Tutorial: Pillow Cover to Messenger Bag!

When I ran across these pillow covers in the clearance section of Target, I couldn’t pass them up.  I loved the dots and I loved the colors!  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but they were only $2 so, what could hurt?  After I got them home and unzipped it, I realized I was staring right into a ready-made bag! Just add a strap and lining and we’ll be good to go!  It’ll be super easy and oh, so cute!

Pillow Cover to Messenger Bag
  What you will need:
  • 3 ~ 16″ square pillow covers (make sure heavy fabric, like home dec)
  • Coordinating Thread
You will need one cover as the actual purse, one for the lining and one for the strap.  Since I purchased 2 oranges, I thought it would be good to use these for the base and strap, and keep the green for the lining.
Start by cutting the cover you chose for the handle.  Cut it 5″ in width and the length will be approx 15″ after you cut off the top and bottom seams.  Now you have 6 qty 5″x15″ strips

Right sides together, piece 4 of the strips together to make one long piece.  Press seams open
Fold that long piece in half, right sides together and press
Stitch the raw edge of the entire length of the strap.  Leave both ends open for turning.  Attach a safety pin to one end and use that to turn the strap right side out and press

Stitch around each seam where you pieced them
together to reinforce
(you will have 3)
Now, turn in your short edges, pushing them down about
3 inches into inside and press. 
The 3 inches will be for reinforcement of the strap
(don’t be hatin’ on the fingernails!)

Now, edgestitch around entire strap

Now, take the strap and attach to the bag base.  Measure down 5″ from the top of the zipper of the base.  This is where you want the bottom of the strap to be.  Center on the side seam and pin down
Here is both sides pinned
Stitch around the strap to secure to base.  My box was about 3 3/4″ high (in other words,you will not go all the way to the 5″ height).  Make a reinforcing X
Take one of the strips cut earlier (remember we only used 4 of the 6) and iron over 1/4″ to the wrong side on all four sides.  Take one long side and iron over another 1/4 to 1/2″.  Stitch down the side you ironed over twice, this is creating the top of your pocket edge

Take that and pin it to the right side of your lining pillow cover.  Just eye-ball the best place which is usually towards the top a little. Stitch the two sides and bottom of the pocket to the lining.  Don’t stitch the top
The pocket is a little long, so I ran a stitch down part of it to have two separate compartments

Take your lining pillow cover and turn it wrong side out.  Slip into the purse with wrong sides together, matching seams and pushing the corners to meet at the bottom of the bag.  Since these are pillow covers, they both have zippers at the top.  I slid the lining zipper underneath the twill tape of the purse zipper and pinned it in…super easy and clean!
Starting as close to the side seam as you can with the strap pulled back so it doesn’t catch in the foot, stitch using the presser foot as a guide.  I kept the edge of the zipper parallel to the foot.  You will have to stitch both sides separately.  It will not be one continuous stitch. 
Make sure to backstitch at all 4 start/stop points
And you’re done! 
Check out how you can convert it too…
Messenger Bag with  the strap kept long
Tie up the strap for more of a purse look
Sorry to show this again, but I love this shot!
Here’s the Messenger bag in action
…and, the purse style
Now, excuse me while I go put it to some good use!
Please post pics here if you make one, I’d love to see it!

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  1. says

    What a great idea. I love the fabric, too. I think I may make one or two to give as a summer gift to my friends. They are going love it. I am such a visual learner – your photos and tutorial are great.

  2. says

    Your project are always fabulous! Love this idea and great tutorial! Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase! I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful week! ~Stephanie Lynn

  3. says

    Hi Susan! Just wanted to let you know I’ll be featuring your bag today! Stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  4. says

    I like it a lot! I’m always looking for a good new work bag and this would be Cute. Don’t know when I’ll have time but I’m excited!

    Found you through Tip Junkie

  5. says

    This is just the cutest thing! 2 of my favorite colors and how can you go wrong with the polka dots…LOVE IT!

    Well done!


  6. says

    This is AWESOME! I saw those same pillow covers and I too loved the polkadots but I did not buy them… you are the smart one!

    I Love it! :)

  7. says

    I am visiting you via Some What Simple – Strut Your Stuff Thursday. This bag is beautiful! What a great tutorial too, you inspire to teach myself to sew. It’s about time I tried to learn to use that sewing machine I was given for my 21st!

  8. says

    Such a great idea! I love the modern fabric- definitely will keep an eye out for bargain pillow covers so I can get my craft on!


  9. says

    So stinkin’ cute I can’t even believe it. . . amazing creativity. Now I just need to learn how to sew. (Did I just admit that I can’t?) I need to go back to Home Ec from the 8th grade. :) Truly though, I really do love what you’ve done. I’m excited to come across this blog from One Pretty Thing.

  10. says

    WOW! I love this.

    Thanks for joining Get Your Craft on Thursday at Life As Lori. Please join me next week for another great party.

  11. says

    that is so stinkin cute! i love the pattern.

    thanks for sharing the tutorial… i am now on the look out for 16″ zipped pillow covers!

  12. says

    this is the COOLEST! and perfect Fiskateer colors (Fiskars brand blog). Now, to figure out how to use that dang sewing machine in my scrap room! :)

  13. says

    I believe that you (like myself) may have a bag obsession. I love to make them (and find them super-cheap at thrift stores). More bags than I think I’ll ever need, still I (mostly) find uses for them. 😀

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