Tutorial: Embellished, Lined Drawstring Backpack

This tutorial is for my sister and anyone else who wants to know how to make a fancy lined drawstring backpack!  This tutorial is actually an adaptation of the In Color Order Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial.  You’ll need to go over to her blog to get the full set of instructions.  I’m just going to give you the modified steps here.

I’ve modified this bag to be quite a bit bigger than the original tutorial to allow for more carrying room.  Here are the modified cutting instructions:

(2) main exterior:  12″ by 13.5″  (If you are using a solid or non-directional print, then you can cut just one exterior piece – 23.5″ by 13.5″)
(2) coordinating exterior pieces: 5″ by 13.5″
(2) interior (lining) pieces: 16.5″ by 13.5″
(2) ties: 2″ by 50-60″ (or however long you want them to be – you might want to wait to cut the ties until you have the rest of the bag sewn so you can try out how long you want the straps to be)

Follow the tutorial as written for steps 1-3.

Step 3b:  Here is where you can add in your embellishments before sewing your bag together.  I chose to add a felt car on one side and a pocket with Ellie’s initial on the other side.  I just search Google images for an outline of a car and then pasted the image into Word so I could make it a bit bigger.  For the initial, I used Gill Sans, font size 350.  I printed and cut out the templates and then traced them onto felt.  Remember when you are sewing on your embellishments that the middle panel will be folded in half.  So make sure to orient your embellishments so that they are facing right side up!  I placed both the pocket and the car about 3″ down from the coordinating fabric panel.

Follow the tutorial as written for step 4.

Modified Step 5:  Mark your opening marks not in the center of your coordinating exterior fabric but at the top.  Make your first mark at .5″ and your second at 1.5″, down from the seam where your coordinating exterior meets the interior fabric.

Follow the tutorial as written for steps 6-9.

Modified Step 10:  Using your ruler, mark a line 2.5 inches down from the corner, all the way across, like this.  Use a fabric marker, if you have one.

Modified Step 11:  For the two outside corners (i.e. the corners that you are making in the exterior fabric), instead of stitching all the way across the line that you just drew in step 10, you need to leave an opening in the middle to allow you to pull the straps through to form the backpack straps.  Leave about a half inch on either side of the center of your line, like this:

Make sure to reinforce your stitching on both sides of the hole that you leave.

Don’t trim off the corner yet!!  (This is different than the original tutorial and is actually different than the pictures I will show you.  I ran into problems with the stitching unraveling when I cut off the corner too soon.  So wait to cut the corner until Step19.)

Repeat this modified step for the other exterior corner.  Make the two interior corners the normal way and sew all the way across.

Modified Step 12:  Don’t sew the opening in your lining closed yet!  We won’t do this until the very end!

Follow the tutorial as written for step 13.

Modified step 14 – 15:  You are going to sew around the top of the bag .5” from the top and 1.5″ from the top.  Sew just at the top and bottom of the opening that you left in step 6.  Follow the same instructions as Steps 14/15 in the original tutorial but just move where you sew your lines.

Modified step 16:  Don’t worry about finishing the ends of your ties as you sew them.  They’ll be hidden inside the bag.

Follow the tutorial as written for steps 17-18.

Modified Step 19:  Here is where we turn the bag into a back pack!  Pull the bag closed so that the ties are long.  Even out each of your ties.  Working with one side at a time, insert the ends of your ties into the hole that you left in step 11.  Make sure the ties aren’t twisted when you do this.

At this point, you will want to try on the backpack to see if you like how long the ties are.  You may need to trim some off until you get a strap length that is comfortable for you or whoever is going to wear it.  My ties ended up being about 50″ long.

Clearly, I didn’t take my “be careful of twisted ties” advice!

Then, carefully pull the whole corner out through the hole in the bottom of the lining so that you can sew it closed.

Remember, you’re not supposed to have cut off the corner yet!  This will make it a  little bit harder to see what you’re doing but will ensure that your side seam doesn’t unravel.  You’ll be able to tell by feel if the straps are in far enough. 

Then sew the opening closed, catching the ties securely.

See how the seam was unraveling?  That’s why you need to wait to cut off the corner until you’ve sewed the hole closed!

NOW – cut off the corner, leaving about a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Push the corner back into the inside of the bag and repeat with the other side.  Then sew the lining closed with a very small seam allowance (see step 12 in the original tutorial for a picture of this.)

And, ta da!!  You’ve made a beautiful, lined backpack ready to be filled with treasures!

I hope you have fun making this lined backpack.  They are really very easy and fast, particularly once you’ve made one or two!

And thanks so much to Jeni at In Color Order for the great tutorial that this one is based on!

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2 Responses to Tutorial: Embellished, Lined Drawstring Backpack

  1. Pingback: April/May Sewing: Drawstring Bags for Double Birthdays! « Salmon and Souvlaki

  2. Pingback: First Day of Preschool, Irrational Sadness, and a Lonely Lunch (plus September Sewing) | Salmon and Souvlaki

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