Introduction: Upcycled Fanny Pack

About: I celebrate all things steampunk, metal working, wood working, sewing, and stained glass. I love to learn knew skills and I find joy in teaching those skills to others.

Everyone has that one t-shirt, right? The one that's mostly holes but you just can't throw it away because your aunt lovingly tie-dyed it for you over a decade ago. With hearts. She tie-dyed hearts. How is that even possible? I don't know what kind of textile voodoo she was harnessing but as far as I'm concerned this dying technique is magic. This shirt is magic and soft and definitely deserves a second life. So, fear not! If you are in the same boat as I, this Instructable provides a means to give your hopeless hippie wear some happy hipster flare!

Step 1: Get Yer Stuff

Sewing Machine

Preferably one with thread in it.

12 inch zipper

Plain. Regular, run-of-the-mill zipper. None of this invisible stuff, that's too hard.

At least a yard of inch wide synthetic belting

More is better in this case, you can always cut it shorter later. I use 38 inches because I like to sling my pack across my back. It makes me look like Laura Croft. Synthetic is important because we use a lighter to melt the edges to keep it from fraying. Cotton belting wont do that, so if you'd rather use cotton you're on your own- you'll have to use glue or something.

A fanny pack buckle

The plastic kind. For fanny packs. And bike helmets... I found this one out of the package so I don't know it's name. It should fit one inch belting.


Totes for sewing. ;)


If you're working with light fabrics use black or whatever really. If working with dark fabrics I recommend silver. So shiny.

Sewing pins

Pins on Pins on Pins. Pins Pins Pins Pins Pins.


Or really sharp teeth

Thin-weight iron-on interfacing

I don't actually know how much I used. I have a cheap roll of the stuff that'll last me a life time. A yard will probably be more than enough.

Fabric-y things to upcycle into a new beautiful existence!

Two different fabrics were used here because one of them is outside and one is the lining. The pack will last longer if the liner fabric is something relatively durable- canvas, denim, corduroy, etc. If a t-shirt-like material is used for both the outside and the liner there is a risks of it stretching out to look like a beer belly. At least that was my thought process when I needed an excuse to also use an old pair of ripped-up corduroys in my fanny pack. I love corduroy.

Download the pattern

You have to down load it and open it in something other than the internet so you can print it. It'll take four pieces of paper unless you go somewhere to get it printed. Note- The blue lines are where your seams will be or where things fold over. They're there to help visualize the dimensions of the final bag. Cut out pattern on the black lines. On the flatter of the two shapes the blue line extends to the edge at the top. These are your reference points for your zipper.

Step 2: Belt It Real Good

Prepping your belting is easy to start with-

Cut a long and a short length of belting. I did 9" and 29" inches.

Nice table, huh? (Thanks Mom!)

Now, carefully and in a well vented area, use your lighter to singe the edges. Singe mind you, not torch. This poly-belting stuff will melt and drip and then catch on fire and then catch you on fire. Not what we're looking for. Just wanna keep the little fibers from fraying.

Then take the pocket side of your buckle (refer to picture) and loop an inch or so through it.

Pin it.

Sew it.

I sewed a "Z" because I was being lazy and didn't want to sew an "X" with a box around it.

Set aside belting and buckle for later installation.

Step 3: Get Ready to Rumble

Hokay. Design time. Lay out your pattern- you wanna make sure you have enough material and that it's gunna look awesome.

Get some iron-on interfacing. This stuff helps stabilize so your textiles wont stretch while you're sewing. I added it to both my fabrics, which could have been overkill, because the corduroy pants I wanted to use for lining ended up being stretchier than I remember. Better too much interfacing than not enough.

Iron it! (To the backs of your fabrics.)

Trace out your pattern.

Cut out your pattern.


Now you wanna match your shapes putting the interfacing sides together.

Pin it.

Sew it. About 1/8" away from the edges.

Step 4: Zipper Time

Don't get too excited, we're only sewing half the zipper right now.

We're working with the "good side" facing up. Lay the zipper down upside down. Very important, thus the bold font usage. If it is not up-side down now it will be inside-out later. Make sure the zipper's in the middle- I put little lines in about the right place on the printable pattern for reference.

Pin it.

Sew it. About a 1/4" away from the edge. Everything from here on out is a 1/4" away; this will hide our earlier seam lines from putting our two different fabrics together.

I did the lazy-man's style of zipper. I sewed all the way across from one end to the other. This means you can see my "tails" when the fanny pack is done. To avoid that (and the scorn from any of your seamstress friends) only sew the length of the zipper where the teeth are.

Step 5: Getting Closer

Between this step and the next you will need at least a million pins. You've been warned.

With your outside fabrics facing each other, line up the bottom edges of your two pieces ensuring that the little flaps are even at the top. Yes, the bottom piece of fabric is longer, you didn't cut it wrong.

Pin it to death just along that bottom edge.

Now it gets a bit tricky and a lil 3D. You'll want to line up the flaps so they overlap as close to perfect as you can get.

Pin that to death too along the longer diagonal edge. Do not pin the ends of your flaps yet.

Do this for both sides.

Now it's starting to take shape!

Step 6: Almost There

Belt time.

Pick a side. Now tuck the buckle we sewed earlier into your pack leaving a half inch hanging out of the end of the flap.

Check between your pinned fabrics to make sure your belting is relatively straight.

Pin it.

Now do the same with the long piece of belting. Stick all of it in between the fabrics with only a half inch sticking out.

Pin that too.

Also pin that little flat ledges that leads up to the arc. This is where I did the lazy zipper- I just lined the zipper up with the edge of my fabric here. If you want a cleaner look pull the little ends out and let them hang over the edge, like the half inch of belting we left hanging out of the bag.

Sew all the things you pinned. Remember- 1/4" away from the edge.

Step 7: Finish It

Now we have an inside-out fanny pack with half a zipper. To remedy this make sure it's unzipped and line up the floppy half of zipper with the edge of the curve. Make sure your zipper teeth are facing down. I'm going to see if I can use zipper in every sentence of this step.

Pin the zipper.

Sew it the zipper.

Be the zipper.

Without putting strain on the zipper, turn everything inside-out.


Step 8: I Lied. There's One More Thing

Grab your prong side of your buckle and loop the empty end of your belting through it.

This is your size adjustment, there is a right and wrong way to put the belt through this end so test it to make sure it's working. It works like a back-pack strap.

Fold over about a half inch.

Pin it.

Sew it.

I did a single line back and forth a few times. This'll keep your buckle from falling off your strap.

Step 9: Nice.

Wear it proudly.

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