Sewing for Corduroy: new tote and quilt

by Dana on December 19, 2012

Yesterday I finished a Christmas gift for Lucy’s school teacher, based on that cute cuddly bear Corduroy.

Each child in Lucy’s class is allowed to bring Corduroy home for a special weekend where they can show him around their house and everyday routine.  Lucy read books to him, we took him to the Great Wolf Lodge, he jumped in and out of Clara’s carseat, got tons of hugs….stuff like that.

But when it was time for bed, Lucy quickly realized that needed his own special bed.  And he definitely needed a corduroy quilt.

So I flipped through the books that came home with him for inspiration.

In A Pocket for Corduroy, the little girl visits the laundromat and asks Corduroy to sit on the chair while she and her mom fold clothes.  He sits quietly and watches….until he becomes curious…and then becomes stuck in the laundry cart where he’s left to sleep all night long. Poor Corduroy

Thankfully the girl comes back to find him the next day.  The story is sweet and I loved all those bright colors.  So I sewed a very simple quilt with….green corduroy on the back!  It was fun to explain to Lucy why Corduroy is called Corduroy.  She couldnt wait to report the fabric news back to her class.

Ah. Much cozier.

We decided to send the quilt back with Corduroy for the next child to enjoy.

But then we noticed one other problem….the bag he came in was torn on two sides and totally falling apart.  And since you know how much I love making tote bags, I just had to do this.

A Corduroy Bag!  Inspired by his happy green overalls.

And complete with straps on the back.  When I showed Lucy the bag, she studied it for a second and then smiled wide…”I get it!  It’s like Corduroy’s overalls!  Cool!”

It reminded me of last year, when I sewed School bags for Lucy’s Kindergarten teacher (click on a pic below for more info):

I used the Reversible Tote Tutorial as my base:

But for some reason it was a beast figuring out the sizing on the overalls and straps.  I had to redo the back piece a couple of times.  Which means…you’re in luck!  I’ve done all the messy work so you can easily make one.  Here’s what you do…
• Read over the Reversible Tote Bag Tutorial if you’re aren’t familiar with the sewing steps.
• Cut out your bag pieces from two colors of fabric. I used cream colored Duck Cloth (heavy canvas) and green colored denim.  You can definitely use real corduroy fabric but I couldn’t find a green shade I liked, so I went with denim.  Good heavy-weight fabric for a lot of kid-use.
Okay.  Refer to the image below as you cut.

FRONT: 18 X 15 inches (green),  18 x 4.5 inches (cream)
BACK: 18 x 11 inches (green), 18 x 8.5 inches (cream)
LINING: 18 X 18.5 inches (cream, cut TWO)
Front Straps: 2.5 x 36 inches (cut one green, one cream)
Back Straps: 2.5 x 52 inches (cut one green, one cream)
Buttons: Cut 4 circles from gold felt, wide enough to fit over the straps

• Start by sewing the Lining pieces as outlined in the tutorial (sew down the sides and box out the bottom).  Set the lining aside till the very end.
• Next assemble the straps.  Sew the back strap as outlined in the tutorial.   For the Front Strap, we’re going to close off the ends.  So….
• Start sewing the Front Strap about a 1/2 inch from the end of the strap (this will help to tuck the ends inside later).  Stop sewing about a 1/2 inch from the other end of the strap as well.
• Continue assembling the strap as you did with the back strap.
• Finally, tuck each end of the strap under, pin it in place and sew off the end (using a topstitch)

• Set the front strap aside.
• And sew the back strap to the back of the bag.
NOTE: after all was said and done I would have done this step a little differently.  So.  I’ll show you what I did, and what I should have done.
• Starting with the cream-colored back piece, lay your back strap so that the handles are about 4 inches from the sides of the bag and so it criss-crosses on the back.
• Sew it to the back of the bag, sewing right over the topstitching that’s already on the straps.

• Start and stop sewing the straps about 3/4 inch from the top of the bag (so you can tuck it under later on).

• With right sides of the fabric together, sew the green piece of the Back to the cream piece.  And now the back of the bag is ready to go!

NOW…what I should have done…..was to sew the “X” and the handle separately, so the handle stand more vertically and lay more flat.
Ideally, you should sew a criss-cross on the back, snip the ends at the top of the bag (so that the handle is disconnected), and then tuck/sew a separate handle into the bag as shown in the tutorial.  I was sort of able to do this in a later step and had a good “make it work” moment so it’s all good.

Now it’s time to sew the front handle to the front of the bag.
• First sew the cream and green pieces of the front together.  Then lay the front over the back just to gauge where the handles should go and make sure they line up properly.
• Pin the handle in place, so that the ends hang over the green fabric an inch or two (like the front straps of overalls)  And sew it down, sewing over the topstitching that already exists on the handle.
• Start and stop sewing the handle about 3/4 inch from the top of the bag.

• Make and attach the buttons.  My first plan was to use real buttons but I could never find them the right size and shade that I liked.  So I used felt!
• Cut 4 circles of felt (trace a cup, etc)
• Sew two circles together about 1/4 inch from the fabric edge.  The easiest way to sew circles is to go slow, sew a few stitches, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric slightly, and do it again.
• Mark 4 button holes on the finished buttons, using a fabric marker (this marks where you’re going to sew an X across the buttons)

• Using embroidery or crochet thread and a needle, hand-sew each button to the handle ends (like a button on overalls).  Starting on the back of the fabric, come up through the first marked dot, sew across to another marked dot, and continue till you’ve created an X across the button.  Do this two times for each button.  And you’re ready to sew the back together!

• Following the tutorial, sew the bag together at the sides…

…box out the bottom of the bag, iron the top hems under, place the lining bag inside the outer back and pin them together like crazy.

And here’s where I sort of corrected my little handle problem from above.  I was able to stuff a 1/2 inch of the handle down in between the bag and lining before sewing the top closed.  This made the handle lay much nicer.  But it was also pretty bulky to sew over that area.  So go slowly.

And…..(Corduroy’s checking in on your progress)…..

You’re done!

Enjoy your new home Corduroy!  And be more careful next time you’re at the laundromat.

It’s easy to see how you could be mistaken for clothes.

…or customers.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon December 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

So adorable! I love those books! The criss-cross detail is darling!


2 Marilyn December 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I loved the Corduroy books as a child. What a special project!


3 Sue December 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Super Cute!!!


4 Katelyn December 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Soooo adorable! :) Love it.


5 Julie H. December 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Dying! That is so cute!


6 Denise December 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I love this so very much!


7 Kristin Turner December 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

So darn Cute!!


8 Rae December 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm

so cute!!!


9 Jessica at Me Sew Crazy December 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Dana – I love, love, love, love this tote so much! Corduroy was one of my favorite books growing up, and your purse captures the essence of him perfectly! So well done! Thank you for sharing, this just made me smile :).


10 bea, December 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm

you are so talented!


11 echo December 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

what a lucky teacher!


12 Becci Manies December 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

This is seriously SO CUTE!!!! :)


13 Nikki December 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I love this! Your creativity is never ending.


14 Rachel December 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

This is so super sweet! I LOVE that you actually brought the bag to a laundromat!!! I know Mrs. M is going to adore this, too…so will the kiddos that will get to enjoy it all for years to come!


15 Anneliese December 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

You are totally the teacher’s pet and so deserved! I love this. The teacher must have been speechless!


16 Nancy December 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Number 1 Mom Award goes to Dana Willard!! What an extra special gift for Lucy’s teacher, all the children who will get to take him home and especially Corduroy!


17 Emily V. December 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I love this. It would be great to give some Corduroy books and a bear in the tote as a gift. Hmmm…how many days til Christmas?


18 courtney December 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm

i love it! what a sweet gift to share with her friends. way to go, momma!


19 Emily December 20, 2012 at 12:04 am

What a darling quilt and tote! The laundromat photo shoot is the icing on the cake though. :) We’re big Corduroy fans at our house; it was the first book Ansley would “read.” (tell the story by looking at the pictures, not bad for a then one year old).


20 Delia December 20, 2012 at 12:38 am

What an awesome gift! I LOvE it. And I love that Lucy’s class has a class bear. How neat! I was just thinking the other day as I passed by our local laundry mat how cool pictures would look in there. And at night too! Your laundromat is super cute!


21 Lindsay December 20, 2012 at 12:46 am

This is adorable! I love Corduroy and am now going to have to hunt around for my own Corduroy bear. You are a great mom. I want to make stuff like this for my own kids when I have them.


22 Sarah K. December 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

Darling! A great gift that I know her teacher will love!


23 Kristin December 20, 2012 at 4:01 am

Eeee the criss cross straps in the back of the tote are the perfect little detail! All so cute.


24 Caca December 20, 2012 at 4:23 am

I like following you. You have great tutorial on sewing and craft. And, you snap great photos too.


25 Becky T December 20, 2012 at 6:26 am

Oh Dana, that is just awesome! I’m going to have to make one for my grandson. Sadly, I’d never heard of Courderoy until I read that you took him to the Great Wolf Lodge (which I’d never heard of either…and I live south of San Antonio!) I need to get out more I think.

Awesome tutorial. I’m on it!


26 Terri December 20, 2012 at 8:49 am

This is the cutest post ever! So cute…and how fun!
Absolutely LOVED all the pictures!


27 lori December 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

OMG!!!! you did such a GREAT job!!. the detail is the finishing touch the bag needed!
I have to say i have not heard of this bear and all of his adventures. guess i was before his time, hehe. I have heard of “Flat Thomas”(at least i think that is his name), but did not hear about Thomas till the late 1990′s. Anyhow, love the idea and will have to keep it in mind for my grandkids. thank you for all you do and show us.
May you and your have a GREAT VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!


28 Jeanne Jones December 21, 2012 at 2:38 am

Lori, you are thinking of Flat Stanley. There are several books out about him. Stanley wanted to visit his grandparents, so he flatten himself and slipped into an envelope. Teachers all over the country mail Flat Stanley to classes. The class writes about his adventures and returns him. The children love Stanley.


29 Mary Kay December 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

What a lucky class to have a Mom to do such a wonderful thing for their Corduroy!! What a lucky teacher too!! I love these kinds of projcts for kids!!

Merry Chirstmas Dana!!


30 Amanda December 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

What a lucky classroom and teacher! What was the teacher’s reaction? It’s great for the kids (not just yours but hte whole class) to see how adults outside the school can get involved and support their efforts to learn. Very cool.


31 Dana December 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Amanda :).
We’re giving it to her today! So we’ll see!
And I agree…parents can really get involved in their kids public school experience and make it a wonderful learning environment.


32 Kristina December 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Cute tradition :)


33 Deborah Jennings December 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Since most families have digital cameras, why not let the children or their parents, take pictures of Corduroy at their house. Then someone could make a scrapbook for the little bear. This is an adorable idea!


34 Lynet Witty December 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I lOVE that you actually went to a laundromat for your photoshoot! You are so talented, Dana!


35 Jeanne Jones December 21, 2012 at 2:32 am

I wish your child had been in my class! I used to send a little bunny home with students. She often came back with little treasures.


36 Missy December 21, 2012 at 8:24 am

Just so cute. Love this.


37 Scary December 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Love this my little boy that he takes with him everywhere that I need to make some corduroy overalls for him.


38 Mary Williams December 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

It was a beast? Don’t you mean, “It was a BEAR”? Ha-ha!


39 Max December 28, 2012 at 5:16 am

Hhaahha I didn’t realise you had blogged about this and now my Instagram comment abou them looking like little overalls sounds SO stupid! Oh dear! These are super cute <3


40 Asia December 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I award you the official ‘Best Mom Ever’ award for this!


41 Jan January 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

What an awesome Mommy you are. All the kids are going to love this, :)


42 Cindi April 30, 2013 at 11:35 am

FINALLY had an excuse – end of year teacher gift! Have everything finished but the buttons and sewing on the lining. All the kiddos in class are going to sign the lining, and adding a pocket inside with the teachers info/year/etc. embroidered on. Can’t say how much I love it. Thanks for the EXCELLENT instructions, as usual, btw. Did the snip on the back straps you suggested, and that worked great. Love it even more than I thought I would.


43 Gail Barabasz December 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm

What an awesome mother you are. I am going to have to buy the book for my little grandson and granddaughter.


44 Julie March 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

My Two year old has just gotten into these books, and I was looking for something related to make for her birthday. Thanks for the tote idea! I’m also looking for a pattern that is similar to him. I have light brown corduroy….I might make him out of that.


and I’m sure Lucy’s teacher appreciated your thoughtfulness


45 Kenia Arandia October 7, 2015 at 12:09 am

I wish i coukd fo this i send corduroy books too but i have no talent with sewing hihi reason why im a teacher hehe AWESOME GIFT


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