sew and tell: a new school bag

S has been asking for a backpack with wheels. All the kids at her new school have them, and since the children bring a lot of books home with them every day I can understand why wheels might be a good idea. But in truth, wheels and cobblestones (as we have on many sidewalks and streets here) don’t mix very well. Plus, guess who carries her bag back and forth to school most of the time? (Hint: it’s not her.) The handle for the wheelie backpack is too short for a tall grown-up to pull without stooping awkwardly, so we’ve found another solution that’s worked well for everyone at our house: a new messenger bag.


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


Project Details
Name: Liesl Gibson
Pattern: Messenger Bag from Little Things to Sew
Fabric: Coated linen, with quilting cotton lining and trim

Did the fabric work well? It did! When I found the fluorescent buckle closures at Pacific Trimming I knew they would be a fun trim for a project like this. The closures totally drove the fabric and color choices. I think the laminated linen will be durable and will protect S’s books from water and wear and tear. We had fun choosing the polka dot trim and the bright lining fabric to contrast with the simplicity of the exterior.


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


How did the sewing go? It always surprises me how quickly this bag comes together, despite the many pattern pieces. I sewed a few seams every day, as I often do when I don’t have a large block of time to sew for fun. Before I knew it, the bag was done and she was ready to fill it with her school books.


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


I used Soft and Stable instead of interfacing for this bag, and I was really surprised at how easy it was to sew while also giving the bag lots of structure. Soft and Stable is a thick foam, but despite the thickness I didn’t have any trouble sewing through it–even when it came to applying the bias trim! The Soft and Stable also worked really well for the strap of the bag. It makes it very comfortable to wear, since it’s a little squishy and very soft. Even with heavy books inside!


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


What was the best part? It turned out so cute. And S hasn’t requested a backpack with wheels since she started using this bag!


Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew


Have you sewed the messenger bag? The smaller size is great for smaller kids, but the larger size is perfect even for adults! It can easily fit a laptop.


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  1. Mel

    so cute! this pattern has been on my list since I got the book but it always gets bumped. I really should make time for it, though!

  2. Rita

    Ahh She is so cute! I miss her already :-). That messenger bag is TOP!

  3. Katy

    I just finished my first messenger bag for a niece’s Christmas present and have another cut out for anther niece. I love that I can make them understated on the outside but use a fun character fabric on the inside.

  4. Sarvi

    Those buckles are amazing, and S looks so happy 🙂

  5. zone5painter

    Girl: So big yet still so cute!
    Bag: So practical yet so cute. Soft and stable is a dream to work with and makes all the difference with a bag like this. Gives it that squish factor. Love that S got to participate and personalize it.
    Mom: So charming and talented. I subscribed to Creativebug this morning and watched a couple of your videos. Great to “hang out” with the creator of such well designed and written children’s clothing patterns. Now looking forward to getting the Little Things book. Thank you for helping a novice sewist find her way, Liesl!

    1. Thanks so much!

  6. I made this bag for each of my kids a few years ago. The big one was for my son, who used it for his piano books for a while, and I made the smaller size for my daughter. Now I want one, too. I wish I’d used stiffer interfacing for the bigger one because it’s a little floppy 🙂

  7. Deidre Anderson

    Love your work. I am a big fan. But I am concerned about a young girl carrying around a very big and potentially very heavy bag on her shoulder. Pull along bags with wheels are much safer and protect the growing spine from heavy loads. Well fitted back packs are also better at spreading the load.

  8. Heidi

    Love this bag! I’ve made 2 Small and 7 large for Christmas this year. I’m working on the 8th and have materials for the 9th 🙂
    It’s a fantastic pattern!

  9. She looks so grown up yet somehow also really small next to the enormous bag! I thought you’d upsized it at first!
    I’ve just finished sewing one of these too. But mine was made from canvas offcuts from a shop that makes exterior awnings – so very hard to sew! Yours sounds like a much more pleasant sewing experience.
    Curious about that foam, I’d wondered about quilt batting in the strap….

  10. Sarah

    What a nice bag. It does look comfortable to wear. Since I’m always on a tight budget for sewing, I use leftover bits of fleece to interline bags, sometimes quilting them to the exterior. This has a similar effect as the soft foam that you used (although probably not quite as structured). This pattern may replace the purchased bag that I carry to work that is about to fall apart. 🙂

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