My Big Quilted Bag Tutorial

I go to the library....a lot.  And well, let's just say the stack of books my girls and I come away with each time has torn through and snapped the handles of more than a couple of bags. So I needed something big and sturdy.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. With over 500,000 books available on my Kindle why on earth do I need to lug around a giant bag heaped with stacks of paper books from the brick and mortar library.
I guess I'm just old fashioned that way. I do use my Kindle and other electronic devices....sometimes more than I think is good for myself. So, I like.... no I LOVE the feel and smell of an actual printed book in my hands. I love flipping through the pages, using my pretty little bookmarks and enjoying the slight sound of the pages turning. I like holding that thick novel in my hands after reading the last word of page five hundred and whatever and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Somehow those "vicarious journeys" as my high school English teacher called them, are not the same on a tiny lit up screen.

So, there you have it. The reason behind my latest sewing tutorial for my "Big Quilted Book Bag".

You can use yours for whatever you want, lol.

My first step was picking out two coordinating fabrics. 
Here are the winners. 

Then I had to come up with a pattern. 
I got the largest piece of drawing paper I could find in my studio 
(FYI: large papers that come on a roll are great too for making patterns on the cheap)

 Just in case you can't see the measurements well enough they are:

Bag width: 24"
Bag height: 16"
Strap width at base: 4"
Strap width at top: 2.5"
Strap length: 15"

*TIP: I folded my paper in half to draw the pattern before cutting out so that my straps would be perfectly symmetrical and in the right place.

You will need to pin and carefully cut out FOUR pieces of fabric.
Two of the inside color and two of the outside color.

And you will need TWO pieces of thin batting cut to fit the body of the bag.

After ironing I sewed a straight top stitch all the way around to give a finished detail (1/8" from edge). This also closed up the opening at the bottom of the two sides of the bag that were used for turning it right side out.

*** IMPORTANT: When I sewed the straps of the bag I left the ends of each strap un-stitched for later. 

Now that you have TWO complete sides to your bag, each with batting inside, you are ready to move on to the optional awesome "free motion quilting".

 - if you don't have this attachment it's ok, just "quilt" the piece together using a simple pattern of straight or diagonal lines. This is just to hold the batting securely in place. 

The pattern you create will also show on the inside of your bag. It gives a great texture and dimension to the finished project. I love that the fabric I chose already had such wonderful sketchy lines so even though my first attempt at free motion stitching was wobbly and completely imperfect it still worked great.

When I finished free motion quilting on both individual sides of the bag I was ready to put them together.

Pin them right sides together so that you see the inside fabric. Sew all the way around the body of the bag (1/2" seam allowance).

I wanted a "boxed bottom". I made mine 2.5" in on each side.
With the bag inside out, fold the side seam toward the bottom fold line until it makes a triangle. Then sew a straight line perpendicular to the side seam.

Finally, it is time to finish the straps of the bag.

Taking the straps from the same side of the bag. Tuck the raw edges in on one  piece to form a finished edge. Tuck the raw edge of the coordinating piece into the finished edge about 1/4". Then straight stitch across the joined pieces. *I went back and forth over it 3 or 4 times for a good secure finished seam.

Like this:

Here are a few close-ups on parts of the bag.

Now it's time to head to the Library to fill it up!