Introduction: All Fabric Roll-top Rucksack

A fun, simple and easy to make design for the beloved roll-top backpack. Easily customizable, this design can be finished in a couple of hours. great for beginners who want to try something a little more difficult. Really nice if you've been sewing for a while and just need a quick backpack.

Step 1: What You'll Need

So, there's no pattern for this backpack, but it's really just cutting out rectangles and sewing them together. I have a rough outline pictured here of the pieces you'll need. If you can't make it out, don't worry, I explain exactly what pieces you'll need for each step at the beginning of the step. It's a pretty simple design and didn't take me more than 2 hours to make. what you will need are as follows:

1. Sewing Machine
2. Scissors
3.About 1/2 yard of canvas or other durable fabric
4. 8" by 11" piece of fabric for the outer pockets and tops of straps and another 8" by 11" piece of fabric for the lining on both those pieces
5. 8" by 10" of interfacing OR other fluffy fabric like fleece (I bought a $3 fleece dog blanket from target that i've been using instead of interfacing)
6. 3" x 12" strip and 3" x 2.5" of leather or another tough fabric
7. Ruler
8. Marker and/or pencil
9. hair straigtener or iron

Step 2: The Main Parts

Start by cutting out two 11" x 18" rectangles and two 3" x 18" rectangles out of your canvas. These will be the front, back and sides of your rucksack. Also cut out an 11" x 4" rectangle out of both your alternate fabric and lining fabric. these will be for the front pockets.

Step 3: The Front Pocket

Lay the two 11" x 4" rectangles on top of each other with right/outer sides facing each other. pin and sew the top edge of the fabrics together and turn the pieces right side out. If you'd like, you can press the fabric using an iron, or a hair straightening iron, which is what I used and it worked great. Next, topstitch the same top edge of the fabrics, this time with wrong/inner sides facing each other. stitch a little bit away from the edge of the fabric so you get a nice trim when you're done. look at the picture for reference.

place the pocket material on the bottom of one of your 11" x 18" rectangles and line it up so the bottom and side edges of the fabrics line up. With your ruler, make a small mark in pencil in the very middle of your pocket fabric, or, if you would like more than two pockets, you can make markings wherever you'd want the divider between pockets to be. For the pack I made I have two outer pockets. With your sewing machine sew a line down the middle of your pocket fabric from top to bottom, creating two equally sized flaps now attached to your canvas. set this combined piece aside for now and lets go work on the straps!!

Step 4: The Strappies!

ATTENTION: for this step I originally used 1" x 9" strips for the lower part of the strap (that's what size is pictured in the images) but that's too short. I ended up doubling the length to 18" which works good but 17" or even 16" would work fine too.

Start by cutting out two two 2" x 10" pieces of fabric from your pocket and strap material and two more pieces of the same size from your lining and four of the same size from your interfacing or fleece. You can opt for wider straps (maybe go up to 3"), I just have dang tiny shoulders so I don't need that much. next cut out four 1" by 16"-18" strips from your canvas. the length depends on just how long you want your straps to be. the ones i made are longer (18"). Start with the canvas strips and sew two together starting with just one edge as pictured, then flip right side out, press with your iron or hair straightener and sew the other end closed. You may be wondering at this point "Meghan, why wouldn't you sew both long edges together inside out and then reverse through the short, open ends so that your straps look neater?"
my answer is that it's a skinny canvas tube and that would be really hard to flip rightside out. If you know a good way to flip a skinny canvas tube rightside out, please let me know. anyways, you're going to want to also topstitch the other edge of the strap so that there are matching seams on both sides. you can press again too if you need to.

Step 5: Five Layer Sammy (or, Sewing the Straps)

for putting the upper, padded straps together you're going to make a nice little five layer fabric sandwich like you'll see in the picture. MAKE SURE ALL YOUR FABRICS ARE FACING THE RIGHT WAY BEFORE YOU START SEWING. Remember you' be flipping it rightside out after you sew it. This part can be a little finicky as far as not sewing the canvas strap to the rest of the strap on accident and not having your pedal foot get pushed too far to the edge of your fabric. Just go slow and have a seam ripper on hand just in case. Start by sewing one line along the short edge to attach the edge of the canvas strap to the rest of the fabric and then carefully sew up the sides attaching the rest of the fabric and interfacing together but leaving the rest of the canvas strap "floating" in the inside. Once you've done that, leaving the top end open for reversing, reach in and pull the canvas strip out and the rest of the strap should follow. refer to the pictures on what the finished straps should look like.

Step 6: Attaching the Straps

on the blank 11" x 18" canvas rectangle, make a mark in pencil 12" up and 1.5" in for where you'll attach the top of the strap. Look at the pictures for an example. flip the strap over, with the top side of the strap touching the canvas, sew the strap onto the canvas along the line that you marked. the pictures should show what the attached strap should look like.

Then, sew the bottom of the strap to the bottom edge of the 11" x 18" canvas, by first making a mark in pencil 0.5" away from the side edge of the fabric (to allow for the seam that will eventually be there), lining the edge of the strap up with the bottom edge of the canvas and with the mark you made and attaching. Do this for both straps.

Step 7: The Front Strappy Holdy Thingy for Holding the Top of the Pack Down

cut a strip of fabric or leather 3" x 12". you could make yours shorter by an inch or so, you'd just have to account for that when you place the fastener loops. I wouldn't make it any shorter than 10" though. sew edges together as pictured, sewing on the OUTSIDE of the fabric as pictured. Squish your leather tube down so that the new seam sits in the middle of the strap instead of on the edge (as pictured) and press with your iron or straigtener. Finished strap should look as pictured.

Next make a mark in pencil halfway between the two straps on your canvas. make sure your mark is at the same level as the top of your straps (about 12" up). the mark should be 1" long. lay your leather strap on your canvas seam down with the bottom edge of the strap on your mark and the rest of your strap running up away from the bottom of the pack. sew strap on along the mark you made.

Step 8: The Bottom

cut out a canvas piece 3" x 11" and sew one edge of that onto the bottom edge of the front of your pack, making sure the side edges are aligned so you don't end up with a crooked pack. Doing this should also sew down the bottom of your outer pockets.

Step 9: Preparing for Battle

make a mark in pencil on the INSIDE of the 11" x 18" that is the front of your pack, 0.5" from the top edge of the canvas. Fold down and inward on that line and press with your iron. check to make sure that the fold creates a straight edge for the top of your pack before sewing it down to create a seam. fold down and seam the tops of the two side pieces of canvas (the 3" x 18" ones) in the same way.

Step 10: Gettin Schwifty

Lay one of the side canvas pieces face down on the face of the piece that will be the front of the pack. Sew along the edge, starting at the top, leaving a little bit of space at the bottom so you have room to work when sewing the corner. line up the two 3" edges and sew together, completing the corner. If there is a gap left on the other edge where you left room, sew that up now. Attach the other side piece in the same way. you should now have a pack-in-the-making that looks like one of those christmas present boxes that you fold out. you can pop it rightside out to get a good idea of what the front of your pack will look like.

Step 11: It's All Coming Together...

take the back piece of your pack and pin the bottom edge to the 11" edge of the bottom of your pack. Make sure it's lined up to allow room for sewing the back piece to the side pieces. Leave the top edge of the back piece unseamed for now. Once you've sewed the bottom edges together sew the side edges of the back pice to the side pieces, this time starting from the bottom. When you're a couple inches away from the top edge, fold the back pieces top edge down so that it's even with the top seam of the side piece and then keep holding the top edge down as you finish sewing the edges together. Do this for both side pieces.

Now the top edge of the back piece should look like what's pictured in the fifth photo for this step. with your iron or straigtener, press the seam down so the edge creases smoothly from side to side. Sew the seam down.


Step 12: Important Creases

fold the sides of the top of your pack in like you would with a brown paper bag and press. this will help the top roll down smoothly, and I want your pack to be smooth because I want good things for you.
Fold the end of your leather strap down about half an inch, press, and then sew the edge down onto the shaft of the strap. Feel free to trim the strap if any of the inside of the leather is peeking out.

Step 13: Finishing Touches

cut out two 1.5" x 2.5" pieces of leather. Seam and press the same way you did with the big leather strap. What you should have left are two little leather straps 2.5" long. Lay your pack down on it's back, roll the top down and lay the leather strap down to where it will be when the pack is closed. Make a mark in pencil on the canvas underneath the halfway point on your leather strap and make another mark in pencil about an inch below that one. Sew the two small straps on over these marks, sewing just the outer edges down so that the leather strap can run underneath them and then up through the top loop to close the pack.

Patterns Contest

Third Prize in the
Patterns Contest