Here I’ll show out how how to design and make your own ultimate travel bag as well as an explanation of what I prioritized for mine
Step 1: Plan Out the Design
I used a design that was modified from a backpack that i already had coupled with the philosophy of combining the space of a backcountry pack with the convenience of a suitcase. In other words I wanted a suitcase sized backpack that would facilitate a nomadic lifestyle through whichever medium. Because of that i chose the dimensions to be the maximum size of a carryon bag for most airlines. I also live in rural Guatemala so I wanted the bag to easily fit onto the buses here that i use regularly.
After determining dimensions, I decided on how many compartments and where to put them. I wanted one main pocket that could be collapsed if not fully filled as well as a secondary pocket and an organizational section for smaller items to be easily accesible. To be able to collapse the pack, I added adjustable straps on the second layer and I also added handles to make the bag almost like a duffel bag to help with handling the bag on transport (especially the aforementioned buses). I made two organizational pockets, one that has a simple separator inside and the other with several separators, a spot for pens and pencils and various other small pockets to organize electronics.
Finally I wanted the backpack to be able to include more space on the outside if not everything fits for my reason. For that I added two cloth belts that can act as straps to add a tent or sleeping bag and simply strap to the top. The bottom also has a small pocket to hold a rain proof cover.
Step 2: Organize and Prepare the Fabric
Now that you have your design in mind, measure and cut your fabric. I recommend making a list of every piece you need for the project and then moving forward. As you go through check things off (including things like zippers and straps). Also after this step it helps to prepare exactly the order in which you’ll be sewing the pieces together. I started from the edges and sewed toward the main pocket so that I could leave the large zipper open and easily turn the bag right side out at the end. Otherwise poor planning could make the backpack difficult or impossible to complete with a machine.
Step 3: Start Sewing!
Now you have all the pieces and everything carefully planned out, follow through with the plan. As previously stated, I sewed from the outside in essentially. I did then smaller organizational pockets first, then added the middle layer, then sewed the straps and back together and finally connected the two while leaving the main pocket unzipped to easily turn the bag right side out.
Step 4: Enjoy the Ultimate Travel Pack!
Try on your pack and note any changes you’d like to make if any!
On a side note I made this in Guatemala with a foot pedal sewing machine so my equipment was fairly limited. If you have access to an overlock or serger I’d recommend using those as well as choosing sturdy fabric. That being said you can make a good sturdy pack with a foot pedal machine if that’s what you have, it just might take a little more work. I hope you like it and please vote for me in the backpack contest!