DIY Backpack





Introduction: DIY Backpack

I was in dire need of a compact backpack to carry my books and other necessities to college. So with some research and inspiration from the internet I decided to create one on my own.

It turned out to be a cheap DIY as felt doesn't cost much and I used leather scraps I had lying around.

The end product turned out to be better then what I expected. I cant wait to take it out!

Step 1: You Will Need

  • Felt, you could use any durable material like canvas
  • Leather, since I only used leather as accents I used scraps i had lying around from a previous project
  • Zipper
  • A sewing machine
  • General sewing supplies like scissors, all purpose pins, measuring tape, threads etc
  • Rivets to attach the strap
  • Strong glue

Step 2: Cut Up Your Felt

To create the bag, you will need the following pieces cut from felt:

  • Front and back panel - 10" wide and 13" long
  • Side panel - 7" wide and 50" long
  • Two pocket pieces - one 7" wide and 6" long, other 7" wide and 5" long
  • Two pieces of felt - 70" long and 2.5" wide

Step 3: Sew Your Strap

Ideally to I would have liked to use store bought straps. They are hassle free, look great and durable. But I couldn't find any that I liked so I decided to sew my own.However, I wouldn't recommend doing this as it was extremely time consuming.

First, place both pieces of felt on top of one other and sew about a centimeter in.Then fold it over like shown in the photo and under stitch to get a neat edge.

Secondly, fold over the exposed edges on the other side as shown pin it so that it doesn't move while sewing and under stitch.

This will give a neat and good looking strap.

I used 70 inches of strap, but this length will differ depending on how long you want them to be.

Step 4: Make the Pocket

To make the pocket first cut you zipper an inch longer than the width of the pocket.

Then place the zipper and the larger pocket piece right sides together and sew in the top edge. Then turn the fabric over and under stitch the seam to get a clean edge.

Then take the smaller piece and place it right sides together with the sewn piece. sew and under stitch like you did with the large piece.

After the zipper is firmly secure, take the smaller piece and fold it over so that it covers the zipper and then fold it back an inch from the seam you just created, sew on top as shown. This will form a flap that will cover the zip making the bag look well made. If you are a beginner you could skip this step.

Step 5: Sew the Pocket On

Now place your pocket on the front panel of the bag, make sure it is centered and parallel with the edge on the panel. To make it look better I folded the four edges in as shown in the photo. I then simply sewed along the edges.

Step 6: Attach the Straps

First attach the end of your strap to the bottom of the back panel two inches from the edge.

Then to make things more symmetric, I made 4 marks on the top of the back panel. These marks were 2 inches from the sides and 7 inches from the top.

Then I arranged and pinned my strap in accordance to marks made as shown in the photo.

And finally sewn on the edges marked by red.

Step 7: Sew Zipper Onto the Front Panel

Cut your zipper to a length you are happy with I went for quiet a long zip. Pin it along the side then sew followed by an under stitch.

Step 8: Attach the Side Panel

Start by attaching the side panel only till where your zipper lasts.This is because I then created a flap that covers the zipper.

Start by pinning it with the zip, stitch it on and then under stitch just as we did for other panels.

Step 9: Make the Flap

Start by folding the side panel so that it covers the zipper. Then mark at one inch, fold along it, pin it and then sew. Just as we did for the pocket.

Step 10: Make the Base

To make my bag extra strong and durable I doubled up the base.

First, fold over one side of the side panel and pin it with the bottom edge of the front panel. pin it and sew.

Then fold over the other side and sew again.

This will create a double base for the bag. I then went ahead and sewed the edge where the ends where exposed to seal everything up.

Step 11: Attach the Back Panel

This was honestly the part of the project where I gave up. I had been 4 hours into work and was too tired to make sense of anything. Hence the lack of photographs.

Basically I pinned the back panel to the exposed edge of the side panel. Make sure you don't pin the straps to the edge. Then sew the four edges shut.

Also open the zipper before sewing on the back panel so that you could turn it inside out.

After this step is when my bag looked like a bag and when it started to feel like it was worth it.

Step 12: The Leather Handle

To make the leather handle I cut four strips of 1 cm thin pieces and braided into a four strand box braid. When it was sufficiently long I attached leather triangles to the exposed strips and attached it to the bag with the help of three rivets.

Also to hide the exposed end of the strap I cut a triangular piece of leather and stuck it on with some strong glue. To make it extra I added a rivet.

Step 13: Leather Tassel

To add extra pizzazz to it I made some easy leather tassels as shown in the photo and attached them to the zip pull.

Step 14: Finally Its Done!

I love how it turned out. it is a cute little size perfect for when I don't need to carry a lot with me.

I think the black leather accents look great with the grey of the felt. looks stylish when worn and surprisingly carries a lot more than I thought.

If you like this project please vote for it, and do check out my blog.

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    Yaaay....I'm very proud of you for following thru with protecting your creation before the 'world' got to it. I can't wait to see what other items you may create!

    3 replies

    If I keep getting amazing comments like yours, I can't wait to create more! :D

    PERFECT! Enjoy your gift and hobby. Your excitement is contagious!

    I'm glad to hear you found the Scotchgard at Amazon...hopefully its the one for upholstery?? That would be a stronger protection, however, if you get your terrific backpack really LOADED with it, you'll be good to go! Have fun!

    3 replies

    Yes, I just checked. It is for upholstery. Now I'm too scared to take it out without protection. Can't wait for it to arrive.

    Thanks again :)

    Sweetie....ENJOY your handiwork...the protection will arrive soon, okay? Good! : )

    Finally got it :) Sprayed my bag generously with it.

    Thanks :D

    Nice Job! The backpack looks awesome.

    You should feel very proud, your project was included in the latest instructables email.

    1 reply

    Was it really? Wow! I am honored!

    Nice bag. An idea for when making straps is to cut the fabric twice as wide as you want the strap plus and extra 15-20 mm. cut a cardboard template twice as wide as you want the strap, place in centre of fabric and fold sides over and iron, either that or mark a fold line and iron. Once all sides are folded then fold in half and iron again keeping the edges in line. Then sew down both sides and if you want some extra lines of stitching down the middle. Terry

    3 replies

    Thanks for this!

    I was really struggling to think of something to make my straps nice and durable. Cutting it in two not only took a long time but I had to make sure that whilst sewing the width of the strap didn't vary. Next time while sewing a strap I'll keep this in mind. :)

    Your very welcome, I will take some pictures of how I do it soon, just so its clear, although I have not made a back pack, I have made several 100 tote/shopping bags for charity and that's the way I make the handles, which are of course shorter, but you can still do it for longer straps

    You have got yourself a new follower. I'll be waiting for that instructable to be posted :)

    Nicely executed sewing project that should produce a healthy glow every time your eyes fall on it! I was wondering.... To protect the fabric from accidents, rain, etc., did you apply any water repellent, such as Scotchgard Fabric and Upholstery spray? (I'd give it a good dousing to keep it looking this Fantastic)!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the lovely comment. :D

    Actually, I hadn't thought about the damage, so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I'll go to the store asap and buy something to spray on it. do have any suggestions on which type would be the best?