My girls needed new school bags this year and since I’m sooo on top of things, I started thinking about them in early summer. I fiddled with some designs on paper wanting to make a new pattern, but thanks to busy summer days that flew by faster than a roller coaster ride, that plan flew out the window.
In the end I came back to what was comfortable and easy, and made the wonderful free pattern from Larissa from Mmmm Crafts. It’s the same pattern I used two years ago, the last time I made school bags.
Larissa’s pattern is for a messenger bag, but needed altering to make it large enough to serve as a school messenger bag. I altered the sizing last time around, but since my girls are bigger and love to carry lots in their bags, I made them even larger this time.
The changes I made to the sizing are as follows:
- For the body and lining: 17″ x 28″
- For the flap: 15″ x 15″
- Outside pocket: 12″ x 8″
- Inside pocket: 11″ x 6″
- Strap: 45″ x 5″ (I cut ours down to 37″ for my girls and still feel like it’s a bit long. Definitely adjust to suit the child!)
After having used their bags for a couple of years, I also planned some improvements to the pattern to give it added stablility.
Last time I made the bags, I scored on Denyse Schmidt home weight fabrics for $4 a yard, bringing the total of the finished bags to just about $5. This time around there was no such luck.
I opted for a light-weight dark denim from JoAnn’s using a 50% of one cut of fabric coupon. This was a great inexpensive option, at less than $10 for the fabric for both bags. Plus the denim hides the dirt nicely and wears well.
I did splurge and paid full price for the trim and fabric for inside of the bags. It’s a Lecien Old New Fabric, a 1930′s inspired strawberry print. I would have liked something with apples for school, but I love the strawberry print too.
I couldn’t find a strawberry in the design cards I have, so I went looking for a template and found a perfect one online at a kid’s crafts website.
I traced the pattern to the paper side of my Making Memories Fusible Web which I really love working with, by the way. It’s easier to trace on than Heat n’ Bond Lite, my previously favorite fusible web.
Just like last time, I made pencil dividers and little pocket dividers on the inside pocket.
Something new I added this time was 2 inch nylon strap material to the inside of the strap. I cut a 5 inch strap from the fabric, pressed the 1/2 inch hem down both sides, and pressed the strap in half. Then I snugged the nylon down under one of the folded hem and pinned the strap together.
Then stitched down both sides, thus securing the nylon inside the strap. The pressure is on when you are stitching a light thread on a DARK demin. There is no hiding your lines. But I wanted the classic look of the light thread on denim, so I used nice yellow tan.
The strap turned out fabulous and is much more comfortable for the added stability. It won’t be rolling up or twisting up like their last bags.
One last great improvement (that I did part way last time, and all the way this time) was to add fusible fleece to the bag. Last time I added it to the main body only. This time I added it to the entire bag. Adding it is simple. I fused the fleece to the main body of the bag and the flap. I even added to the outside pocket, since I was using all quilting fabric.
The fusible fleece gives the bag a nice heavy, stand up feel.
The girls are so in love with their new bags. Emma came home from the first day of school to say, “I have the cutest bag in the 4th grade, maybe in the whole school.” She knows just how to butter me up.