I gave up the search (in stores) for My Perfect Messenger Bag long ago. It would:
- Be vaguely structured
- Be an appropriate size for my stature
- Not be made of ripstop nylon or in a camouflage print, or deconstructed or distressed or anything of the sort.
About 2 years ago, I felt confident enough in basic sewing and construction skills to draft my own pattern for My Perfect Messenger Bag. I wanted it to fit my laptop (12" iBook) and a small notebook. Here's what I made:
It might have become my daily go-to bag, except:
- I thought it would have enough structure, with 2 layers of canvas, without interfacing. It didn't.
- Once the laptop was in its neoprene sleeve, it had to be crammed against its will and all laws of friction into the messenger bag. Room for nothing else.
- In my quest to make it slim, I used 1" wide cotton webbing for the strap. When I carried it with the laptop or anything else substantial in it, it hurt my shoulder to carry.
- It's natural, unbleached canvas, which is basically ivory-ish! I don't do ivory!
- I love the fish but it is a little large compared to the bag size.
- I could probably think of a couple more things but let's keep going.
Sooooo... fast-forward to last October, when I volunteered at Maker Faire, grabbed a pair of men's cargo shorts from the swap pile, and made a Lionel Richie tote bag. I saw how ready unused cargo shorts/ pants are to be refashioned into bags, with all the pockets and loops and sometimes d-rings and other hardware.
Aaaaand... fast-forward again to last week. I modified My Perfect Messenger Bag pattern from so long ago to increase the gusset width (from 1" to 2.25") and round the bottom corners as I'd seen in Johanna Lu's recent bag project. Thursday I picked up a pair of size 18 boys' cargo pants in navy cotton twill at the thrift store and got to it.
Placing the pattern pieces and cutting the body of the bag went quickly based on the location and size of the leg pockets. But then I had to agonize over what hardware to use for the closure, how many inner pockets I wanted, and whether to find a store-bought strap or make the strap from pieced-together pant remnants. Partially in the spirit of sustainability and partially out of curiosity, I used pant remnants. This was a good exercise to remind me why I don't quilt. The lining is interfaced with heavyweight fusible craft interfacing.
I considered refashioning another garment for the lining, too, but decided instead to use some stash fabric. Here comes that unbleached cotton canvas again! LOL There are a few lining pockets, including one in each gusset! I'd never done that before -- it's so simple and so functional!
The bunny came from my sketchpad, though to be fair, it is a variation on other animals I draw much better, and the face is achingly familiar -- very much like Miffy, or an Aranzi Aronzo bunny, or both. The bunny was just the easiest of my sketchpad animals to translate to applique. Bunny is constructed of polar fleece. And the grommets? I got $3 grommet pliers from the hardware store and HAD to try them out. No other reason. I showed the WIP to my parents via Skype and my dad suggested grommets in a pattern (like a heart-shape) next time. That Dad. Great ideas, he has.
Cargo pants are now my primo choice for refashioning into functional bags. (I got an olive green pair in a super-soft cotton canvas I'm eager to refashion.) The laptop in its neoprene sleeve fits in this new messenger bag just great with a slim notebook. I'm down with the size and pocketage. Now I need to take it for a floor run and see how it plays. I shall keep you posted...