How To Make A Backpack

Prepare yourself for a loooooong post!

Backpacks are quite annoying imo- it takes about ten minutes every time you need to get your purse out, however they are a lot more comfortable than carrying a heavy shoulder bag and really useful for the gym, cycling, etc.  I wanted a little one for going cycling and I couldn’t find one in the shops I liked so I decided to make my own.  My first one was good (a combo of giraffe print and denim) but a little too small and the straps were a little tight.  But on my next attempt I was able to fix all these things- this time I went for blue camouflage and black corduroy.  I figured out how to make a lined backpack with straps, and a flap over the opening, it’s not hard just fiddly to do everything in the right way and order so here goes:

Backpack1. Cut out your pieces, I made my bag approximately 42cm x 65cm so I cut out two rectangles in the fabric that were 42cm x 65cm with some extra for seam allowance, and two in the lining fabric that were 45cm x 65cm and some seam allowance ( the three centimeters extra in the lining in for the drawstring.  You also need two straps, I made mine 65cm x 5cm (and seam allowance) and cut two in the fabric and two in the lining.  Then you need the flap over the bag opening, I made it a rhombus shape (yes I said rhombus, deal with it) which is 34cm along the top edge and 20cm high.  You also need cord, toggles, and backpack clips (which I got at the market).

2. Sew the strap fabric to the strap lining right sides together along the long edges (you don’t need to worry about the short edges, and turn the right way around.

3. If you are using back pack clips you will need to attached them to the font piece of you bag now.  You also need to attach some fabric strips to the other half of the clips (the half that will attach to the flap).  And if you have any pockets to put on the front add them now too.

Backpack4. Make the flap by sewing the outer fabric to the lining right sides together and sewing along the side seams.  Now take the flap clips and attach them to the flap by inserting them between the fabric and lining at the open bottom edge.  When you sew them in place you shouldn’t be able to see them, they should be hidden inside the flap rather than hanging out the edge.  Then turn it the right way around, and the clips will hang out.

5. Take the main bag pieces and sew the outer fabric pieces right sides together along the side seams, and then do the same for the lining.  Turn the bag the right way out but keep the lining inside out, then place the fabric bag inside the lining bag.

6. Take a long piece of your lining fabric for your drawstring (the size of this depends on the size of your bags but it needs to be double the width of your bag plus a few extra centimeters for seam allowance (so in my case about 70cm long) and about 4 cm wide. Fold in half width ways (so it is long and thin) wrong sides together.

7. Ok, this is the tricky bit!  You need to sandwich all these pieces together but in the correct order.  Take the bag body at the top edge with the bag faced down (remember you attached the clips to the bag front already and use those as your guide as to what’s the front and top of the bag).


Between the lining and the bag place the straps (placed one at each side next to the side seams and with the outer fabric facing up, and the strap lining facing down).  On top of the straps place the flap (with the open end of the flap at the top of the bag, with the outer fabric of the flap facing down).  The the drawstring tube- find the half way point of the tube and match it to the center of the back of the bag.  You should now have a bag sandwich that goes outer fabric, strap, flap, tube, lining and all of these elements should be hidden inside the bag.  Pin all this in place.

8. Turn the bag over- still working on the top of the bag but now the front.  Carry on pinning the draw string tube inbetween the bag and lining.  Then sew through all the layers attaching the bag and lining together.

9. Now start working on the bottom of the bag.  Find the ends of the shoulder straps and pull them out of the bottom of the bag- make sure they aren’t twisted.  Pin the straps in place.

10.  Reach inside the lining bag and pull out the outer bag and sew along the bottom edge of the bag including the straps you have pinned in place.  Place the bag back inside the lining and sew the bottom edge of the lining leaving a hole about 5cm wide.


11. Now reach through the hole and pull the entire bag out- check it over carefully and make sure everything is in the right place and there are no holes.  Then hand sew the hole in the lining as neatly as possible.  Then put the lining bag inside the outer bag.

12. Thread the drawstrings through the tube at the top and add the toggles, and you’re done!

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