Free Tutorial: Quilted messenger bag from the Sundance Quilt

Did you know the best time to do a scrappy project is right after completing a quilt? Yup. You’ve already selected complimentary fabrics, have coordinating cuts, and are probably craving a quick finish. So instead of tossing scraps into that bottomless basket, let’s use put them to good use!

Before getting started, download the scrappy piecing guide located below. It includes the panel measurements to create the messenger bag, and also suggested scrap assembly for those new to improv piecing. If the idea of putting scrap fabric together willy-nilly gives you anxiety, this guide breaks down the piecing into smaller sections that can be assembled together. It will make the process of planning scrap placement much easier!

Free Tutorial: Quilted messenger bag from the Sundance Quilt

Scraps from all sizes of the Sundance Quilt can be used, and it provides a visual scrap assembly guide, as well as the measurements for the flap, panels, lining, and straps of the adult & child sized messenger bags.

Fabric Requirements:

  • Outer panels & flap: Scraps from the Sundance Quilt (totaling at least 1/2 yard).
  • 1/2 yard of lining fabric
  • 1/2 yard of scrap batting (this wool batting is a great option if not using scraps)
  • 4.5” x 40” fabric scrap for strap
  • 2” x 40” batting scrap for scrap
  • Optional: Interfacing to add structure to the bag
  • Note: these “Fabric Requirements” can be met by scraps from the baby, thrown and queen size Sundance Quilt pattern.

What you need:

Step 1. Collect & arrange scraps. Use the downloadable PDF as a guide to arrange the scraps. It can feel intimidating to arrange scraps with no pattern, so the guide breaks down the panels into smaller sections which are simpler to create. Don’t be afraid to trim and rework the arrangement as you go. There is no perfect set-up, be flexible with yourself! Based on my scraps, I arranged 1 large section and 1 small—then after quilting, cut the large section into 2 pieces to create the back panel and the flap. It may be helpful to create fabric sections and batting scraps slightly larger than the final measurements suggested in the PDF guide, to leave room for squaring up.

Once you are confident in the arrangement, TAKE A PHOTO before sewing. It is easy to forget the arrangement once piecing begins, so a photo will save you a lot of headache.

Step 2. Sew scraps and press.

Step 3. Baste the scrappy fabric sections to batting — add interfacing if desired — and quilt (without a backing fabric).

Step 4. If your sections are larger than the final cuts, trim to size. For the final assembly, you need 3 sections— a front panel, back panel, and flap panel. Trim to the measurements provided in the PDF, whether making the adult or child version. Trim the corners of the flap section (both the quilted panel and lining) to create a rounded corner.

Step 5. Assemble straps.

  • To create the straps, cut the fabric strips according to the lengths recommended in the PDF guide. Adjust for desired length.
  • Cut batting strips to insert in strap. The batting width will be 2.5” for adult straps and 1” for child straps.
  • Fold the raw edges of the strap inward 1/4” and press. Align the folded edges and press in half.
  • Insert batting and pin in place. Stitch along both sides of the straps to secure. Set aside.

Step 6. Take flap panel and lining. Pin right sides together and sew 2 sides and top. Notch the curves to create a flat seam. Turn right-side out, press. If desired, stitch along the outer edges of the flap to create a flatter profile.

Step 7. Align front and back panels right sides together. Sew 2 sides and bottom.

Step 8. Create the internal corners of the bag. While still inside out, take the sewn corner and flatten to create a triangle shape. Take a ruler and measure 1.5” from the tip. Mark a 3” line. Stitch along the line and trim. Leave at least 1/4” seam allowance.

Step 9. Repeat Steps 7 & 8 with lining fabric. However when sewing the 2 lining pieces together, leave leave a 7”-10” gap along the bottom seam. This allows you to invert the section in the final step..

Step 10. Turn the outer quilted panels right side out. Pin the straps to outside of the quilted sections, centering them on the side seams. In this first version, I used pins as shown in the photos. However, in subsequent bags I used these clips, Clover Wonder Clips, and its was significantly easier.

Step 11. Center the flap between the straps and pin to the back panel.

Step 12. Take inside out lining section, insert the entire quilted section (including flap and straps) into the lining so they are right sides together. Align the side seams, and begin securing the sections. Take the pins that secured the flap and straps, and move them to the lining one by one. There should be no pins inside the lining. Again, those clips make this step so much easier. Learn from my mistakes!

Turn the lining inside out and the outer panels right side out. Insert the outer panels into the lining so they are right side together. Pin or clip the sections together along the raw edges. As you can see in the photos, I pinned mine. However, in subsequent versions I used the clips and it was significantly easier. Beginning on the front panel (opposite the flap), about 3” offset from the midline, begin to sew around the outer panels and inner lining.

Step 13. Sew around the entire top edge of the bag. Make sure all 3 layers (quilted panels, straps/flap, and lining are secured together.

Step 14. Using the gap in the bottom seam of the lining, turn the bag right side out by tucking the entire unit through the hold. The quilted section should be on the outside of the bag, along with the straps and flap.

Step 15. Now it is time to close the gap in the lining. This can be done by hand or by machine. If stitching by hand use an invisible stitch. If by machine, extend the machine along the entire bottom of the lining. Tuck the lining inside.

Step 16. If desired, stitch around the outer lip of the bag to create a flat profile.

Your messenger bag is done! Not only do you have a beautiful bag to use, but it coordinates perfectly with your latest quilt. So maybe grab that quilt, a good book, and a few snacks to enjoy today! If you have any bag-making tips or tricks of your own, please share them in the comments.

Tag me in your finished projects (@wellspringdesigns_co) so I can see the finished Sundance Quilt and bag. Use the hashtag #Sundancequilt and #scrappymessengerbag so others can see your versions as well. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at, I love chatting about quilting!

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