Around campus or across the country, make the journey more beautiful with this vintage-inspired backpack.
Dimensions: approximately 14” high X 12” wide X 7” deep (35.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 18 cm) with grab handle with dual adjustable 17” (43 cm) shoulder straps for versatility and exterior flap and zip pockets at the front and sides.
Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process. Topstitching adds a decorative element while reinforcing all seams for durability.
You will need:
- 1 yd. (.90 m) canvas or upholstery weight fashion fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
- 3/4 yd. (.70 m) heavy-weight lining fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
- 1/2 pigskin leather hide for trim
- 3/4 yd. (.70 m) fusible interfacing, 60” wide (153 cm)
- 1/4 yd. (.25 m) transfer web, 36” wide (91 cm)
- 2 ¼ yds. (2 m) cotton/polyester webbing, 2” wide (50 mm)
- 8 metal grommets, ¾” dia. (20 mm)
- 2 metal zippers, 7” long (18 cm)
- 1 nylon zipper, 8” long (20 cm)
- 1 metal dome snap set, ⅝” dia. (15 mm)
- 2 metal buckles, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
- 2 metal square rings, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
- 1 metal O- ring, 2” dia. (50 mm)
- 2 connector rings for zippers, ¼” dia. (6 mm)
- 1 hook & loop fastener, 1” wide (25 mm)
- heavy-duty all-purpose thread
- double-sided mounting tape
- rotary cutter
- hole punch
- kraft paper
Design Tip: Match the hardware and zipper metals in colour and metal finish for a sleek unified look. Colour coordinate your choice of trim with the bag strapping to achieve further harmony in your design.
The draft and formation of this backpack is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the drafting scale.
** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces, except pocket flap and bag flap.
Draft Body Pattern
Drafting scale = the depth of the bag; in this case, 7 inches (18 cm)
On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to B; AB = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).
Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 20″ (51 cm).
Square across from B and down from C to locate D. ABCD is a rectangle.
1 from A = half the distance between AB; square across to locate 2.
3 from 1 = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).
Square up and down from 3 to locate 4 and 5.
6 from 2 = the scale
Square up and down from 6 to locate 7 and 8.
9 from 7 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 9 to point 6 with a straight line.
10 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 10 to point 2 with a straight line.
This is the pattern for the side lining. Label cut 2X lining.
11 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 11 to point 1 with a straight line.
12 from 4 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 12 to point 3 with a straight line.
Point 13 is located midway 11 and 12; square down to locate 14.
This is the pattern for the back section. Label cut 1X self.
The same draft may be used for the Front and Back Lining. Trace off and label, cut 2X lining.
Trace off the draft onto kraft paper.
15 from 6 = 2″ (5 cm). Join point 15 to point 2 with a straight line.
Cut on line 15-2 to create the Upper Side and Lower Side pattern pieces.
Label the Upper Side cut 2X self.
Label the Lower Side Cut 2X self and cut 2X lining (pocket bag).
Point 16 is located at the intersection of lines 1-2 and 13-14.
Point 17 = the distance between 1 and 16 minus 2″ (5 cm).
Point 18 = the distance between 16 and 3 minus 2″ (5 cm).
This is the placement line for the front bellow pocket.
Points 19 and 20 are located 3/8″ (1 cm) above points 17 and 18.
This is the placement line for the front pocket flap.
This completes the draft for the front pattern. Label cut 1X self.
Draft Bottom (Base) Pattern
On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to B; AB = scale
Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 2 x scale minus 2″ (5 cm).
Square across from B and down from C to locate D. ABCD is a rectangle.
1 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm).
2 from 1 = 2″ (5 cm).
3 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm).
4 from 3 = 2″ (5 cm).
Points 1-2 and 3-4 are the placement points for the connector ring tabs.
Point 5 is midway between B and D and marks the centerfront (CF) of the bag.
Draft Front Bellow Pocket Pattern
Trace off points 14, 16, 17, and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.
Square down from points 17 and 18; and across from point 14 to locate A and B.
C-D is equidistant from 17-18; C-17 and D-18 = 1/2″ (5 cm).
E from 14 = 1″ (2.5 cm).
Square across from E to locate F at intersection of 17-A.
Square across from E to locate G at intersection of 18-B.
H from G = 1″ (2.5 cm).
I from F = 1″ (2.5 cm).
Join D-H and H-B with a straight line.
Join C-I and I-A with a straight line.
Draw a tangent line from G at a 45 degree angle.
J from G = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join J to B and H with a straight line.
K from F = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join K to I and A with a straight line.
This is the pattern for the bellow pocket. Label cut 1X self.
Mark placement location of hook & loop fastener (at center) about 1/2″ (12 mm) from point 16.
Draft Front Pocket Flap Pattern
Trace off points 16, 17 and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.
Square down from 16 to locate L; L from 16 = 3/4 of scale.
Square down from 17 and 18; and across from L to locate M and N at the intersections of the lines.
Gradually round off the corners at M and N.
This is the pattern for the Front Pocket. Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.
Indicate the placement of the hook & loop fastener at center approximately 3/8″ (1 cm) above L.
Draft Top Flap Pattern
Trace off points 11, 12, and 13 from Back Pattern draft onto kraft paper.
Square down from 13 to locate P; P from 13 = scale amount + 2″ (5 cm).
Square down from 11 and 12; and across from P to locate Q and R at the intersections of the lines.
Gradually round off the corners at Q and R.
This is the pattern for the Top Flap . Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.
Indicate the placement of the clasp at center approximately 4″ (10 cm) above P.
Draft Drawcord Placket Pattern
Draw an oblong shape on kraft paper.
The length = 2 x (distance between 11 and 12 + distance between 9 and 10), from the body draft.
The width = 4″ (10 cm).
Label pattern, cut 1X self.
Back and Front – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining
Upper Side – cut 2X self
Lower Side – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining
Bottom – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining
Bag Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining
Front Pocket Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining
Front Bellow Pocket – cut 1X self
Bag Placket – cut 1X self
Side Lining – cut 2X lining
Drawcord – cut strip 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm) self fabric
Interior pocket – cut 2 squares lining, 11” X 11” (28 cm X 28 cm)
Small Parts Preparation
Make shoulder strap from webbing. Cut 2 lengths of webbing 36 inches long (90 cm). Attach a buckle on one end of each length and turn-under the cut end. Stitch across the width of the strap to finish neatly. Set the pair aside.
Make drawcord. Cut a strip of fabric 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm). With wrong sides together, fold strip in half lengthwise and press flat. Open strip and fold in long raw edges to the center of the fold. Press flat. Refold strip and stitch close along open edge. Set drawcord aside.
Make grab handle. Cut a length of leather using a rotary cutter (or x-acto knife) 12 inches X 2.5 inches (30.5 cm X 6.5 cm). Using an awl, score down the length on the wrong side of the leather. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the cut edge of the strip’s length. Set aside.
Make leather clasp. Cut 2 lengths of leather using a rotary cutter 8 inches X 1.5 inches (20 cm X 3.7 cm). On one of the pieces, make a centred hole using a hole-punch, 3 inches (7.5 cm)from one end of the leather strip. Attach the stud portion of the snap set (receiving end) and rivet into the hole, following manufacturer’s directions.
Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and place onto the other leather piece, with wrong sides together. Carefully round the short ends of the leather trim. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the perimeter edge of the trim.
On the end of the trim piece without the hardware, make a centred hole approximately 1 inch (25 mm) from the end and attach the remainder of the snap set, with the dome stem coming through the hole so that the socket is facing upward on the same side of the trim as the stud portion of the set. Set clasp aside.
Make ring tab. Cut 1 length of leather using a rotary cutter 6 inches X 3 inches (15 cm X 7.5 cm). Score along the length on the wrong side of the strip, 3/8-inch (10 mm) on either side. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the folded edge of the trim.
Wrap the leather trim around the O-ring and machine stitch across the trim’s width, as close as possible to the ring. Trim any excess from the backside of the leather. Set aside.
Pocket & Bag Flaps
Iron on fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the front pocket flap and its lining piece. With face sides together, match and align the layers. Pin/baste along the straight edge of the flap and sew a scant 1/4-inch seam (6 mm). Press seam open.
Iron on transfer web to the wrong side of the exterior portion of the pocket flap, following manufacturer’s directions.
Center a 2-inch length of the hook side of hook & loop fastener vertically, on the face side of the lining portion, about 1/2-inch (12 mm) from the rounded edge of the pocket flap. Stitch in place.
Peel the paper coating from the transfer web and with wrong sides together, fold the pocket flap in half (on the seamline) and match/align the rounded edges. Fuse the two layer together from the lining side while working around the loop fastener. Stitch along the curved raw edge to secure.
Measure the curved edge of the flap and cut a 3/4-inch (20 mm) wide strip of leather equal to the measurement taken. On the wrong side of the leather, score down the center of its length and apply double-sided mounting tape. Peel off the paper covering from the tape and carefully wrap the raw edges of the flap. Machine-stitch in place using a long stitch length. Set pocket flap aside.
Repeat the same procedure for the bag flap except, instead of the loop fastener step on the interior lining, attach the leather clasp to the exterior portion of the flap once the bag flap is completed.
Set bag flap aside.
Make up front bellow pocket. Turn under a 1/4 inch (6 mm) double hem along top of pocket piece. Press and topstitch down. Center a 2-inch (5 cm) length of the loop side of hook & loop fastener horizontally, on the face side of the pocket. Stitch in place along the completed edge of the pocket opening.
At each bottom notched corner, fold the pocket with face sides together and align seam. Pin/baste dart and sew each corner dart. Press seam to one side and topstitch along seam, face up to reinforce the darts. Turn under seam allowance and press flat. Set front pocket aside.
Insert Zipper In Sides
Cut 2 strips of fabric, about 8 inches X 1 ¼ inches (20 cm X 3 cm) to make pocket welts. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and press flat. With face sides up, align raw edges along side pocket opening and pin/baste in place. Stitch a welt to each the upper and lower side pieces. Grade seam allowances and press flat.
Next attach zipper in place using a zipper foot, but before doing so, modify the zipper head. In most cases, you will have available only a regular metal closed zipper to purchase. Using needle-nosed pliers, carefully remove the pull tab from the zipper head and insert a metal connector ring in its place. Cut a 12-inch (30 cm) length of leather 3/8-inch (10 mm) wide and loop it through the connector ring using a cow hitch knot. Repeat for the zipper on the opposite side.
To attach the zipper, center it along the welt of each side piece so that the zipper zips closed from the back of the bag downward to the front of the bag. Stitch in place.
Align and match the lower side lining piece to the outer edges of the lower side of the bag. Baste in place. Along the upper side welt, pin the zipper tape to the top of the lining and stitch together.
With face side up, topstitch along welt seams.
Repeat this procedure for the opposite side panels. Set both aside.
Insert Zip Pocket in Lining
Make interior zippered pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the back wall features a zip pocket. Start by ironing a strip of fusible interfacing to an edge of one of the interior pocket squares. Cut the interfacing 11” X 2” (28 cm X 5 cm) and fuse it to the wrong side of the lining fabric.
With face sides together, center the pocket lining onto the back lining portion, placing the pocket lining so that it aligns with the bottom edge of the back lining. Pin/baste in place. On the interfaced edge of the pocket lining, mark out an opening for the zipper about 1/4-inch wide (6 mm) and as long as the length of the zipper teeth. Stitch around this outline with neat squared corners, then slash through the middle of this outline and cut diagonally into each of the corners. Push lining through the cut opening and press opening flat to neaten. Align and center zipper face up behind the opening and pin/baste zipper in place. Topstitch around pocket opening to attach zipper in place.
From wrong side of the back lining portion, fold the pocket lining upward to meet with the top edge of the zipper tape. Pin/baste pocket lining to zipper and sew along the zipper tape to secure in place. Sew up each side of the pocket lining to create a “pocket bag” ensuring to stitch through the diagonal cuts at each end of the zippered opening. (see more about inset zipper method)
Attach Slip Pocket in Lining
Make interior slip pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the front wall features a slip pocket. Start by folding the remaining pocket square in half, with face sides together. Sew up each side of the pocket using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Press seams open and turn pocket right-side-out; press flat.
With face sides of the fabrics up and the raw edges of the slip pocket facing upward, center-align the pocket onto the front lining portion, placing the folded edge of the pocket so that it matches with the bottom edge of the front lining. Pin/baste raw edge of the pocket in place. Stitch along the raw edge, using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Trim seam allowance, if needed. Fold pocket up and press flat. Topstitch along the outer edges of the slip pocket leaving the folded side open. If desired, you can divide the slip pocket by stitching through its surface to create compartments for smaller items like cellphone, sunglasses, or wallet.
Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom lining piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.
With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front and back lining sections to each long side of the bottom lining. Ensure that the zip and slip pockets are facing upward. Stitch each seam and grade seam allowances towards the front and back lining sections. With face side up, edgestitch the seam on the front and back interior portions.
Next, add sides to interior; match and align one side section to each side of the lining to create a bag. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Press seams open. Set interior lining aside.
Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom bag piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.
Cut 2 lengths of webbing, 4 inches (10 cm) long. Thread each length of strapping through a square connector ring and fold webbing in half. Stitch across the width of the strap to secure ring neatly. Attach each ringed tab to one long edge of bottom section, face up, and approximately 2 ½ inches (6.5 cm) from each short end. Baste in place. Set bottom section aside.
Center the front pocket so that its opening aligns with the zip openings at the side of the bag (in this case about 6″ (15 cm) from the bottom of the front bag section). Pin/baste turned edges of the front pocket to the front of the backpack and edgestitch in place.
Next, attach ringed leather tab. Center the leather trim on the backpack front section, about 1/4-inch (6 mm) above the front pocket opening. Machine-stitch leather tab in place with the ring facing upward.
Add pocket flap by placing it lined side up, approximately 1/4-inch ( 6 mm) above the front pocket opening and ensuring that the cut end of the ring tab in sandwiched under the pocket flap to encase it. Double stitch along the straight edge of the pocket flap to secure in place. Fold down pocket flap.
With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the back exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack, with the connector ring tabs. Stitch the seam ensuring to catch the tabs in the stitching of the seam. Grade the seam allowance toward the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.
With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack. Machine-stitch the seam. Grade the seam allowance towards the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.
Add sides to exterior; match and align one side section to each side of the backpack, with the side zipper pockets positioned to close in the direction of the front of the backpack. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Grade seam allowances. Edgestitch along side seam, on front, bottom, and back sections to reinforce the seam.
Attach Placket to Bag Opening
Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the placket piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.
Match and align the short ends of the placket, with face sides together. Stitch together to form a loop of fabric. Press seam open. Fold placket in half, with face sides out, and match up raw edges. Baste together and press fold. Edgestitch along the folded edge of the placket.
With face sides together, align and match placket to body of bag along the raw edges. Pin/baste placket to bag opening.
On back section of bag, thread webbing straps through the ringed connectors, then drawing though each buckle end of the strapping. Attach the cut end of the strap to the placket, approximately 4 inches on either side of center on the back section. Pin/baste in place.
Between the two webbing straps, place each end of the grab handle next to the webbing and pin/baste in place.
Sew around opening of the bag, catching the grab handle and webbing straps in the stitching. Turn the placket facing upward and edgestitch along the seam on the body portion of the backpack.
Mark a placement location 1 ½” (4 cm) on either side of each vertical seam (8 in total) in the middle of the placket width and insert grommets (2 on each side), following manufacturer’s directions.
Position bag flap along turned placket bottom edge, centred between the back sideseams, and double-stitch in place, through the seam allowance.
Insert the lining by dropping it into the cavity of the bag. Align it so the interior zip pocket is on the back wall of the backpack and the side seams match up. Slipstitch top edge of lining to base of the placket to enclose the raw edge.
Lace the drawcord through the grommets and tie a knot at the ends of the drawcord.