Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Backpack Pattern

I work full-time, so my 2 boys go to Mimi's house every day. They usually want to take a favorite toy (more accurately 5 or 6) with them. We are usually in a hurry to get out the door and it's chaotic. I thought if they had their own bags to put their stuff in, maybe we could make it out the door a little smoother.
For Earth Day, I made them messenger style bags out of a pair of cargo pants. They might have worked, except I called them "treasure bags" and lined them with polyurethane laminate (one of my better ideas-- easier clean up for muddy treasures). So now they can only be used when we need treasure bags, not for every day! This time I decided I wanted to make backpacks. I couldn't find a free pattern that I liked, so I made my own.

Treasure Bag, made from Cargo Pants!

I am an amateur seamstress, so I'm not going to share a full tutorial. I will share the pattern I made and some of how I put it together. I sew by trial and error, so there is probably an easier way to sew it than I did! I will try to answer questions, as best I can. :)

Supply List:
2-4 pieces cut out of the pattern
a strip of fabric 4" wide (at least) x 39" long
16-18" zipper
D rings
straps, a handle and 2 strips of fabric for the D rings


For this project, I used denim and scrap material I had in my sewing stash, but you could easily make this using fat quarters or other material. Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you may want to use a thicker interfacing to provide stability. I put the interfacing on the interior lining fabric.


After you cut out your pieces and before you add the interior lining, you will want to sew on most of your embellishments. I saved 2 to cover my zipper ends because I could never get the ends lined up inside the seams.


I attached everything with an overlock stitch to prevent the jeans and cotton fabrics from fraying, especially since they made need to be washed a time or two.


I chose not to center the zipper, but it could easily be altered. I'm still learning the best way to install zippers. 


My straps came from reusable bags that had broken. I had planned on using tarp straps I found at a garage sale, but I couldn't resist thrifting the broken bag. On the second bag, I used nylon straps I found with the ribbons in the fabric department at Wal-Mart. I attached them different to see if it was easier before or after the bag was assembled. I found it easier to attach them at the end. The downside is the stitches show up on the interior fabric.


For the handle, I used a strip of the jeans' waistband. I slid the strap in and attached both to the bag at the same time. To secure the other end of the straps, I used D rings. I attached them using some belt loops from the jeans.


The back of the bag:


I don't have any action shots because the bag on the left is a Christmas present and the bag on the right is a December birthday present.


The bag on the left is slightly larger. I cut the pattern 1/2" wider and the center strip is 2" wider. It also has a longer zipper. It's for my tall 4 year old. The bag on the right is for my small 2 year old.


Download the FREE Backpack pattern 

Written by guest blogger: Sarah Johnson


My husband and I have been married for 10 years and have 2 boys, ages 4 and 2. I am the 4th generation to work in my family's small business as the office manager. I started sewing when I was 8 yrs old. I love creating something new from recycled or re-purposed materials. I try to post my projects on my blog, A smaller footprint.

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A.Wilson said...

What a neat idea! I love those backpacks you made.

Anonymous said...

this really cool. I would not have thought to make backpacks from blue jeans. Very creative idea!

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