Thursday, July 5, 2012

15 minute messenger conference bag hack (upcycle)

Every time I go to a scientific or medical conference, there is a "conference bag" included that holds the program, abstract book, sometimes a special publication, and a bunch of industry symposium flyers telling you when the competition special sponsors will be telling you what's the latest.

I have gotten so many of these, that I've donated several, or even left them behind in the hotel room if they are particularly poorly made or too big to take home (like wheelie backpacks from China, for example). Once in a rare while I will save one to use, usually as a beach bag or something where I don't mind it getting ruined.  This past April, at the European liver congress ("EASL"), we got pretty decent canvas messenger bags. Sponsored by Roche and all Fair Trade and organic and stuff (hey, good job employer - it's nice to be proud of your conference bag!).

I immediately thought "hey, I should just hack this to somehow not look like a conference bag anymore 'cuz it's actually pretty decent and a good size with a good length strap for cross-body carriage". Wel yl, last weekend we went to the Alameda County Fair, and I wanted a bag with a long strap for the day. Why couldn't I use one I already had? Well, that takes away my excuse for spending an extra 15 minutes (okay, it may have been a little longer) to transform this bag.
Inside is simple with a single side pocket, but all completely finished with a full lining (not the norm for most conference bags).  The strap is a little scratchy and did shed a little on my black jacket at the conference. I might make a cover for it later, but not within this15 minute window of time.

Like any project, gathering up materials takes longer than you plan for. But it didn't take me long to locate this  piece of fabric in my stash - just a FQ or so size scrap. I also found some brown bias tape in the huge stash of trims and tape that my mom recently brought me - my grandmother's old stash (I need to make a post just about that soon).  I used Heat&Bond to fuse it to the outside cover of the bag by 1) cutting a piece of each to fit the front of the bag with about 1/2" extra at the top edge. I fused the interfacing to the fabric, trimmed it a bit to fit, and then pressed the 1/2" under to give a clean edge where I wouldn't be able to attach binding tape.  Gotta love Heat&Bond! I haven't used it much before, but I just peeled off the paper and pressed the fabric onto the bag - easy peasy!

After fusing the fabric on, I just stitched the binding tape onto the bag, and then stitched across the top to secure the edge of the fabric. I just folded the ends of the tape under on each side before stitching so I wouldn't have any raw edges.  And Presto!

I love me some instant gratification - don't you? And not only do I have a new messenger bag that I love, but I saved something from being tossed out.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! I'm actually in Pacific Grove (Monterey) for a few days with the kiddos - Mr. Wonderful's birthday present this year is a little time without us to do whatever guy stuff he never gets around to when he's busy being a family man. We kinda miss him though.  But the fog is getting lighter so it must be time for us to go to the beach!

Linking up with Whoop! Whoop! at Sarah's

and TGIFF at Quokka Quilts (I can't get the button to work properly today, oops!)


  1. What a cool transformation! Way to go with this bag. :)

  2. Dressed up and ready to go! And in 15 minutes time...

  3. Great bag, Janet!! I've got a pile of those bags around here, too - but never thought of making them something this useful!! Whoop whoop!!

  4. I often think of doing this but never have. Nice job!

  5. Love it!!!! You are so smart!!!