Crafty Challenge 4: Willis-Inspired Felt Messenger Bag
Loryn: I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure about this challenge. It’s not that I don’t like making bags; quite the opposite, and that was the problem. I’ve been making bags for many years, and I always put a lot of time and effort into nice details and finishes. So how would I do that with the limited time allowed for a crafty challenge?
Typically, my bags are lined and interlined, with lots of pockets inside. To cut down on the time needed, I wanted to use fabrics that didn’t need linings or seam finishes. Luckily, I had two thrifted items that would be perfect. The wool felt came from a Soviet military coat, and the piping is from a fuchsia 1980s ultrasuede men’s sport coat. All of the “raw edges” are on the exterior of the bag, and the construction seams are exposed.
To mimic the look of the Willis bag and to brighten up the dark felt, I put piping at all the seams. I’ll admit, I love piping, and put it on lots of projects. I used cotton sash cord from the hardware store inside the piping.
For a closure, I used a buttonhole from the coat as my tab. My initial idea was to use a magnet closure, but it wasn’t strong enough. The clasp holds the entire bag together, so I changed to the button tab.
The coat had green topstitching, and I decided to match it, both so I could use the premade buttonhole and because it is a nice contrast to the fuchsia piping.
I used a dowel in the top to match that detail on the inspiration bag. The metal rings are looped around the dowel, with slits in the felt so I could put them in place. I love working with a fabric that doesn’t ravel!
It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but this is a pretty big bag. It’s 15″ wide, just under 14″ tall, and over 5″ wide. It’s perfect for work!
Because of the single layer construction, I didn’t put any pockets in the bag. I didn’t want any pocket seams to show on the outside of the bag or any extra layers of fabric to mess up the lines of the bag.
Once the challenge was over, I decided to make up an organizer to put inside the bag:
The divider is two-sided, with heavy cardboard in between to give it shape. I made special pockets to hold my phone, glasses, pens, and iPad. I lined some of the pockets with ultrasuede to protect screens and lenses. Not only is it really handy, but it gives the messenger shape. I love using it! Loryn