Skip to content

Toddler Reusable Book Store Bag Tutorial

June 16, 2011

I’m so excited to share my very first tutorial! Granted, it is not very difficult…but it is the first thing I have sewn from scratch without looking at a pattern, or even doing any research. It has taken me a while to get comfortable enough to do this, so I’m super excited that I finally did =)

You may have seen this post from a few days ago (on my other blog), about how R and L have a father-daughter thing they do and go to the bookstore together.  I discovered that part of their routine is to get a plastic (ack!) bag to put R’s book in, which she then carries out to the car on her own.  Being that I could not handle a wasted plastic bag each week, I decided to make her a reusable bag that she could take to the store each week.  Luckily, she LOVED it!  In fact, when we took it to the book store a couple of weeks ago, she stopped the cashier register on her own and said “No! No plastic!” – I almost MELTED.  I did in fact tear up…pathetic, I know.

Anyways, for those of you who are beginner sewers (?sp) like me, I thought I would post how I made the bag! My very first tutorial!

I started with the Barnes and Noble bag, so that I could make sure I made the bag the correct size – i.e. big enough to hold most books, but small enough that R could hold it by the handles without it dragging on the ground.

I wanted a finished size about 11×12.  So I cut 2 rectangles of fabric 12×13 inches.  At this point, I contemplated making a double sided, reversible bag…but trying to figure out how it would work started making my head hurt (i’m new to all this)!  So I decided to stick to a simple bag for now.

What to cut:

2 rectangles (main bag fabric) – 12 x 13 inches each

2 rectangles for straps – 2 x 11 inches each

Other stuff:

Piping & bias tape (totally optional) and of course, thread!

STEP 1 – Finish edges of fabric pieces: I started off by serging the ends of the rectangles – except the top edge which would be covered by bias tape.  Instead of serging the strap sides separately, I just went ahead and folded them in half lengthwise, with right sides together, and serged them together.  All of this can be done with a regular machine – just use the zig zag stitch for the edges.  Although since this is a bag and is not likely to get washed all that much, it may not even be necessary to finish off the edges anyways.

STEP 2 – Sew on the piping: Take one rectangle piece, and measure and cut piping long enough to run along 3 sides of the fabric.  To attach, lay the piping with its raw edge lined up with the fabric’s raw edge, on the RIGHT side of the fabric.  Then sew a regular straight stitch as close to the piping edge as possible.  I had difficulty with this, because as I tried to keep the stitch very close, the piping went under the pressor foot…but didn’t want to stay there.

So it kept slipping out from under the foot and I’d have to go back and re-sew those sections.  Anyone with recommendations on how to handle that??  On the corners, I cut little slits into the piping to make it easier to make it follow the corner.

STEP 3 – Sew both sides of bag together: Put both rectangle pieces, right sides together, and sew them together along the same 3 edges with the piping.  This is somewhat tricky, because you can’t see the piping, and have to actually feel where it is to guide yourself on where to sew.  You want to sew as close to the piping as possible.  You also want to sew closer to the piping than stitch from step 2 so that seam won’t show in the end.  It helps to turn the fabric pieces over so that you are looking at the wrong sie of the fabric that you sewed the piping onto.  Then you can see your previous seam line and make sure you sew closer to the piping than that line.  There were some areas where I ended up sewing ON the piping…but in the end, I found that looked better than sewing too far away from the piping.  Turn the fabric right side out and press. 

STEP 4 – Finish the top of the bag: I sewed double folded bias tape onto the top of the bag to finish it.  I basically just started from one side and sewed it all the way around to meet with the beginning.  If you don’t have (or don’t want to use) bias tape, then you could just fold the top over 1/4 inch and then again another 1/2 inch and hem it in place.  I would actually do that before putting the piping on or sewing the two sides together.

That’s it! The main part of the bag is done!

Now to the straps…

STEP 5 – Turn straps right side out: Using a pencil/pen/paintbrush/turning tool, turn the straps right side out (after you serge/sew the long sides together).  Then iron the straps in half with the seam on a flat edge.

STEP 6 – Sew the straps: You can use matching or contrasting color thread and sew two seams down the sides of the straps.  For fun, you could use a zig zag stitch down the middle or something else fun and random!

STEP 7 – Attach straps to bag: Pin the straps to the bag.  You can adjust how wide you place the straps based on how long you want the bag to be.  Once you have them pinned in place, sew a square and X to secure the strap into place.

That’s it!  You’re done!

Now give it to your little one and watch them strut around =)

Then give them a little lesson on saving plastic and recycling!


Maybe a trip to the bookstore with the new bag would be fun too…

Thanks for reading!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 2:48 PM

    How cute!! Little kids love bags, anyway – they love to collect things and put them in their bag – my boys do it all the time! 🙂

    • June 19, 2011 9:37 AM

      thanks holly! i agree – any time i can find a cute container for R to play with and put stuff in, I get it! well not any time…that would be quite a money sink… =)

  2. June 20, 2011 12:00 PM

    So stinkin cute!! I’m going to save this post and go hunting for some fabric my boys would like. I needed a project that would get me sewing again (I’ve only done one project before and that was a couple years ago, so I’m new to this) and I think this bag will do it. thanks

    • June 20, 2011 12:24 PM

      yay! thanks for reading – i’m so glad that my “tutorial” could help get someone else started! i got this really cute fabric from Joann’s – they have alot of really cure robot fabric…which I think I’m addicted to… =)
      have fun sewing!

  3. May 23, 2012 10:31 AM

    VERY cute and practical and fun! 🙂

    • May 23, 2012 11:50 AM

      thanks! yes, i’m trying to educate my daughter about recycling and being green =)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: