achievement unlocked: typewriter messenger bag

i made this for myself, but jared wanted to try it out because he used to be a bicycle messenger & so he thinks he is some kind of messenger bag authority.


his verdict: “it’s a really good size. but this strap could use some padding.” i vote nay on the padding for two reasons: 1) i have a bad with padding on the strap & it just annoys me. 2) i wear my bags differently than jared does because i have boobs & he doesn’t. i have found that the way i wear my bags causes less need for padding. i also don’t plan to wear this bag while delivering legal documents via bicycle for eight hours a day.

i wanted a new bag because my primary bag is wool & it totally blows to carry a scratchy wool bag when it’s 96 degrees out. my secondary bag has a hole in it. which i could easily fix, but it’s also really small. it’s from before i had ramona & had to think about carrying diapers & snacks & stuff around with me all the time. & my tertiary bag is just not my fave. technically it’s a diaper bag, but it’s not really big enough for a cloth diapered baby. i’m just constantly frustrated with how small it is for its alleged function.

this is the second bag i have ever made. i’m not in a giant hurry to make another. my body is pretty wrecked from spending two days at my sewing table. it also didn’t help that ramona slept in bed with me last night but kept wanting to play with the velcro on my wrist braces, so i had to take them off. my hands really do feel less achey when i wear them, but…sometimes you have a toddler who is obsessed with velcro.

the image on the flap is the typewriter design i paper-pieced last week. (well, i actually started it in may. & it seemed to be really slow-going. i put it aside for almost two whole months before i finally finished it.) i taught myself some very basic embroidery in order to embroider the letters on to the “keyboard”. it’s not perfect, but it looks pretty damn good for being my first-ever attempt at embroidery & my third-ever attempt at paper -piecing.

i designed the messenger bag myself, based on the features i’ve had in other bags & things i saw & liked on the internet. let’s see here…

i was torn between doing boxed corners or doing gussets (i’ve never done either before), but when my friend ericka mentioned that she really liked the wood grain print fabric in my typewriter design, i realized i could use the leftover fabric to make piped gussets! so there’s that.


you can see the piping a little more clearly here. it’s on both sides of the gusset. it’s a pretty subtle effect, because it’s only 1/16″. it’s kind of crazy to put so much work into something so easily overlooked…i mean, this bag features literally more than eight feet of handmade piping…in any case.

you can also see the front pockets here. the snaps are only on the outside of the pocket so the entire interior space is completely accessible. i guess i should also mention that all of these photos are going to suck a little because i made an almost completely black bag. maybe i should have taken the photos outside. next time!


this is the back, which features a zipper compartment.


the side, with an elasticized pocket for my water bottle. i had a pocket like this on an old backpack i used to have & i loved it. i suspect i will love it even more now that my hands are all jacked up all the time. holding my water bottle is one of those things that is excruciatingly painful, & ramona’s stroller does not have a beverage holder. before i had a kid, i always thought beverage holders on strollers were stupid because (don’t laugh) i think i thought they were for the kids. but duh! adults need beverages too! perhaps even more than kids, if we are talking about certain fermented beverages. sometimes i try to balance my water bottle inside my purse, but it always tips over & gets everything all wet. imagine that. so now i have a way to transport my water & i will never again force ramona to leave the playground early because i am dying of thirst. & the other side also has an elasticized pocket for her sippy! or her sunglasses or whatever else she decides to throw on the ground.


love this! the top zips closed! & i used a two-way zipper! just for fanciness. i’ve had several messenger-style bags over the years & i always lamented that they don’t zip closed. sure, there’s the flap, but sometimes you just want the added security of a zipper. sometimes my bag ends up upside down (i don’t know, i have a lot of mishaps) & the flap doesn’t keep everything from spilling out.


interior elasticized pocket. it goes all the way across the bag & is divided into three sections. (& yes, i used the leftover fabric from piecing the typewriter to make the bag & pocket linings.) the diaper bag i bought when i was pregnant with ramona has this feature & it has actually gotten an incredible amount of use. so i decided to implement it here.


interior zipper pocket. i made it big enough to fit my laptop, mostly for traveling. i don’t like to put my computer in my checked luggage (shocker), but i also don’t like having it stuffed into my bag along with ramona’s diapers & everything. so this way, it has its own zone. & it zips flush with the lining when it’s not being used.


quick release buckle! & it doubles as a strap adjustment mechanism. plus, see that D-ring? there are two sewn on to the strap so i can just grab them & adjust the strap with one hand. i have a (much larger) bag with this feature & i LOVE IT. especially because the strap is two inches wide, as is the buckle. without the D-rings, adjusting the strap is a major pain in the ass. i have to manually force the strap through the buckle. the D-rings make it so fast & easy! & i don’t really NEED a quick release buckle…i just think they’re cool. i guess i could start wearing crazy hats because this way i can put on & take off my bag without having to lift it over my head.

i think that’s everything. i used some new techniques in sewing this bag. i’d never done an elasticized pocket before. i made zipper tabs for all the zippers & it really does make for a nicer finish. maybe i should try it in clothes.

technically, i still have to tack the lining into the corners & i think i’m going to re-do the topstitching around the top zipper, & i also need to shorten the strap a bit. but it’s as done as it’s going to get tonight, & it’s perfectly functional as is. these are just little fixes. like how i’ve been meaning to take in the waist on my mermaid sailor shirt for…two months? someday i’ll get to it.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

5 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: typewriter messenger bag

    1. thanks! in the end, i decided i didn’t like the top stitching around the zipper, so i pulled it all out & re-did it by hand. this bag is GIANT. if i hadn’t already purchased ramona her own ticket to boston, i could have just stuffed her in the bag & brought her along as a carry-on. but it’s also really comfortable. it turned out pretty well!

  1. The bag looks great! I splurged on a diaper bag when I was on maternity leave and I was really glad that I did. It makes such a difference to be able to tote around all the essentials and to actually find them. Although, I must cop to my husband doing a bi-monthly reorganization of it. I think its best feature is that you can use it as a shoulder bag or as a backpack. Because I never have enough free hands! The only thing I would have done differently would be to have bought it in a less “girlie” fabric. My husband *hates* carrying it. Whoops!

    1. i have found diaper bags to be pretty unnecessary in our life. probably because we live pretty much right downtown & rarely go on jaunts that necessitate packing more than a sippy & maybe one spare diaper, tops. & that stuff can just fit in my purse or a tote bag or something. i guess it would be different if we lived in a big city.

      having now used my messenger bag for like a month, i can report that it is holding up great construction-wise. the elasticized side pockets get a ton of use. but i think the bag is too big & it maybe needs more interior pockets or something. it’s just a little cavernous in there. i sometimes find myself reaching for other bags if i’m just taking a short walk because i don’t want to deal with fishing my pocketbook out of the depths. maybe i’ll make myself a smaller bag at some point.

Leave a Reply to ciara Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: