"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand? "

-Captain Jack Sparrow


Friday, March 13, 2009

Tutorial- Personalized Library Book Bag

Here is the tutorial for how to make the library bags to go with the bookplate stamps. Sometime next week I'll have one more tutorial to round off this book-themed gift set.

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Note- This is a pretty long tutorial. It is because I am somewhat overly detailed. As for how long it takes to actually make these, I would estimate it at about 2 hours each. Maybe 3. It isn't super quick, but isn't too bad either. I think it's totally worth it for such a useful, personalized present. The kiddos who got these for Christmas really love theirs, so much so that they want to make them as presents for all of their friends.

Also since making one of these for Joey, we have spent A LOT less time searching for her library card because it is always in her bag.

I know. Wow.

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How To Prepare
-First of all, get a cat to lay down on the prototype bag. This is especially amusing if her comfy, little, kitty basket is right behind her, put there specially so she won't climb on the sewing table.
Book Bag-1

Materials
-One piece of plain fabric for the bag, 17" by 36" (using these measurements allowed me to cut a piece of fabric from selvage to selvage, so I didn't need to fold or hem the short edges.)
-One piece of felt for the pocket, 4" by 7". I suggest you use actual wool felt for this, not the cheap craft stuff, which won't hold up very well.
-More felt for letters
-Freezer paper
-One piece of decorative fabric, 7 x 14 inches
-One piece of plain white fabric, 7.5 x 14.5 inches
-Matching webbing for handles, or enough fabric to sew your own
-Either self-adhesive velcro or a button (to keep the pocket closed)
-Thread to match

The Library Card Pocket
-Take the 4" by 7" rectangle of felt and iron so it folds up like this (creases at 1.5 inches from the top and 2.5 inches from the bottom)
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-If using a button, go ahead and sew a buttonhole on the top flap of the rectangle. (I had never sewn a buttonhole until I did this right here. It was brilliant.) Then sew on the button.
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-Center the pocket on the plain bag fabric, about 6 inches down from one of the short edges.
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-Use a glue stick to glue the back of the pocket to the bag. (Now I know that this will probably get me banned from seamstress conferences, but I saw it on the Green Kitchen blog used for sewing zippers and it works really well here too. It holds things in place without using pins, which tend to buckle up the fabric and drive me bonkers. It is especially helpful for the letters because the pins are really fiddley to sew around.)
-Iron the pocket to set the glue.
-Using an 1/8th inch seam allowance, sew the pocket to the bag, like so.
card pocket
-Open the pocket up, start at A, sew to B and then over to C.
-Fold bottom of felt up and sew from C to D to E and back up to B. Backstitch.
-If you're using velcro instead, you can attach it now. Or do it later. Whatever. I'm easy.

Cutting Out the Letters (aka- behold the awesomeness of freezer paper)
-I printed up the names in Bauhaus 93, outlined font (Same as the bookplates. I love me a theme, especially within a theme.) Doing it in outline keeps it from printing a bunch of giant, ink-wasting letters. Also, since you'll be tracing these, you don't need to print more than one of each letter. (A fact I didn't realize until after I'd printed 3 sheets.) I did these at a font size of 240.
Book Bags-1
-I traced these onto the freezer paper, all squooshed together. It was a bit like Tetris, but you can move the shapes horizontally as well as drop them vertically. Very satisfying for those of us with a slight case of OCD.
Book Bags-1-1
-If I'd have been thinking clearer (or my OCD had been working properly), I would have separated the letters into two different groups (one for each color). If you do this, just make sure that you leave enough space between the two groups of letters.
-If you do have your letters grouped by color you don't need to cut the freezer paper first like the pictures, just place on the pieces of felt as is.
-If you didn't separate out the colors, rough cut out the letters and place them, shiny side down, on the felt.
Book Bags-1-2
-Cover with a press cloth and iron (on medium) for between 5 and 10 seconds.
Book Bags-1-3
-Check to see that the letters are well stuck to the felt. Iron again if not firmly attached.
-Cut out the letters along the lines.
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Attaching the Letters
-Grab the piece of colored fabric that is 7 inches by 14 inches.
-Arrange the letters evenly on the right side of the fabric. (I use a see-thru quilters ruler to help line everything up.)
Book Bags-1-6
-One at a time, pick up a letter, apply regular old glue stick glue to the back of the letter and put back in place, pressing firmly. I pulled the freezer paper off as I did this to help me remember which ones I'd glued.
Gluing Letters
-When they're all where you want them to be, use a press cloth and go over it with the iron to set the glue.
-Using the exact same color thread as the felt (trust me, it's worth it to spring for this) sew around the edges of all the letters. (In this picture, I'd only sewed the red letters, not the blue.)
Book Bags-7
If you're not great at sewing... lucky you, you have plenty of time to get better as you do these. If you screw up a bit, don't worry, that's what you bought the matching thread for. No one will notice. (Unless your aunt is Martha Stewart and you're making personalized dog packs for her Chows. But, well, if that's the case, I can't possibly be of help to you.)

The Rest
-To attach the name to the bag, you can either fold and iron the cut edges to the back and then sew OR do the following... (I'm sure it's more work in the end, but it helped me line everything up nicely)
-Grab the white piece of fabric (7.5 by 14.5 inches). Sew it to the decorative fabric right sides together, going around the edges of the smaller, colored one, leaving at least a couple inches unsewn to turn right side out.
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-I sewed rounded corners (or at least I came back and sewed rounded corners when I remembered) because they are much easier to work with than the 90 degree corners.
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-Trim corners.
-Turn right side out, folding as necessary so that all the edges are straight.
-Iron flat.
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-Center the name on the backside of the fabric where the pocket was sewn.
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-Sew to bag (much easier if you do this before the bag is made).

The Bag Itself
-Sew it all up like in this fabric bag tutorial. Though you'll only need to fold the top edges down once if the short edges of your fabric were on the selvedge.

Some Thoughts
-For tracing the letters onto the freezer paper, I used my light tracer (best 30 bucks I ever spent). It isn't necessary, though. The lines show through the freezer paper well enough to do it without.

-Be sure to stick around to see the sewn bookmark that rounds off this gift set.

-Also please let me know if anything is missing or confusing here. I've been staring at this for quite awhile now, so I'm in no state to make a qualified assessment.

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Related Posts
Personalized Bookplate Stamp Tutorial
Handmade, Handsewn Bookmarks/Gift Tags
Cheap & Easy Fabric Grocery Bags
How to Sew Your Own Handles

14 comments:

Wander to the Wayside said...

Wow, that's awesome, Wendy! You know I'm not into crafts and sewing projects,but this is a really cute and useful one, and you're details are very easy to follow. (By the way, do I see an xmas gift for Garrett and Conner in this illustration?) I know you know this, but your mom would be tickled pink (whatever that means) about you carrying on the tradition of the sewing thing. I have several of her projects around the house or packed away somewhere for lack of space, and I will be passing them on to Melody or the boys. You just can't beat a gift from the heart or a gift of a loved one's handiwork.

Sarah said...

Those are great! That's a project that has been bouncing around in my head for a while. (although my otherwise fairly well behaved children act like maniacs in the library. All those books are just too exciting. It would be funny if it weren't, you know, the library) However, I do not seem to be able to get crafting done with my kids in the house. How do you make it happen for you?

Sarah said...

Oops, meant to tell you that I think the tutorial is great too. I like details. The only thing I didn't get was just because I'm up past my bedtime! I figured it out after a minute of thinking about it.

Summer Fae said...

What a great idea! I love the library card pocket!

kim3timemom said...

Love the bags...what a great idea for the library cards. Thanks so much for sharing..the tutorial is awesome!

Anonymous said...

You do such a good job giving instructions on all of your projects. Many of us need ALL of the details to do something like this. But I'm so glad that I won't have to do this one since you've apparently done it for me.

Also, you have been very busy with your blog this past week or so! The last thing I saw was Joey's cup that she labeled and when I checked in tonight I was surprised that I missed so much. Melody

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Wow, those are fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing this, I'll be linking to this post.

Jessica said...

My son has the same library card. :D

Very cute idea for library bags. I love the card pouch.

Thanks for being detailed, I am like that too.

Wendy said...

I'm glad you all like it. Good to know that some of you like my detailed approach.

Sarah, the short answer is that I don't have really little ones. My youngest is 10 and she's a pretty self-sufficient kid.

Shannon said...

I love your tutorials, at some point I will actually make the shopping bags, then try to tackle the library bags.

FinnyKnits said...

I may have to at least add a library card pocket to the library tote bag I made for my goddaughter - just because it's always nice to have a proprietary pocket.

So cute!

Geek+Nerd said...

These are so stinkin' cute. I just might have to make these for all of my nieces and nephews :)

Linnaea said...

Oh, what an excellent idea. The library card pocket is brilliant. I'm going to make a grown up version for a friend that says 'books' or 'read' instead of a name, and I think I'll leave the name patch unsewn along the top edge to make an external pocket (can't ever have too many pockets). I particularly appreciate the selvedge to selvedge proportions. Thanks for sharing.

Donna said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I used the pocket as a base to make some of library bags of my own!

http://donna-momof4.blogspot.com/2011/10/library-bags.html