vinyl water-resistant book bag

I made this little water resistant bag to carry Smootch's library books way back in December, when, after two months of rain, it was beginning to look like it might not actually let up for the whole winter. Guess what? It's still raining! I feel smug with my most uncharacteristic preparation for the elements. Smug, but wet.

(Hey, look, the pic from the banner! Can you tell I've had this tutorial planned for awhile now?)

The bag is of the simplest construction, to minimize the number of potential water-leaking seams, made from a repurposed vinyl packaging, double-fold bias tape, fabric and an Eric Carle inspired applique to keep with the whole wet theme. The fish actually sits behind a vinyl panel, so it looks nicely shiny and water-esque.

The original vinyl packaging came to us wrapped around a dress up surgeon's outfit.

There are three plastic snaps securing the flap to the bag, very handy. The vinyl bag also has a big hole the bottom where a hanger to hold the dress-up outfit on the shelf, otherwise I might have been able to use this for storage. Though, in truth, I've got all the storage I need, and still more vinyl packaging.

If you do not have the exact same type of packaging as I did, you can cut out the pieces from any vinyl packaging and add snaps or velcro of your own to keep the bag secure.

The bag is constructed from two pieces of vinyl, with corresponding fabric pieces. I began by securing my flap into bag-ready position and used a sharpie to outline my bag. For sizing, I grabbed one of Smootch's larger picture books then added an inch of all sides.

Essentially I ended up with two rectangles:
back piece: 11" wide by 15" long
front piece: 11" wide by 11.5" long

Then two rectangles of fabric of the same dimensions were cut. Keep in mind that the back fabric will be seen in the front as it comes down with the flap when choosing your fabrics.

The strap is a fabric strip 24" by 2.75". Prep the strap by stitching the long edges together, right sides together to form a tube. Turn the tub right side out and press flat.

The next step is to embellish the fabric front piece. To keep the snaps functional, the front fabric lies behind the vinyl panel while the back fabric is on top of the vinyl panel. I chose a fish applique to create a oceanic illusion, with the fish swimming inside of the bag. The Eric Carle theme came about because an Eric Carle book just happened to be right in front of me when I was thinking about it. Plus, Eric Carle's work lends itself brilliantly to applique work, being all textured and patterned mosaics. I loved making this applique and want to mine children's books for more inspirations.

With the applique done, the actual bag construction goes more or less easily, depending on your comfort level with bias tape. If you hate bias tape, this is your project! I can't imagine an easier way to gaining some mastery over the bias tape than this straight seamed, oh so friendly to sew, grippy vinyl bag.

First, before the bias tape comes out, machine baste the fabric panels to the vinyl (try using paper clips to 'pin' the fabric to the vinyl):

Stitch the right side to the vinyl on the front (so that the applique shows through the vinyl). (Also clean out any little fluffs or strings before you start, otherwise you'll be looking at them forever and if you're like me, it will drive you nuts.)

Stitch the wrong side of the back fabric to the back vinyl piece.

Bring out the strap and stitch it to the fabric side of the back piece, right where your panel will bend (11.5" from the bottom edge).

Now, time for the bias tape! When I use bias tape, I usually sew it on with two seams. First I open up the tape, and machine baste the raw edge to the fabric, right sides together. Then the tape is folded up and top stitched into position.

The top edges of both panels are the first to be covered. Cut two pieces of double fold bias tape each 11" long. Stitch to the tops of the panels.

The next step is to align the bottom edges of the front and back panels (fabric front side to vinyl back side) and cover the bottom edge with 11" worth of bias tape.

The very last step is to cover the side edges. Cut two 16" long pieces of bias tape. The extra length is for tucking the ends of the tape in inside to neatly finish the top and bottom edges.

And you're done! One easy little book bag that laughs in the face of rain and snow.


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  1. ANother fab tutorial. WE never get anything in vinyl packaging but these tutorials you've posted kinda make me wish we did.

    I really like your blog and all the tutorials. They're helping me throw away the patterns and become more comfortable with changing things to suit me. With that in mind I've tagged you over on my blog in what seems to be a game of blog tag. I hope you don't mind.

  2. Thanks for sharing! This looks so fun... and easy :D

  3. What about the really cute chenille jacket/poncho she is wearing?

  4. this is super smart! Thanks for the tute!

  5. To be honest, I dont always follow your tutorials; you and I must not think alike. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE your ideas for repurposing things and can usually achieve a positive end result. Thank you so much for posting such awesome ideas!!

    Here's my library book bag (sooo appropriate that you posted this when you did, I had just had a near miss with a LARGE bottle full of water and our borrowed books!!):

    I also tried your monster stepstool and have gotten MANY compliments on it!

  6. Thanks everybody!

    Anon, That's an acrylic yarn knitted poncho we picked up at a thrift store. It's very yellow :)

    Beyond Blessed, people seem to like our monster stepping stool too. It's just a little bit unexpected. I thought I was going to make something a bit tamer, but I've grown quite attached to the monster.

  7. As always, I love everything you make. And I have GOBS of vinyl packaging at my house because I knew there must be some way to make stuff out of it. My husband will be delighted. :)

  8. This is a timely tutorial for me. I just purchased my son a new bed set, so we have several vinyl bags to make use of. I couldn't bring myself to toss them out, but wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Thanks! Melissa

  9. Oh! i like so much your blog!! and your ideas!!
    Kisses from Spain.

  10. This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing it!!

    I blogged your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


  11. Awesome! My daughter would love her own library book bag. Another one to add to the project list. Thanks for the tute!

  12. This is wonderful, I plan to try a vinyl lining fo ryour backpack tutorial which my son has asked me to make! We home ed too and don't drive, so I'm hoping it'll encourage him to share the load....

    thank you for all the gorgeous patterns, ideas and inspiration.