Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Library Book Bags

Both my girls love a trip to the library.  We try to go every weekend, but sometimes life just gets in the way.  Thank goodness our local library doesn't charge overdue fees on children's accounts!

I have been wanting to make the girls their own special library bags where they can store their books and also a notebook to keep track of books borrowed and due dates.  I had the ridiculous idea that if they had a pretty bag to hang on their door, the books would be kept there, and not get lost all over the house.  Thank goodness we write a list of the books borrowed, so I know what books to go hunting for before we head to the library.

I searched the internet and found a wealth of library book bags that people have made and blogged about.  I particularly liked this one by Mo Bedell on Sew Mamma Sew.  

The things I liked most about this pattern are:  it's pretty (always a good start), there is a special pocket on the strap to hold the library card, there is also a pocket for storing a notebook.  

The things I wanted to change were: the dimensions, the appliqué picture, and I wanted the bag to be fully lined. 

I used Ikatbag's incredible bag making tutorial series for tips on lining bags and making straps.  In particular I referenced her Darted Tote tutorial, Lined Flat Tote tutorial, and Reversibility and Other Magical Traits tutorial.

I started by mapping out a pattern.  I decided on the dimensions of the finished bag, and worked my way back from there.  This is what I came up with:

I also drafted a picture of a flower which I used to create the appliqué on the front of the bag.  

These are the two finished bags:

When I made these bags I wasn't planning to blog about them, so I haven't taken step-by-step photographs.  Instead I've made a list of the steps below:
  1. Gather your supplies - plain fabric for the main bag (I used a white denim - I think I should have used canvas, as the denim is too soft and slouchy), patterned fabric for the lining and appliqué details (I used two different quilting cottons), Bondaweb or similar product for the appliqué, a coloured hair elastic, a button.
  2. Cut out all the pieces using the measurements from the template.  
  3. Draft a feature picture, iron your patterned fabric to Bondaweb and cut out the image.  Iron the image to the 14"x10" outer fabric piece.  When working out the position of the appliqué, don't forget to allow for the 1.5" of fabric that will fold around to become the side and bottom panels of your bag.  Otherwise you'll end up having to unpick the appliqué and reposition it after you've already sewn up the whole bag (speaking from experience here).
  4. With right sides together sew the 14"x11" contrast fabric piece to the appliquéd piece.  Turn it over, iron and top stitch (Step 2 of Mo Bedell's instructions).
  5. Using Mo Bedell's instructions (Steps 7-10) sew the strap and library card pockets.  Leave the ends unfinished as they will be disappearing inside your lining later.
  6. Place your pocket on the right side of one piece of the 14"x14" outer fabric and baste 1/4" from the edge around the three sides of the pocket.
  7. With right sides together (pocket on the inside) sew the two 14"x14" pieces of outer fabric together to form a bag shape (don't worry about finishing seams neatly as they will be disappearing inside the lining later too).  Do the same with the liner fabric.
  8. Using Mo Bedell's instructions fold the bottom corners of the bag outer bag and sew 1.5 inches from the corner.  Repeat with the liner.  If these instructions make no sense, have a good look at Steps 4 and 5 of Mo's instructions.  The main difference is that I don't sew a French seam, because I am lining this bag.  I also used my pinking shears to cut off the excess fabric on the corners.
  9. Turn your outer bag right side out.  Pin the straps in place.  Take care doing this so that you have them the right way around, the pockets on the correct side and don't have a twist in the strap.  Slide the outer bag and strap inside the lining bag.  Line up the seams and pin.
  10. Sew around the edge of the bag.  Leave a 4-5" opening on the back of the bag for turning the bag the right side out. 
  11. Turn the bag the right way out through the opening.  Press the top edge of the bag neatly and top stitch all the way around.  This will seal the entire top edge of the bag, and also help to secure the straps.  
I'm not sure how much sense these instructions make, but if you reference Mo Bedell's tutorial and Ikatbag's tutorials it should be fairly straight forward.

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