DIY Guide: How to Sew a Backpack with Stylish and Functional Finishing Touches

Ever thought about creating your own backpack? It’s not only a fun and engaging project, but it also allows you to customize your backpack to your specific needs and style. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a beginner with a needle and thread, you’ll find this guide on how to sew a backpack incredibly handy.

You might think it’s a complex task, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, you’ll be crafting your own backpack in no time. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire process, from picking out the perfect fabric to adding the finishing touches. So, ready to get started on this DIY adventure?

Sewing your own backpack can be a practical and fulfilling DIY project. It allows you to customize the size, fabric, and design to suit your style and needs. For guidance on how to start this project, Sew Guide provides a comprehensive tutorial on how to make a backpack, including tips on choosing the right fabric and sewing the pieces together. Another resource is eHow, which offers a variety of backpack designs and sewing instructions. For those looking for advanced techniques, Trekking Pal outlines steps for creating a high-functioning outdoor backpack, perfect for more ambitious sewing enthusiasts.

Choosing the Right Fabric

So, you’ve decided to take on the rewarding challenge of sewing your own backpack. That’s a big step forward, and it’s time to delve into the most critical element – Choosing the Right Fabric. The selection is vital as it defines not only the look of your backpack, but also its durability, functionality, and comfort.

When considering fabric for the exterior of your backpack, you’re really looking at two primary factors: durability and water resistance. After all, you want your backpack to stand the test of time and ward off the elements.

Fabrics such as Cordura, nylon, and canvas are popular choices, due to their robust nature. These materials are both tough and resistant to water, making them ideal for the exterior. For improved water resistance, you may consider getting your fabric treated with a waterproof coating.

FabricDurabilityWater Resistance

Let’s talk about the interior. You want a fabric that’s light, durable, and easy to clean, as you’ll likely be storing a variety of items. Polyester is a go-to choice, mainly for its low weight and relative resistance to wear and tear.

In terms of colors and patterns, let your personal style shine! It’s your backpack after all. You’ve got every right to select the hues and designs that speak to you. Remember, though, dark colors tend to hide dirt and stains better than lighter ones.

As a final tip, before you grab the scissors and start cutting, do yourself a favor: get a little extra fabric. This allows for mistakes during your first sewing attempts, or for future minor repairs.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all this information – it’s part of the learning curve. Soon, you’ll find yourself a natural in fabric selection. And remember: It’s all part of the fun of sewing your own unique and functional backpack.

Gathering Supplies

Now that you’ve armed yourself with knowledge on the best fabrics to use for your DIY backpack and grasped the significance of the fabric selection process, it’s time to put together the rest of your supplies.

For certain, any backpack-sewing endeavor demands high-quality sewing supplies. These set the tone for the crafting process, ensuring your project doesn’t face setbacks associated with faulty gear.

Start by stocking up on essential sewing machine items. These are peddles, threads, needles, and bobbin. When picking threads, go for durability, just like when you chose your fabric. Nylon or polyester threads are typically a great choice. They provide toughness, which ensures that your backpack doesn’t have seams giving way under load.

To ensure your sewing process is smooth, you’ll also need straight pins and fabric scissors. These two supplies are often overlooked despite their crucial role. Straight pins hold things together – literally. When cutting your fabric to desired dimensions, fabric scissors offer a neat, precise cut.

Of course, don’t forget tailor’s chalk or some sort of fabric marker. This supply enables you to mark measurements and cut lines, playing a pivotal role in achieving accuracy and symmetry in your sewn backpack.

Here are the described supplies in a handy table:

SuppliesUtilityRecommended Choice
Sewing Machine ItemsFor basic stitching, threadingPeddles, Threads, Needles, Bobbin
Straight PinsHold fabric for sewingN/A
Fabric ScissorsCutting the fabricN/A
Tailor’s Chalk or Fabric MarkerMarking measurements, cut linesN/A

Lastly, remember to keep a seam ripper handy, in case you need to undo stitches. While the thought isn’t pleasant, everyone makes mistakes – especially when trying something new. Having such a tool lets you course-correct as you go, rather than stressing over each stitch. With your supplies lined up, you’re all set to commence on designing and cutting your fabric.

Creating the Pattern

With your fabric selected and your sewing kit ready, it’s time to dive into the exciting part: Creating the Pattern for your DIY backpack. This step is integral as it lays the groundwork for the design of your pack.

Let’s start with some basics. A typical backpack design usually consists of a few key components: the body, pocket(s), straps, and flap or zipper closure. Your pattern should, thus, reflect these elements. Size can be determined according to your needs. Want a mini backpack for quick trips or a larger one for extended adventures? It’s all up to you!

You might be wondering, how do you create a pattern? You’ll need a large sheet of paper, preferably pattern paper, and a ruler for precise measurements. Lay out your paper and start by drawing the silhouette of your backpack. Remember, measurements are crucial in this phase to ensure a perfect fit and proportion. Here’s a table with some approximate measurements that you could use for your backpack pattern:

Backpack PartApproximate Size (Inches)
Front Pocket10×9

Customize these numbers to suit your needs.

Once you’ve mapped out the silhouette, note down the seam allowance (usually half an inch or so) around the shape. The seam allowance will give you some leeway when sewing, ensuring your final product isn’t too tight.

Next up is laying out the straps, pockets, and flap or zipper. These should be drawn as separate patterns and will later be cut out from your fabric and attached to the body of the backpack.

Remember, this is a DIY project, so don’t hesitate to get creative. Want extra pockets? Add them in! Prefer a drawstring closure over a zipper? Go for it! Pattern making is all about representing your unique style and needs, so let your creativity run wild.

In the next step, you’ll cut out these paper patterns to use as templates on your fabric, but let’s leave that for later.

Cutting the Fabric Pieces

After getting your paper patterns in order, the next step in the process is Cutting the Fabric Pieces. The use of your paper patterns as templates makes this stage simpler and more accurate. But remember, the devil’s in the details – so tread with caution and precision.

Start your cutting by laying out the fabric on a flat surface – a table or clear floor area is ideal. Ensure the fabric is appropriately spread out without any wrinkles or folds, as they might lead to inaccurate cutting. Place the paper patterns on the fabric, ensuring that the patterns are placed right side up. Once your patterns are in position, it’s time to make your mark.

Use tailor’s chalk or a fabric marker to trace around the pattern on your fabric. With the chalk’s faint line and the fabric marker’s washable ink, you’re not going to compromise the look of your end product. Be sure to include the lines, markings, and notches from your pattern on to your fabric.

It’s finally time to cut! Use a pair of quality fabric scissors to cut along the lines you’ve traced. Here also remember to be as accurate as possible when cutting. A slight deviance might lead to sewing challenges later on. It’s important to note that a good cut can make a significant difference in the final product.

Here’s a useful tip: always keep a pair of scissors meant only for fabric. Cutting paper dulls the blade, and you want your fabric scissors to stay razor-sharp for precise cuts.

After you’re done cutting, you should have pieces of fabric that are the mirror image of your paper patterns. Your backpack body, pockets, straps, and closures, all in the fabric of your choice. Note that the number of pieces would depend upon the design you’ve chosen. And remember, while pattern cutting can seem daunting at first, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So, don’t let initial setbacks stump you.

Roll up your sleeves; it’s time to bring these pieces together and make your backpack take shape! Let’s move to the next stage: sewing.

Sewing the Main Body of the Backpack

Once you’ve cut your fabric pieces using your paper patterns and your tailor’s scissors, it’s time to move to the all-important sewing phase. Precision remains a top priority in this stage of creating a DIY Backpack. It’s with these individual pieces that you’ll bring your backpack to life, starting by sewing the main body.

Position two matching fabric pieces together, with their “right” or outside surfaces facing each other. Pin the pieces together along the marked lines. For beginners, using more pins might facilitate the process, ensuring the fabric remains aligned when you run it through your sewing machine.

Next, select your thread. Strength and durability are two crucial factors you need to consider when choosing your thread. An all-purpose polyester thread serves a great purpose for backpacks, owing to its high strength and suitability to a wide range of materials.

Start by sewing a straight stitch along the marked lines on your fabric, removing the pins as you go. Be sure to do a reverse stitch at the start and finish of each seam to secure it. It’s a nippy process, requiring attention to detail as you don’t want to miss a stitch.

Once done, it’s time to inspect your work. Look out for any loose or missed stitches or uneven seam margins. Fix any encountered issues before proceeding.

Apart from sewing the main body, front and back, remember to leave openings for the zipper or any other backpack accessories like side pockets, bottle holders and so on. Pre-analyzing where to leave those spaces helps you avoid amendments, which might affect the overall symmetry of the finished product.

Modern sewing machines offer various stitch types. However, a straight stitch is most commonly used in backpack making. It’s easy, reliable and holds together most backpack materials. If your fabric is lightweight or medium-weight, a basic straight stitch will suffice.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be daunted by minor kinks. The more you sew, the more you’ll improve. The next section will walk you through how to install pockets and attachments to your backpack, giving it more functionality and appeal.

Adding Pockets and Compartments

Perfect! You’ve mastered sewing the main body of your backpack. Now, let’s step up the game by adding pockets and compartments. These additions are not only practical but also give your DIY backpack a professional look.

Begin by deciding on the number and sizes of pockets you need. Consider your everyday essentials and design the pockets accordingly. You might want a large compartment for your laptop, smaller pockets for phone and keys, or dedicated slots for pens.

To add a compartment, cut a piece of fabric to the desired size. You’ll need two identical pieces for each pocket. Remember, your finished pocket size will be smaller than these initial fabric pieces due to the seams. So, add a few extra inches to your measurements.

First, pin your fabric pieces together, right sides facing each other. Sew around the edges, but leave one side open. This opening allows you to turn the pocket right side out. Once you’ve done that, iron the pocket to ensure it lays flat.

To attach the pocket to your backpack, line it up where you want it to go, pin it in place, and sew around the sides and bottom. Leave the top open – that’s where you’ll be reaching in!

Adding zippers to your compartments ramps up the functionality. Cut out the fabric for the zipper section, place the zipper between two pieces, and sew it in. Remember, practice makes perfect. You might make a few errors, but that’s part of the journey!

Attaching Straps and Handles

Crafting a DIY backpack isn’t only about making the main compartment and affixing those cleverly designed pockets. A significant part of this process involves creating secure, comfortable straps and handles. So, let’s delve into how to attach straps and handles with ease and precision.

When deciding on the size and length of your straps, take into account your personal comfort and the expected load of your backpack. You’ll want a strap that’s sturdy and long enough to distribute weight evenly across your shoulders. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of too long than too short because you can adjust the straps later.

Next, it’s onto choosing your materials. When thinking about what material to use, we recommend sturdy fabrics like canvas, denim or nylon. These materials are robust, able to handle substantial weight, and will stand the test of time. If you’re feeling particularly creative, you could also consider using recycled materials such as old belts or seat belts.

To attach your straps to the bag, position them evenly on the top and bottom ends of the bag’s back panel. Ensure you’re securing the strap at least an inch from the edge to prevent fraying or tearing. Stitch each strap in place using a box stitch for optimal strength and security. This process can be a bit tricky, so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go perfectly the first time.

With the introduction of handles, you’ll open a new window of convenience for your backpack. Follow the same guidelines for straps in terms of size, material, and sewing method. Place your handle centrally on the top of your backpack for easy accessibility.

Let’s not forget the significance of quality over quantity. Don’t rush the process; take your time to perfect these essential additions. It’s not only about how your backpack looks but also about its practicality and longevity on your forthcoming adventures.

Experiment, explore, and above all, have fun with it. After all, creating your own backpack should be as enjoyable as using it. The benefit here is that once you’ve mastered these techniques, you can apply them to other DIY projects as well.

By now, we’re sure you’ve gained some hands-on knowledge to create an almost-complete backpack. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a stellar bag that others will surely admire.

Adding a Closure System

Now that your backpack has straps and handles, you’re ready to give it a beautiful finishing touch by adding a closure system. This not only gives your backpack a professional look but also secures your belongings. The type of closure system you choose for your backpack is crucial and largely depends on the purpose of the bag.

There are several types of closure systems you can consider. Prominent among these are zippers, buckles, drawstrings, and magnetic snaps.

Zippers are the most common closure system. They’re secure, contemporary, and easy to install.

Buckles, on the other hand, are more traditional and give your backpack a vintage feel.

If you’re making a sports or outdoor backpack, consider using drawstrings. They’re both functional and quick to open or close.

Lastly, magnetic snaps are your go-to option if you’re aiming for a sleek, minimalist design.

Choose the closure method that best fits your needs and aesthetic.

Before you Proceed

Consider also the material of your closure. A metal zipper, for instance, is hard-wearing but can be a bit tough on the hands. A nylon coil zipper is smoother and easier to use, but may not last as long. Similar considerations apply for other types of closures.

Once you’ve chosen your closure system type and material, it’s time to mark on your backpack where it needs to go. Ensure the placement aligns with your backpack design and usage. The closure must be functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Affix your chosen closure according to the product instructions. Remember, accuracy is key here to maintain the integrity and look of your bag. Sewing should be neat and straight, with consistent distances between the seams.

Take this phase as an exciting one, because with this, you’re just a few stitches away from completing your DIY backpack. Continue to the next section to learn how to attach the finishing touches to your masterpiece.

Adding Finishing Touches

At this point, your bag should have a functional closure system. It’s functional, yes, but you’re not done yet. It’s time to elevate your creation from mere function to a fashion statement. Touches of uniqueness that represent your personal style and preferences will make your handmade bag truly one-of-a-kind.

Consider pocket placement. Pockets not only offer added convenience, but they can also add aesthetic appeal. Front pockets give easy access to essentials. Internal pockets, however, keep things hidden and secure. Choose your convenience and preference.

Try different materials and styles for your pockets. Pleated cotton pockets for a cute accent, or perhaps heavy-duty canvas pockets for a rugged feel? Any extra material from the bag can also be used to make matching pockets, maintaining a cohesive look.

When affixing these additional elements, keep alignment in mind. You don’t want a lopsided bag! Ensure the pockets are evenly spaced and aligned. Measure twice, cut once, as the saying goes. Not only does this maintain a professional appearance, but it also ensures the load will be distributed evenly when the bag is worn.

After pockets, consider other fashionable elements. Could your bag use some additional embroidery for a vintage vibe? Or how about leather patches for a rustic, outdoorsy look? You could even consider tying a colored scarf or charm to a zipper for some added flair.

All in all, personal taste rules when it comes to adding finishing touches. There’s no limit to what you can do. Fashion is subjective, and this is your chance to let your personal style shine. Bend the rules, express yourself, make your bag truly your own.


So, you’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of sewing your own backpack. You’ve learned the importance of pocket placement and the impact of your material choices. You’ve discovered how to align your pockets for that professional look and the significance of the ‘measure twice, cut once’ principle. Not to mention, you’ve explored the realm of personalization, from embroidery to leather patches, and even colored scarves. It’s clear that sewing a backpack isn’t just about functionality – it’s a chance to express your unique style. Now that you’ve armed yourself with these insights, it’s time to take the plunge. Go ahead, take your creativity and make that backpack your own. Remember, it’s not just about sewing a bag, it’s about creating something uniquely yours. Happy sewing!

1. Where should I place the pockets on my DIY backpack?

It’s ultimately your decision where to place the pockets on your backpack. Considerations could include front pockets for easy access, or internal pockets for secure and hidden storage.

2. Does the choice of material matter for the pockets?

Yes, the choice of material can add aesthetic appeal to your backpack. Be creative and vary the materials and styles for a unique look.

3. How can I ensure that the pockets align properly?

It’s recommended to measure twice and cut once. This will help you maintain a professional appearance and ensure the pockets are aligned correctly.

4. What other fashionable elements can I add to my DIY backpack?

You can add elements such as embroidery, leather patches, or colored scarves to your backpack for a more personalized look.

5. What is the key aspect when adding finishing touches to the DIY backpack?

The key aspect is your personal taste. Express yourself and make your backpack truly your own.