Introduction: Backpack/Tote With Picture Frame

About: I am not attached to labels. Nike, Izod... doesnt matter what it says. If an item has been discarded I just might cut it up and make something out of it...
Please vote on this Instructable in the MOTHERS DAY CONTEST

Build a tote that doubles as a backpack with picture frame for Mom using an old softshell jacket.

My mom is in her 50's and is the supporting pillar of the family. She is super supportive and giving to me and my siblings and is a new Grandma too! (not mine :op')
She spends 50 at work and commutes everyday on top of that to keep the family on track.
Throughout my youth, she instilled a great number of admirable qualities in her only daughter; inspiration, motivation, strength, individuality, and most importantly Creativity!! to name a few :oD She continues to give back to the youth of tomorrow through many years as a leader for Boy Scouts.

For mothers day, I am using some of those important qualities to give a piece of what she gave me back to her.

I love you, Mom!

Dont forget to rate this project!

Step 1: Supplies

Sturdy old jacket (thank you Nike)
seam ripper
fabric paint
paint brush
iron ( to set the paint )
sewing machine
clear plastic (soda bottle, whathaveyou)
picture of yourself
lovely assistant


Step 2: The Vision

Its good to have a basic idea of what you are going to create so you dont end up wasting materials. This step is mostly for my sanity so you can skip it if you dont need to know the logic behind the design.

The zipper:
the zipper for this jacket is 23 inches long and has a double pull. Since I want to use this as a closure for the bag, I am going to remove it IN TACT and plan my dimensions around the length of the zipper.
My dimensions will be 15in wide x 12in tall x 4in deep.
23(zipper) - 15(average size laptop) = 8.
Divide 8 by half is 4in.
All of these dimensions are variable to the jacket you have.

The pockets:
the pockets on this style of jacket arent removed easily, they are part of the jacket not a floating liner inside the coat. I am going to plan to use the pockets in the design of the tote. Since the pockets enter inward toward the zipper, I am removing that part of the jacket in tact as well. LOGIC

The third pocket:
there is a third pocket on the sleeve, will be great for a cell phone. I am going to cut off the sleeves and fashion the one with the pocket into the carrying strap, utilizing the pocket. CREATIVE

The picture frame:
I will inset a picture frame using my sewing machine and some clear plastic salvaged from the recycle bin. INNOVATIVE

The bling:
with my fabric paints, I am adding some of the wonderful things my mother gave me, painted all over the tote, using the green accent bits to add some extra color. RESOURCEFUL

Step 3: Remove the Zipper

Cut off the zipper 1/2 inch into the jacket. There are a few seams that need to be ripped in order to make a clean cut, like the collar that had 2 layers.

If you are using a jacket that you can leave the zippers attached, IMPROVISE :0P'

Step 4: Seam Ripping

I disassembled the jacket in panels by the seams so that I would waste less material. Plus, I got all the little green pieces left over for later by doing it this way.

Seam-rip the pocket panels off.
Seam-rip the sleeves
Seam-rip the chest panels.
Cut out any remaining panels needed from the collar.
In my case, 2 8in x 4in panels for the carrying strap.

I only included one picture of seam-ripping, we all know what that looks like and how much PATIENCE and MOTIVATION that takes.

Step 5: The Bag

To build the body of the bag, I am using the back panels of the jacket from the waist to the bottom of the sleeve, folded in half

Fold over the panel from the waist up, cut along the edge of the bottom making the top edge match.
Pin the fold, which should be the middle.
Measure from the fold 2inches up and mark all the way across on both sides.
Remove center fold pins and pin along the 2 inch marks you made.
Top stitch.
This will be the bottom of the bag.

Step 6: The Pockets / Side Panels

Line up the raw edges of the pocket and base panels, outsides touching and pin along the bottom of the pocket to the base panel on both sides.

Sew on the inside.
Top stitch on the outside.

Because of the shape of the pocket panels, my side panels are not symetrical. I decided to make this bag even more unique by keeping the odd shape and fitting the zipper accordingly.

Sew on the side panels by starting with the base open flat, outside facing up.
Sew the skinny part first, the base.
Fold the sides over one at a time and sew.
Repeat on the opposite panel.
Top stitch all seams to reinforce.
Hem any raw edges except where the zipper is going.

Step 7: The Zipper

From the base of the bag on both sides, mark 11inches all the way across. Fold over, leaving excess material. This will reinforce the attachment.

Leave the zipper zipped and pin one side to the bag opening with the outsides touching.
As you pin the other side, unzip the zipper so that you have access to the underside.
Make sure that you are lining up the seams from the sides of the bag as you unzip or it will be loppy...

Sew on the inside. Topstitch the outside.
The topstitch will be through alot of material, go slow.
Mend any raw edges or uneven material.

Step 8: The Shoulder Strap

The pocket-panel is 22 inches long. I want my strap to be 36ish, so I used left overs from the collar or the rest of the sleeve.

The sleeve with the pocket:
Cut off or seam-rip the cuff of the sleeve.
From the zipper side of the sleeve, measure 4 inches, mark the length of material and cut along the mark.
Harvest strips from leftovers.
Sew sections to the pocket panel to the desired length.
Hem all rough edges and double back with a zigzag stitch for reinforcement.

Step 9: Add the Strap

Pin the ends of the strap to each side panel at least two inches.
Sew around the perimeter of those 2 inches and cross from one corner to the other.
It will look like an X in a box (haha or an xbox)

Step 10: Painting

Test the paint on a scrap. If you like it, continue on.

Sketch with chalk where you want to paint all those great things about Mom.
Paint with your choice of fabric paint. I used Luminaire Old brass. This particular brand requires 24 hours to dry.
After 24 hours, heat set the paint by ironing on permanent press or low heat with no steam.

Step 11: Photo of You

My original idea was to use a clear plastic bottle for the frame, but it was recycled by a roommate. So I improvised again and instead used a clear plastic case from some colored pencils. You can use anything that is sturdy and still flexible.

Cut a square piece of clear plastic, what ever dimension you like. I chose 4 x 5.
Sew a piece of colorful scrap around the outside of the plastic.
Pin the frame to the bag on top and bottom, pick one side as your top.
Sew the frame to the bag on 3 sides, leaving one open to insert a photo.

Insert photo.


A free to low cost gift for anyone who has touched your life in a way that keeps you growing as an adult and human being, gives you love and friendship and the strong hand when you need a push in the right direction or help up. Someone who continuously motivates you with their drive and commitment and will to change with the times to support a family and the future of other families by giving their unwavering love and acceptance through communication, knowledge, education and true, honest friendship.

Thank you Mom! I would not be where I am without you!
Mother's Day Contest

Participated in the
Mother's Day Contest