Mama’s Messenger Bag

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I recently made myself a new bag to hold my stuff and my son's stuff (and hopefully we can fit in future baby's stuff as well).  This is the third "diaper" bag I have made for myself and they get better each time as I figure out what I need in my mama bag, and as I learn new sewing skills.

This bag is actually really easy to make.  The whole outside and flap of the bag are just 1 piece of fabric.  The pockets can be modified to fit your needs!

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I wanted 2 stretchy pockets to hold drinks, 1 small "paci" pocket for small objects, and 2 medium-sized pockets for phone and keys.  There is plenty of room in the center of the bag for my wallet, diapers, toys... etc.

One of the other customizations I made was to make sure the shoulder strap was the right size to not only fit my body, but also fit on my stroller.  It goes over the handlebar on the back and hangs at a nice height for me to access it while strolling!

I have to warn you, I am not an expert sewer... I just kind of visualize how I want something to turn out and make up the steps as I go.  Here's how I created my Mama Messenger Bag:

I used green printed heavy outdoor canvas for the outside of the bag and brown and while polka-dot fabric for the lining.  These are the pieces I cut:

(green and brown) 18"x41"- outside of bag and lining

(brown) 8"x14" and 8"x24"- pockets

(green) 5"x18"- strap

18" of 1/4" braided elastic- for the stretchy pockets

I also used some scrap brown fabric, decorative ribbon, and ric-rac to decorate the flap.

To get started building the bag, I folded the green fabric back 15" and sewed a seam along each edge.

Before I did the same with the brown liner, I had to add the pockets.  I ironed a 1/4" hem around the 8"x14" rectangle...

And then sewed it onto the large piece of brown fabric, a few inches down from the top edge (this determines how close the pocket will be to the top edge of the bag).  I also sewed a line down the center of the pocket to divide it into 2 smaller pockets.

For the next pocket I wanted the top to be stretchy so it would be good for holding drinks.  I used a zig-zag stitch to sew the elastic along a long side of the 8"x24" rectangle, stretching the elastic as I sewed.

Then I folded that over twice and sewed a zig-zag stitch along the edge, stretching it as I sewed.

When I was done with the stretchy side for the pocket, I ironed a 1/4" hem on the other sides of the pocket and pinned it in place on the fabric.  To determine where to put it, I measured 30" from the edge with the other pocket (that will be the top of the other side of the bag), and then placed the pocket a few inches lower than the 30" line.  For the bottom edge of the pocket I folded over the extra fabric and pinned it in place.

Then I sewed along the edges.  I divided this into 3 pockets.  The 2 on the edges are for drinks and the one in the middle I made more short and shallow (by sewing a seem a few inches down from the top edge)- this pocket is for small things like pacifiers that I don't want to get lost in the bag.

I was happy with my pockets so I was ready to assemble the lining of the bag.  I folded it 15" from the top edge (keeping the polka-dots on the inside of the fold), and just like in the first step I sewed 15" seams along the edges.

Next, I worked on the bottom corners of the bag and liner to give them volume and shape.

I folded the bottom corners of the bag like this, with the seam going up the center of the triangle:

Then I pinned it in place, measured and drew a line 3" long along the bottom of the triangle, sewed along the line, and then cut off the extra part of the triangle.

When I turned it inside-out it looked like this:

I did the same thing for the liner, but in reversed since it will be inside the bag.

Then I was done with the bag part and needed to work on the flap part.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of how I cut the edges so I made a drawing:

To make the round corners, I traced a bowl and cut along the line.

I cut both the outside of the bag and liner to have flaps like this.

Next, I added some decoration to the flap.  I sewed some scrap brown fabric with the edges ironed under), ribbon, and ric-rac to the bottom of the flap.

Before assembling the bag, I needed to make the strap.  I folded a 1/4" hem along each long edge of the strap fabric, then folded it in half and sewed a seam 1/8" from each edge.

Then I was ready to put it all together.

I turned the liner with the polka-dots on the inside, and put the bag inside (with the print facing the polka-dots) and I pinned the edges together.  I put the strap in-between the 2 layers, with the edges sticking out above the seam on the side of the bag and pinned it in place.

Then I sewed a seam 1/4" from the edge, all the way around the top of the bag and edge of the flap (leaving a gap to turn it inside-out).  After that I turned it inside-out (which was actually right-side out) and then sewed a seam 1/8" around the edge (that closed up the gap I left).

I really love how it turned out!  It is super cute and functional for me!

You might also like:

Pretty Spitty Baby Set

Sweet Lil Owl Onesie

Make Your Own Appliques


  1. SO cute!! I might have to make one, too!

  2. jeanine mcdonald says:

    Love, love, love this! The hobo bag style has always been a favorite of mine. Thinking I should make one for my “new ” niece who is due late June. Thanks, Kate, for the great idea.

  3. Very cute! I love the fabric you used too! :)

  4. What a cute bag! I definitely need one of these. I love fabric bags because they are so lightweight and can hold a lot!

  5. I love this bag! The pockets you added are perfect. :)

  6. I love this bag. And the pockets. My sister-in-law made me a similar one but it doesn’t have pockets. Maybe I will add them!

  7. This is adorable! I love the fabrics you used!! I would love for you to link it up at Fantabulous Friday#10 going on now! Linking up enters you for a chance to win free ad space on my blog for the month of May! Hope you’ll swing by for a visit!

  8. I am in love with this bag! How handy to have all of the pockets sewn into the bag, sized perfectly to hold all of your goodies! Love!

  9. This is really cute, it makes me want a new diaper bag!


  10. Kate, that is SUPER cute! Great job!! So glad you shared this at Shine on Fridays!

  11. This is a darling bag and would come in handy. I love cloth bags for daily odds and my nicer leather purses for special occasions. this is a fantastic idea. I am going to try to make it larger to use for my books and folders I carry back and forth to work.

I would love to hear what you have to say!