Nancy Drew Blog Hop: Library Tote Tutorial + Giveaway

Despite the fact that I have known about this hop for months, March was suddenly upon me and a note in my inbox reminded me that March 7th was my day on the Nancy Drew Get a Clue blog hop.

Luckily, I had already designed my project and the paper pieced pattern I would use. And luckily, my husband is on spring break and could entertain our girls for a few hours today while I completed the project.

It seems that some of the other blog hop stops from yesterday were similarly inspired by the books featuring Nancy Drew to create a bag for books, but I do hope to give you a unique spin.

Nancy Drew library tote

The fabric I ordered from Nancy Drew Get a Clue by Moda included a book cover panel and a charm pack of 42 5-inch squares. I also picked up some text fabrics because I thought those would play nicely with the whole book theme.

Make a Nancy Drew Library Tote


*Front and back panel of the tote: (2) rectangles, 14.5 x 18.5 inches. My panels are pieced, so some additional step are required. I’ll explain below.
*Lining: (2) rectangles, 14.5 x 18.5 inches. Do not use quilting weight cotton. We want this bag to hold books and we want it to last. The structure of the bag comes from the lining in this case, so use something heavy: denim, canvas, heavy twill, etc.
*Handles: (2) pieces of 1-inch wide webbing, 22 inches long.
*Basic sewing supplies.

Make the pieced front and back panel

Begin with a book cover from the fabric panel. This is cut to 10.5 x 14.5 inches.

For the opposite side, I made a paper pieced book with text fabric and solids that coordinated with the Nancy Drew fabric. Come back next week and I will show the tutorial for the paper pieced book and give you the PDF pattern to make your own!

Nancy Drew library tote

Select 14 of the charms and cut them in quarters to makes 56 2.5-inch squares.

Nancy Drew library tote

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew the 2.5-inch square together in strips of 7. You will have eight strips. Attach these strips along the edges of your front and back panel pieces.

Nancy Drew library tote

You now have the front and back of your library tote. Each panel measures 14.5 x 18.5 inches.

Nancy Drew library tote

Place the two pieces right sides together. Now that we are constructing the bag, rather than piecing, increase your seam allowance to 1/2 inch. Beginning at the top of the bag, begin sewing along one side. Back stitch 4-5 stitches and continue stitching along one side. Stop 1/2 inch from the bottom of the bag, leave the needle down, lift the presser foot, and turn the bag a quarter turn to stitch along the bottom of the bag. Repeat, stitching up the other side and back stitching when you reach the top edge of the bag.

At each bottom corner of the bag, mark 3/4 inch in from the side seam and 3/4 inch up from the bottom seam.

Nancy Drew library tote

Pull the front and back panels away from each other and align the bottom seam with the side seam.

Nancy Drew library tote

Sew across the corner of the bag along the line you just drew. Add another line of stitching about 1/8th inch further down. Trim off excess fabric.

Nancy Drew library tote

While your bag is still inside out, fold the top edge 1/2 inch toward the wrong side and press.

Nancy Drew library tote

Turn the bag right side out.

Make the lining

Remember, you will be using (2) rectangles 14.5 x 18.5 inches of a heavy weight fabric. I I used denim for this project.

Find the center of the wrong side of each lining piece. Mark a 1 inch line 2.5-3.5 inches from the center and 2 inches below the top edge of the lining.

Nancy Drew library tote

If using synthetic webbing, seal the edges by quickly passing a match along the edge. Align your webbing pieces with the lines you just drew and pin in place. Be sure your webbing does not get twisted!

Nancy Drew library tote

Attach the straps to the wrong side of the lining using an x-box. This will ensure your straps will stand up to hauling books around and will not rip from the bag.

Nancy Drew library tote

Place your two lining pieces right sides together and sew along each side and the bottom with 1/2 inch seam allowance, as you did with the outside panels. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches.

Again, at each bottom corner, mark 3/4 inch in from the side seam and 3/4 inch up from the bottom seam. Pull the front and back away from each other to line up the bottom seam with the side seam. Sew along the line you drew to create the boxed bottom of the bag.

Nancy Drew library tote

Fold the top edge toward the wrong side and press. If you are using synthetic webbing do not touch the iron to the webbing!!

Nancy Drew library tote

Assemble the bag

Slip the lining into the outside of the bag with wrong sides together.

Nancy Drew library tote

Align the top edge of the lining with the top edge of the outside of the bag and pin in place.

Nancy Drew library tote

Edge stitch very close to the top edge of the bag. Repeat a second line of stitching about 1/8 inch below the first.

Nancy Drew library tote


Nancy Drew library tote Nancy Drew library tote



Do you want to win this super cool, super sturdy library tote? Just leave me a comment and let me know what sort of handmade bags you would be inclined to buy.

For another chance to win, be a follower of this blog, or become a follower and let me know in another comment.

For a third chance to win, Like Sewing by Moonlight on Facebook and leave a comment saying that you do.

Giveaway will close Friday, March 15th at 9PM EDT.

Don’t forget to come back next week for the paper pieced book pattern!

Go check out the other stops on the Nancy Drew blog hop today!

Sewing By Moonlight (you are here!)
155 replies
  1. Chiska
    Chiska says:

    I love your book! I would probably buy a book bag like this with a zipper closure. Thanks for the chance.

  2. Frances
    Frances says:

    Love your paper pieced book and any fabric with words. Perfect size for a tote. Not too large.

  3. Jeanie
    Jeanie says:

    Your book bags are just wonderful and very unique! Your design is perfect for the fabric line. And I guess I wouldn’t buy a handmade bag because I would make my own.

  4. Joan
    Joan says:

    What a wonderful tutorial, and fun bag. I know anyone would be the belle of the ball in the library with that bag! 🙂

  5. Shirley in Canada
    Shirley in Canada says:

    I make totes – all kinds! Love bags, but would love to carry a “small” purse so I could find things in there when I want to!!

  6. country quilter
    country quilter says:

    Looking at the Nancy Drew pictures reminds me of many days sitting on a window seat in my room reading her books over and over as a young girl. The simple times where as a child you entertained yourself by living out a fantacy by reading. I would love to give this bag to my granddaughter who is dyslexic and struggles with reading.
    Nancy could be her companion too.

  7. Sharon Joyner Griffith
    Sharon Joyner Griffith says:

    Great tutorial, thanks so much! I carry a bag everywhere I go (almost). I particularly carry totes because I can put everything in it and know where it all is. I also like to use twill for my lining because it makes it sturdy. Would love to win the give a way….

  8. Valerie Ho
    Valerie Ho says:

    The tote bags are awesome, esp the one with the Nancy Drew book cover! Totes are very versatile and come in many sizes so they have been my staple. I’ve recently learnt to sew really simple ones and your tutorial is helpful.

  9. Marcia K
    Marcia K says:

    Wonderful bag! I think my favorite bag would be a purse with an inside pocket NOT ZIPPERED so that I could easily find my keys. They are always sinking to the bottom of my current purse, and of course a pocket for my iPhone. I don’t tend to carry too much in my purse. I could also use a project bag for my quilting take alongs. We all have some of those I think. I love EPP so small size is great.

  10. Quiltin' Jenny
    Quiltin' Jenny says:

    Love your tote and your paper pieced book. Thanks also for the tutorial on how to attach the webbing handles. I have seen those but never been quite clear on the best way to use them.

    I have never bought a handmade bag because I have made more than I can use!

  11. Beulah
    Beulah says:

    Your book is so cool! Your girls will be wanting their own tote bag!!!
    I prefer bags with lots of pockets in variety of size…some pockets with closures… and for the handles to be flat and between 1 – 2 inches wide! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial!!

  12. Carol
    Carol says:

    Great tutorial and that bag looks perfect for toting around books. I love your paper pieced book! Thanks for hopping with us!

  13. Jane
    Jane says:

    Your library bag looks great. I actually might buy a Coach Bag at some point but to buy a custom homemade bags, I do enjoy making them myself or use one when gifted by friend(s). Jane

  14. Pam S
    Pam S says:

    I love this tote! Thanks for the tutorial! I like totes that are sturdy enough for library books, and that have a literary theme. This sure fits that criteria!

  15. selina
    selina says:

    Love your tote. I made one too so don’t include me in your give away, that would be greedy on my part. Love your paperpieced book. Nice touch.

  16. Susan
    Susan says:

    I like your book bag and thanks for the tutorial. I would be inclined to buy bags that would hold my music, music stand, and other teaching supplies.\, and preferably with tops that can be closed.

  17. Gmama Jane
    Gmama Jane says:

    Ok, I’m going to admit something here and now…I’ve never made a bag. I’m scared, so silly I know but I WILL be back to read your tutorial more carefully. I think I can do this, lining and all. I’m even going to become a follower since I snuck and read more of your posts and liked what I found. Here’s to a new quilting/stitching friendship. BTW, liked your sewing room clean-up. I need to do a Major revamp and soon!!
    Gmama Jane

  18. Susan Ramey Cleveland
    Susan Ramey Cleveland says:

    I love your tote and would love to win. But if I don’t, I can always make me one using your very clear tutorial. Thanks so much.

  19. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    I love your bag!! I would so take that to the library. I would have no problem buying that bag, because I know it would be sturdy. I also would buy handmade handbags.

  20. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    I am a new follower . I found your blog today via the hop. conn_and_vans_mom(at)yahoo(dot)com

  21. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    I liked your facebook page. And will be following you over on facebook now to. conn_and_vans_mom(at)yahoo(dot)com

  22. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    I buy large bags that I can use for library books and to tote projects around in. conn_and_vans_mom(at)yahoo(dot)com

  23. mary c
    mary c says:

    I love totes, purses, wristlets, all kinds of fabric bags. I like to be able to create something that is uniquely mine. Thanks for the opportunity!

  24. Kathy Gentry
    Kathy Gentry says:

    I love this book tote–perfect. I don’t usually buy totes because I make my own. This one would be a perfect gift for my daughter, who is working on her master’s degree in library science.

  25. apple blossom
    apple blossom says:

    love homemade purses

    thanks for chance to win this tote

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  26. Kathy L
    Kathy L says:

    I go to the library every Wednesday and check out 5 or so books, so it’s a bookings for me. Would love to win.

  27. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    What a great bag! Thank you for the fabulous tutorial and of the up coming pp book, it’s too cute! The only thing I’d add would be a protective flap so books and projects would stay dry.
    Thank you for the chance 🙂

  28. cliodana
    cliodana says:

    beautiful! you’ll have fun going to the librairy with that tote. we have the same idea! my turn on the 15th!
    have fun on the hop

  29. Sandra Davidson
    Sandra Davidson says:

    Lov e your book bag ,nothing better then a stylish bag to take to the library and the paper pieced book is very creative.

  30. Linda Winters
    Linda Winters says:

    I love your library totes! So pretty and yet serviceable!
    I never know what kind of bag will strike my fancy! I just go by what I have an emotional reaction to!

  31. shirley tener
    shirley tener says:

    Love your paper pieced book and any fabric with words. I want one of those bags that hangs, its like what you can carry a basketball in… I dont know what words I carry the same purse for years. But I am going shell hunting and thought about it.

  32. Jane
    Jane says:

    Your book bag/tote is adorable. I love the way you did your paper pieced book. I did paper piecing once….not good at it. Guess I need more practice. Also, thank you for the step by step tutorial on making the tote. I was never quite sure of the handles.

  33. Daryl
    Daryl says:

    Such a great looking library tote bag. I haven’t bought any bags in years because I make them. One of my weaknesses is making bags. If my name wins, please choose someone else to win your beautiful bag, as I really don’t need a bag and would rather someone else who would love to win have the chance. I just wanted to leave a comment.

  34. Linda J
    Linda J says:

    A bag I would consider buying would have plenty of pockets and either a zipper at the top or magnetic closure, long enough straps that I could wear it cross body but adjustable is nice so it could be carried in the normal manner too. And not TOO huge either that it weighs a ton.

  35. Linda J
    Linda J says:

    I am following by email and may I said I love how your project turned out. The paper pieced book design is a wonderful addition. Congrats on making the top 2 today! Off to hook up with facebook now. I would love to win your bag!

  36. Marla Nelson
    Marla Nelson says:

    I really like the bag and the panel of Nancy Drew is perfect. Nice job and thanks for ahving a give away.

  37. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    Love the bags! I don’t buy bags or purses often (even though I love them), I tend to carry one till if falls apart. I have many patterns for them but have yet to make one.

  38. JLVerde
    JLVerde says:

    Great tutorial. I don’t buy many totes, since I prefer to make my own. If I were to buy they’d have to be more like a purse (with tricky construction I either couldn’t or wouldn’t do myself).

  39. Gill
    Gill says:

    Great tote!
    I make most of my own bags but I’d probably buy a zippered bag!
    Thanks for sharing!

  40. Domestic Bliss
    Domestic Bliss says:

    Thanks for the very clear instructions and pictures.
    Aside from looking for a bag that incorporates great fabrics, I never buy any bag that doesn’t have sturdy handles. Somehow, I often underestimate how many books or groceries I will get, and I hate to have a handle break or tear.

  41. jan
    jan says:

    Love the library tote!! I want to start making my own bags but I recently bought a grocery tote!

  42. Jenelle Boxberger
    Jenelle Boxberger says:

    I love tote’s any size. From carring grocerys to sewing supplies. Yes even books. thanks for the fun time.

  43. Carol Y
    Carol Y says:

    I’ve bought several handmade bags – the most recent was Mail Sack by Pink Chalk Fabrics. I also have a little handbag I got off of eBay.

  44. Susan
    Susan says:

    What a great tote! Thank you for including a great tutorial. I appreciate your details in your tutorial as to how to make the bag to really hold books. All the reinforcement (from you) and the stitching and the heavy lining are wonderful. It is frustrating to put the time and effort in a bag to have it not fit the purpose. It is great and I look forward to the paper pieced book pattern next week. Thanks for participating.

  45. kate C
    kate C says:

    Well, I like sewing, so I make most of the bags I need. Though one of the large, structured, Amy Butler Weekender ones seems a bit intimidating to make, so if I had extra cash, maybe I’d buy one of those.

  46. kathy h
    kathy h says:

    Yours is such a great tote. I would buy purses that have zippers on the inside which are very hard for me to make for myself.

  47. Marcy M
    Marcy M says:

    Your tote bag was wonderful. Because I am a booklover and am always carting books around, I am always looking for a sturdy bookbag with a mystery theme.

  48. Lyn M
    Lyn M says:

    I love your book bag! I would make one for my Kindle or IPad. Great idea. Thanks for sharing

  49. troi hackett
    troi hackett says:

    This bag is very on trend with what I see online now, and of course Nancy is always trendy!

  50. Pat V.
    Pat V. says:

    Wow, great tute and great tote! Can’t wait for the PP book pattern. Thanks for the chance to win and the inspiration!

  51. Judy Bowes
    Judy Bowes says:

    I love all kinds of handmade bags. They are unique and you don’t see yourself coming and going! Love your book bag! Thank you for sharing.

  52. Marlene
    Marlene says:

    What a great bag! I guess we stitchers can never have enough bags – especially if they’re a variety of sizes. I use handmade bags for the library, my lunch, my projects, an overnight bag, a jewelry bag and even a purse. 🙂 blessings, marlene

  53. Cecilia
    Cecilia says:

    I love the way your bag turned out. You did a great job. I would probably buy a bag like this. Thanks for the chance to in your great bag.

  54. LJ
    LJ says:

    That’s a wonderful tote and you did a marvelous job lining up everything. The pp book block is perfect. Who wouldn’t love using this tote when going to the library or anywhere else?

  55. Pat
    Pat says:

    I love your bag. Thanks for sharing the how-to.

    The types of bags I will buy …

    (1) very small ones that hold only my cash and cards that will go around my neck and under my coat … I do not like handbags or pocketbooks.

    (2) very large, sturdy ones for heavy totes when needed … I like denin or canvas with straps that go around the bottom and up the sides to form the handes on each side

    (3) reusable shopping bags that fold small and open roomy

    … also … they must be pretty … like yours!

    Thanks for the chance to win … 🙂 Pat

  56. Lori Morton
    Lori Morton says:

    I love your Bookbag/Tote!!! Oooooh yes…I sure would Loooooove to win it!

    I am soooo “addicted” to Totes!! LOL If it holds a project…or my books…I will always “have to have it!!” 🙂

  57. Jenn B
    Jenn B says:

    Love your library tote. I made a book bag too and it is so fun to see how other’s have constructed theirs. I love your book block.

  58. Karen Cross
    Karen Cross says:

    I love your Nancy Drew tote bag!
    I would buy a tote that zippered across the top and had pockets on the front and inside and was made sturdily of a fabric that was classic/understated or was a novelty I couldn’t get myself.

  59. says:

    I like to buy grocery totes with flat bottoms, love the fabric and the tote you made. I need a new tote to carry library books back and forth. Thanks for the tutorial and for the giveaway.

  60. Sue H
    Sue H says:

    I’m not much of a ” purse person.” But I do love tote bags. I like them big, colorful and pockets on the inside.

  61. Nancy D
    Nancy D says:

    I love large totes that I can stuff lots of things in. But now I think carrying around these large bags have created back problems! Oh well, you can’t have everything 🙂

  62. M. E. Stephens
    M. E. Stephens says:

    I would be tempted to buy a denim purse in a medium size. I’ve had two now and really like them, but they are not always easy to find, nor are they always as sturdy as I’d like.

    Your tote is cute. 🙂

  63. Susan
    Susan says:

    I have to have this fabric! My book club has started up again & this would be a great tote to carry my book & ipad. Hmm, maybe an ipad cover in this fabric too!

  64. Felicia Hamlin
    Felicia Hamlin says:

    I love big bags, the problem is the bigger the bag the more I pdut in it. Your tote is very nice and your tutorial is superb. Thanks for the chance to win. Felicia

  65. Tricia M.
    Tricia M. says:

    I love the tut and the bag!! I recently purchased a feed bag tote and it’s a wonderful get about bag. And it’s Up-cycled which I love. I can put all kinds of things in it from books, groceries or my current hand quilting project. It’s easy to clean too.
    Thank You for the chance to win your wonderful bag.


    • Nicole Sender
      Nicole Sender says:

      I forgot to say I love your bag & would love to have one like it for my library trips. I’ve made one tote in a quilting class.

  66. rikki
    rikki says:

    I am notoriously difficult to buy bags/purses for! I want pockets – some with zippers, some without, maybe even a snap or two. And it can’t be too big or too small – enough to hold a book (or school books if a school bag), but not big enough for me to NEED to go buy other stuff with which to fill it. And it should be fully machine-washable and without velcro. thanks!

  67. vicki seals
    vicki seals says:

    Thanks for sharing how to make your bag. I like to go the the library a lot so a bag would have to be really strudy. I like my purses to have a lot of pockets inside and a cross body handle. Thanks for the giveaway. vickise at gmail dot com

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] While Sewing by Moonlight provides a different take again with her Nancy Drew Blog Hop Library Tote Tutorial. […]

  2. […] When that’s finished, I will finally publish the long ago promised paper piecing pattern for the book I used on the Nancy Drew tote. […]

  3. […] Friday, I had a giveaway for my Nancy Drew tote bag and I promised you a pattern for the paper pieced book I drafted for the […]

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