Messenger Bag Tutorial with Matching Doll Purse

September 11, 2011


I didn’t take pictures of the bag I made Katelyn as I went along, so I decided to make another one. This time I made it for her American Girl doll. Now they have matching purses.
I need to get a shot of the two of them together.

The measurements (obviously!) are different, but the construction is the same for each of the bags. So use the measurements for the size you want and follow the instructions.

Go here to see detailed pictures of the other things I made to put in this bag.

Here we go!


Full Size Bag 9x9x2.25 inches

Body: 12×21 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Flap: 8.5×8.5 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Strap: 2×21 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Pockets: 6×12 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 3 from lining fabric

Ruffle: 1.5x 36 inches

- 1 from lining fabric

If you are using a light weight fabric, such as cotton or linen, use a medium weight interfacing to give the bag some structure. Iron the interfacing to wrong side of the main fabric pieces.


18″ Doll Size Bag

Body: 5×9 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Flap: 2×4 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Strap: 1.5×16.5 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 1 from lining fabric

Pockets: 3×5 inches

- 1 from main fabric and 3 from lining fabric

Ruffle: 1.25x 13 inches

- 1 from lining fabric


Constructing the Bag:

Use 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Place the pocket pieces with the right sides together and stitch the long side, leaving the short sides open.

Turn the pockets right side out and press. Topstitch the seams on the outside pocket.


Make the strap. Place pieces with the right sides together and stitch the long sides to form a tube. Turn the tube right side out and press. Topstitch the sides.

Take the two flap pieces and round the bottom corners. I did this freehand for the doll bag, but used a bowl for the full size bag.

Fold the ruffle piece with wrong sides together. Run a basting stitch along the raw edge and gather to form the ruffle. Pin the ruffle to the right side of the lining piece as pictured. If you like less gathering, cut off the excess part. Baste the ruffle to the flap lining.

Put the other flap piece with right sides together to sandwich the ruffle between the layers. Stitch around the curved portion of the flap and leave the top open.

Turn the flap right side out and press. Ignore my crookedy ruffle on this one! Topstitch the seam.


Place the pockets on the main fabric and the lining piece. Align the raw edges and place the top of the pocket 1 inch from the top of the fabric. Stitch along the bottom of each pocket piece and down the center of the inside pocket.


Fold each body piece in half with the right sides together and the tops aligned. Stitch the sides.

Fold corners flat and stitch a distance from the point. This will decide the width of the bag. For the full size bag, I stitched 1.25 inches from the point and for the doll bag I stitched 0.75 inches from the point.

You will end up with these flappy ear looking corners.

Have no fear though, you are making these nice looking corners on the right side.

Do the corners on the lining and the outer piece.

Turn the outer fabric right side out and leave the lining with the wrong side out.

Line the flap with the center of the back. Be sure the lining side is facing up and the outer fabric touches the pocket on the back. Stitch close to the top. When making this bag, this was my prototype and my measurements for the flap were off, so I had a “make it work” moment and gathered the flap before stitching it down. I altered the measurements, so you shouldn’t need to do this. Just wanted to explain the picture though.

Align the ends of the strap with the sides of the bag and stitch near the top. Be sure to place the strap with the lining side out and double check the strap isn’t twisted before you sew it down.

Take the outer portion of the bag and stuff it into the lining. The bag now has right sides together with the strap and flap sandwiched between the lining and outer portion.

Stitch around the top portion of the bag. Start and finish at the front, but leave a space open for turning. For the doll size bag, I left most of the front open because it’s so tiny and a lot of stuff needs to get through that hole. I backstitch the beginning and end so the stitching won’t pull apart when I’m turning the bag right side out.

Pull the bag through the opening you left. Stuff the lining inside the bag and press your opening closed. Stitch around the entire top of the bag. This will close off your opening and give your bag a finished look. I didn’t get a picture of that. I can later if someone needs one.

Put a button and buttonhole for a closure on the front, if you wish to have it more secure. For the doll size, I decided a flap was just fine.


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6 Responses to “Messenger Bag Tutorial with Matching Doll Purse”

  1. Abbie J said:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! It is really easy to follow. the only trouble i had is my ruffle seemed too small to fit on the flap (for the doll bag). I ended up leaving it off because it wasn’t working out.

  2. meredith said:

    I’m sorry to hear that the ruffle wasn’t long enough. Maybe mine wasn’t gathered as tight. I hope rest worked out okay for you!

  3. Nothing Beats Homemade said:

    [...] Messenger Bag from my magic [...]

  4. Magic said:

    Is it the same for the human sized bag?

  5. meredith said:

    The instructions are the same, but the dimensions are different. The pattern dimensions are listed for the doll and person sizes. let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. Virgie said:

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    You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work,
    there is a tool that creates readable, google friendly articles in couple of
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