Oh the plans I have for this project. It’s a toddler backpack tutorial and it’s perfect for things like trips on airplanes or to Grandma’s house or to preschool or daycare (it can be a preschool backpack too). And it’s adorable and kid friendly and fun. But subscribe to this blog if you want to see some future plans for this guy. I’ve got ideas.
I want to be clear up front, especially since I am teaching the Learn to Sew series right now, that this is not a beginner’s sewing project. You are going to need some basic sewing skills. I’m not saying it’s impossible and not to try it, but it’s a little tricky in a few spots. Practice up on other projects first and then when you are ready, try it.
So, if you are ready now, let’s do it!
Perfect for little people!
Fully lined and an inner pocket:
And adjustable straps.
I thought this could be a fun project for plane rides or going to Grandma’s. It would also be great for preschool or daycare of just for fun!
Toddler Backpack Tutorial:
1 yard of main fabric
1 yard of coordinating lining fabric
1/2 yard of heavy interfacing (optional-use this only if you are using a lightweight fabric for your main fabric and you want to make the backpack more sturdy. You could choose to use a canvas or other heavier weight fabric to make the backpack and then you won’t need the interfacing)
2 backpack strap adjusters (in the accessories area of your store)
1 zipper (needs to be between 11-14 inches)
Small amount of fusible lining
1. To start out we need to cut out all the pieces. There are a lot of pieces to cut out, so get ready for this! Here is a pattern/diagram to help you make sure you’ve got everything and to give you the measurements. This is not to scale but will give you a plan for what you are cutting.
From your main fabric you will cut: 1 large piece for the front, a back piece (which is in 2 segments), 2 zipper panels, 1 side panel, 2 long straps, 2 small straps, 1 pocket and 1 small carrying strap.
From your coordinating fabric you will cut: 1 large piece for the front, 1 large piece for the back, 2 zipper panels and 1 side panel.
From your interfacing (use interfacing only if you are using a lightweight fabric and want to make the backpack more sturdy) you will cut: 1 large front piece, 1 large back piece and 1 side panel. You need to either fuse this with heat n bond or fusible interfacing to your main fabric pieces that coordinate OR you can baste it around the edges.
Here’s what some of your pieces will look like:
Here’s your main front piece (folded in half so that I could be sure to cut it evenly):
Here’s the top and the bottom of your back piece:
2. Let’s start out by making the straps. Take your 2 long backpack straps that are cut from your main fabric. Fold them in half vertically and iron them to form a crease that marks the center of the strap:
Then, flip it over and fold each long edge in to meet at the crease in the middle and press them in place:
Fold that in half one more time along the center crease line that you made so that all of the raw edges are enclosed inside the strap. Press it in place and then top stitch each of the long sides:
Repeat this same process with your short straps and your carrying handle.
3. Take your long straps and insert the top of them between the top part of the main back piece and the bottom part with right sides of the back pieces together. (If you are using interfacing make sure you have that there too-on the back of your fabric- like I do in my pictures. It’s the white that you see there.)
Stitch a straight line across the 2 back pieces so that your straps are sewn in place and the 2 back pieces are now connected. Then, on the right side top stitch near the seam so that you straps are held in place nice and firmly:
At the bottom of your back piece fold your small straps in half with the backpack adjusters on them and stitch them in place so that they form a loop at the very bottom of the back. (Make sure they are lined up right under where you inserted your straps above them):
Go ahead and fold the ends of your long straps under twice and stitch them to finish the edges (kind of like a hem). Now you can thread the straps through your backpack adjusters.
At the top of the bag stitch your carrying handle in place:
And now the back of your backpack is DONE! Before you go any further, place your front piece on top of your back piece and make sure they match up now. Trim them to match if needed. Also make sure they match up with your inner lining pieces.
5. Now we need to sew in the zipper. To do this you need to start out by adding fusible lining to the wrong side of your 2 main fabric zipper pieces.
Then, baste your 2 zipper pieces together along one of the long sides. I used a nice wide seam allowance (5/8″) to make sewing the zipper in easier.
Press this seam open and then pin your zipper in place so that the zipper opening lines up with the center of the seam:
Put your zipper foot on your machine and stitch down both sides of the zipper tape and across the bottom AND the top to hold the zipper in place.
Then seam rip the center seam (the one you basted) open and you’ve got a zipper!
6. So let’s assemble the front of the bag shall we? First you need to grab your side panel piece and attach it to your zipper piece you just made. Do this by putting right sides together and sewing the zipper piece to the panel piece on both ends so that it forms a big loop:
Now take that loop you just made and the front of your bag and pin them together all the way around (start at the center of the bottom) with right sides together:
Sew that all the way around. Make sure your zipper is open and do the same thing with the back piece (make sure to keep your long straps out of the way while sewing):
7. That’s done! Now let’s do the inside of the bag. Starting with the pocket. Grab your pocket piece and fold it in half so that right sides are together. Sew around it so that only about 4 inches of it is unstitched on one side. Turn it right side out:
Turn under the opening and press the whole thing nice and flat. Then center it on your inner backpack piece and sew around the 2 sides and the bottom (this will also close your opening from earlier): Now you need your coordinating fabric zipper pieces. On one side of each of them fold the fabric under about 1/2 inch and press it in place:
Now, just like you did earlier with the main fabric pieces, sew the 2 zipper pieces to the side panel piece (just the same only there’s no zipper in this case):
Now you know what to do-same thing as before. Pin your loop to the front of your coordinating fabric and sew all the way around and then again with the back:
8. Now you have completed the outside and the inside. All that’s left to do is attach them. With both of them inside out you are going to pin the outer bag to the inner bag by the seams down at the bottom:
And then sew it on both sides so that they are attached. Now flip it so that the outer fabric is right side out and the inner fabric is right side out but on the inside of the bag.
Pin the two together along the zipper and stitch the whole thing all along the zipper:
And guess what? That’s it! You are done! I bet your little toddler or preschooler is going to LOVE it!
Follow my blog if you want to watch for upgrades to this bag coming soon too. I’ve got some great ideas for this thing.