Tutorial | Little One's Library Bag | Featuring Charley Harper Nurture

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Today we're excited to welcome Selene Lockerbie to the Fabricworm Blog, to share her tutorial for a super handy Library Bag.  In anticipation of the quickly arriving Charley Harper Nurture collection, we thought we'd offer a really cool tote tutorial as inspiration.  Selene used canvas from the Charley Harper Nurture line.  You can find Selene's work in her Etsy Shop Sew and So Mom.  Welcome Selene!

Since my twins have just learned to read on their own I quickly realized that they needed a library bag of their own to carry all of their treasures home from the library. This adorable bag has a recessed zipper to keep their books safe, and a sling strap to allow them to carry their bag across the shoulder easily. This is a fun and easy tutorial.

This project features fabric from the Nurture Collection by Charlie Harper.  I'm really head over heels for this fabric, and love how it works for a boy or a girl.

You will need:

3/4 yard of outer fabric. (I used Zoo Babies in Canvas)

3/4 yard of inner fabric. (I used Fungi Peri in poplin)

3/4 yard fusible interfacing.

* If you wish to make the strap longer, or you're using directional print, you will need 1 yard of each fabric.

16" zipper in coordinating color.

Scissors or Rotary Cutter.

Coordinating Thread.

*Unless otherwise stated all seams are 1/4".

*If you're using directional fabric always check that the directions are matching on both sides.

Zoo Babies and Fungi Peri

  • From your outer fabric and interfacing cut two (2) 15 1/2" x 14" rectangles- This will be the outer bag.
  • From your inner fabric cut two (2) 13 1/4" x 14"rectangles  - This will be the inner bag.
  • From your inner fabric and interfacing cut two (2) 2 1/2" x 14" rectangles - This will be the top fabric above the zipper.
  • From your inner and outer fabric cut one each 2" x 34" piece (*since my fabric was directional, and I wanted a specific part of the pattern, I had to piece this part) - This will be your strap.
  • Trim your zipper to 13"


  • Line both pieces of your outer bag with the fusible interfacing. (I did not line the inner bag with interfacing.)
  • Line 2" x 34" strip of outer fabric with fusible interfacing.
  • Line both pieces of top fabric with fusible interfacing.
  • Make tabs for your zipper. If you don't know how to do this you can find a tutorial here http://sewandsomom.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-to-make-zipper-tabs.html

  • Cut a 2" square (gusset) out of the bottom of your inner bag rectangles and outer bag rectangles.


Your strap will consist of a 2" x 34" piece of outer fabric, lined with interfacing, and a 2" x 34" piece of inner fabric.

  • Place rectangles right sides together. Align seams. Pin and sew. 
  • Turn this structure right side out, 

press flat and top stitch.


Top Fabric and Inner Bag:
  • Center your zipper on one of the 2" x 14" pieces of top fabric (notice that the fabric is longer than the zipper. That's important!). The zipper pull is face down. The fabric is face up.

Pin and sew with a zipper foot.

**Do not sew over the tabs.

Flip the zipper over, face up. Iron at the fold and top stitch. This will ensure that the fabric doesn't get caught in the zipper.

  • Center your zipper (with top fabric attached) on top of second piece of top fabric.  You will be sewing the other side of the zipper now. Zipper pull face down. Fabric face up. (Right sides of fabric will be together.) Pin and sew with a zipper foot.

Flip zipper over, as before, press, and top stitch.

This is your top fabric structure.

  • Fold one side of your top fabric back over (so right sides of fabric are together) so your zipper edge is again exposed. Place top fabric structure, zipper pull down, on wrong side of one of your inside bag pieces. Align the edges.

Pin and sew with a zipper foot.

  • Place this structure on the wrong side of the last inside bag piece. Zipper pull down. You will be sewing on the other side of the zipper. Pin and sew with a zipper foot.

  • Now you should have an idea of what your inner bag will look like, with the recessed zipper. It should look something like this.

  • Make sure that your sides and bottom seams are aligned. Pin and sew sides and bottom. Do not sew along the gussets yet.
*Sew as close to the zipper as you can. It's a little tricky, but you can do it. I like to use a 1/8" seam allowance on the fabric above the zipper. With that small allowance you should be able to get by the ends of your zipper tabs without catching them in the seam. Trim seams if desired.

  • Now to address the gussets. Fold to align the side and bottom seams on one (1) corner, then sew across to box the corner. You will be leaving the other corner for now. 

Leave this inner bag inside out and set aside.

Outer Bag:
  • Put your two (2) pieces of outer fabric, which are lined with interfacing, right sides together. Align the seams. Pin and sew the sides and bottom. Trim seams if desired.
  • Fold to align the side and bottom seams on both corners, then sew across to box the corners.

  • Turn right side out.
  • Attach the strap to the outer bag, centered on the side seams. Align with the top seam of the outer bag. Like fabrics will be together. Pin and sew, making sure your strap isn't twisted.

  • Get your inner bag that you had set aside earlier. Open the zipper. Tuck the outer bag - right side out - into the inner bag - wrong side out (right sides are facing). 

Align the top raw edges and the side seams. Sew around the top of the bags.

  • Remember that gusset you left open? Carefully pull the outer bag out through that opening.

Hand or machine stitch the open gusset closed. Tuck inner bag into outer bag. Press and top stitch.

Congratulations! You're all done.

Thank you for sharing with us Selene! Your bag is the tops!


Anne said…
What a great pattern! If you wouldn't mind posting an extra picture, I would love to see the top of the bag (to get a shot of the zipper). Thanks!
FabricWorm said…
Hi Anne, Unfortunately I do not have a pic of the top. I'm so sorry! Wish we had taken one. Sorry about that.
Patti said…
I was would of liked to seen the top of the bag, maybe next time. I love the look of the bag.
Squiddy10 said…
Great pattern! I finally understand the creation of gussets. Super cool, my daughter and I are each going to make one.
lolly said…
I have just finished my bag and I'm so pleased with my recessed zipper, I've never done one before, so another technique I can add to my skills. Thanks so much for the tutorial.
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