Reversible Messenger Bag Tutorial

I am not a purse carrier. When I am out and about I usually have my large diaper bag/tote bag, which I love, but it can be sort of huge when I am just out on my own and just need to run into a store or something.

So, I wanted to have something smaller that could fit just the essentials like keys, wallet and phone. I didn’t have a pattern, but I had a pile of cute fabric and an idea started to form in my brain.

I made a small, easy to carry, fully reversible messenger style bag:

May I just say that it is probably the very first pattern that I have ever created on my own! It worked and I love it. It is just right for my carrying just a few small things, plus, I LOVE that fabric.It will probably get dirty, but who cares? I will enjoy it while it lasts.
So, I have created a tutorial for how to make this little beauty.

Reversible Messenger Bag Tutorial:

Supplies Needed:
  • About 1/3 yard each of two coordinating fabrics (try to get one that does not have to go a certain direction)
  • Thread to match
There are 3 pieces to print and cut out from the pattern-the Front, Back and Flap. You will need to tape the back and flap pieces together on the black dotted lines before you cut your fabric.
Lay your fabric out and cut one piece each in both of your fabrics of your front piece and your now taped together back/flap piece for a total of 4 pieces. Fold your fabric and cut on the three other sides (not the folded side) like so:

You should now have 4 pieces cut out. A front piece from each fabric and a back/flap piece from each fabric.

Now you need to cut out a strap too. I used the full length of my fabric (45 inches) and did it about 3 or 4 inches wide. Just a nice straight cut. Do this with both pieces as well so that you now have 2 strap pieces.

You should now have 6 pieces of fabric to work with.

I always like to sew the strap first. Put right sides together and sew down both long sides leaving the ends open. Turn it right side out, press it and then top stitch.

How to make a messenger bag

Now, using your other pieces, put right sides together on matching fabrics and sew around the edges of the front part on the three outer edges.

Important: Leave about 1/2 inch unsewn at the beginning point and the ending point. This will make it easier later because you will need to fold that part down.

Tote Bag Tutorial
Do this step with both of your fabrics.
Now, lay both of your sewn together pieces together so that the Front parts are on the inside touching each other and the Back/Flap pieces are on the outside:

Sew the pieces together just around the top part stopping before you get to the Front pieces.

Now you are going to flip it so that the right sides are out and one pocket is right inside the other. Push the corners out nicely and press it flat.

Top stitch just the flap part for added stablility:

Almost done! Simply fold the two raw edges of your Front part in towards each other about 1/2 inch and press them.

Slide your strap in between the two fabrics as far to the edges as you can get them. Make sure to slide them in about an inch or two so that they stay put. As you can see, I pinched mine in half at the ends before I slid them in so that they take up a little less space.

Sew the edge closed with a top stitch. I did a double top stitch because I like how it looks:

Reversible messenger bag

The last thing I do is stitch one line across the bag where it folds (or basically where you taped your back piece to your flap piece) to create the flap. This just make the bag more stable.

And ta da! A cute, easy and inexpensive messenger bag. It is fully reversible too. Use either side. And it fits my keys, wallet and phone just right:

Here’s another one I made:

You could add velcro or a snap to keep it closed if you don’t plan to reverse it. Just add it on the flap.

Since this is my first real pattern/tutorial that I have put together, please let me know if you try it and if it makes sense or if any of it is confusing!

Remember to like me on facebook or follow me or pin me! :)

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Hey there! I'm Amber, mom of 4 crazy boys, wife of 1 and non-stop, always busy, crazy project doer. (There's a reason why we call it *Crazy* Little Projects.) I love chocolate, reading, sewing and being with people!

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  1. says

    Amber, you are Da Bomb! I am in awe at your many talents, business sense, motherly skills(always good to have sweet skills), and your boundless energy and enthusiasm. I’ll try to follow you on Google…I hope I get the hang of signing up to be a follower.

  2. The Tovey's says

    I want one please!! I love both but my favorite is the blue and brown !! I’m following in Facebook

  3. says

    oh you just solved one of my life’s problems! Instead of sewing the strap on, I will attach loops and hardware so that it can come off. That way, I can store my personal stuff inside my diaper bag, and attach the strap when I need to run without the baby (or huge bag). I will also add an inside zipper and a pocket. Thanks for the great pattern and tutorial!

  4. Sarah says

    I made this bag this morning. This is the very first time I have used a pattern and the very first time I have made a bag. It turned out SO cute. I am very very pleased with myself. I had a bit of trouble turning in the edges of the opening and intserting the straps, but I think I will get better at it on my 2nd try. I’m going to make at least one more for Christmas gifts.

    • Amber says

      I love hearing that sort of thing!!! Yay! Way to go. (By the way, I am going to have a learn to sew series starting in January that is going to be awesome. Sounds like you know how to sew, but it might teach you a few new tricks so you should check it out!)

  5. Stepganie says

    I saw a pin that linked to your homemade gifts and I love this little bag. Would you say it would work well for little girls? Would you shorten the strap? How much? I would like to make one for my niece (6yrs) and my daughter (4yrs). Thanks!

    • Amber says

      Yes, it would be PERFECT for little girls. I might shorten the strap a little. The strap currently leaves the bag at about the height of my hip, so I would take off several inches for younger girls.

  6. Tui says

    Thank you so much, I have been looking & looking for a pattern for this since my friend & I went out dancing. We kept setting down our purses (mine a shoulder bag hers a clutch) all night & then having to run back to make sure they were still there. So I’ve wanted a little fun night out purse to make.

  7. Mary Jane says

    I haven’t made this yet, but I want to; in fact, I am quite behind and have only made the burp cloth in lesson one. (I was already behind but now am even “behinder” due to a family emergency that I’ve been dealing with). A question I have for this as well as the other messenger bag I hope to eventually make: can the lining be a batting (it’s a high quality 50/50 material that I used for when I made my rag quilts)? Thank you, and I will probably have more questions later on…I am a TRUE BEGINNER when it comes to sewing.

  8. Dominique says

    Hey Amber!
    What are the final dimensions for this bag? I want to make it for my 9 year old sister but I am unsure if I should increase the size a little or if it will be just right! Thanks!!

  9. Mary Jane says

    Is it necessary to pre-wash this fabric since this is a bag? (Although I guess doing so would enable it to be washed later on if it gets dirty, without it shrinking then). Maybe I just answered my own question, LOL! This bag is so pretty. Love your choice of fabrics. I bought the material today for this bag, and it’s really pretty, so I sure hope I don’t mess it up. As I read through the instructions I’m not 100% understanding it, but maybe I’ll get it more as I’m actually doing it.

  10. Gloria says

    Did this project today. The bag turned out great, but I’m very new to sewing and I didn’t realize you had to fold the material before cutting the pattern, had to cut it twice. The rest of the tutorial was good. Loving the learn to sew series

  11. says

    Hello, found your pin today and I love the idea!! When I go to print it, the wording on the patterns is all jibberish…. is it supposed to say something in English? Not sure why it is doing this?!?

    • Amber says

      OK, that was just crazy! No idea what happened! But I think I got it fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

  12. michelletripp says

    I was wondering if you remember the name of the turquoise flower fabric you used here??

  13. Christine Sherman says

    Hi, wanted to say thanks so much for this. My grand daughter is here and wanted a purse. This was quick and had super instructions! She picked the ugliest fabric I had, even after the coaxing to pick my best prints :) She loves it and I will be making more for my other grand daughters, thanks again!

  14. Julie Quinn says

    Just made 8 of these in a tan fabric I had left over from my basement curtains. My daughter is having a Nancy Drew/spy birthday party and these are making fabulous spy bags to carry all of their gear as goody bags. Had a little trouble with the straps, but it will be ok. Left the straps long so they can wear it across their bodies. Thanks for a wonderful, easy and FREE project.

  15. Claire says

    I don’t get quite how to put the pieces together because the pattern has the front and back only have one rounded corner. Can you explain?

    • says

      Sorry, not sure what you mean? Both of the bottom corners should be rounded. You cut the pattern piece on the fold. Did you do that?

  16. Rae says

    Hi! Have you ever sold any of these? I made one similar but larger and was wondering what to sell it for. Thanks.

  17. Barb Lieberman says

    LOVE this pattern! I just made it for my daughter, as a bag for when she sells her wares at craft fairs. Now I want one!

  18. Chelsea A says

    Hi! I was wondering if you could do this bag in a bigger size, and also if you could make a bigger mesenger bag without fusible interfacing.

  19. Corina says

    I’m confused. You said cut 1 piece of each. I did that. But then you say to put your matching fabrics together. Is this the front of the 2 different fabrics? You should also add pics of how you taped your pieces. I got stuck on that too.

  20. Mary Ellen says

    I think the beginning instructions and pattern are confusing to those of us who do know how to sew. If a pattern is supposed to be placed on the fold, the pattern should indicate that. I just did what the pattern said and cut 1 from each fabric, but the cuts are totally wrong. Are we supposed to fold the fabric for just that one pattern, or all of them?

    • says

      I just looked at the post and it does say to fold your fabric first and there is a picture of the fabric folded and then the pattern being cut? Are you having problems beyond that?

  21. Miki says

    I love this bag. I teach a sewing class for young girls and this will be a fall project for us. Thanks for the great tute! The girls are going to love it.


  22. Bev says

    On my second bag, I found an easier way to put this together. Press under the top edge of the 2 front pieces; I did 1/2″. Lay the front piece on back piece and mark where the front piece ends. Remove front piece. Sew the two back pieces together on the flap end first, stopping where you marked. Clip on your mark just to where your seam is. Turn, press, and topstitch flap. Also stitch across where flap ends and the back part begins (i.e. at the clip). You should now have one flat piece with a flap on one end and 2 loose pieces on the other end. Sew the two front pieces onto their respective bottoms. Because of the clip you made this should be easy to do and you know where to stop. Turn, press, and tuck one inside the other. Make strap, insert and topstich the font edges as you instruct.

  23. Maritza says

    Thank you so much for all your sewing tutorials. I’ve always been scared of sewing but I received a sewing machine for my birthday. This is the first project I tried and it was a success!!! Thanks so much!

  24. Kathleen says

    This is an adorable bag, but my sewing skills are not as good as some, I had a tough time with the strap and found the 3 inch size too big, I also had a hard time understanding about leaving corners open, oh my…..anyway mine turned out ok, but its more of a small clutch and maybe I can find some thinner strap to use or makes some about an 1or 1/2………..

  25. says

    Hiya! I know this is a super old post, but I tried it just today and loved the outcome. I’m posting a picture of it on my website: with a link to this page! Thank you for sharing the pattern and for the wonderful tutorial! I had a bit of difficulty with the straps, but it was more of a me problem hahahaha than something wrong with your tutorial!

  26. Natalie says

    I am a little confused on how to attach the straps. Can you clarify where you attach it to be able to use it on the reverse side. Overall, I enjoyed the tutorial, some areas were a little unclear but other than the straps I have been able to figure it out! Thank you!!

    • says

      Once you have the outer and inner pieces sewn together you should just have the front seam that is still open. Just stick your strap down in there and then fold the raw edges inward and sew that part shut, catching the straps as you do it.

    • says

      Use the pattern but make sure you fold the fabric so that you get a symmetric shape. I need to update this tutorial a little. I think it was the very first sewing tutorial I did!

  27. Kristen says

    If you put magnets (double sided) in the top flap and where it connects to the bag you could keep it reversible and still be able to close it. Just a thought. :)

  28. Julie says

    I have made three of these bags, and each time I’ve done it a little differently. LOVE how they turn out. On bag #3, I added some fusible fleece to give it some extra stability. All three are adorable for my girls and their friend.

  29. says

    I love your tutorials. Lovely things to make. I made my niece the diaper and wipes holder and she absolutely loves it. She uses it all the time and now all her friends want one. Thankyou for your wonderful ideas.

  30. says

    I just whipped one of these up. Wow, it was quick! I got confused at the stage where you flip it all so it’s right side out, with a pocket inside… it took me some time to figure out where to put which bit… but I got there in the end and I’m happy with the end result!
    I did it in Hello Kitty fabric on one side, for my daughter. I’m sure she’s going to like it. I think I will be making more! Thanks!!

  31. Jessie says

    Hi! I LOVE your crafts and projects! With summer here, i’ll have more time than ever! I’m 12 years old and i’m making one of these as a birthday present for a friend. So far its been easy, but I’m having trouble on the flip part….when its flipped, i just end up with my flap and two inside out pockets, back to back! Can someone help me on this? I can’t get the two pockets inside each other. By the way… I made my own pattern to go by by drawing on a piece of paper and using that, for those of you who would like your bag to be a different shape, bigger, etc. I also added fusible fleece. Love this project and all your ideas, summer’s gonna consist of Pinterest and this awesome website! But please help me on the flip! Thanks.

  32. MARY BETH REED says

    I love this bag, I made one tonight. I need to figure out a better way to not have raw edges hanging out where I attach the handles. I make purses also. I will watch for more from you.!!

  33. mmmmarg says

    love the bag. i cant stop making them. i have tons of random fabrics and some dont match, but i still make em……thanks! after the 4th one, i think i mastered the strap attachment and cleaning it up near the strap. keep up the great work!

  34. Dawn says

    Thanks so much for this pattern! I have a question, I would love to make the reversible version for my girls (I have 4 of them) for their Bible Bag for church. I think your pattern might be a little small. Do you have any suggestions for making it a little bigger? Thanks again, these are super cute! ;)

  35. Amy says

    I am excited about this bag and am making it as a birthday present for my daughter’s friend (they are 3 yo and love to play dress up). Can I suggest you put into the instructions not to get a fabric with a pattern has to go a certain direction? The hello kitty’s on the fabric I purchased are right side up on the bag, but when you flip down the flap, they are upside down. I had to do a little cutting and resewing to get them all in the right direction. It’s something I didn’t think about since I haven’t done a ton of projects, so it could be helpful for new sewers.

  36. says

    I will be teaching a class to 10-14 year old kids in a couple of days. This small bag looks like a perfect beginner project. I am confused and I hope you can help me understand your directions. I have sewn around the 3 outer edges of the front piece and it says to do this step with both fabrics. Do I sew the back pieces together then turn right side out? Your photo looks like the front piece is sandwiched between the 2 back pieces?

    • says

      You sew each separately and then put them together with right sides together to sew them together and then turn right side out. Does that make sense?

  37. Julia Pierce says

    Crazy about your projects!Busy as you are,it’s great you share with all of us.Am planning to make as many of your bags as possible for our churchs donation to the Operation Christmas Child boxes we fill every year.Wish me luck….need about 1000 by the end of Nov. Thanks for helping me out with this pattern!!!

  38. Stacy B says

    Got a sewing machine last week… never sewed on a machine before but I have always been crafty and have hand sewn a bit. Found this after practicing a few pillows, and made a cute little purse tonight. Only delay/trouble in instructions was realizing to put the straps BETWEEN the inside pieces before sewing their top edges down/together. Not sure how to clean up the instructions for that for future newbies, but forewarning it might take a little trial and error to get it right. I am pleases nonetheless and thank you for such a straightforward first real project!

  39. Lynn says

    I am going to attempt to do this with my 9 yr old granddaughter today. Have you thought about doing a video tutorial? I find them so helpful!

  40. Di says

    Thanks for the pattern. I am use to sewing and found the pattern ok and automatically put on the fold. Bit confused whrn putting the outer and lining in one another and then sewing just the front flap but I got there eventually lol. It’s a lovely little bag for when I go out with the dog. Might have a go at a larger one now as this one was the first bag I have made, thanks.

  41. says

    Hi Amber lovely tutorial I enjoy it; One Query I from where you say. Put the t two matching fabrics RS Matching & Sew the edges on three sides leaving about 1/2″ unsewn at the beginning & ending part to fold the pieces under/ down. Repeat this Step with other fabric.
    3. Now lay both of your sewn together pieces so that front parts are RS facing/touching each other & the Back/Flap pieces are on the outside.
    Sew the pieces together just around the top part stopping before you get to the front pieces. Could you Simplify this part; thanks in advance.
    However the other parts of the tutorial are straight forward & congrats to you on making your very first patten ever; u did a good job for your first time. Look Forward to your Response A.S.A.P! TAFS & I will definitely bre making a few of these soon because they’re just so cute & thanks for your inspiration. Have a Blessed Day Ahead & Beyond.

  42. Di says

    I have never made a bag in my life but I have now sewn two of these and love them! Wish I could post a piccie of them to show you. Thanks for the free pattern.


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