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Campfire Messenger Bag

Campfire Messenger Bag

Hey there everyone, I have finally had some time to make another bag… whoopie-doo.

Feels like it has been ages since I have been able to hole myself up in my sewing room with some cheesy music on and sew merrily away for a few hours.

I have been itching to make this bag since I found the pattern last year. It is a great little pattern called the ‘Campfire Messenger Bag’ by noodlehead . I wanted to make a bigger version that would hold A4 things for my college course in January but totally ran out of time and had to make do with my doggy bag instead, which is a slightly bigger version of my ‘for pleats sake‘ bag but with rather cool mustard doggie fabric. It did amazingly well at lugging my heavy notes back and forth – considering it was homemade I was stunned it never broke under the weight!

doggy bag

“Doggy Bag” Can’t believe I’ve not shared this one with you guys… it is one of my favourites. Made it bigger than the pattern says, much more roomy! It has inside pockets too.

Anyhoo… since finishing my course, my daughter has been asking me if I would make her a bag for school, she is starting secondary in September and has a long list of requirements for her new school bag! She has written me a spec of all the pockets she is gonna need – so I need to find a pattern with lots and lots of storage!

bag spec

…and the moon and the stars please…

I was wondering if I could go back to my adapted Campfire Messenger idea and use that, but was worried about jumping right in and altering a pattern I have never made before, especially after several months of no sewing, am feeling a bit rusty.

So I came up with the near genius idea that perhaps I should make myself a campfire messenger – just to test out the pattern you know – and make it exactly as it is meant to be and see how it goes and see if I can learn as I go along how I might adapt it for a school bag.

It also gave me a brilliant excuse to use some of the gorgeous (oh my god I’m in love) Eloise Renouf fabric I ordered last year, plus the bag looks to actually be a really dinky handy size just as it is.

So off I went and got started…

Firstly – it took me forever to decide which gorgeous bit of co-ordinating Renouf fabric ought to go where. And sadly I am not sure I got it right looking at the finished result.

Secondly, I had so many other things land on my plate to deal with that I kept having to stop and then go back to it days or weeks later and kept forgetting what I was thinking before, so it was all a little disjointed.  But it came together in the end.

front piece

The front piece with two rather useful water bottle sized pockets and a perfect iphone size zipper pocket.

back piece

The back piece with one big pocket


sneaky little snap inserted onto back pocket








I was really pleased with how the strap turned out, it may be my neatest yet, with topstitching right on the edge… beautiful! Am having second thoughts about the yellow snap tabs though, A) they are not the same length B) they stick out at a funny angle instead of being straight and C) I’m not sure they should be yellow, I think the blue fabric would have worked better. Oh dear, what would Patrick and Esme say…

Beautiful little strap and closures ready to go on

Beautiful little strap and closures ready to go on

In my defence, I must say that it is very very hard to work out quite where your little snaps are going to line up with their partners on the front pockets when the bag is not constructed, but you have to do it then, otherwise the backs will show through. I adapted the pattern closures to use snaps so I couldn’t even use their measurements, I know, I only have myself to blame, trying to be too clever. I know, I know I said I was going to stick to the pattern…

Frantic Pinning

Trying to work out where on earth the yellow snap tabs need to be by frantically pinning everything together before construction!

And then, the big muss-up… I realised (too late) that the front and back and gusset pieces should all line up at the top BEFORE you sew on your concealed zip or put your binding on. I think I had added a couple of cm’s to my front and back for safety and then probably cut out the gusset on another day and did not add more safety fabric, so the front and back stick up about 1-2cm from the gusset. Bother.

I didn’t think this would be an issue until I tried to put the binding on, and then oh dear oh dear oh dear… instead of just whizzing a piece of bias binding on in a oner to cover up all those orrible little thready ends, I had to do it in not one, not two, not three, but FOUR pieces of binding, one for each face of the bag, and yes the result is not very pleasing.

grumpy sewing

I always hate this bit… the final sew around the top of the whole bag… my machine hates it even more than I do! Sorry Janome baby!

Still, at least the zip worked out quite well, and the lining fabric is lush! And the bag itself is surprisingly roomy and I love the many many pockets.

The other major muss-up was in the gusset where the pattern recommended slitting notches in the fabric to help you angle it around the corners, but I then stupidly sewed my two gusset pieces together opposite ways around so had a notch on each side! Doh. I sewed one up with a bit of nifty zig zag stitch but it still shows, and so does the notch on the other side as it sticks out a bit leaving a raggedy edge. I think if I do that pattern again I will forget the notches and just snip the seam allowance after I have sewn it together. You live and learn hey?

open bag

Will you just look at all those bits of binding around the top… shocking! Gasp!

Ta dah!  I think there a six pockets in all. Not quite enough for my daughter’s massive spec list perhaps but not bad, and certainly enough for me and my little expeditions.

Campfire Messenger BagIMG_5031IMG_5027

We went out for our first little trip out today to the shops, it did me proud actually and worked very well for all my little bits and pieces and felt good to wear, it is a really handy size.


Now the question is just do I get cracking on a bigger one for my daughter or is she going to get ridiculed turning up first day at secondary school with a bag made by yer mum!

The tricky thing is that it has to be black and semi-waterproof so I was thinking to use pleather or some sort of raincoat fabric. All the girls currently at the new school seem to have cheapo New Look type leather totes – so I don’t want her to stand out.

Unless she wants to stand out of course and make a statement and be the envy of the whole school.

We went down there a couple of weeks ago to drop off some forms and overheard a couple of girls saying: “Oh yah – baskets are just like SO last term” which has thrown me somewhat… since when were baskets ever cool as a school accessory?

It’s a crazy world out there!