An archive of sewing tutorials and inspiration


Tree of Knowledge Children's Book Bag Tutorial

If you are visiting from Sew Can She, Welcome! I would love it if you had a look around. My name is Alyssa and I am a Modern Quilting, Graphic Designing, Blogging, Mommy of Two! The Tree of Knowledge Childrens Library Book Bag is a perfect bag for all those trips to the library this summer! tutorial-veritcal-ad  




  • 1/2 Yard Canvas or Home Decor Fabric
  • 1/2 Yard Quilting Cotton Print for Lining
  • fabric charms or scraps for Tree and Alphabet
  • 1/2 Yard HeatnBond Light iron-on adhesive
  • Freezer Paper (I use Reynolds from the Grocery Store)
  • Appliqué Templates (download here)
  • Threads -- contrast thread for appliqué stitching and thread to match your canvas


  • Sewing pins
  • Sharp scissors and/or a rotary cutter/mat set
  • Ruler
  • Marking Pen


Cut each of these pieces
  • 2 - 13" x 13" - Canvas for Front and Back
  • 2 - 15" x 13" - Cotton Print for Inner Lining
  • 1 - 9" x 13" - Canvas for Back Pocket
  • 1 - 10" x 13" - Cotton Print for Back Pocket Lining
  • 1 - 34" x 3.25" - Canvas for Strap
  • 1 - 35" x 3.25" - Cotton Print for Strap
*I suggest starching and pressing your fabric before you begin to cut, this will give you more accurate cutting and piecing.

Preparing Appliqué

*There are many different techniques to appliqué this is just the way I prefer to do it. If you already have your favorite technique, you can skip these steps. 1. Print your templates off your computer. Make sure you are printing at 100%, no scaling. IMG_1558_sm IMG_1559_sm 2. Trace the templates onto the paper side of your freezer paper. (if you use printer freezer paper than just print the templates directly onto your freezer paper) 3. Cut your templates from the freezer paper. IMG_1560_sm 4. Cut a large piece of your HeatnBond. Layout your fabric scraps on the bumpy side of the HeatnBond. Once you have all your pieces laid out cut away any excess HeatnBond. IMG_1562_sm 5. With a Hot, dry iron press the fabric just enough for it to stay in place. Then flip over and finish pressing on the paper side of the Heat and Bond, until your scraps are adhered properly. IMG_1565_sm 6. Layout your template letters waxy side down on the appropriate scrap. (I purposely used large fabric scraps so I would have extra for other projects, I cut two letters from each color scrap) IMG_1567_sm 7. Press the letters on with your iron. IMG_1569_sm IMG_1570_sm 8. Carefully cut all your letters out. (I use freezer paper for my templates because you can reuse them over and over. So be careful when cutting so that you don't ruin them.) IMG_1571_sm 9. Carefully peel the freezer paper off all your templates and put in a ziploc bag to save for another project. IMG_1572_sm 10. Once your freezer templates are all put away, start peeling the heatnbond paper off your templates and throw away. IMG_1574_sm 11. On your 13" x 13" canvas piece layout your tree and letters glossy bonding side down. 12. With a hot dry iron press your tree and letters.

Sewing Appliqué

IMG_1591_sm 1. Thread your machine with your contrast thread of your choice, and set your settings per your machine instructions for Appliqué. * You can do a straight stitch or zig zag stitch whichever you like better. IMG_1592_sm IMG_1595_sm 2. Sew an 1/8" inch inside the tree and each letter. Some tips…
  • Go Slow
  • Try and start on a straight edge
  • On curves keep your machine slow, but turn your fabric quickly, you may find quilting gloves to be handy for this
  • When your ready to turn a corner, make sure your needle is in the down position, lift the presser foot, rotate the fabric, let the presser foot back down and sew.
  • Trim your thread tails long (this is very important!)
  • Don't worry if it isn't perfect :)
IMG_1596_sm 3. To ensure that your stitching stays together we will pull all the threads to the back and knot. Use a quilters needle, and thread your tails then pull through to back of fabric. Once all your tails are on the back tie each set into a knot and trim.

Assembling the Bag

Switch your sewing machine setting to straight stitch piecing, with your matching thread. Back Pocket & Outside 1. Take your 9"x 13" Canvas and 10" x 13" Cotton and line them up backs together and pin. IMG_1578_sm 2. Your Print fabric will be 1" larger than your canvas. Fold that in half and press so that you have an even 1/2". IMG_1581_sm 3. Fold the top 1/2"" over onto your canvas, press and pin in place. IMG_1598_sm IMG_0914_sm 4.Sew around all four edges of your pocket piece with a 1/4" seam. IMG_0915_sm 5. Take your plain 13" x 13" canvas piece lay face up and line up your pocket piece face down and pin. IMG_0916_sm 6. Take your appliquéd 13" x 13" piece and lay face down on your pinned back, line up and pin all three layers together. (make sure your appliqué piece is not upside down) IMG_0918_sm 7. Sew a 1/4" seam around the sides and bottom. IMG_0919_sm IMG_0921_sm 8. Flip inside out and poke corners out with a pencil or pointy tool. Lining and Inner Pocket IMG_0929_sm 1. Either use a 5" Charm Square or cut a 5" square. Press the sides in 1/4" all the way around. 2. Stitch top with a straight stitch. 3. Lay pocket piece on to your cotton print in the position you would like and pin in place. IMG_0930_sm 4. Sew the bottom and sides with either a straight or zig-zag stitch. IMG_0931_sm 5. Take a pen or pencil and place it inside the pocket and pin in place. IMG_0932_sm 6.Take pen out, and use a ruler and marking pen to mark a straight line. Take pins out and sew your line. IMG_0934_sm 7. Pull all your threads to back, knot and trim. IMG_0935_sm 8. Take both inner cotton pieces with right sides together line up and pin. 9. Sew the bottom. When sewing the sides leave 1" unsewn on the top. (This will be folded over) IMG_0937_sm 10. Fold top piece 1/4" and press. IMG_0940_sm 11. Fit your lining in to your outer canvas tightly and pin the bottom corners in place. IMG_0941_sm 12. Fold your extra 1/4" over the canvas on all sides and pin carefully. IMG_0943_sm IMG_0944_sm 13. If your machine has a free arm, this is a good time to use it. Sew your fold in place 1/4" around the top of the bag. Straps IMG_1586_sm IMG_1585_sm 1. Take both your canvas and cotton strap pieces and line up right sides together, leaving a 1/2" of the cotton print hanging off each end. Pin and sew a 1/4" down the length of the strap on each side. IMG_0947_sm IMG_0948_sm 2. Flip the strap right side out, press and sew another 1/4" down the length of the strap on each side. IMG_0951_sm 3. Fold the ends of the strap in a 1/4"  and press. Fold again a 1/4", press, pin and sew in place. IMG_0953_sm 4. With a ruler mark 2 1/2" in from the ends of the strap. You will line your mark up with the top of the bag, so that 2 1/2" will be inside the bag. Pin strap ends in place. IMG_0957_xm IMG_0959_sm IMG_0958_sm 5.Sew a square block. With a ruler mark and x in your box, and sew. (This helps the strap when carrying lots of books) And your done! Enjoy! IMG_1633_sm
Alyssa Williams

Alyssa Williams

Creator of Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.