Wonder what to do with an old map? Here’s a free map bag pattern plus a handful of other really cool & artsy map art projects for you. Go get that box full of old maps for past road trips from your spare bedroom and get crafty! Great way to bring back lovely travel memories.
Free Map Bag Pattern for a Cool Messenger Bag
Credit image: Sonya Style, whose blog is offline now.
‘Thumbs Up’ for that zippy car closure!
Want a cool map messenger bag too? Below is a free bag sewing pattern for you.
Which Map to Use?
You can use any map you have, provided it’s large enough: map of the Tour the France, map of your home town, New York City map, Italy map, map of France, or a vintage map of the United States, Haiti map, London Subway map, oh… you name it.
The whole purpose of this article is to let you have fun recycling, but IF you’re not a member of AAA and thus have a ‘000 of these maps laying around, check Google maps and print one of your local area. You’ll need quite a few letter-sized or A4 pages to make this bag.
Don’t shy away from using other kinds of (large) maps, such as a New York Subway map. A bag like this makes a great souvenir from a trip just past, or as a souvenir for a trip about to be taken.
We think these map bags are a great idea also for a local fundraiser. In this case, I’d you overlay the name of your project in tags onto the file before you print your downloadable.
Free Map Bag Pattern – to sew our own map messenger Bag
Here is an easy-to-follow set of pattern instructions for you, on how to make a map messenger bag. *
1. Regular (Large) map **
2. Thin fabric for bag lining, such as silk, rayon or thin cotton
3. Clear Laminate or Contact paper
4. Rolling pin or equivalent, such as a wine bottle
5. Sturdy cardboard for the bottom
6. Pencil & scissor
7. Sewing Machine with nice n sturdy needles as sewing paper is hard on needles!
8. Hot Rod (toy car) or other road related object for closure
9. Glue to attach the toy.
10. A bit of velcro for the closure
** You can also use a laminated map which saves you having to laminate it. It’s also possibly cheaper… However, pick a map that’s unfolded, as deep creases will affect your bag shape.
Instructions: How To Make The Map Messenger Bag
Measuring & Cutting
1. Open your map and look at the shapes, forms, colors and decide which bit you’d like to be on your flap and sides of your bag. You will need a strip of 14” wide for the front, top, back and bottom of your bag. With a pencil, mark your strip onto the map. Also mark a 4” strip for your straps.
2. Apply contact paper to cover your 14” and 4” strips of your map. Do bit by bit. With your rolling pin, immediately press out air bubbles before moving onto the next bit. When done, you’ve got your ‘fabric’ for the project.
3. Now cut your strips and put the rest of your map*. You’ll need another bit of this for the bag bottom later.
4. Sew on your lining to the back of your cut & laminated paper pieces. Fold the outer edges in about a quarter of an inch so that there are no raw edges showing. Sew a zig-zag along the edges.
Folding & Sewing
5. Fold the long 14” strip into two halves, whereby the back half is approx 6” longer than the front half. That 6” will be the flap of the bag, and the double-folded part of the strip will be the body of the bag. Now sew the seam on either side of your bag.
Shaping the Bag
6. To create a rectangular bag bottom, push fold each bottom corner over, as is demonstrated in the picture.
7. To strengthen your bag bottom and reinforce the shape, cut a piece of cardboard of equal size as your bottom area. Cover the cardboard also with laminated map paper and glue to the inside bottom of the bag.
8. Sew the triangles on each side on bottom perpendicular to your bag side-seams, so that the triangles face inward facing (see picture).
Creating Bag Flap & Closure
9. Fold the overlapping flap over the front. Fold the excess over and sew it together.
10. Glue on the soft side of Velcro, one piece to each inside corner of the flap. Secure it with a few stitches.
11. Glue the bristled side of the Velcro onto the two matching points on the body of the bag.
12. Take your 4” strip of laminated map with lining and sew each end of the strap onto each side of the bag.
13. Glue the hot rod car or other embellishment to the front center of the flap.
And that’s it. Enjoy!
(*Footnote: Sonya’s original tutorial was not so easy to follow, so I knew you’d benefit from clearer instructions. But the idea is nonetheless hers! I don’t take any credit. She’s great!).
More Map Crafts Ideas
Now, if you have leftover bits from your map, don’t throw them away! Here are some other really cool map crafts for you.
DIY Map Garland
Punch & Sew
I love the look of this garland. So simple and quite unique. It makes a timeless decoration that’s whimsical.
These circles are created with a gadget like this: Paper Shapers Scallop Circle Punch
Add some craft paper at the back and sew them together on a sewing machine, leaving a few stitches between them.
So simple, so organised. Tied up with map-covered boxes and fun labels so you know what it’s inside.
Want the labels? Learn more or purchase on Amazon
Maps-covered office Binders
In our prior home in Vancouver, I had my entire art studio box collection covered in maps of San Francisco, Santa Barbara, New York and a few other favorite places. As far as Feng Shui goes, it was in my ‘Travel Corner’ of the bagua, so it was a perfect place to show ‘places’.
The map-covered boxes also were great souvenirs and added fun and fond memories to my every day storage. Needless to say, my art studio was a very inspirational place.
Obviously, others have had similar ideas, and these two images here featuring the map-covered folders are from Kensington Cottage, where they obviously now have an equally cute home office.
Map-covered box as gift wrap
Image: Magan Jorgenoen
Origami folded sail boat made from old maps
Image creditL DSharp
Vintage Chicago Map Coasters
Learn more or purchase on Amazon
Map-wrapped wedding favors
Image by theknot.com
Star map confetti
It’s not for sale any longer. but can be easily made yourself with a star-shaped paper cutter.
Image credit: SpareBedroomStudio at etsy.com