Our Literary Library Totes

I’ve been wanting the kids to have dedicated library bags for a while now. I figured that the bags will help them keep track of their books, and hoped they’d add an element of excitement for Oliver, my 3 (almost 4) yr old. Historically, he hasn’t been very easy to take to the library. What do I mean by “not easy”? Think screaming meltdowns that have me leaving empty handed and full of shame. I was hoping that the bags would add a little distraction, and make choosing his books in that quiet, orderly place a little more fun.

Mr. Tickle library totes

Knowing how big of fans my kids are of the Mr. Men and Little Miss books, Charlie called me from Target immediately upon discovering Mr. Men schwag in the dollar bins. When she said they had book totes, that was it for me! I headed over there the very next day, and the kids and I picked out some neat little things like note pads, pens, and stickers, all with those loveable Mr. Men characters like Mr. Happy, Mr. Grumpy, Little Miss Chatterbox, and Little Miss Sunshine.

I couldn’t resist the Mr. Happy note pad for the refrigerator. And Zip It Zippers? You’re welcome for the inadvertent endorsement. You deserve it, ’cause you rule.

Now, they did have little book totes in a few different characters, but no Mr. Tickle. Mr. Tickle is a favorite in this house (remember the Mr. Tickle stuffed toy that Max and I made?). Both kids were really hopeful, then disappointed when there wasn’t a Mr. Tickle bag. Of course, as he always does, Max said, “Let’s just make one ourselves!” I said, “No way! Not only are we not making one, but now you get NOTHING!” Yeah right. If you’re a faithful reader of our blog, you know that’s not true. What I really said was, “Okay, let’s do it…” with only a slight hint of resignation.

And as always, I’m glad I did.

We stopped by the fabric store on our way home, and picked up a yard of orange felt from the bolt for only $5. I didn’t realize it was a 72″ wide yard, so I have A TON of orange felt leftover. Perhaps I’ll be inspired to do something with it for Halloween…

Oliver, with his Tickle Tote.

I chose felt because I thought it would be fairly strong, stiff and easy to work with, and I could leave some edges raw without worry of them fraying or raveling. That would mean less work for me.

A bonus of the felt is that you can arrange the arms, and they’ll “stick”.

I took enough pics to include a tutorial on how I made the bag, but Lindsay already made such a detailed tutorial on making a t-shirt tote bag, and Charlie did a shorter one as well, so I thought it unnecessary. I will say to please check Lindsays tutorial, or another tutorial on the subject to see how to do the corners of the bag if you don’t already know. It will have a much better shape and hold books better if you take this quick, extra step.

Here you can see the structure that the extra little step gives.

I used a Highlights magazine to size the bag, and it ended up being perfect. The finished dimensions are 11″ by 12″, and the straps were 25 inches long each, before attaching them. One thing Lindsay and Charlie’s tutorials don’t include (since they started with t-shirts instead of raw fabric) is reinforcing the straps for strength. This step is easy, you just sew a box with a square in the middle.

Be sure to reinforce the straps for strength

These totes are perfect for the library. They did what I’d hoped they’d do in adding a little extra excitement for Oliver, my little one. I had the kids place their books in their bags as they chose them, and then they took their bags to the checkout. It gave Oliver routine and responsibility that he hadn’t had before.

It cracked me up how scrupulous he was about what went into his bag. And, of course, one of the 2 books that he chose was one we already have at home. Toddlers.

Plus, they looked cute carrying them around. (Yes, my children lie on public floors. Deal with it.)

Oh yeah, and as a bonus, I sewed a pocket into the back of Max’s (my 10 yr old’s) bag just for his library card. If he always keeps it there, and he always takes his bag to the library, he’ll always have his card.

The librarian loved the bags and was impressed with our system. It worked great, and everyone was happy! At home, they keep their books in the bags when they are not using them, so we won’t have to do a big search when it comes time to go back to the library. We always know where our books are. We’ll just grab the bags, and off we’ll go!

Oliver, walking to the checkout, books in tote. =)

You could make a tote like this with any of your kids favorite characters. Just think abstract. The rectangle shape of the bag is the whole head, so just stick the face on there. You could do a yellow bag, and make it Pikachu or Spongebob, or a red bag and make it Elmo or Clifford the Dog. I could see this as a “Wimpy Kid” bag, an Incredible Hulk bag, or with some extra cunning, even a Mario Brother’s bag. If you make one, let me know, and I’d love for you to share links to pics in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Our Literary Library Totes

      • I just really did smile when looking at how adorable and responsible and calm Oliver looks when carrying his tote with his books to the checkout. Ditto on the “survival mechanism designed by nature” theory. Oliver’s cuteness definitely outweighs his intensity. And he can be pretty intense, so you know how cute he has to be! By the way, he is as warm and affectionate as he is cute! …………..Just an unbiased opinion (right!) from Oliver’s grandma.

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