Pattern Review, Sewing

Men’s Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

I’m really excited about this waxed canvas messenger bag! I rarely sew for my husband, but when the zipper on his laptop bag tore open a couple of weeks ago he requested a new bag.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

I’ve been hoping to sew something with waxed canvas after seeing Laura’s version of my Retro Rucksack. I had a lot more to say about waxed canvas, so I wrote a separate post sharing my tips for waxing canvas using Otter Wax. But it’s the perfect fabric choice for a durable men’s bag!

Since I knew I wanted to use the waxed canvas, so I kept that in mind for a couple of weeks while I searched for the right pattern; something masculine and also functional as a daily work bag.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I checked out a bag sewing book from the library, Best of Stitch Bags to Sew,icon which included a men’s messenger bag. The base of the bag was just the right size, and I was intrigued by some of the techie features (buttonholes and channels for USB cords). It had potential, so I decided to work with the base and add a few pockets and more structure.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Just to be honest, this pattern was hard! Because of the limited space for illustrations in a craft book, there just weren’t enough pictures and diagrams. The pattern directions were wordy and full of measurements (which happens when there aren’t pattern markings to make things easier), so it took a lot of concentration to figure out where things went. The actual construction is intermediate level, but without detailed illustrations, I would only recommend it to experienced bag makers with advanced sewing skills.

Waxed anvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I sewed the exterior pockets as directed. They are just right for phones, pens, and other things you want to access quickly. The pattern did not have any pockets on the inside of the bag, so I added a large slip pocket on one side and an inset zipper pocket (see my tutorial) on the other side. The slip pocket has a layer of Peltex interfacing for extra support, and is just the right size for a laptop or notebook.


I used heavy interfacing (Pellon 809) on the entire bag—both the interior and exterior pieces—plus I added another layer of Peltex to the bottom of the bag. The pattern called for velcro closures, but I used one brass magnetic snap in the center of the flap. A metal snap just seemed more professional and finished for a bag with brass buckles and a faux leather look.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Though there are a few sources of waxed canvas in the US, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for at a reasonable price. Morgan at Thread Theory recommended Otter Wax to wax your own fabric. So, that’s what I used. The outer canvas fabric is 10 oz. canvas and the interior is Birch Organic canvas Flight in “mineral”, both ordered from I’m really happy with the results and I will definitely be waxing more items in the future (see the Retro Rucksack I made). For those that are curious about how it worked, see my detailed post about the waxing process!

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

I’m also linking up over at Craft Buds for Craft Book Month. Lindsay started Craft Book Month a few years ago, when she realized all of her craft books were gathering dust on the shelf. I’m constantly borrowing craft books from the library, only to return them without having made anything. So check out the other projects people are making and be inspired to dust off your craft books and make something!

14 thoughts on “Men’s Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

  1. Cindy says:

    That turned out fantastic!!! I have sewn with a beautiful grey waxed canvas and it was amazing. Really something that needs some time in the limelight don’t you think? Your hubby is a lucky guy to have such an awesome messenger 🙂

    1. Sara Curtis says:

      Thanks Cindy! Do you have pictures on your blog?

  2. Lorena says:

    wow looks fabulous !!!

  3. Sage says:

    Wow, the bag looks amazing! I love the inner pocket details and the lining. I’ve been eyeing that fabric in a knit…thinking of making leggings with it. 🙂

    What do you consider a reasonable price per yard for waxed canvas? I just bought 2/3 yard to use for making your retro rucksack. It is $21/yard + shipping from this etsy shop:

    I already have some unwaxed canvas from making the Grainline Portside Travel set, which was about half what I paid for the waxed. Anyway, I decided it’s a bag I hope to use for a long time, so I splurged at bit for the contrast. If I needed more than a yard it’d certainly be a bit steep. I’m super happy with the quality, so that’s a plus. Can’t wait to read your tutorial.

    Sage 🙂

    1. Sara Curtis says:

      Sounds reasonable to me. I paid around $10/yd for my canvas, plus about $15 worth of Otter Wax. Seems worth the investment for something you plan to carry on a daily basis!

      I’ve also purchased from The Confident Stitch and really like the quality of the waxed canvas there. 10oz would be good for this bag and the lighter weight would work well for smaller bags and jackets.

  4. Stephanie says:

    That is stunning!! I want one for myself. I’ve never waxed canvas or sewn with it, but I love how it looks on this bag.

  5. Anne says:

    I made my husband a shop apron out of military grade waxed canvas a year and a half ago. Aside from being a beast to work with, I found that the waxed canvas would rubbed off on other fabric and clothes, leaving a dull military green residue. I’d be interested to hear whether you experienced anything like this with the canvas you waxed yourself.

    1. Sara Curtis says:

      No, we haven’t had any problems like that at all! Once the wax dried, it was great. My husband has been carrying the bag every day for a over a year now. He has never been worried about it ruining his nice work clothes or anything like that. Bummer that your has been trouble. I would recommend trying the Otter Wax. It’s extra work, but I have more and plans to use it again.

      1. Anne says:

        That’s good to hear! Thanks! BTW, this bag looks fantastic and I’m thinking about making one. 🙂

  6. Where can I obtain the pattern for the men’s waxed canvas messenger bag? I am also interested in finding a pattern to make a rather large unisex sling bag or similar type of large canvas bag to carry large items, such as a big quilt to the beach, along with beach supplies, including water, snack, small pillow, etc.
    Could you or someone you know help me with a pattern to make these two types of rugged men’s bags to carry large items. I would also like the option of possible including a zipper or some other type of closure for the sling bag.
    I would appreciate ant help,you can provide.
    Thank you very much,
    Dr Michael J Elinski

    1. Sara Curtis says:

      The pattern for the messenger bag is linked above. It’s from a book put out by Stitch magazine with their best bags to sew. The pattern isn’t easy to follow in book form. I’d recommend using another messenger bag pattern if you are not an advanced sewer. You could try the Cloudsplitter Sawyer Satchel or the Betz White Midtown Messenger. I don’t know of any beach bag patterns that are large enough to carry all that you described. I’d just look for a tote bag tutorial and adjust the size to what you need. Shouldn’t be too hard with basic rectangles.

  7. Brenda says:

    Do you have the pattern for what you did here? Or a link to the original? My husband is looking for me to make something very similar to your bag out of his old turn out gear. Thanks.

    1. Sara Curtis says:

      The pattern was originally featured in Stitch magazine. It is also in the Stitch Bags to Sew book. Or you can get the stand alone pattern here… However, there are much better messenger bag patterns out there with more thorough instructions. Since this was designed for a magazine with limited space, the directions assume a lot. I would only recommend it to an experienced bag maker. For example, this bag pattern at Andrie Designs is free and her instructions will be much easier to follow. (

Comments are closed.