Saturday, December 10, 2011

Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

I made these drawstring backpacks for a friend (she wanted them for her kids for Christmas). Note: These backpacks are great for small books and toys, but not suitable for heavy items

Cut fabric 13" or 14" wide by 36" long. Then fold in half (it should now measure 13 by 18 inches) and press. If you want to applique or embroider on it, do so now.

Measure 3 inches down and cut a slit 1/4" wide. Do this on both the left and right sides of the front and the back of the backpack. Then press each to the inside (or wrong side of fabric).

Now press the top of the front and the top of the back down 1/4". I used pressing templates that I found out about on Pintrest (I LOVE that site). You can find more about pressing templates here.

The next step is to fold the top (of both front and back) down to where the pressed edge is lined up with the 1/4" slit that you cut and press, then sew. (You will fold it down about 1 1/4".) This will make the casing for your drawstring.

Now you will need to thread your drawstring through the casing. This has to be done in a specific order for it to "cinch" correctly. I used 4 yds. of drawstring and cut in 1/2. This will give you 2 sections of drawstring 2 yds. each.

Take a safety pin and pin one of your drawstrings on one end. This makes it easier to thread it through the casing. Start on the right side and thread it all the way through the front casing...

...then thread it through the back casing starting on the left side.

This will leave you a loop on the left side...

...and 2 loose ends on the right side of the backpack.

Now, do the opposite. Starting on the left side of the front casing, thread it all the way through...

...and then starting on the right side of the back casing thread it through. This will leave a loop on the right side and 2 loose ends on the left side of the backpack.

On one bag I used twill tape and on the other I used a larger heavier cording. The thin light weight twill tape was used on a girl's backpack, the thicker cording was used for a boy's backpack. I used complimentary or coordinating colors for the drawstring.

Now we are going to use French seams. I love French seams because they add strengh to seams and they are very clean and neat. French seams are best used on straight seams like the drawstring backpack project and this project.

Wrong sides together (yes, you read right - now I know this feels wrong, but to make a French seam you must do this) pin it. Now on the right side at the bottom of the backpack (right at the fold), slide the 2 loose ends of your drawstring (that are also on the right side) into where the seam will be and pin it. Do this to both left and right sides.

Being careful to make sure the drawstring is not twisted (this is important for the flat twill tape, not the round cording) and the edges are lined up, lay one on top of the other before sliding it into where the seam will be, pinning it.

With the thicker cording, it could not lay on top of each other, so I put it side by side (to reduce the bulk and allow it to go through the sewing machine).

Sew with wrong sides together. Sew with 1/4 inch seam (if you cut your fabric 13 inches wide and 1/2 inch if you cut your fabric 14 inches wide). Sew right up to the casing and back stitch. Do this to both sides.

If you had a 1/2 inch seam, trim to 1/4 inch. Turn inside out and press seams flat. It should now be right sides together.

If your drawstring sticks out past the seam, trim flush.

Now sew using 1/2 inch seam allowance. Making sure to trim threads as you go along. This will save time later. When you sew, sew up to the casing, but not over it or you will close it and your drawstring bag will not cinch.

Inside the seam allowance, I sewed over the drawstring part 3 or 4 times to reinforce the drawstring.

Turn right side out and you are done! These make great gifts for kids for Christmas and birthdays. Especially if they are personalized - kids love to see their name.

Pull both drawstrings on each side at the same time and the bag will cinch right up!


Brandy said...

I know this is an older blog entry,but I have wanted to make a drawstring backpack for awhile. I finally made one today after finding thus tutorial. I found it much easuer to follow than any of the others out there. THANK YOU!

Jena said...

Thank you so much. I'm glad that it was easy for you to follow. I know what I am thinking, but sometimes I'm not sure I convey that really well in the blog.

This really was a fun and easy project. Since I posted this I have given several away as birthday gifts. I can whip one up in no time at all - that's what I like, quick and easy. ;o)

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