Hi, my name is Carmen. Welcome to Beyond The Fringe!

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Apr 1, 2015

Trendy Book Tote by Renske

Hi there,

I know it hasn't been long, but I'm here to share my latest project with you. My youngest son has a girlfriend he's been dating for over a year now. She's the sweetest little thing you ever met and I think she'll be around a long, long time. :) 

A little while ago she asked me if I would teach her how to sew. I thought that would be fun, so we set a couple of dates to do that and I suggested she look online for a free pattern. Well, she found the best pattern ever. She was looking for a sturdy book bag as she's attending University. 

We downloaded the pattern and I drew it up (it was a pattern with measurements that you had to make up yourself). The nice thing about this pattern is that it's made of canvas. I had a bunch in my stash that we used and she chose some black fabric for the bottom of the bag from my stash as well. The canvas is perfect for this project as it's strong and sturdy. 

We followed the pattern pretty much to the tee, except for a few changes. This bag is lined inside as well. 

She found the original pattern on Design Sponge. It's a DIY project called Renske's Minimalist Tote Bag, with full instructions included. If you like it, go and check it out!

I immediately fell in love with this pattern because of the way the bag closes. How innovative is that?! It's a great closure and it adds a fun and trendy uniqueness to the tote. I thought it was genius on Renske's part!
Some of the changes we made: 

We made the handles out of canvas. Pretty much winged it, actually. Katie decided she wanted shorter handles so that the tote sat right at her side. 

The handles in the pattern are attached with rivets, but we used heavy duty snaps. Since the handles were a bit shorter, this worked well just in case she had a larger book to put inside it.

We changed the height of the bottom portion of the bag so that it would be more noticeable. Because it's a black fabric, this gave the illusion that the bag is skinnier than it truly is, which we didn't think about at the time, but which doesn't take away from it at all. It's kind of cute.

We also put a row of stitching around the top of the bag to hold the lining in place better. It just finishes everything off better in my opinion. 

Well, thanks so much for a great pattern, Renske. I absolutely love it and I plan to make more. I already have something in mind for the next one. :) 


I'm cutting back on a lot of my craft supplies, but with all the orders I have for my cosmetic and sewing bags, I have had to buy some current fabrics that will work for those projects. Don't worry, I will use all of this up. No more hoarding. Promise.

Ahhhhh....I LOVE looking at these colors and designs! I also got some darker colors...feels so good!

Here's a few cut up and ready to go...2 of them are almost finished already.

I've been busy. 

Well, I think I'll end the post here. In the next while I'll be sewing up about 8 of the cosmetic /sewing /crocheting /jewelry bags and will post them here when they're done. 

See you then!


  1. Sounds like a fun time! Love the bag and your fabric! Have a great day!

  2. Carmen, not only did you make a great looking bag, you made a lovely memory with a special girl.
    Have a blessed Easter.

    1. Awww, thanks Teresa! That's so true! You know, I was supposed to teach her how to sew, but I did most of it. I didn't even realize until afterwards. She may need another session. Lol! Love that girl...she's a sweetheart!

  3. This is an adorable bag. So versatile. And what a way to spend some time with someone who may become a permanent part of your life (actually, I'm still friends with my stepson's first fiance--it didn't work out for them, but we built a fantastic relationship). I can't wait to see your next project together.

    1. I had to laugh, because I'm the same way. I get too attached! It may be because I had 4 boys, no girls...and now I want to keep some of the girls they bring home. Good thing 3 of them are married now. I have awesome DIL's!! :)

  4. Awesome bag. Btw, can you show me the pattern to make this bag? :) thank you.

  5. Awesome bag. Btw, can you show me the pattern to make this bag? :) thank you.

    1. I added the link in the post above: "renskes minimalist tote bag" it's a quick easy project to make!


Thanks for the comments!