TUTORIAL: Simple Book Bags

by Dana on July 6, 2008

Lucy’s teacher asked each child to bring a simple bag to school, for taking home school projects every week. At first I grabbed a reusable grocery bag but realized it was way too big; papers would just get smashed in there. Then I remembered these great bags I’d bought from Oriental Trading years ago. And after playing with my Silhouette and creating words on the software, it all came together: the kids needed book bags with their names on top!
The bags are lightweight and simple. They’re perfect for school projects, filling with library books, or for toting toys around in the car.
I used the Silhouette to cut out stencils on freezer paper and it was a breeze. You don’t need a Silhouette to do this but it sure made the project 10 times faster!
The bags aren’t ornate but they’ve made school just a bit more exciting for the kids (especially since Owen is officially potty trained and can now go!)
Of course Lucy couldn’t decide which color she liked best, and she needed girly flair….so on the back side of her bag I did pink fabric with rufflly lace. And then we made one for their best friend Savannah too.
These would also make a great birthday gift or party favor.
Here’s how I did it….

I started by making a freezer paper stencil of the kids’ names, using my Silhouette cutter. You don’t need a Silhouette to do this project–you can cut the names out with a craft knife and cutting mat–but boy oh boy, this is why I got the Silhouette. It makes amazing cuts in a minute! (see my detailed review HERE) . And if you’ve never done Freezer paper stenciling, read the step-by-step tutorial HERE. Okay….so….
Create your name image on the Silhouette software (or on a Word doc if cutting by hand). I used Century Gothic font. Place a piece of freezer paper on the sticky mat, with the glossy side of the paper, face down:
Feed it through the machine and it will come out beautifully cut:
Then place your stencil onto a scrap piece of knit fabric. I have a box of T-shirt discards (from 90 min shirt projects) just waiting to be used:
Use your iron to secure each stencil part in its place (shiny side down).
Then using fabric paint (Tulip brand, matte finish is my favorite), paint over the stencil. Let it dry and repeat if needed. I did two coats of paint on each of these.
When the paint is dry, peel it off and voila! Cute names!
Make sure to “heat set” your paint by placing a press cloth (or kitchen towel) over the top and ironing for 1-2 minutes. Read instructions on your paint bottle for more info. This helps secure the paint so it doesn’t fade or wash away when washed in the machine.
Cut out the names, leaving a bit of fabric around the edges. It’s okay if the cuts aren’t perfectly even. Adds more character. You don’t need to worry about finishing off the edges because knit fabric doesn’t fray.
Then attach the name to the bag. You can make your own bags or purchase them inexpensively from online shops such as Oriental Trading Company (where I got mine). You’ll also find similar natural colored bags at Joanns, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and most craft stores.
Position the name placard where you like (mine are in the top 1/3 of the bag) and pin it in place. I tried using fusible web (such as Heat ‘n Bond or Wonder Under) to help secure the name on the bag, but for some reason the Wonder Under just would not adhere to the bag. So I pinned instead.
Then, sew the name to your bag. Be careful not to tug on the knit fabric as you sew and periodically stop sewing, lift your presser foot, and let the fabric relax, to keep it from stretching.
And you’re done! A very simple book bag for school projects or a trip to the library.
And if you need some added frill…..Pin lace under the name placard before sewing (if this is difficult, you might try sewing the lace to the placard first and then sewing the whole thing onto the bag).
When you get to the end of the lace, leave a 1/2 inch overlap on each end,
place right sides together, and sew the lace together. This is best to do after you’ve pinned most of the lace in place so you can gauge the proper amount.
Then stick it under the name and pin it down. Sew around and you’re done.
Girly book bags!
Happy Sewing!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 cricket deas April 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

Love those name labels!!!!!!!!!!!!

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2 Emily November 27, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Love it! I am making some bags for my son’s teachers with some other fun stuff inside! I got my bags at Walmart!

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