Friday, July 9, 2010

Rainy Day Book Bag and Pillow Tutorial

A niece of mine is turning 10 this month. Tonight is her pink, girls only sleepover party. Since she loves to read (and since she obviously loves pink), I made her a rainy day book drawstring bag and pillow to match. The idea is that she can go to the library on a rainy day, bring her books home in her drawstring backpack, then curl up with her pillow and read the day away.

I picked up this Alexander Henry fabric at Joann's a while ago for a skirt for me and a quilt for my daughter. I didn't care for the skirt and never got around to making the quilt. But, luckily enough, I had plenty of fabric to work with for this pink birthday gift.

I don't have any process photos because I was trying to get these done in a hurry last night (can you say procrastinator?). But, I'll walk you through the process. Note that the images below don't correspond to the steps of making your own bag.

To make a drawstring bag of your own, you'll need:

1 yard quilting cotton weight fabric (this serves as the outside of the bag and the lining)
2 yards cording (for the drawstring)

If you want to use fabric for the drawstring instead of cording, you'll need 5 extra inches cut with your yard of fabric (so 41 inches of fabric).

Square up your fabric, then cut 4 2.5-inch strips the width of the fabric (WOF). With your remaining fabric, fold it in half one way and then in half again the other way. The rectangle you have now should have a ratio similar to an 8.5x11 piece of paper.

Now onto the sewing part. Start by making the drawstrings out of the four WOF strips you cut earlier. Sew two of these pieces together on the short end, and then repeat with the other two pieces. You should now have two double WOF-length strips. Fold in half length-wise with right sides together, then sew a 1/2 inch seam the length of the strip near the raw edge. Repeat with the other strip. Using a safety pin, clip one piece of the fabric at the end and guide the pin through the fabric tube to turn it right side out. Repeat with the other strip.

I appliquéd my niece's initials and an umbrella onto the front of the bag. If you want to add some appliqué, make sure to do it at this step. Prepare your appliqué as desired. Then unfold your fabric and place the appliqué pieces as desired in the upper right-hand "panel" of your fabric.

Once your appliqué is done, refold your fabric, making sure the appliqué shows on the front, or "right" side. The bottom of the bag should have the main fold of the fabric. Take the front and flip it down and under the main fold, so your "right" sides are together. Sew a 1/2 inch seam down the long sides of the bag. However, leave yourself about 3-3.5 inches at the top for the casing and about an inch at the bottom for inserting the ends of the drawstring.

Now you're ready to make the casing. On the sides of the bag, you will have the 3-3.5 inch section that is unfinished. Turn the fabric in 1/2 inch and sew a "U" down the left side, across the bottom where your previous seam ends, and up the right side of the unfinished edge. Repeat on the other side of the bag. Now you can fold the top of the casing area down so your edge slightly overlaps where the bottom of the U was sewn a minute ago, just slightly more than folding in half. Sew all the way around bag. You can repeat this step if you want to reinforce the casing. Turn the bag right side out.

Now that the casing is done, you can string your drawstring through the casing. With the first piece, use your safety pin again to guide the string through the casing. Start on the right side and string it all the way through until you come back to the other half of the right side. Repeat with the other drawstring, but this time start on the left and return on the other half of the left side.

At this point, you can decide if your drawstrings are too long or just right. If they're too long, trim the excess fabric. If they're just right, then you're ready to enclose the loose ends of the drawstring. Remember the bottom inch or so that you left unsewn when you sewed the sides of the bag together? Insert about 1/2-1 inch of the drawstring into this part of the bag. Fold the the raw edges in and top stitch the drawstring ends inside the bag. I did a zigzag stitch for reinforcement, but you can just backstitch several times if you'd like. Just make sure the drawstring pieces are securely stitched in place.

There you have it: a finished, sturdy drawstring backpack.

Next, I made the pillow, and started by making my own pillow form. I had a strip of fabric that was already the perfect size so I didn't have to cut anything. I turned the fabric right sides together, then sewed 1/4 inch all the way around the raw edges, leaving 3 inches open so I could stuff the fluff into the pillow form. Make sure to turn the pillow form right side out before stuffing it. Once it was fully stuffed, I folded the raw edges of the hole under and then top stitched that section closed.

Next, I took the fabric for the outside of the pillow and sewed the pieces together so that I had one long rectangle piece of fabric. At this point, I stopped and added some more appliqué to tie the pillow and bag together.

Once the appliqué was in place, I put the fabric on the pillow form to see where the pieces overlapped so I knew where to make the envelope enclosure for the back. Then, I took the pillow form out, and finished the raw edges on the short ends of the fabric rectangle. I sewed the sides 1/4 inch and turned the pillow cover right side out. At this point it was time to insert the pillow form for a finished pillow.

I have a baby shower tomorrow so I'll be making a rag quilt tonight. I'm also looking forward to next week as I'll have four nights of sewing time. I hope to make more progress on Jessica's Freebird Picnic quilt.

Hooray if you made it through this incredibly long post. Don't forget to head on over to AmyLouWho's for another Sew & Tell Friday!


Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

How darling! I'm sure your niece will love it. Thanks for sharing! Happy Sewing! :o)

Jessica said...

That is super cute!

P. said...

Great idea! That's a very cute book bag and pillow!

Anonymous said...

Love that fabric - so bright and cheery! Good job!

Leslie said...

these are so cute. i love the umbrella

traceyjay said...

what a cute little set...

(great fabric too). :)

Quiltstory said...

Love it! love the cute umbrella. How is our first quiltstory feature girl?

Michelle said...

What a cute idea!

lush stuff said...

Thats a great pressie idea.My daughters gets invited to loads of birthday parties and this would be great to make for her friends. Thanks for sharing. I would love if you would link to my lush friday linky sometime. Andrea

Vicki @ DottyJane said...

Great idea for a gift! Thanks for sharing:)

nima said...


Karen said...

That's a wonderful thoughtful gift.

jlk said...

Very cute!

Dayna said...

These are very cute! Thanks for the tutorial.

Rita E said...

Very cute and creative!


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