Introduction: Backpack From an Old Hoodie

About: Hello. I'm a freelance designer who makes a lot of different things for fun.

Budget: $0.

When sourcing parts for my last backpack I realized how much the parts could cost: webbing, d rings and/or parachute clamps really add up.
I also wanted to add a hood to an existing backpack, but didn't have any spare backpacks. However, I did have some donor hoodies available and that inspired this project.
There are already several hoodie-to-backpack projects out there but nothing like what I wanted, so I started planning.

The plan!
I knew the arms needed to turn into straps, but hoodie arms are too thick, and a hoodie is designed to go around a person so it's far too big. My plan was to:

  • slim down the arms
  • slim the sides
  • close off the bottom
  • sew the arm straps to the bottom

Optional modification: sew the head section closed so it's a separate compartment.

The straps would not be adjustable but that's the trade-off for a $0 project.


  • a zippered hoodie (pockets are recommended but not required)
  • matching thread
  • chalk for marking
  • pins

Step 1: Preparing to Sew

Close the zipper all the way, and turn your hoodie inside out. Flatten it well so the existing seams are along the edges.

Grab your chalk and mark a line straight down the middle of the sleeve, then down the front just outside the pocket. See the illustration for where the line should go.

Load your sewing machine with the matching thread.

Step 2: Sew and Cut

Starting at the sleeve, make a straight stitch all the way along the chalk line, about a half-inch to the inside. (Later, when you cut the hoodie, the thread will be hard to see, so you will cut along the chalk.) Pause at the inside corner to lift the foot and turn the garment, then continue.

Do both sides, then cut all the excess fabric off. You will end up with a hoodie that appears to be taken in for a very thin person.

While you have the hoodie inside out, Sew along the bottom, just above the elastic waist. Make two seams, one on each side of the zipper, to close off the bottom. You can see where I jumped across the zipper, and trimmed the thread afterwards.

Step 3: Attach the Straps

(Note: If you prefer, you could attach the end of the sleeves in the previous steps by sewing the cuffs into the bottom stitch. I thought that might shorten them too much, but it would be a lot cleaner. I also like the look of the "hands" stuck in the pockets!)

Turn the hoodie right-way-out and lay it. Flatten out the sleeve "straps" and fold them over the way you want them. I tried to hide the seam on the inside. Tuck them into the pockets and pin them when you're happy.

Now turn it over, gently pull out the pocket and sew an "x box" or whatever you can to secure it.

That's pretty much it! Open the zipper to fill it up with your favourite items.

Optional step that I didn't do, sew across the neck area to separate the hoodie compartment.

Step 4: Three Ways to Wear!

  1. Wear the hood up. Great for the post apocalypse!
  2. Fill up the hood section and tie it closed. You could keep extra socks, shirt, or stuffies in there and it doubles as a pillow.
  3. Tuck the hood in for stealth mode.

It's pretty simple. I'd love to see your versions of it!

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