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Cost
$ $ $ $ $
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• • • • •
Time
6h00

I am indeed Sherlocked.
The drawstring backpack that I normally carry around had seen better days. Being an empathetic individual, I had a feeling that it's time to retire him, and thus I decided to make a drawstring backpack whose sturdiness is suited to handle the weathering and battering in my daily life.

I searched online for a drawstring backpack tutorial that I liked, but while I liked some parts of some tutorials, none had the perfect combination of features, sewing, steps, etc. that I wanted. I thought my lining fabric was too thin for handling the cinching at the top, I did not have eyelets, I wanted an exterior front pocket -- "Where's the tutorial to address my needs?" I asked.

BOOM. Inspiration.

Necessity IS indeed the mother of invention.

Posted by Conn from San Francisco, California, United States • Published See Conn's 100 projects »
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  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 1
    Step 1

    Grab your fabric. I had four types, but actually it should've been just three; the thing is that I didn't have enough of some black fabric that I liked for the pocket so I made do with mixing other fabric with it. You can always just use one type of fabric or two, etc. -- it all depends on how you use your fabrics.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 2
    Step 2

    exterior fabric: 13" by 18" X 2

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 3
    Step 3

    front pocket: 6" by 18" X 2 (I wanted it bigger, around 8" by 18", but my supply of black fabric was low.)

    small loops: 2" by 4.5" x2

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 4
    Step 4

    lining fabric: 13" by 18" OR 13" by 15" X 2
    If your lining fabric is pretty thin (I'm assuming that your exterior fabric is thick already, enough to withstand the activities you'll be carrying out with this backpack.) and you wouldn't trust its strength with all the pulling that the cinch mechanism will entail, then take your exterior fabric rectangles and cut off 3" of fabric from the tops so that you have two smaller rectangles, 3" by 18". Cut off 1" from a side so that it becomes 3" by 17". Then take your exterior fabric and cut out two more smaller rectangles with those dimensions. In this case, your lining rectangles should be 13" by 15".

    If you would trust your lining fabric, then the rectangles you cut out should be 13" by 18" and you should do the cutting off 3" and 1" as detailed above to BOTH the lining and exterior rectangles. The lining rectangles in this case should be 13" by 18" -- same as the exterior rectangles.

    In any of those cases, you should end up with four 3" by 17" rectangles. HOWEVER. If your exterior fabric is thick (as in denim thick -- I used heathered twill so I went with this third method in the end), you only need TWO rectangles that are 3" by 17". In this case, both rectangles should be cut off from the 13" by 18" piece of exterior fabric, and the lining fabric should be 13" by 15" rectangles.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 5
    Step 5

    Measure the length of your zipper and draw a rectangle that's 0.25" by that length on some scrap paper. Cut it out.

    Then take the 6" by 18" rectangles that you cut out for the pocket and arrange them face to face. Place that paper rectangle centered, as far down from the top as you like, on the fabric rectangles.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 6
    Step 6

    Use a pencil to lightly trace along the lines.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 7
    Step 7

    Sew along the light pencil marks.

    Note: I hand-sewed almost everything so this project took quite a while for me. If you have access to a sewing machine, please don't make this harder on yourself and USE IT. ;)

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 8
    Step 8

    Lightly sketch out the pink lines like in this picture...

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 9
    Step 9

    ... and cut along them.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 10
    Step 10

    Now push one rectangle of fabric through the hole. This may sound weird, but it'll all make sense once you do it.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 11
    Step 11

    Iron flat your result, and you should see the rectangle that you sewed.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 12
    Step 12

    Place your zipper in that slim rectangular window and sew along the edges of the rectangle.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 13
    Step 13

    Flip the pocket to the side on which you can see the backside of the zipper and fold the top edge down about 0.25" before using your iron to press that fold flat.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 14
    Step 14

    Flip to the side on which you can see the front of the zipper and again, fold the top edge down as much as you folded down the previous flap. Press that flat too. This is just to hide the unraveling edges.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 15
    Step 15

    Take your entire pocket piece and place it along the bottom of a rectangle of exterior fabric. Sew along the top edge of the pocket's fabric (you should have the ironed-down folds along that edge) to secure the pocket to the backpack, and then for the other three sides, just do a loose stitching around (baste) simply to prevent the pocket from moving too much later on.

    Set this piece (and the other rectangle of exterior fabric) aside for later.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 16
    Step 16

    If you have four 3" by 17" rectangles, take two of the rectangles and place them face to face (You may want to mix and match so you have two pairs of rectangles and in each pair is one exterior and one lining fabric. If all the fabrics are from your exterior piece, disregard that.). Sew along three edges (leave one long edge unsewn) and repeat for the remaining two rectangles.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 17
    Step 17

    Then turn both sewn pieces inside out and use the iron to press them flat.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 18
    Step 18

    Fold both pieces in half lengthwise and using the iron again, press that new fold flat.

  • Step 19

    If your fabric is denim-thick and you have two 3" by 17" rectangles, fold the shorter edges down twice (so fold once, and then fold one more time to hid the unraveling edges) and sew along the new folded edge to secure it. Repeat for both short edges of both rectangles before folding each piece in half lengthwise (wrong sides facing) and pressing that fold flat.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 20
    Step 20

    No matter which of the two methods above that you used, take a cinching tube and arrange the unraveling edge along the top of a rectangle of exterior fabric, centered. Sew along the edge loosely (baste) to secure the cinching tube to the fabric, and repeat with the other cinching tube and exterior rectangle.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 21
    Step 21

    Take a 2" by 4.5" rectangle and fold it in half lengthwise before sewing along the top edge opposite to the fold.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 22
    Step 22

    Then turn it inside out and press it flat with an iron. Make sure that the seam is somewhere near the middle of the tube and not at the top or bottom edge, where it will show. Repeat with the other 2" by 4.5" rectangle.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 23
    Step 23

    If you want, you can now take the time to add any decorative details to the exterior fabric. I used my Cricut Explore to cut out a Sherlock-inspired design (shout out to my fellow Sherlocked peers) onto iron-on before applying it with an iron, but you could also use fabric markers/paint and add patches. Do all of this before sewing in the next step; I was a bit addle-brained and did the next step before realizing that I should've applied iron-on earlier.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 24
    Step 24

    Fold the small loops tubes in half widthwise and tuck them in between the two rectangles of exterior fabric (right sides facing each other).

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 25
    Step 25

    Sew along three edges of the exterior fabric, all sides except the top edge, making sure that your stitching is deeper than the initial basting you did to secure the pocket fabric to the rectangle.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 26
    Step 26

    Take the two lining fabric rectangles and place them face to face. Then sew along three edges (two sides and the bottom; unless you left the bottom uncut like I did, in which case you wouldn't have to sew the bottom at all).

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 27
    Step 27

    What's that edge that you haven't sewn up yet?

    That's right -- the top border! Flip the lining pouch inside out and slip it into the exterior pouch (not flipped inside out). Line up the top edges and sew around that border.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 28
    Step 28

    Remember leaving a gap in the lining? Well, now you're going to use that hole to flip EVERYTHING inside out. Just gently tug the exterior fabric out first, and start with the corners.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 29
    Step 29

    Close the gap that you used for turning things inside out however you want; the easiest way would be to simply sew really close along the edge. For a more unblemished finish though, I would suggest the ladder stitch (http://www.sew-it-love-it.com/ladder-stitch.html), which is what I used.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 30
    Step 30

    Then just push the lining into the bag. If you want, you could sew another line of stitching directly below the cinching tubes, but it's up to you. I usually like to do that when making lined pouches just to further secure the lining, but I didn't find it necessary for this project.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 31
    Step 31

    And the sewing is complete! Let me put my new backpack on..

    But wait. The straps.

    Grab your chosen cording and string it though both cinching tubes. Attaching a paperclip to the end makes stringing a lot easier.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 32
    Step 32

    When you've strung the cording through, use another drawstring backpack to measure how long you want your strap to be and add about 3" before cutting; you could also just loosely sling your backpack on and measure the strap that way. OR you could cut out two yards of cording; that should be safe enough.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 33
    Step 33

    Use that strap to determine the length of your other strap, cut that length out, and then string it through both cinching tubes. This time, don't string in the same orientation: for example, If your first strap entered the cinching tube on the left, your second strap should enter the tube on the right.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 34
    Step 34

    Take the two cords that are the ends of a strap (because each strap is a doubled-over length of cord) and insert it through the hole of a small loop that you sewed onto the bottom of your backpack. Tie a knot with the cording to secure the strap, and repeat with the other strap.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 35
    Step 35

    Now loosely sling on your backpack and decide if you need to readjust the knots; do so if necessary. Once satisfied, cut the excess cording (leave a bit of a tail) and prevent fraying with any method. For rattail or paracord, use a lighter to singe, glue will work fine for sealing the ends, etc. -- for my cording, I just used tape to wrap up the ends like a shoelace.

  • How to make a backpack. Lined Drawstring Backpack With Pocket - Step 36
    Step 36

    That's your new drawstring backpack! As always, if any instructions are unclear for you, comment below and I'll try my best to resolve your confusion.

    What will YOU carrying in your backpack? ;)

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