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A new Messenger Bag using waxed cotton

A few years ago now, I made a messenger bag that I have absolutely loved and used so much it’s actually gone thread-bare in parts! 

Messenger bag and tips on sewing with waxed canvas by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

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I’ve been debating making another one for a while because it was such a fun make, and decided one would be perfect for my Girl for her birthday. I also thought I’d have a go at using waxed cotton fabric for the fun of it and, being in the UK, it generally rains a lot here! I found a company which do an antiqued waxed Barbour type fabric and went with the Gold Stone colourway (just in case you’re interested!)

I’d never used waxed cotton before and confess that I was a little nervous beforehand. Not so much about stitching through it but about the build-up of wax on my machine – the fabric feels waxy (obviously!) and I was constantly washing my hands! Some of the stitching was done on my old Singer Featherweight, and I have to say she breezed through the fabric no problems! My Janome also sewed through it okay with no build up. I think the only thing I will have to do is clean the bed of my machine as it does feel a little extra slippy than normal!

Messenger bag and tips on sewing with waxed canvas by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Helpful tips for sewing with Waxed Cotton

  • Use a Jeans/Denim sewing needle
  • A slightly longer stitch length (3 or higher)
  • A walking foot really helps with easing fabric through the machine
  • Use clips or pin within the seam allowance to avoid marking the fabric
  • Finger pressing/pressing tools help with flattening seams instead of ironing
  • A polycotton thread worked well, but doesn’t give a huge amount of stitch definition – I’m using a thicker thread next time just to see the difference!
  • Overlocking around the pieces at the beginning will help to avoid any fraying

The pattern is the Messenger Bag by Michelle Patterns and is really well written. Having made it before I knew that it would come together fairly quickly, but did make a couple of adjustments…..

Omitted Interfacing: the waxed cotton is a much thicker fabric than recommended and I also used a cotton duck type fabric for the lining so I chose not to interface any of my pieces. The bag still has a good structure (and was a lot quicker to put together!) so I would probably do the same again! I did still add wadding to the bottom gusset of the bag though as it definitely helps with the shape!

Bag Strap: the recommended strap length is really long, and so I cut one at the width of the fabric – about 58 inches. After cutting off the footing, it came out the perfect length!

Messenger bag and tips on sewing with waxed canvas by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Extra Pocket: I added a hidden zip pocket on the back of the bag, before joining the linings together. I love a zipped pocket – somewhere to keep the valuables safe! The trickiest bit is turning the fabric through and getting a crisp edge to the zip opening when pins can’t really be used. I didn’t want to risk ironing it so used a lot of finger pressing and wonder clips to press it into submission!

Button Closure: for a change, I decided to add a button loop closure – the only thing I’d found annoying with my bag was that it wouldn’t always stay fastened up – more to do with my buckle than the design – and I thought a button would look cute! I used a piece of fabric 2″ wide by about 5″ long, folded it in half along the long side, and then pressed the edges into the centre before stitching along the edges to secure and sandwiching between the bag flap pieces.

Messenger bag and tips on sewing with waxed canvas by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I am so pleased with how it came out and absolutely looove the look of the waxed cotton – it’s already starting to lose it’s overly waxy feel and almost looks like leather or suede. I’m looking forward to seeing how it wears over time and love that it gives the pattern a more luxurious look. If I’m honest, I’m just a little bit sad that I’ve promised to gift it to my Girl…..I am definitely going to have to make another for myself but for now, I’m already working on a different bag using a darker brown version of waxed cotton. More on that next week hopefully!

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast and cloudy, but occasional blue sky and still warm

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