Upon realizing that arms were an inconvenient place to carry books, and pockets were an inconvenient place to keep feminine hygiene products, I decided to make myself a duct tape messenger bag. I had never made anything out of duct tape before at all, let alone a big ol’ bag, but it came out surprisingly well. People still ask me if it’s something I bought and then just covered with duct tape myself, and I always answer, “Nope. I started out with a roll of tape and ended up with this.”
To be a bit more accurate, it took two rolls of duct tape and an afternoon, but all things considered that is certainly not that bad. There is nothing sturdier than duct tape, and my friends who have to buy a new backpack every semester envy my trusty two-year-old bag. It’s as good as new. Also, when you live someplace rainy and carry around a lot of paper, its waterproof qualities are a lifesaver. The best part, though, is that you get to make it exactly how you want it. In that spirit, I have included some very vague instructions that will allow you to make an awesome bag in a fashion that suits your needs. Happy taping!
- Start out with a plan. Think about what you will carry in it. What are you going to use it for? How big do you need it to be? What pockets do you need? I knew mine was going to be used for carrying around schoolbooks, so I took one of my binders and measured it, and then added a bit of space so it was possible to slide them in. I also designed inside pockets, for my calculator and day planner and such, and then outside pockets for pens, pads, cell phone, and another miscellaneous pocket. If you’ve already made yourself a duct tape wallet, make a special pocket for that. I find it helpful to make a drawing with measurements, so everything comes out the same size instead of looking messy.
- Bust out the duct tape. I used a roll and a half for my messenger bag, which is fairly big, but it’s better to buy too much than not enough. When shopping for your supplies, consider the possibility of using colored tape. Or use whatever you have left over from the 9/11 panic. To make a sheet, just lay out strips of duct tape in whatever shape you want, and then tape over them in another layer, so the sticky parts are stuck together. This is where you will get frustrated, due to the fact that you will not realize how sticky duct tape actually is until you try this. However, you will figure it out, I guarantee. Once you have your sheet, you can trim it to make it exact. Then you make another one. Then you assemble them with more duct tape. Easy.
- Then it’s time for the pockets. For pockets, just make smaller squares and attach them on three sides. However, I learned the hard way that if you don’t line the bottom, things will push through and get stuck in the tape and then they’re impossible to get out. So, before you attach the sides of the pocket, attach the bottom with a piece of tape on the inside and on the outside. (I think this is the fun part.)
- Find a strap. If you’re just making a purse, I’m sure a piece of tape would suffice, but if you’re carrying something heavier, a duct tape strap will likely stretch or break or just be really uncomfortable. Fabric of some sort is probably your best bet. I used a piece of my dad’s outdated safety equipment, which was awesome because it is sturdy and has a buckle, but I bet most people don’t have that on hand. I have also considered the possibility of knitting a strap, but I have not tried it yet. No matter what, it’s a fact that duct tape alone will not hold your strap. It will just slide out. You’re going to need to sew it on. I can’t sew for beans, but just sticking a regular needle back and forth through my bag sufficed. Cover the outside with some duct tape to hide your unsightly stitches, and you’re all set. I used hot glue in addition to that, but I am not sure how much that really helped.
- Decorate in whatever way suits you. I like stickers a lot, and if I get sick of them, I just cover them over with more duct tape and my bag’s as good as new.
- On the matter of repairs. Only recently has my bag started to rip, mostly from the binding of the spiral notebook I pull in and out constantly. If this happens to you, stick on another piece of duct tape to patch it. I like to bum different colors off my friend.
You are now the coolest kid in the neighborhood. Go show off.