I was having a hard time finding a backpack that both the Little Miss and I liked for her to take to preschool this year, so I decided to try my hand at making one and ended up with a backpack we both LOVE! It makes me happy that I sent her off to school for the first time with something I put so much love and effort into, almost like a part of me went with her. This is her 'to school' backpack since she has never been before, but it could be your child's 'back to school' backpack - find out how to make your own using the tutorial below!
1. Mix and match fabric (see pattern piece sizes and cut amounts below)
2. Thread to match
3. 1 1/2 yards bias tape
4. About 2 yards 1" wide polyester straps (length depends on how long you want the straps and handle)
5. A pair of magnetic snaps
6. Four 1" metal D-rings.
Notes on what materials I used: I used duck cloth for the main body of my bag (the oatmeal and yellow fabric), if you choose to use a lighter-weight fabric you may want to add interfacing - even mine would have benefited from it although it's fine. The geometric fabric I used on the flap is a vintage scrap I had on hand. Since it was a little bit see-through I backed it with a piece of duck cloth, otherwise you would have been able to see the magnetic snap backing through it. The bias tape is faux-leather. I bought all of the supplies (other than the geometric fabric) at Joann Fabrics.
1. Cut out pattern pieces in the fabric(s) of your choice.
- Cut four 13"x16" pieces. They will be the main body of the backpack, two for the outside and two for the lining. On my backpack they are the oatmeal-colored fabric.
- Cut three 13"x9" pieces. One of them will be the front pocket, on my backpack it is in yellow, and the other two will be the front and back of the flap, on my backpack they are in geometric print and yellow.
- Cut two 4"x5" pieces. These are the loops on either side to hold the D-rings. On my backpack they are in yellow.
- Cut one 9"x6 1/2" piece, or simply fold the 13"x9" piece in half. This is the inside pocket, and the size may be altered depending on how big or small you would like the pocket. On my backpack it is in yellow on the inside.
2. Sew bias along top of outer pocket piece. Baste sides and bottom to right-side of outer front piece.
3. Take the loop pieces and fold them in half to form a crease down the middle, open it up then fold each side to the middle crease, then fold entire piece in half so only the ends are raw edges. Top stitch around all four sides. Put two metal D-rings on each loop and baste ends together. Baste finished loops to front piece on top of the front pocket facing in as pictured, 4 inches up from the bottom.
4. Using a protractor, round the bottom edges of the two flap pieces 2" up and over.
6. Following the directions on the back of the magnetic snap packaging, insert the top half (or 'male' portion) where you would like them inside the flap, making sure they are on the bottom, or underside of the flap. Baste the top of the flap closed.
7. Baste handle and straps to the top of the right-side of the outer back piece. (Note: after I took these pictures I decided to move my straps in more as you may notice on the finished bag).
8. Using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew flap across the top of the outer back piece, right-sides together. Press seam up.
9. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew outer front and outer back pieces right-sides together around sides and bottom. Place the straps in the middle to avoid sewing them into the seams. Also make sure not to sew up onto the flap at the top of both sides - the front piece will be longer than the back piece at the top (see pictures), so you will be left with a little flap on front. Back-stitch when you go over the loops and bias of the front pocket to make them more secure. Flip bag right-side out and press all seams.
(Note: I changed my seam allowance to 1/4" after these pictures were taken in order to widen the bag, the pictures show a 1/2" seam allowance).
11. Add bias along the top of inside pocket. Iron the sides and bottom under. You can use a fabric pen and ruler to add lines for pockets, pencil slots, etc. as wanted. Sew onto right-side of back lining piece, back-stitching at the top of each line.
12. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew front and back lining pieces right-sides together. Turn right-side out, press seams.
13. Add 1 1/2" gussets to both outside bag and lining bag bottom corners. To do this turn the bags wrong-side out again, place your hand into the corner and flatten the corner into a triangle with the seam running down the middle. Using a ruler measure 1 1/2" from the point where the seams meet down each side and draw a line straight across. Sew along this line. Press seam. You may also tack them down if you'd like, but don't cut them off as they will help give shape and substance to the bottom of your backpack.
15. Pull the outer bag out of the lining bag through the opening, and then flip the lining bag right-side out. Stuff the lining bag into place inside the outer bag.
16. Press the top seam, and hand stitch opening closed. Remove any baste stitches that may be showing along the seams.
17. Last, hem strap ends to prevent fraying. Thread them through the D-rings, adjusting length to fit.
The finished backpack measures about 12" wide by15" tall and about 2 1/4" deep.