Rural Messenger Bag


Pattern: Amy Butler Rural Messenger Bag
Fabric: Looped-Spice from Reprodepot
Modifications: Reduced the length of the strap by ten inches. Added heavy-weight fusible interfacing to the interior lightweight cotton.

You know how sometimes you start knitting a project, and then you realize that you picked the wrong yarn for a pattern? Or even better, that the pattern is completely wrong for you? Both of these thoughts crossed my mind with the Amy Butler Messenger Bag, except that it was with fabric instead of yarn.

The pattern calls for large floral print fabric, but I loved the retro orange and brown fabric I bought so I ignored the directions. After I sewed all parts of the exterior, I found that it looked very odd. The ovals don’t line up on the main panel, the purse panel, and the purse flap. This looks strange, but I think that even if they did line up the bag would still be weird. Basically, the large floral print would have been a good idea because there wouldn’t be an alignment issue. So much for disregarding the instructions!

As for the pattern being wrong for me — well, let’s just say that this is a large bag and I am a small person. It didn’t seem that big in the pattern photo, but then again, I bet the model is way taller than my 4’11”. I reduced the length of the strap so that the bag wouldn’t hang to my ankles, but it is still too large on me. If I had seen it in a store, I would have never bought it because of its size. See how it hangs on me… the bottom of the bag is about 4 inches above my knee. Sorry for the blurry photo!


For the lining, I bought lightweight cotton. I added interfacing because the bag would have been floppy without it, but in retrospect it would have been wiser to use lightweight interfacing as the heavyweight was too stiff. I also managed to make permanent wrinkles when I ironed on the interfacing…oops! Just as I was typing this post, I found updated instructions for sewing this bag with light to midweight fabric. Ahhh…should have looked at that earlier.

There are some great things about this bag, though! The interior is roomy enough for magazines and books.


The purse flap could be handy for small items like pens and Kleenex (if you’re like me and prefer to have a pack of Kleenex on hand at all times). I used the zigzag stitch on my machine to finsh the interior raw edges.


I also really like the exterior pockets on the backside.


Overall, I think this is another great Amy Butler pattern. I enjoyed the project a lot, even if it didn’t turn out quite right for me. The Rural Messenger Bag is more complicated than the Madison Bag, but the instructions are very clear so I would still recommend this bag to a novice sewer.

Lastly, I would like to thank Gleek for introducing me to the magnetic seam guide. My seams still aren’t as straight as I would like them to be, but the seam guide helps a lot!


24 Comments on “Rural Messenger Bag”

  1. Julia says:

    Hey, that looks great! I see what you mean about alignment of the pattern and size issues, but I still think it looks really rad. That it’s oversized is kind of a style element! You’re doing great as a seamstress!

  2. ruth says:

    oooh, it looks good! i hear you on it being big though – but i’m impressed with your sewing skills! =)

  3. erin says:

    The colours and retro print of this fabric are outstanding, so even if the the alignment of the pattern is off, it is still very stylish. Lots of good ideas – outside pockets and oversize – great for my daughter. I have been thinking of a messenger bag for her, so thanks for the inspiration. And I don’t think she wants a floral bag, no way.

  4. blossom says:

    hey, i think it looks great!! you never know, sometimes you may want an oversized bag to put all your knitting books/yarns! and it’ll be great when you go yarn/fabric shopping!! i love this pattern.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I still think it looks great! I like the Madison bag too. The fabric you chose is fun.

  6. Shannon says:

    I think the bag looks great. I don’t notice the “not lining up” problem at all. It does seem a tiny bit big, but it doesn’t make it unusable. I think you should use it a bit and see if it still bothers you.

  7. Cyndi says:

    Yay – your blog is back!!!

    I like the bag a lot – it turned out great. Unfortunate that it is a bit big for you though. I’m not sure that the misalignment of the ovals is a real problem, unless some of my obsessive/compulsive tendencies have rubbed off on you! 😉

  8. gleek says:

    great!!! you’re back! the bag looks beautiful even though it’s big. it might be good for a long weekend away 🙂

  9. Veronique says:

    I love that retro print! I look at the RetroDepot site all the time even though I haven’t taken the sewing plunge…
    I understand what you mean about the overwhelming size of the bag. When I received my Lexie Barnes Lady B bag, I was in shock. It’s a mini-suitcase basically. But I use it all the time now!

  10. jillian says:

    Yeah – I can see where it’s big, but then when you need a big bag you’ll have it! They can be hard to find commercially. Personally, I like the fabric.

  11. Kelly says:

    Love the bag. I think it looks so much more fun and modern in the retro print. Great colors, too. I don’t think the mismatching is noticeable, either. Great job!

  12. Heather says:

    The bag looks great! It does seem a little big on you but it’s great when you need to fit books or magazines. I ordered the Covington bag pattern, I can’t wait to give it a whirl.

    I’m very impressed with your sewing skills, both the bags look amazing!

  13. quenna says:

    I’m sorry you’re not completely happy with the bag, but I’m sure you learned a lot of new sewing skills. To be honest, I didn’t notice the mismatch panels. Great job!

  14. Stephanie says:

    You’re back! Yay! I think the bag is great, but it is big. I would have never guessed it was so large. You did a wonderful job on it. Sucess!

  15. oh my goodness! i didn’t realize how much i missed out on! What beautiful sewing projects! the fabrics are beautiful….. you are not only an accomplised knitter, you are a sewer too! yay caitlyn! 😉

  16. yahaira says:

    I can finally see it!! Looks great!

    now youll have to tell us what you and Diana had to do to bring the blog back

  17. winnie says:

    It is absolutely gorgeous. I love big bags and for me, it’s always not being able to find bags that are big enough. Love the fabric you chose too, very retro mod!

  18. Jackie says:

    I love your messenger bag! I think the Amy Butler patterns are such fun. You did a super job!! 🙂

  19. Shir says:

    Hey, another success. Congratulations! I like the fabrics and the design of the bag.

  20. Charmaine says:

    I LOVE Amy Butler patterns! Though, I haven’t tried the rural messenger bag yet, the Nappy Bag and her other smaller bags are some of my favorites to sew. Love you blog!

  21. Sherry says:

    Those bags look great! I’ve been hit by the sewing bug, too. I’m very impressed. Miss you and SnB.

  22. shobhana says:

    that is super cute!

  23. Meg says:

    Love that bag, and the fabric too! Wonderful!

  24. Just got back to read this … I have the Rural Messenger Bag pattern but haven’t made it yet. I really appriciate you taking the time to write this review – thanks a lot. Will have to look into a magnetic seam guide too – not my strong suit either 😉