Sew a bag to carry home all your books from the library! My tutorial shows how to make a library tote that is sturdy and has plenty of room for lots of books! It's easy to sew and takes just an hour!
It didn’t take too many trips to the library with my daughter for me to learn to come prepared. I mean, you’re going into a place where all the books are free to borrow. You KNOW you’re gonna come away with a stack of books!
So unless I want to be wrangling a big ol’ stack of books out to the car, I’ve learned to bring a bag with me. At the library where I work we keep a stash of plastic grocery sacks just in case people leave with more books than they can easily carry. The sacks work in a pinch, but they’re not the right size for books – especially the kids’ picture books which tend to be pretty large.
My Space Kitty library tote is perfect for those big picture books! I made it for the children’s programmer at our library. Summer Reading Club is a big deal and is a whole lot of extra work for the children’s programmers so I wanted to do something nice for her. The theme for Summer Reading club this year was space, so a tote from a galaxy print with an astronaut kitty on it seemed perfect!
I’ve got a tutorial for sewing the bag below. Start to finish, you can make this bag in about an hour.
And if you want to put a Space Kitty on it – or just on a t-shirt – I’ve got a free cut file for you.
The bag is pretty simple, so it's perfect to show off a cute novelty print. You can make the library tote even more special by letting your child pick out the fabric for her bag!
Finished measurements for the library tote are approximately 15 ½” x 15 ½”, big enough for those large picture books but still easy to manage. The handles are strong webbing and are stitched in several places so they’re good and strong.
Boxed corners give plenty of room for a big stack of books.
Inside the bag is a patch pocket big enough to hold a library card, as well as an optional ribbon tab to clip a small keychain sized library card.
The top of the bag is finished with a binding, which eliminates the need to turn the bag inside out and then hand sew a hole in the lining closed. I don’t know about you, but that’s my least favorite step in making a bag! Another thing I love about the binding is that it creates a clean finish. No bits of the lining peeking over that top seam!
Are you ready to make your own 1-Hour Library Tote? Here we go!
How to Sew the 1-Hour Library Tote
Main fabric – 2 pieces 16.5” x 16.5” for bag exterior
Main fabric – 2 pieces 2” x 16.5” for bag binding
Lining fabric – 2 pieces 16.5” x 16.5” for bag lining
Lining fabric – 2 pieces 5.5” x 6.5” for lining pocket
1” cotton or nylon webbing – 2 pieces 28” long, for straps
½” wide grosgrain ribbon or twill tape – 1 piece 2” long for keychain tab
Sew the bag exterior
Pin ends of straps (webbing) to the top of the bag exterior pieces, RST, 3.5” in from sides of bag, and sticking out ½” past the top. Baste in place ¼” from bag top.
Place binding strips along top edge of bag exterior pieces, RST, top edges aligned. (Strap ends will be sticking out 1/2” past the top.) Sew along top with ¼” seam allowance.
Press seam open, with seam allowance pressed toward the bag.
Place bag front/back pieces RST. Stitch down sides and across bottom with a ½” seam allowance.
Box the corners to give it a 3” bottom. If you haven’t boxed corners before, here’s a good tutorial showing how.
Sew the bag lining
Fold the lining pocket piece in half RST the short way, to create a rectangle that’s 5.5” x 3.25”.
Sew around the sides and bottom with a ¼” seam allowance, leaving a 2” opening on the bottom to turn it right side out. (Don’t sew along the folded edge.)
Trim corners. Turn right side out and press. Press raw edges at opening to the inside, even with the rest of the bottom edge.
Place pocket on one of the lining pieces, RST, centered horizontally and 3” from the top of the bag lining. Make sure the turning hole is on the bottom edge of the pocket. Pin in place.
Sew around pocket sides and bottom close to the edge. Your seam will close that hole on the bottom edge of the pocket.
Place lining front/back pieces RST. Stitch down sides and across bottom with a ½” seam allowance.
Box the corners to give it a 3” bottom.
Assemble the bag
On bag exterior, press raw edge ½” to the back.
Place bag exterior inside bag lining, WST – wrong sides together, and side seams matching.
Fold binding over to the lining at the seam, encasing the raw edges and strap ends.
Stitch in place close to the edge of the binding.
Top stitch around the top of the bag close to the edge.
Turn bag right side out.
Your library tote is done! If you want to add the space kitty design, you can get the cut file for free here.