Crafts · Sewing

New Bookbag

bagSince starting school again in September, my craft time has been greatly cut back. However, holidays are plentiful in Germany, and after only 6 weeks of classes, it was time for our 2 week long fall vacation… I love you Germany!

Anyways, as the books and notes pile on, I’ve been struggling with fitting everything into my current satchel (it was kind of round… not too good for textbooks and binders), so I decided to make my own. I’ve wanted to sew the Urban Tote from Bag-n-Tell for a long time (see this post), and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

I grabbed my fabric from Ikea (I wanted something tough enough to hold all my books, so I chose some thick upholstery fabric), and all my bits (zippers, clasps, webbing) from the Turkish market. My grand total coming to 21€ – nice!

I really loved the free tutorial from Bag-n’tell (here), but I definitely found it to be tough to follow. As a self-taught sewer, I find purely written instructions really difficult to understand… I had to do a lot of re-reading and youtube-ing.


For the majority of the time I stuck closely to the tutorial, but I did make some changes.

  • I skipped the leatherette trim parts, this didn’t match my fabric.
  • Although I drafted and made the cell phone pocket, I never bother to attach it. I felt it was too big and bulky, plus I’d rather keep my phone somewhere a bit safer, or at least behind a zipper.
  • I originally made and attached to utility pocket and flap, but was not really impressed with how it looked. I preferred the sleeker/safer envelope pocket. Instead I removed the utility pocket, attached another zipper (16cm) and reattached it without the flap, much better (though I did make the rookie mistake of having my zippers open in 2 different directions… oh well).
  • I never did attached a snap to the wallet pocket, and I probably won’t. I like how handy it is, and I often find myself using it to quickly shove my gloves or water bottle in, no snap needed.
  • After using the bag for 2 days, I realized I really missed having a “secret” pocket on the inside of the bag, so I added one of those too. This was pretty awkward to do, but I managed. I placed the pocket on the inner side of the bag with the notebook pocket, so that all the seams were hidden. Due to the limited space/mobility, I could only machine stitch up 3 sides, and was forced to hand-stitch one of the sides (oh well, no one will ever notice inside anyways). The pocket dimensions I used were 25cm width, with 18 cm height, with a 21 cm zipper.


Notes for next time: I’m sure I’ll make another one of these bags, they are great! Though, I’ll definitely be making some more changes.

  • I’ve been using this bag for about 3 weeks now, and I’ve already had to wash it twice. It is a really light colour and gets really dirty.  I’ve always found totes with leather bases attractive, but I never clued in to the functionality. They prevent the bottom of your bag from getting a dirty when you rest it down on the ground (or in my case in my bike basket). Next bag I make will definitely have a darker leather/pleather bottom section.

Overall, I’m really happy with the bag!!! Check it out!




One thought on “New Bookbag

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