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Monogram Library Tote

monogram library tote
“M” is for monogram! And, in this case, a Monogram Library Tote!
I recently participated in a super fun Back to School, A-Z Series with The Ribbon Retreat where guest bloggers selected a letter of the alphabet then created something school related. I selected the letter M because I’m a bit obsessed with monograms. I just love to put them on everything! Maybe it’s because I’m from the south? But everything does look better with a monogram, don’t you think? Including this Library Tote!
piping zipper pouch
If this project looks familiar it’s because last month I shared a mini version of the monogram by making a zipper pouch. I have been carrying this bad boy EVERYWHERE! I can see that I will be making many, many more. (Fear of zippers, be gone!)
diy monogram book bag
monogram library tote bag
Back to the tote – I can’t wait to share all of the delicious details of this tote bag! There were a lot of “firsts” for me in this project including sewing an applique, making and adding piping, sewing a pocket…  But the devil is in the details and all of these details really make the bag something special.
riley blake apple of my eye
Let’s start with these gorgeous Riley Blake fabrics from The Ribbon Retreat! They are part of the Apple of My Eye collection and, as you can imagine, incorporate apples into some of the patterns. Perfect for this Back to School theme!
1/2 yd Red Apple Stripe
1/2 yd Yellow Apple Dot
1/2 yd Blue Main
1/2 yd Aqua Simple Gingham
1/4 yd Green Herringbone
1 fat quarter Red Herringbone
cording for making piping
The front and back of the tote are comprised of two pieces of fabric each: the top portion is 10″x12″ and the bottom is 4″x12″. To make the sides of the tote you will need two pieces 2″x18″ stitched together end-to-end to make a 2″x36″ strip. To make the matching lining for the interior of the bag, cut two 14″x12″ pieces and two 2″x18″, also stitched end-to-end.
The pocket is two 5″x6″ pieces. The handles require four 40″x1 1/2″ pieces of fabric.
We’ll be using the fusible fleece interfacing on nearly every piece of fabric cut to ensure that the tote bag is sturdy and can support the weight of a lot of books.
Allow for a 1/4″ seam for all pieces of fabric.
tote bag handles
Let’s begin with the handles. We are going to make 2 long handles; they stretch almost the entire length of the tote! Once you have cut the 4 pieces of fabric for the handles, attach the fusible fleece interfacing to each piece of fabric. Take 2 strips of the fabric and place right sides face to face and stitch the long sides together. Repeat for the second handle. Pull handles right side out. Iron smooth then stitch right up the center of each handle. Once that is done set the handles aside. We’ll come back to them shortly.
diy piping
I really wanted to make my own piping using fabric from the Apple of My Eye collection so that it would match perfectly with the other fabrics. Can you believe I cut over 9 yards of 1″ trim to use for the piping from a single fat quarter? You can get the details of the custom piping in my Monogram Zipper Pouch tutorial. You will need approximately 4.5-5 yards of piping for this tote bag.
cutting corner fabric
The bottom corners of the tote are rounded so stack the front and back pieces of the inner lining with the front and back pieces of the bottom portion of the tote. Use a bowl to trace the rounded corners then cut out them out.
adding handles
Add fusible fleece webbing to the back of the top and bottom pieces of the tote.
To make the front and back of the tote, pin the handles in place on the top portion of the tote. They should be centered and separated by 5″. Add the piping between the top and bottom portion of the fabric (see the arrow in the first photo) by placing the piping along the edge of the right side of the top portion of the tote. Fold up the bottom portion of the tote so that the right side of the bottom of the tote is on top of the right side of the top of the tote (see center photo). Use a zipper foot to stitch the piping on.
applique monogram
Add fusible fleece interfacing to the back of one piece of the pocket fabric.
Follow the directions on Steam-A-Seam to attach to the fabric you will be using for the monogram. I printed an M on cardstock then cut it out to use as a stencil. Trace the M (face down for a reverse image!) on the back of the Steam-A-Seam. Cut out and follow directions to iron onto the piece of pocket with the fusible webbing.
Stitch along interior of the monogram.
Place right sides of pocket pieces together and stitch along the top and bottom.
Flip pocket right side out, iron smooth, and topstitch a couple of decorative lines across the top (see arrow).
adding pocket
Center the pocket on the front of the tote, approximately 3″ from the top. Attach the pocket by stitching down the sides and the bottom.
Now we can stitch down those handles that were previously pinned down. Stitch 1/4″ in along the handles on each side up to 3/4″ from the top of the tote. Don’t stitch all the way to the top or you won’t be able to attach the lining.
attaching piping tote bag
Add fusible fleece interfacing the side pieces of the tote. Attach front and back of tote to the sides, again incorporating the piping using the same method we used previously with the zipper foot.
Make the lining of the tote by adding fusible fleece interfacing to pieces of the lining then stitch together, leaving a 4″ hole in the bottom to pull the tote right side out later.
Baste piping to the top of the outer piece of the tote. Keep the lining wrong side out and place the right side out outer piece of the tote inside it. Use zipper foot to stitch together the top of the tote along the piping.
Pull the tote right side out through the hole in the bottom of the lining. Hand stitch the hole closed.
Iron along piping as needed to smooth out the fabric. And you’re done!
monogram tote zipper pouch
Isn’t the tote fun? And with all those layers of  piping it is sure to hold up to carrying around those library books.
Do you see a Monogram Library Tote in your future?
If I can do it, I know you can, too!
Tatertots & Jello, Serenity Now, and other great parties found on my party page.


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T'onna Peters

Sunday 21st of September 2014

Such a cute bag! I love the monogram M and the fabric combination!

Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party!

Allison Moore

Saturday 20th of September 2014

Michele this is ADORABLE!!

Amy Cramer

Friday 19th of September 2014

Beautiful bag! I like having bags for different things...library, knitting, projects, etc. You can never have too many bags!

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