book bag for lulu

lily (lulu) needed a book bag last night for cubbies (the preschool version of awana). gracie already had one that was a handmade gift (thanks aunt nicole!), so i knew lily would do no less than freak out if her’s wasn’t handmade as well. thankfully, nicole unloaded a bunch of these basic tote bags on me.

i think i’m getting a bit lazy in my tutorials – sorry! i have a few steps i did at the beginning that i didn’t take pics of because it wasn’t until i really got into this that i thought of blogging about it. forgive me. and the pictures are horrid! like i said, i wasn’t planning on blogging this!

materials needed for a really fast book bag:
1 premade cheap-o tote bag
a scrap of fabric big enough to be an initial on the bag
wonder under
pressing cloth (old tea towel)

#1 – go onto your word processor and type in your letter you want to enlarge and applique. enlarge it so it fills the screen, say 500 pts or so. format the font to print in outline only, unless you like to waste a bunch of ink.

#2 – print. then trace around the outline with a pencil a few times so that the outline is pretty well covered.

#3 – take scrap fabric and make sure initial will fit in it. iron wonder under to the wrong side of the fabric, following manufacturer’s directions.

#4 – now flip over the paper with the outlined, traced initial onto the paper side of your fabric scrap (the wrong side). get your pencil and you can kind of see through the paper to where the outlined initial is. trace the outline and you will have the reverse initial on the back of your fabric. (i am well aware this makes no sense at all. i have no idea how to make it more clear!)

#5 – cut out fabric along outline and peel off paper.

#6 – put premade bag on ironing board and iron flat. decide where you want your initial – i centered mine, but in a lower corner could be really cute, too. place initial there.

#7 – cover initial in a pressing cloth and squirt with a spray bottle until you can see through the cloth to your design. then press. i just let my iron (no steam) press the applique until the water had been steamed out from under, just about 10 seconds or so. then lift and move iron to cover the rest of the area. DO NOT SLIDE IRON! it can bunch up the initial and ruin everything in the whole wide world. for reals. (can you tell i have a 3 year-old?)

#8 – take off press cloth then press again for a few seconds to get out any extra moisture.

#9 – now you need to stitch down the applique, but it won’t fit easily into a sewing machine because it is already sewn. so i just cut off the seam of one side, right next to the stitches.

#10 – i used a really tight zigzag stitch in a contrasting color, but you don’t have to do a stitch so tight. you could even do a straight stitch if you want. or a fancy schmancy stitch.

#11 – turn bag inside out and sew up the edge that you cut apart.

#12 – hand the finished bag to your little one and watch for a great reaction!

– the best mommy in the whole wide world. for reals.


  1. 1

    she is so cute! i would have the same reaction if i got one. :)
    i really need to learn to sew…

    the clipboards are killing me. i have more questions for you. :) be expecting an e-mail. LOL

  2. 2

    it looks so good! and the look on her face! lovely!

  3. 3

    we are awana cubbies, we're happy all day long, we know that jesus loves us, that's why we sing this song, we hop because we're happy, and we jump and shut for joy, for jesus is a friend to us, he loves each girl and booooyyyyyyy!"

    ehem, sorry- somebody was obviously a cubbie leader back in the day.

    have fun in cubbies lily.

  4. 4

    Good job! It looks so cute. My kids are all getting ready to start Awanas again this year too.

    By the way, I looked at your special school and it is amazing! I am in love with that concept. I SO wish we had something like that here. It is a perfect plan, imo.

  5. 5
    April Pantall says:

    Thanks for the tutorial – I love anything monogrammed, so I'm going to try to make my own. Thanks for the idea!

  6. 6

    Another way to trace things from the computer is by using your monitor as a lightbox. Have up on screen your letter (reversed) or whatever you need to trace (a stitchery pattern you've scanned in?), hold or tape your fabric over the screen and the light from the screen makes it more see -through. Just trace very gently over the screen though.

    I also used to use windows with the light shining through for the same effect but our windows now have bubbly glass, which of course makes it difficult for tracing.

  7. 7

    Love this bag!

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