T Shirt Backpack With Sleeve Hole Pockets

Introduction: T Shirt Backpack With Sleeve Hole Pockets

So I've been wanting to do an Instructable for quite some time. I was really intrigued when I saw the Backpack Contest. I wanted to come up with something different and quite useful. I knew it needed to be one of the soft ones that you could just roll up instead of one with form and bulk.

I go to Japan every two years and the last time I went, I took a soft backpack that I could just toss in my suitcase. It was great! Each morning I would take it with me and had my passport, money, water bottle and snacks. We would be out all day and most of my purchases fit in this pack so it was perfect for traveling. But I wanted it to be more useful so I started brainstorming. I thought perhaps put pockets on the outside of a purchased one - so that you could easily reach those items while traveling. But I went to the store and they had one just like what I imagined and for less than $20.00. Why recreate the wheel.

I was in Ross and shopping for my soon to be grand-baby and saw this shirt. It was only $1.49 - I love a bargain. That is when the inspiration came for using a T-shirt to make a backpack. Everyone knows how fast kids grow and how they get attached to their special clothing and don't want to give them up, even when they obviously have outgrown them. What a great way to make one of the kid's favorite T-shirts into something useful. It is the perfect size for them as well. Aren't my models adorable? No I can't lay claim to them - they belong to a co-worker who was kind enough to lend them to me.

So here is a go at my very first instructable - I hope you enjoy it and if you can't use it - pass it along to someone with small kids or grand-kids.

Step 1: Pockets - They Go in the Armhole - How Cute Is That!

First find the T-shirt you are going to use. We are going to make pockets that go inside the armhole. This will be the perfect place for your youngster to stash some snacks or a small toy.

Lay your shirt on a flat surface and make a template of your pocket. I just used a piece of paper to draw the armhole and then made the depth I wanted. You will cut out the patterns, put the pattern on your fabric and cut four. This will make two pockets, one for each armhole. You can make them any size you want - I went with a rather small one.

Sew around the three sides (not where you attach to the armhole) of two of the pieces you cut. Pin the pocket into the armhole and repeat on in the other armhole.. My daughter makes fun of me for using pins. She has an Etsy shop. Check it out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythfitCreations

My daughter hand makes plush toys and she sews about 15 hours each day, so of course she doesn't have time for pins. Such a showoff she is.

Turn the shirt inside out and do yourself a favor and pin it in place. You will be glad you did. Then sew it in place. I would use a matching thread - in the example I used a contrasting color so you could see it. So the same to the corresponding side for the 2nd pocket.

Step 2: Closure for the Pockets

I used velcro - you can also use a zipper, snaps, button, etc. Kids like Velcro and it is easy to do. Cut a piece of velcro the size of the opening. Sew a piece on each side.

Step 3: Sew the Bottom Up

This step is pretty easy as well. Just sew up the bottom. Make sure you turn it inside out first so that your seam is on the inside.

Step 4: Making the Top Closure Portion

Cut a rectangle piece that goes around the entire collar area and sew the seam. I ran a piece of fabric around the collar and made it that big. I'm not a big pattern maker so easy works for me. Again I suggest pinning the piece to the shirt instead of just winging it.

Next you will sew a tunnel at the top to hold the coring. I'm sure there is a more appropriate term, but it looks like a tunnel to me. Make sure you leave an opening so that you can insert the cording. Measure out your cording. You will need it to be as big as the circumference of your opening + about 6 inches. Thread it through the tunnel (use a safety pin for ease), leaving three inches of the cording on either side coming out of the tunnel.

Now we have to put one of the Round Spring Toggles Stoppers Cord Locks End - no kidding that is what they are called on Amazon. Here is link to it so you can see what they look like.


I found the cord was difficult to thread through the Cord Locks so I used a piece of scotch tape on the end of the cord to make it more stable and easier to thread through. You will thread through the other end of the cord as well.

Step 5: Insert the Carry Straps

I had so many ideas for the carry straps. They could be made out of braided cording, colorful ribbon, strapping material, etc. For this example I just used the cording I used for the drawstring. It doesn't look that great so I probably should have used some nice ribbon. Lesson learned. Simply attach to the bottom corners (on the back of the shirt) and at the top center or at the shoulders with a few stitches (hand sewing).

I've attached a video showing the finished product (along with a shot or two of one of my dogs). You can hear one of the dogs in the background crying - that is my Toby. He is a chronic crier - so sorry about that!

I hope you have enjoyed my first instructable as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

Backpack Challenge

Participated in the
Backpack Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Lighting Challenge

      Lighting Challenge
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge

    2 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Nice tutorial. So easy and fun.
    Thankyou for sharing the tutorial.
    Please take my vote
    Btw you girls so cute


    2 years ago

    Very clever! I like this idea a lot. Thank you for sharing your first instructable! :)