Are you a messenger bag person or a backpack person? Or are you both?
I’m personally more of a backpack person, but my partner is a messenger bag kind of guy, and I fully admit that when we’re both out and about, he looks like much more of an adult than I do.
Do you, too, want to carry a ton of stuff while looking somewhat adult-ish? Then check out my list, below, of my favorite free messenger bag patterns and tutorials. I LOVE the variety of styles represented in these tutorials, and I love even more the variety of materials called for!
1. Basic Messenger Bag Pattern
This is about the simplest messenger bag pattern you’ll ever come by–perfect for beginning or young sewers! I do not love that it calls for both fusible interfacing and fusible fleece, as “fusible” tends to be code for “petroleum-based glue that will never decompose,” so if you’re a little more advanced and can do without it, try making your own fabric stiffeners and/or basting your fabrics instead of fusing them.
2. Messenger Bag with Adjustable Strap
I really love the size of this messenger bag–at 8.5″x11″, it’s the perfect fit for carrying around school notebooks!
3. 8″x10″ Bag
If you’re looking for something even smaller than the 8.5″x11″ bag above, then check out this pattern to shave off a couple more inches.
4. Bag with Button and Loop Closures
You don’t have to sew a buttonhole to use a button closure–this tutorial includes loops that you can make from your own matching fabric.
5. Bag with Hook-and-Ring Closure
A lot of messenger bag patterns don’t even bother with a solid closure, which is fine if you’re planning to walk around sedately, in a stately fashion, when you carry your bag. If you’ve never passed a fence you didn’t hop or a wall you didn’t try to run up, however, you need something sturdier. This hook-and-ring closure will NOT come undone unless you want it to!
6. Upcycled Denim Messenger Bag with Magnetic Snaps
Wow, messenger bag pattern creators LOVE their fusible fleece! Follow my suggestion, above, for how to avoid it, but definitely follow this tutorial’s instructions for installing magnetic snaps, because magnetic snaps are AWESOME!
7. Upcycled Jacket Messenger Bag
This is a clever idea because many jackets are made of just the type of fabrics that will also make awesome-looking messenger bags!
8. Jeans Bag
You can make the messenger bag, above, from upcycled denim without having it look like it’s made from upcycled denim. THIS bag, however, glories in its provenance!
9. Upcycled Cargo Pants Messenger Bag
Cargo pants are even better than jeans, because they come pre-pocketed!
10. Messenger Bag with Tuck Locks
Here’s a great way to learn how to insert tuck locks into a project. I also love the option to use batting instead of artificial fabrics–just look for an all-cotton (or all wool, if that’s your jam) batting, and you’re good to sew!
11. Foldover Bag
This a super simple and really fun design, with a clever construction method that makes its closure extra secure.
12. Zip-Top Messenger Bag
Combine the look of a messenger bag with the security of a purse.
13. Kid-Sized Messenger Bag
The best thing that I ever did when my kids were super little is start making them carry their own stuff. Make it even more fun for the kiddos to haul all of their stuffed animals and books and toy dinosaurs by sewing them this messenger bag that’s just exactly their size!
14. Bag with Appliques
This tutorial shows you how feasible it is to add a fun graphic to your messenger bag.
15. Messenger Bag with Embellished Flap
Go a step beyond the fun graphic in the above tutorial by trying out this messenger bag pattern with plenty of space for a highly embellished flap.
16. Bicycle Messenger Bag
Forget bicycle baskets. The coolest bike accessory is a messenger bag!
17. Messenger Bag from Laminated Cotton
Laminated cotton is generally NOT an eco-friendly fabric, but it’s a workable choice if you really do need its water repellent qualities. Before you buy new, though, hit up your local thrift store and see if you can find some laminated cotton to upcycle. Look for outdoor furniture coverings, especially outdoor tablecloths, or outdoor clothing, especially light rain jackets or windbreakers.
18. Waxed Cotton Messenger Bag
19. Messenger Bag with a Zippered Flap
The zipper in the flap of this messenger bag allows you easy access to whatever is small and important to you.
20. 18″ Doll Messenger Bag
You know I never pass up an opportunity to make something for my kids’ American Girl dolls!
21. Bag with Grommets and Carabiners
This is SUCH a fun messenger bag, with lots of embellishments that nevertheless don’t read as fussy.
22. Crocheted Messenger Bag
It wouldn’t be one of my lists if I didn’t put something crocheted on it!
23. Messenger Bag with a Tassel
This bag is admittedly more purse than messenger, but it has a TASSEL.
24. Mini Messenger Bag
Even smaller than the kid’s bag, above, this messenger bag retains the classic look while being just the right size for keys, wallet, and a phone.
25. Oval Messenger Bag
Want the functionality of a messenger bag but you’re not inspired by the boxy designs? Here’s an interestingly oval messenger bag pattern.
26. Party Favor Messenger Bags
This tutorial includes lots of great sewing shortcuts to help you make a whole batch of messenger bags, and uses fabric that kids can color with fabric markers.
27. Tablet-Sized Messenger Bag
If what you REALLY need is an e-reader carrier, check out this messenger bag that’s perfectly sized for carrying most tablets.
28. Pleated Purse
Don’t tell, but this is basically the point where I admit that there’s not much difference between a messenger bag and a purse.
29. Reversible Messenger Bag
I love the idea of having a messenger bag with a “business” side for professional activities, and a “party” side for fun times.
30. Ruffled Messenger Bag
This is a really fun messenger bag with lots of ruffles to embellish it.
If you’re a ride-or-die backpack person, don’t be sad–here’s a whole DIY backpack list for YOU!