Choosing fabric for the Achatina Messenger Bag is pretty easy – because it’s a bag and not a garment there are a TON of different options and the fact that you can interface for added stability and strength (more on that in a future sewalong step) further widens your options. I talk through options and what to look for in the video above.
For the main fabric, you want to choose a midweight (up to almost a heavyweight) fabric with minimal stretch. A tiny bit of mechanical stretch is okay (like the super 1970’s polyester I used for all of my original bags), as long as it handles like a stable woven when sewing and carrying it. Within the realm of midweight, you can choose almost any fabric. The most obvious choices are midweight cotton fabrics like denim, canvas, and twills. Just about anything that weight works, so consider other alternatives like heavy linens, barkcloth, or 1970’s polyesters.
Sewing with upholstery fabrics dramatically widens the scope of cool fabrics you can use as does considering unusual fabrics like velboa (short nap faux fur). If using an upholstery fabric, make sure that it isn’t too heavy as you will need to sew through several layers of it to sew this bag. Also, make sure that the upholstery fabric doesn’t have a protective coating or backing that is stiff or plasticized as it will be too difficult to manipulate and/or sew through.
Coating weight wool makes lovely messenger bags and is a great choice for making a classy messenger bag or a gender neutral bag. Think how handsome your dad, brother, or significant other might look carrying a grey wool pinstripe bag! Make sure that the weave of your fabric isn’t too loose (or be prepared to interline and/or interface your bag for stability) and that the fabric isn’t too heavy – a wool that would get you through a Montreal winter will probably be too hard to sew through when sewing a lot of layers for the bag.
For linings, I recommend a quilting weight cotton. There are so many awesome cotton prints that the hardest part should be choosing one! I recommend cotton because it is easy to sew and press (so you get crisp interior pockets and edges that line up). Remember, you don’t need the lining of a bag to slide against your clothes or skin like you do for the lining of a coat or jacket. You can go up or down in weight a little bit from a quilting cotton and of course it can have synthetic content (just don’t have it be all synthetic or it becomes hard to press).
Finally, for the lining, if you really, really want to you can use a slippery lining fabric. The only fabrics in this stack of blouse & lining fabrics I wouldn’t use is the lace and tulle. Otherwise everything from a crepe de chine, to a brocade, to a challis, to a satin will work – just remember that these are harder fabrics to work with than a basic cotton, so do so only if you’re ready for a bit of extra fussing.