make sure to leave one short end open for turning.

messenger bag sewing pattern
9) Using a bodkin or a safety pin, turn the strap right side out and topstitch along both long edges. Bonus tip: I always use a longer stitch length when topstitching. This way, the stitching looks neat. Here, I may have gone a bit overboard, using a stitch length of 4, but it turned out great!


messenger bag sewing pattern
10) POCKETS: Now it's time to make and attach the inner slip pockets. Take the two pocket pieces, apply fusible fleece - each fabric piece will only be half-covered by fusible fleece, because we're folding the fabric. Fold fabric right sides together:

messenger bag template
11)  Stitch your pockets, making sure to leave a hole for turning on each piece. The turn right side out and press. The turning hole will remain open until a later step.

messenger bag to sew
12) You'll sew the pockets onto one of the Bag LINING pieces. But first, place the small pocket on the large pocket and topstitch around the sides and bottom of the small pocket. This will also close the turning hole on the small pocket.

 I chose to have the phone pocket on one side, 2 inch away from the top and left edge. You can center it, or add more pockets if you want to.

messenger bag to sew
13) Step 2: attach the large pocket onto the Bag Lining, stitching at approximately 1/8" away from the pocket edge This will also close the turning hole on the large pocket.

ASSEMBLE Bag Lining and Bag Exterior

messenger bag pattern with pockets
14) Here are the 2 sets of pieces you'll need to assemble bag lining and bag exterior: two bag base pieces and the gusset piece.

messenger bag pattern with pockets
15) So, we'll sew the Bag Lining first:

  1. You'll need 2 bag lining pieces and the gusset piece for lining.
  2. Pin or use sewing clips to align one lining piece of 17 by 13 with the gusset piece. 
  3. Notch the seam allowance of the gusset piece at corners to make a neat edge. Way easier to sew! Now stitch.
  4. Same way, attach the other lining piece to the other side of the gusset piece. Make sure to leave a 5 or 6" opening at the bottom (see the spot marked by sewing clips in image No 4?) 

messenger bag pattern
Bag lining.

how to sew a messenger bag
15) Proceed the same way to sew the bag exterior. Notice that the lining is shorter by half an inch? This will make sure the lining 'sits' nicely in the bag when stitched together. No wrinkles - you're welcome!

how to sew a messenger bag
16) Take the bag exterior piece. Turn it right side out. Use sewing clips to attach the strap (make sure it's not twisted!) and the flap onto the exterior. I suggest you baste them to fix the position. (Basting is a huge help, especially if you haven't made a lot of bags yet!)

messenger bag pattern
17) Then fold the exterior with the strap and flap and gently maneuver it into the bag lining piece. Align the raw edges. Because the lining is a bit shorter, this will compensate for the thick interfacing. Be patient. There should be no puckers, and the side seams should be aligned. I prefer to use sewing clips - they make matching the raw edges so much easier! 

IMPORTANT: Now the POCKETS (those sewn into the LINING) should be on the SAME side as the bag flap! 

So, are the pockets touching the Bag Flap? Good, continue!

pattern for messenger bag
18) Stitch all the way around the top of the bag. Then turn it right side out. Then stitch the turning hole closed.

free pattern for messenger bag
19) Press well and topstitch around the top edge. This will make your project look so much nicer!

pattern for messenger bag
20) Bury the thread ends when topstitching. Here's a popular how-to that can help you with neat seam finishing:

How To Finish Seam The Neat Way

Messenger bag free pattern
So, this is your messenger bag, finished and ready for action. Enjoy!
P.S. Make sure to come back in a few days to find out the story behind this messenger bag. 

Pin For Later:
messenger bag pattern

Need a Smaller Bag? Check out THIS ONE

If you need a smaller bag, here's a popular iPad crossbody bag for you to try out: TEYA Crossbody Bag 
crossbody bag pattern
Get Teya Pattern HERE.

Want More Free Patterns+Tutorials?

Get email updates and never miss out on new patterns, printables and tutorials. If you sign up at THIS link, you'll also get the Fabric Hanging Basket Template for FREE, right now. A cute and easy-sew!

free pattern for a fabric hanging basket

Or ...go straight to one of my currently most popular PDF patterns - the ZIP Pocket Coin purse:
sewing pattern for coin purse with zipper
Get This Pattern HERE.
A perfect match for the messenger bag! (use up any scraps you might have left from the messenger bag!)


  1. I love this bag. Thank you so much. I made it for my son who is a manager for Schwan's. He asked for one large enough to carry his clip board, phone and other things. This bag is perfect!

  2. Am falling for this bag. looks so cute the colours are truly manly. i should try it out. thanks Damjana

  3. Want to make this so badly but afraid I'll mess it up! But going to try

    1. Hoover1967 hi,

      take it slow, first start with some 'test' fabric if you really really don't want to take any chances. You've got this! <3