I am having a hard time believing that this coming Monday is Memorial Day, and with it the unofficial start to the summer season. In a normal year, I wouldn’t need the calendar to remind me of the start of the season; I would be able to tell by the flurry of activity in my small coastal Maine town. As we all know, nothing is normal right now. This year is definitely different: the local beach finally opened up last week after being closed for 2 months, and there is a quiet sense of activity and anticipation as seasonal homes are being aired out, and local businesses and restaurants are preparing to, once again, open their doors. Soon.
I love the summer season. When you live on the coast, this is the season you dream about and endure long, harsh winters for. What’s not to love about spending warm sunny days near the ocean! And what could be more synonymous with a day at the beach than a “bean” bag–an L.L.Bean tote bag. The beach and their bags just go together–especially when you’re in Maine.
I have spent this past week working on creating my own paper version of the classic L.L.Bean tote bag, and I decided the best way to show you what I came up with was to create a step-by-step tutorial. I promise you there will be more pictures that yada-yada, so not to worry!
I started by looking online at the traditional L.L.Bean tote bag, and making a list of what features make their bag so iconic. This is the list I came up with:
- Neutral bag color
- Solid contrasting bag base and all-in-one bag straps and handles
- Triangle-shaped contrast on sides of bag
- White stitching on bag base and side straps/handles
- Front pocket
- Logo label to right of pocket
The one and only L.L.Bean bag I have ever owned looks just like the one pictured above, with the addition of a front pocket and a logo label to the right of the pocket. I have added these two features to my list.
This is one of their current bag choices, and it has the front pocket and logo label to give you a visual reference.
Keeping my list in mind, I started working on my bag. Luckily I didn’t have to start from scratch–I was given a tutorial for a L.L.Bean bag by a fellow Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Mary Kate Scott, at a stamping event she hosted last Fall. She used her bag, which was her original design, to hold raffle tickets, and she graciously shared her pattern instructions with me after the event. I pulled out her instructions and took a closer look at her version. Mary Kate’s bag was designed to hold 3 1/2″ x 5″ notecards, so it was fairly tall. She used ribbon for the all-in-one bag straps and handles, and included a plain front pocket on which she stamped her initials.
Using her measurements and instructions, I made a prototype bag. After I was finished, I knew I wanted to make some changes to the design–namely, I wanted to shorten the overall height of the bag; I wanted to use cardstock for the side straps and handles; I wanted to use patterned paper for the front pocket; and I wanted to add a logo tag. What follows is the tutorial for my version of a L.L.Bean bag. NOTE: Cutting instructions will be provided at the end of this post.
The basic bag structure is made using a pattern that has been around for a long time called Box in a Bag. It involves making a simple box and then wrapping a strip of paper around the outside of the box to form the bag. This is what it looks like when it’s finished:
and this is what it looks like from the inside:
I chose white as my neutral bag color, and navy for my solid contrasting color. Make sure that when you are making your box that you glue the box tabs to the outside of the box, so that you look at a seam-free box on the inside. I also started wrapping the white strip of paper in 11/16ths inch from the left side of one of the long sides of the box. This way the paper seam can be covered up by a side strap. (more info to follow on this)
I made the pocket out of navy gingham paper and added a thin strip of red paper at the top. I centered it on the long side of the bag with the seam. I made marks at 7/8″ and 2 7/8″; measuring from the left side of the bag, and adhered the pocket between those two marks. Make these same measurement marks on the back side of the bag.
BAG STRAPS & LOGO TAG
I cut 4 strips of navy paper for the bag straps that are the same height as the bag, and my logo tag was made out of a small square of red paper. I scored the tag so that I would have a tab to glue under the outside edge of the right side strap, and I added navy stars as my “logo”.
I started adhering the side straps with the one to the right of the pocket. Before I stuck it down, I held it up to the bag and attached the logo tag at the height of the pocket.
The other 3 straps were attached–the strap to the left of the pocket nicely covers up the seam, and the back 2 straps were attached to the outside of the measurement marks I made earlier. I purposely placed the seam in the front of the bag, so that when you look inside, the back of the bag is clean and seamless–its just more professional looking.
The handles were cut from navy paper and are the same width as the side straps. I measured down 1/2″ from the top of the bag and made 2 marks on the inside of the side straps. I curled each handle strip and attached each end on top of the side straps just shy of the 1/2″ marks. I followed the same steps for the back handle.
The final step is to wrap navy bands around the top and bottom of the bag. This not only helps to create the illusion of the contrasting bag base, but the bands also cover up the handle seams and unfinished edges.
Tada–my L.L.Bean bag is finished and I”m so excited– it looks so authentic! I didn’t end up adding the white stitching or the triangle side pieces–this is a small bag and there isn’t room for the triangle pieces, and I thought the white stitching might detract from the clean look of the design.
Now that I had the design and measurements solidified, I made several more bags. I couldn’t help myself!
I couldn’t have a navy bag without making a red one, and I’m glad I did. I love the red version, and I think it’s because the L.L.Bean bag I own is red and white.
I also made a few in pastel colors, and I embossed the word “Enjoy” in white embossing powder for the logo tags on these bags.
That’s it my friends–we are at the end of my “bean” bag story. I so appreciate you stopping by today, and I hope you are all healthy and in good spirits as your part of the country begins to slowly open up. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and, as always, remember:
“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”
- Box: 2 1/2″ x 4 3/4″; score each side at 1/2″
- Bag: 3 1/4″ x 11″
- Pocket: 2″ x 1 7/8″
- Pocket Accent: 1/8″ x 2″
- Side Straps x 4: 1/2″ x 3 1/4″
- Logo Tag: 5/8″ x 5/8″; score at 3/8″
- Handles x 2: 1/2″ x 7″
- Contrast Bands: 1/2″ x 11″