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I just picked up a 48x14 foot vinyl tarp that used to be a billboard (for Mazda, hehe). I'm going to use it to make a few messenger bags for myself and some friends. I've got most of the materials & equipment to make them, but I'm still working on making a pattern (or finding & modifying one).

Does anyone have or know where to get a decent messenger bag pattern?

I know there's going to be some trial-and-error involved in making a good pattern and I've got a good feel for what I want around my shoulder based on my experience with the bags I've worn through. That being said, there's surely some things I'm overlooking. Help me out: What kind of messenger bag do you use (if you use one), and what's good and what's bad about it's design?

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I'm a big fan of my chrome bag. I used to carry a timbuk2 bag but going back to it, it was kind of uncomfortable with the strap placement. I also have a manhattan portage one, that's comfortable, but not waterproof, the flap doesn't extend over the main part of the bag, so if it raining, i'm fucked. which is partially why i dont' carry it often. or ever.

the chrome bag has a nice shoulder pad, a flap that folds in, covernig the contents. that's my favorite thing about it. although I wish it had a pocket or two more.

oh, and i also wish my bags had a built in holster somewhere for a u lock of some medium size. that's be pretty awesome, like a fabric horse style holster, but on the flap
When I ride I use a chrome bag that works well for carrying lots of stuff. Also use some military surplus gas mask bags for shorter rides. I paid $6 for canvas one new and $8 for the nylon gently used. They fit well and have lots of pockets for cargo. The gas mask bags both have a shoulder straps on them and waist straps also for securing to your body. The bad part is the canvas is not waterproof and the nylon slides a little while riding. I would check Hobby Lobby for bag designs paterns or design ideas. If not here than check on Dharma Trading company website. They have all sorts of bags they carry for cheap. Also lots of neat supplies for ty-dying and other cool stuff. I have a few of their bags and can not say enought about this company. Also Ryan, pockets for cycling items like air pumps, u-lock/chain holder, phone pocket/i-pod, water bottle/flask pouch. This is a start. Also get Kevlar thread if you can find it for all of the seems. This is wear I wear out most of the bags I have used along with heavy duty steel D-rings or carrbiners for mounting the straps. If I can think of any more suggestions than I will post them on the Chainlink for you.
I agree with Rodimus... My Chrome messenger bag does the trick except for the fact that it lacks a spot on the outside to quickly and easily stash my U-lock.

I have to unhook the stabilizer strap, spin the bag around so I can open it, and put the U-lock in an interior pocket.
Look at various designs; Seagull bags have a really nice shape that sit on ones back better due to the shape of the main pocket and how it's sized (bigger at the bottom of the bag).
Freitag...Nuff said...


I appreciate where you're coming from here...but something about your post is rubbing me the wrong way.

The guy asked for some opinions on messenger bags. I replied that the design of my Chrome bag, in my opinion, works very well for me and could serve as a baseline or starting point for his design. If he wanted to improve on Chrome's design, in my opinion adding a U-lock hook/pocket/strap/etc. could be something to consider.

Perhaps I'm reading your post the wrong way, but it sounds like Rodimus and I are being criticized because we haven't thus far outhouse engineered a solution to the thing we don't like about our respective bags.

Maybe this touches a nerve for me because I work in manufacturing and I see the enormous time and effort we product managers and engineers put into designing a product, testing a product, revising the product, making sure it has all the requisite government required labels and approvals, and that it meets industry safety standards.

I mean it's really bothersome to me when literally thousands of man hours go into designing a product, it hits the streets, and then some dude on some internet discussion forum starts doling out "expert advice" on how to modify said product and make it better. As if they are so brilliant that they can figure out in five minutes something that a team of engineers and designers couldn't figure out in 6 months of testing and development.

What is amusing is that when I see these posts pertaining to my industry (I work in the motorcycle industry), it's really obvious the person hasn't looked at the problem from all the angles, doesn't have a design or engineering background, and is giving very poor advice. What's frustrating is that other people read these post and blindly grab their tools and start taking a perfectly good motorcycle or scooter and compromising its performance and durability.

I'm in no way, shape, or form saying that Chrome's designs are perfect. Judging from the fact that Chrome has recently introduced two heavily redesigned messenger bags to their lineup, it's obvious that they see shortcomings in their older products as well.

But before I start hacking up my bag and sewing crap to it, I'm going to take the time to think about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Maybe there is a safety related reason Chrome chose not to add this feature. Maybe they tried to add this feature and they discovered it compromised some other aspect of their design. Whatever the reason, I'm going to try to find out before I start telling people on the Chainlink that they should modify their stuff.

travesty said:
Can I have some vinyl? thanks

Also, what sewing machine do you have, industrial?

To the rest giving design advice, yes its quite difficult. Remembering that it sits on a human being that will wear it for hours while even exercising is a key design element, comfort.

To the poster, I would not expect to find a pattern that is as good of quality as these professionally sold items, you would have to research their designs and borrow elements from them. I don't know of another way perhaps others can say. . .

Also, to those who want an extra pockets or a u-lock holder, are you not interested in just making those customizations? or would you want to hire someone to design and build it for you? Needle and thread and some scavenged nylon straps are sufficient but require a bit of skill. In some cases an ordinary sewing machine is up to the task, but not for long. Lets put some pockets or stuff on your bag, it should not cost a ton for me or someone else to do it.

Durability is one other design element I've seen amateur bag makers miss. Being able to design the bag to last is a consideration of these professional offerings. Forces add up and its not always the stitch that give out, sometimes its the vinyl or the structural elements.
Globe canvas. KISS
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. Keep 'em coming!

I'm going to be going out of state for the coming week, and I'm going to sketch up some patterns and try them out when I get back. I'll post some pictures of the progress...

I'm a fan of my sealline bag. It's actually pretty ginormous and a little too big normally but that comes in handy at times. It has this handy closure system where a metal hook hooks into rubber ladders. It takes a short while to get used to, but it lets you open and close the bag with one hand and without looking. It doesn't have exterior pockets which is a little annoying but it does have attachment points for various pouches that you can add.
What's good about it? Everything.
What's bad? Nothing that can't be fixed over a six pack and a ride to Albany Park.
Apparently these bags combine the best of Timbuk2 and chrome:


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