HandmadebyClaireBear

confessions of a fabric obsessive

Take one (or two) boring shopping bag(s)…


I saw a tutorial for this book bag on Sew, Mama, Sew (click on photo to jump to Sew, Mama, Sew’s tutorial)

and thought; “I need a bag for my library books with a pocket that my library card can live in so that I don’t lose anything” (not that I have a tendency to lose library books or my card around the house, no, no, no). I loved the apple appliqué on the front, and this idea stayed in my head until I saw this book fabric

and knew it was the fabric I wanted on the front of my book bag (my rubbish dyslexic memory means that everything has to be labelled in some way or I will forget what I meant to use it for, in my head fabric with books on means a bag with books in).

For a while I toyed with the idea of a book strap to keep all my library books in, mostly because I saw this tutorial and loved it

But that all looked like hard work too so I left this idea in the back of my mind (and on pintrest) for quite a while.

Somehow over the last few years, I have amassed a load of cotton shopping bags, you know the ones you can buy cheaply instead of a plastic carrier?  Apart from a few, they are all boring, boring, boring or have logos I don’t want to display to the world when I’m carrying stuff.

I saw this tutorial to appliqué over the logo on a cotton tote bag, and thought “Mmm, interesting”

Then I saw this tutorial (on Betz White’s blog – I love Betz White) to upcycle cotton totes by keeping them intact and using them as a lining for a more interesting bag. Yes! Most of the boring work done, plus (depending on which bag I use as the lining) a really strong bag for my books with minimal work for me.

So, two tutorials means two bags.

Bag number 1

  • Take one sturdy cotton bag with random design on the front, washed and then dyed (I like purple, I wanted a few other things coloured purple instead of boring, so I threw the bag in with them).

  • Add one T-shirt with a print that I love, but with a shape that’s all wrong for me (and some mystery holes in the shoulder and a stain at the bottom).

  • Iron t-shirt, cut around design, turn edges under then appliqué to dyed bag. Sorted. Next!

Bag number 2

  • Take one sturdy cotton bag with random design on the front, washed and ironed (yup, I had two identical printed cotton bags I didn’t like).

  • Add some cute book fabric in two colours.

  • Make zipped pocket from one colour of the book fabric and iron it. Yes, I did want an angled zip (not bad for my first zip sewing attempt since I was 12 years old, I think. The stacks of books are almost lined up straight).

  • Make a boxed bag shape from second book fabric.
  • Turn edges of outer fabric under and iron, then insert boring bag and top-stitch around the top edge of the bag ( I zigzagged). Avoid stitching the handles.
  • Stitch zipped pocket to front of bag in the position you want (or you could stitch the zipped pocket to the darker fabric before making the bag outer if you prefer, I might do it this way round next time).
  • Bingo, one library bag in book fabric with zipped pocket for library card so I don’t lose it or the books.

UPDATE: Yes, you’re right, this post doesn’t have many photos of my bags in it.  I was writing this as a draft for a future post and somehow managed to click on “publish” without knowing it. Oops.  I’ve added all of the extra photos now, I’ll show you the photos of the two finished bags in my next post.

Claire Bear

Interesting bag related posts from other bloggers:

Shopping for the Bookworm: Mystic Moose Book Bags (onetrackmuse.com)

DIY: Stripes and Neon (ohshedabbles.com)

Spare me a tote? (coolmompicks.com)

Boxed-Bottom Tote Bag Tutorial (skylarchastain.wordpress.com)

Butterfly Tote Bag (mindfuldrawing.com)

Upcycle project – skirt into shoulder bag (handmadebyclairebear.com)

19 responses to “Take one (or two) boring shopping bag(s)…

  1. Oh Sew Tempting May 13, 2012 at 22:48

    Great ideas Claire. I’m almost sure I trashed then untrashed a post. I would try with a test first though!

  2. Pippa May 15, 2012 at 00:11

    Great tutorials– and your bags look fabulous!

  3. Paula Kuitenbrouwer May 17, 2012 at 18:39

    Dear Claire Bear, so many thanks for your link. Lovely blog you have. I will frequently have a look at it.

  4. Kevin May 19, 2012 at 02:01

    You make this look so easy! It’s a great, creative idea.

  5. Pingback: I wanna new bag….part 2 « HandmadebyClaireBear

  6. kaminomoto April 14, 2013 at 17:43

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    up for your excellent info you’ve got here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your web site for more soon.

  7. Pingback: Take one boring shopping bag…the reveal! | HandmadebyClaireBear

  8. rudolf July 22, 2013 at 06:02

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