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Oilcloth Messenger Bag

Source: Martha Stewart



This sturdy, waterproof, and stain-resistant bag takes full advantage of the many virtues of oilcloth -- an ingenious and inexpensive vinyl-permeated cotton-mesh fabric that's available in various colors and patterns. What's more, once you've assembled the required materials, this stylish accessory takes only about ten minutes to make.


  • Bag's intended contents: books, magazines, etc.

  • Ruler or tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • 1/3 yard oilcloth

  • #18 heavy-duty needle

  • 60 inches nylon webbing

  • Fray Check


  1. To determine the desired size of the bag, measure your books, magazines, or the bag's other intended contents. Add about 3 inches to the width measurement for the seam allowance and to allow extra room. Add about 2 inches to the length measurement, and multiply that number by three, to determine the length; this will ensure that the you have enough material for the front and back sides of the bag, the flap closure, and the seam allowance. Cut the oilcloth to the measurements.

  2. Using a #18 heavy-duty needle and setting the tension to 6 on your sewing machine, sew a hem on the top and bottom edges of the oilcloth. (It's always a good idea to test the tension first on a scrap piece of oilcloth.) Cut a piece of nylon webbing for the strap to the desired length, and apply Fray Check to both ends. Lay the oilcloth down on your workspace with the inside facing out. Fold the bottom end of the bag up a little more than one third of the way, then fold the flap down.

  3. To attach the strap, first turn the bag over. Starting with one end of the strap at the bottom of the bag's back side, lay the nylon down about 1/2 inch from the side edges on both sides, making sure the strap isn't twisted. Mark the strap at both the bottom and the top to indicate where it will be sewn. Sew an "X" inside a square at both the top and bottom of each side of the strap. Sew the nylon webbing onto the oilcloth on both sides.

  4. Fold the bag up one third of the way so that it's inside out, and sew both sides of the bag, leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Turn the flap seam allowance under 1/4 inch, and sew. Turn the bag inside out again, and fill it with your supplies.

  5. If your bag gets dirty, don't put it in the washing machine; instead wipe the bag with a sponge dampened in warm soapy water, and dry with a soft cloth. If the bag creases while in storage, lay it flat, and it will smooth out shortly.

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