Kid's Messenger Bag

August 16, 2011

Since we don't go to tons of birthday parties yet, we often bring handmade gifts.  Either that, or awesome stuff from the thrift store (unopened puzzles, books, that kind of thing).  Does this make me sound cheap?  Well, I am, but I also like the idea of making something special, and not wasting money on crappy plastic toys.  I assume that other parents are like me, and don't want to continue crowding their house with kid junk, so this is the solution I have come up with.  Oh, and I'm cheap.  Did I mention that? 

This week, my older son was invited to a birthday party, and we made this messenger bag together.  I feel less guilty about sewing during our alone time (while my younger son naps in the afternoon) if we are working on a project together.  We started by looking for a tutorial on One Pretty Thing for a messenger bag (my idea).  After we found something similar to what I had in mind, I made sure that he thought it would make a cool present for his friend.  We ended up using the dimensions for the main pieces from one tutorial, and then based the rest on other messenger bags I have made in the past.   

P.S. If you try using this tutorial, make sure to make the side piece (that goes all the way around the sides and bottom of the bag) longer than 27".  I had to add several inches part way through sewing, and next time I make a bag this size I will start with a piece about 31" long.  It's easy to trim down at the end, but annoying to add length in the middle of the project.  

After I made my plan (quick notes with a sketch, and dimensions for the pieces I would need), my son picked out the fabric.  This fabric is denim with woven tools (in green, red, and yellow).  I inherited it from my mother-in-law, Susan, and I haven't been sure of what to use it for.  My son loves this print and is always asking me to use it, and I actually really love how it looks on this bag.  He also selected the plaid print for the lining, and I think he did an excellent job of selecting a coordinating print with almost no help (I only guided him to the appropriate weight of fabric).

He loved this bag so much that he has asked me to make him one just like it for his birthday later this month.  It's the perfect size for storing his treasures (junk) during his everyday play, and it looks pretty adorable on.  

This was a simple bag to make.  It's fully lined, and has one pocket on the front under the flap.


The strap has 5 rows of stitches to make it stronger, and I left about 6 extra inches when I attached it to the bag (the extra length is hidden inside) so it would be possible to make it longer as he grows.  I felt like a genius after I did this, and when I told his mother about it.  Since it was so simple, I decided to dress things up a little by adding a simple leather 'K' applique (for Keaton) and called things good.

In case you are interested in making your own, the front and back pieces measure 11" wide and 9" tall, the side (gusset) piece is 3" wide by 31" long, and the flap is 11" wide and 7.5" long with rounded corners.  I started with a strap piece 4" wide by 44" long, and adjusted it to the appropriate length after my son tried it on.

I'm curious, what do the rest of you bring to birthday parties?  Especially if you are on a tight budget?  I find I'm more likely to make a gift if the mother is crafty (or I know appreciates handmade).  Do you think kids (or mothers for that matter) appreciate gifts like this, or would they just rather have the plastic toys?

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