backpack for me

I’ve only had one significant backpack in my life. My mom bought me a navy Jansport just like all the cool kids had when I was going into 8th grade (ca. 2000) and told me at $60 it wasn’t cheap so it better last a long time. I used that backpack on an almost daily basis all through high school and college until the zippers started to go at the end of my Costa Rica semester in 2008 and I passed it along to a friend.


I took a picture on our last day together in Costa Rica. I’d say I got my money’s worth!

I didn’t really think about backpacks much after the student phase of my life, but I saw a couple of cute ones recently that made me reconsider the idea.

store backpacksA

palm trees at Victoria’s Secret {only on eBay now} | birds at Target {source}
both have since sold out.

I wasn’t sure I’d use a backpack enough to justify buying one so I figured I’d make a cute one from some stash fabric and test its functionality in my post-student life. (The mini palm tree VS backpacks are selling for between $30-50 on eBay currently and the Target one was originally $30.)

I used two stash fabrics for my project: a loosely woven mint fabric from an Alabama thrift store for the accent and this Greek key fabric found at a Kentucky yard sale (and seen on Pinterest here) for the main body of the backpack.


love a magnetic snap!

This backpack tutorial was my starting point.


that’s my craft corner in the background.

I added a flap using this tutorial as a guideline. I had to make mine bigger than that pattern piece to fit over the whole drawstring apparatus.


Of course, I figured out I needed to make it bigger after I finished the smaller one.

I used rope from Lowe’s for the drawstring. It’s cheap, thick, and shiny.


To cap off the ends, I made two tiny tubes of the main fabric. It was a big pain to turn them, but they’re nicely finished and I’m not worried about the ends unraveling.


Here’s how it all came together.


I kept it simple and didn’t make adjustable straps.

And here’s the backpack from outside to inside.


Left to right: flap closed with magnetic snap, drawstrings tied, velcro front pocket closed; flap open to reveal drawstrings tied in a bow; and flap hidden, drawstring untied revealing contrast lining, velcro pocket open.

I made a few modifications to the tutorial to personalize the backpack. As you saw earlier, I added a flap with a magnetic snap closure. The top of the front pocket has extra space sewn in so the pocket fabric isn’t lying flat against the body of the backpack. That way it doesn’t bulge too badly if I put an object with some dimension to it in there. The velcro closure keeps the top of the pocket closed whether something is in it or not.

I took the backpack on a trip, but haven’t had an occasion to carry it around much making me glad I didn’t spend the money on a store-bought backpack. I’m really pleased with the look and hope I can find reasons to use it in the future.

In other news, I got my tote and some extra goodies from my swap partner yesterday! I’ve been stalking Flickr for weeks in anticipation, but it turns out I’d missed the last few days when pictures of my tote were posted!

Here is a picture posted by my partner; I’ll have more shots of my bag and the extras in my next post.


It’s blue! She used such gorgeous fabrics.


17 thoughts on “backpack for me

  1. 2ofUM says:

    So cute! I love backpacks. I have one that I have also used for years, but it was purchased post school when I started my teaching career. The thing I love most about my backpack was that the padded computer pocket in the back doubles as a place to put your water bladder when you go backpacking! Teaching and backpacking… two great reasons to use a backpack. 😀

  2. LeeAnne says:

    Do you have a secondary link to the backpack tutorial? I tried clicking the link and the page could not be found ….sad day =”(

    • The bottom is a separate piece of fabric shaped like a circle. I did cut a front and back for the sides but you could probably just use one long piece if you had enough width with your fabric.

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