Making a Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

Measure, cut, and iron your fabric for the main body of the bag.

Hem the open edges, stitch everything together.

I did these load-bearing seams with a heavy duty stitch, and I’ll go back over them on the outside to make them a little cleaner looking.

Body of the bag stitched

Getting ready to wax it. This is about 70/30 paraffin and beeswax by weight. Melt in a double boiler. For future reference, Talenti gelato containers are not made to hold up to boiling water temps. I almost lost all this wax.

Wax is melted. Preheat your oven to about 225F.

Brush the wax on liberally- really go nuts.

Super nuts

Put it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at around 225F.

Out of the oven, the wax has melted into the fabric and evened out.

Starting the strap for the buckle. Measure, cut, bevel edges, punch holes, dye, burnish edges, grease.

Strap with buckle ready to be attached to the bag. In hindsight I should have attached this later in the build. It was awkward continuing to work on the bag with this thing flopping around.

Stitching the strap to the bag with a stitching awl. Clamped in place- next time I’ll use some anchor stitches. That clamp was a pain to work around.

Inside of the stitching, using a separate needle and waxed nylon cord to hold the stitches in the back.

Buckle side stitched on. The next day I realized those top corners of the stitch will be a failure point so I reinforced those four corners with steel rivets.

Starting work on the rest of the strap- more beveling, cutting stitching/decorative grooves, punching holes, dyeing, burnishing.

Strap getting closer to done.

Strap finished.

I’m treating the leather on this bag with my “bush grease” recipe- 25% rendered deer fat, 25% beeswax, 50% olive oil, and a dash of cedar and pine essential oils for scent. This will help waterproof the leather. Rub it on, heat it up.

Carved a couple toggles from a scrap of hard maple I had sitting around. Sanded to 1500 grit, drill holes, stain, oil.

Leather backings for the toggles will prevent the cord holding the toggles to the bag from ripping through the canvas under stress.

Stitch the backings to the bag.

Add the toggles. I attached them with paracord and fused the ends together in the back. This is less obtrusive than a knot.

Making a strap keeper to stop the excess strap from flopping around so much. Measure, cut, bevel edges, decorative lines, dye, burnish, oil, stitch.

I went for a little splash of color with this piece. I like red.

After nearly finishing the bag I realized I should have made interior pockets. Well, I can turn the flap into an extra pocket anyway. I’m going to eyeball this one too- just laid the flap on some canvas and cut out a piece allowing for a big fat hem.

Iron the hems flat and pin the panel to the flap.

Stitch the panel on.

Stitch on the other side of the strap.

Finished! The cord is just a piece of paracord with a slipknot on one end so it can be removed from the toggles if need be, and a stopper knot on the other end.

Opened up

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