When Eliza’s preschool teacher announced at the end of May that she would be retiring that year, I immediately had a mini panic attack – I had planned to get her a small token of thanks for all her hard work with Eliza through the school year, but now that she was retiring I felt like I had to take it up a notch. Gift cards seemed too impersonal, and I didn’t exactly have a ton of time to shop before her goodbye party, either. I decided that I would sew, and after picking the brains of some friends, settled on a simple library tote.
This library tote is a combination of three tutorials. First, the construction of the bag is adapted from the Library Tote tutorial over at Elle Belle Creative, the applique is from the Cloudy Day Applique Tote tutorial by Retro Mama on CraftSnob, and I used Fat Orange Cat’s instructions on how to insert a pocket. Fabric choice was easy – I had a couple yards of a medium-weight khaki cotton twill that fit the bill perfectly. The lining and appliques are lighter quilting-weight cotton. Those little raindrops are precisely the reason I keep teeny tiny fabric scraps in my stash – you never know when the perfect scrappy project will come up! I don’t have any great close-ups of the applique, but it’s all stitched with a straight stitch just inside the applique with white thread. Because of the twill’s weight, I didn’t bother using a layer of interfacing. If you make a bag like this and use linen or a lighter cotton, a layer of interfacing would be more necessary to give the bag some structure. I ended up making the bag a little bigger than the tutorials showed, too, and I’m glad I did. It really needed the extra couple inches. Because the pocket and lining are a fairly light fabric, too, I added a square of fusible medium-weight interfacing about an inch bigger than the pocket in both dimensions, and ironed it onto the wrong side of the lining fabric before sewing the pocket on. This gives the lining fabric a little extra strength against something heavy in the pocket.
The only thing I wish I had done differently is I wish I had made two! I want one for myself, but I haven’t had the chance to sew up another just yet. Maybe on a rainy fall day, I’ll have a chance to make another to keep.