Friday, August 9, 2013

The Girl Scout Leader Tote Bag

The first day of school is just days away. Four days away, to be exact. And that means that Girl Scout meetings and all that involves are also just around the corner. Last year I found myself constantly switching between bags that never fully met my needs for our troop meetings and events. I also have several pins and patches that I wanted to display somewhere but, because I'm not sporting a Daisy vest like the girls, I had nowhere to put them. To solve both problems, I decided to make myself a new tote bag devoted specifically to Girl Scouts. This bag was a fun challenge because it involved several techniques that are somewhat new to me: a lined bag with a zipper closure, boxed bottom for that bag, and freezer paper stenciling. Now I'm going to show you how I did it all so that you can make your own super fun tote bag to meet your specific needs.


I went to my favorite used crafts store and found a light blue paisley cotton and a khaki colored corduroy that I thought would work well for what I wanted to make. I also grabbed a few bottles of fabric paint. I didn't end up using the turquoise paint this time but I'm sure another project will turn up that it will be perfect for.

I let the amount of fabric I bought dictate the size of my bag. From each of my fabrics I cut two rectangles 22" x 14". I also cut a piece of my paisley fabric 18" x 10" for the inside pockets.

I pressed  the top and side edges of my pocket 1/4" and then another 1/4". Then I topstitched along just the top edge of the pocket.

Centering the pocket on one of the paisley pieces, with the bottom edges lined up, I attached the pocket along the sides. Then I divided my big pocket into three smaller pockets with a few more lines of stitching.

The next step was to attach the zipper. I was lucky that I had a 22" green zipper in my stash just waiting for a project like this. I sewed it, upside down, to the long sides of my paisley pieces.

Then I turned it over and sewed it, right side up, to my corduroy.

Now all of my main fabric pieces were attached together.


For this bag, I thought it would be fun to do freezer paper stenciling like Little Boy Blue's 4th of July shirt. This time I went with the classic Girl Scout symbol, the Trefoil. The design was recently revamped but I used the old one because it just feels "right" to me.

Freezer paper stenciling is so easy and fun, anyone can do it. First, print or draw your design. Then trace it onto freezer paper and cut out your design.

Iron your freezer paper onto your fabric, shiny side down. It will create a tight seal on the fabric.

Paint over the blank spaces.

After it is completely dry, peel off your stencil.

Voila! Heat seal the paint with your iron. That green nose in the middle looks a little wonky but I fixed it later.


While my paint was drying, I made the straps for my bag. I had enough corduroy left over to cut out two strips, 28" x 4". I wanted the straps to be just a tad longer so I also cut out four squares of the paisley, 4 1/2" x 4".

I attached paisley squares to each end of the straps.

Pin, Sew, Press, Topstitch

Much better.

To make my straps sturdier, I ironed a piece of interfacing to half of the wrong side of each strap. Then I folded my straps in half lengthwise and pinned them, right sides facing.

I sewed my straps along the pinned edge before turning them right side out.

And finished them up with a good pressing and topstitch along the sides.


Finally, it was time to finish assembling my bag. With the right sides of my inside fabric pinned together on one side of the zipper and the right sides of my outside fabric pinned together on the other side of the zipper, I sewed around the edge of the whole thing. I left a small hole at the bottom of my interior paisley fabric so I could turn it right side out.

Then I folded each of the four corners like in the picture below. I drew a line from one side of the triangle to the other side, 5" long.

I sewed along the line and trimmed off the excess. This created the box bottom shape on the tote bag.

Now it was time to turn it all right side out.

And press it smooth.

I fixed that nose. See?
I attached the straps and then my bag was complete.



I am so happy with my new tote bag.

Look at all the pocket space!

On the front I put a few of my special pins.

And on the back I sewed on some of my favorite patches, like the fun patch from our Mommy & Me scavenger hunt back in May.

2012 was the 100th year of Girl Scouts. When I was a Brownie, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Girl Scouts. I love that I have that patch and wanted to display it near a 100 years patch... but I didn't want to remove it from my sash.

A quick search on EBay revealed a brand new "Celebrate 75 Years" patch exactly like the one I received way back in 1987. Score!

 I Girl Scouting!



  1. I have been searching for months for a bag like this to display my very old patches and carry my leader stuff but there is no way I'm crafty enough to pull this off. How much would you charge to make another? I'd make it worth your while!

    1. I would be happy to make a leader bag for you! Please message me at and we can talk about a bag that will fit your needs. :)

  2. So Cute! Do you have any available?