Library Tote Tutorial

My new tote.

See this bag? This little baby is my new library tote, meant to haul books back and forth to the good old library. I so wish I had made it at the beginning of summer, because this crew has utilized our local library in a major way these past couple of months. On average, we’ve gone about once a week, sometimes just to browse and check out new books, other times for kids’ events. I am a major bibliophile, as is my husband, and now my kids.

My dream room!

Just to let you know, that picture is not from my house. However, my dream house would have a library/reading room chock full of books and built-in bookshelves, comfy chairs, and lots of light to read by.

How nerdishly fun is this sign?

I just had to include this picture with my book bag post. Just having a little fun with Pinterest. Anyway, back to my bag. I saw a cute idea of a bag somewhere out there where it looked like books on a bookshelf and had to try my hand at making something similar.

I kept this bag  fairly simple, so if you’re more of a beginning sewer, hopefully you can follow along. Wanting to use a heavier fabric for lugging all of our books, I chose a denim that I had on hand already. Originally I was going to do this idea on a pre-made basic canvas bag, but I thought maybe sewing the “books” on would be easier on a not-yet-made bag. Plus I wanted to put in a cute lining to match one of my books.

A sweet lining to complement my bag.

Want to make one of your own? As mentioned before, I tried to keep it simple, so hopefully my instructions are easy to follow. Here we go…

2 pieces of denim

1. Choose a heavier fabric to use on the outside of your bag. Cut out two rectangles that are the same size. Mine were @14×15″, but I probably should have went larger than that. You can do any size you want.

Working on the books.

2. Choose a number of pieces of rectangular fabric. I just raided my scrap bag and cut ones of a variety of sizes and patterns, choosing the longest one to serve as the “bookshelf.” For each rectangle, use an iron to press the piece, folding and pressing each edge under about 1/4″. Pin and sew each one on the designated front piece of your heavy fabric. I did one at a time, trying to mix up my rectangle sizes and color schemes/patterns. Another cute idea to try is to sew on book titles by cutting out and stitching selvage pieces with writing onto the spines of your books. As you can see from the following picture, I also made the book on the end lean into the others.

My finished bookshelf piece.
Choosing fabric for the lining.

3. Choose a fabric to use for the lining. Cut out two rectangles the same exact size as your outer fabric pieces. I chose this hummingbird/floral piece because it matched one of my book fabrics.

Sewing the outside piece together.

4. Sew the two outside pieces on three sides with the right sides together. Do not sew the top yet! Do the same with your two lining pieces.

The outside, inside, and strap pieces all laid out and ready to put together!
Pinning the strap piece in place.

5. Choose something to serve as the strap. I wanted two straps, so I cut a grosgrain ribbon belt that I had thrifted awhile back in  half. You could also use webbing or make a strap from your heavier fabric. Pin on along the top edge of your outside piece so that it faces down and the inside of your strap faces out. Make sure you pin about 2″ down from the top. Do the same on the other side.

Things are coming together now...

6. Note-this is the most complicated step! But you’re almost done, so hang in there….Flip your lining piece so that the good sides are on the inside. Slip your outer piece (with straps pinned on) into this so that all of the “right” sides face each other. Sew the whole way around, taking your time. Leave about 2″ open.

Almost done!

7. Pull your lining out of that 2″ hole you left open and flip everything out so it looks like the picture above. Then stuff the lining inside the outer pieces the correct way.

Topstitching--the final step!

8. Top-stitch around the whole top of your bag for a more finished look. After I did this, I also added rickrack around the top. (You don’t have to do that, I just happen to have a little rickrack fetish.)

9. Enjoy your new bag! Wouldn’t this be a fun teacher’s gift or for someone who loves books? Maybe one using more juvenile prints would be a great kids’ library bag. Or just make one for yourself and enjoy toting a cute bag to your local library. Happy reading 🙂

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