The Library Books Bag

I promise, I really did need another tote bag. :) I’ve been using one of my grocery bags for library books, but I like to keep the books I’ve finished inside the bag so they’re all in one spot when I’m ready to return them. But that means I can’t use the bag for groceries.

So when this absolutely adorable giraffe fabric hopped into my cart at Hobby Lobby, I knew just what it was begging to be used for. ;) (Do fabrics ever hop into your cart while you’re in Hobby Lobby? It happens to me all the time………hee hee :) )

You should make this particular tote bag because it’s:

  • Easy: the inside seams are finished so it looks tidy but doesn’t need to be lined
  • Inexpensive: you only need half a yard of fabric
  • Sturdy: the handles won’t pull out of place
  • Just the right size: it’s small enough that it won’t be too heavy, even when it’s filled with books

Convinced? :) Let’s get started!

Cut your pieces

From half a yard of canvas fabric, cut two pieces that are 16 3/4″ wide by 15 3/4″ tall.

Also cut enough 2 1/2″ wide strips to equal at least 88 inches when they’re stitched together.

Sew the bag

With right sides showing (wrong sides together), stitch around three sides of your bag with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Press the seams open, turn wrong side out, and press the sides of the bag flat.

Now sew the three sides again, with a 3/8″ seam allowance. This second seam covers the raw edges and makes the inside of the bag look neat, tidy, and professional.

Press all the seams down and flip the bag right side out again. Use a pin or a chopstick to make sure the corners are crisp, and iron away till everything is looking fabulous.

Square the corners

Turn the bag inside out again (for the last time!) and position the bottom corners so they come to a point, as shown. Mark a line two inches down from the point with pins, and sew along that line, across the bag.

This creates a square shape to the bottom of your bag. I chose not to trim off the triangle, but you could if you wanted to.

Hem the top

Turn under a 1/4″ edge at the top, and press it down. Then turn under another 1″ edge and press it down, pinning in place as you go.

Sew around the top of the bag with a 7/8″ seam allowance. Lengthen your stitch length a bit for extra-nice topstitching.

Make the handle

Sew all the handle strips together into one long strip. (For an example, see how I did the binding for my quilt.)

Press the strip in half, longways, right sides together.

Sew down that long edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Using a safety pin attached to one end (or your favorite method), turn the strip right side out.

Iron it flat with the seam centered on the back side of the strip.

Attach the handle

Starting at the bottom seam of the bag, pin the handle to the bag 3″ away from the side of the bag. You’ll want to fold over the end so that the raw edge doesn’t show.

Keep attaching the handle to the bag with pins, moving towards the top of the bag.  When you get to the top, leave about 16″ for the handle, and then continue to pin the handle down the outside of the bag, 3″ away from the other side.

When you get to the bottom of the bag, keep going and do the same thing on the other side. Leave 16″ for the other handle, and come down the last side. Trim any excess and fold over the end again to hide the raw edge.

Once it’s all pinned, stitch in place. You’ll stitch all the way around the handle near one edge and all the way around again near the other edge. This is a lot of sewing, but it makes for a very sturdy, durable handle!


You’re finished! Enjoy your new bag and give it a good workout :) Aren’t those giraffes just fabulous?! Love them! :)

What questions do you have? Let me know if you make one!

8 comments to The Library Books Bag

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