Backpacks! With a Tutorial!

So we've been thinking a lot about school over here lately. Less than 2 weeks until Kindergarten, and preschool just a couple weeks after that. So of course, new backpacks are in order. I asked Breanne and Janey what kind of bags they'd like, and showed them a few different ones, and they chose messenger bags. And because I'm crazy, and found super cute fabric that the girls loved, we decided to make them.

Cute, right? Perhaps minus the part where they're almost as big as the girls themselves, but I swear they're barely bigger than 10x12, to accommodate papers and binders and such. Maybe the messenger style wasn't a great idea for such small kids, but they love them, so we're keeping them.

Want to make your own? Because I was making two, I decided to just go ahead and take some pictures along the way, and I am now prepared to give my very first tutorial! I know this is nothing super exciting, and that there are plenty of messenger bag tutorials out there, but as a few people have told me--if I'm going to do tutorials, I have to start somewhere. So this is it. :)

Here we go.

For these bags, you need:

Main fabric, lining and batting EACH need:
3 pieces cut to 11"x14"**
2 pieces cut to 14"x3.5"
1 piece cut to 11"x3.5
1 piece cut to 4"x6" (if you want a pocket; you don't have to do the batting for this piece)

Whichever fabric you want your strap to be:
2 pieces cut to your strap length, mine varied by child. Janey's was around 12", Breanne's was 16" long, both 3.5" wide

1 piece cut to 12"
2 pieces cut to 4"
Melt the ends on all the webbing pieces so they won't fray.

1 package piping (optional)

and a clip thing to allow you to cinch up your straps, which should look like these:

**This allows you to create the flap with the lining on one side, the main fabric on the other. If you want the flap to be all one fabric, cut 4 pieces of that fabric, and 2 of the other.

Ok, so now that you have all your fabric cut out and in front of you, we'll start by making your pocket. I wanted piping on mine, so first I pinned my piping on and sewed it down (good tutorial for piping here),

then put my other piece on top, right sides together, and sewed nearly all the way around them, leaving a hole to turn the pocket right-side out. Flip it right side out, and your pocket is pretty much done! You may want to topstitch the top of the pocket (right below the piping), but I didn't think to do this beforehand, so mine is not topstitched.

To figure out where I wanted my pocket, I placed it on my main fabric, and put a pencil on it to see where the pencil would hit. As long as it isn't too high, you should be fine.

Now you can attach your pocket piece to one of your main fabric pieces by pinning it down, then topstitching around the three edges, and thus closing up your turning-gap.

If you want to section the pocket off into individual pencil pockets, now would be the time to do that, too. I'm not certain my girls will be using the pocket for pencils, so I left that off for now. Also, if you want a closure on the bag (magnetic snap, velcro, whatever), this is also the time to figure out where you want it, and attach that to the body of the bag.

Next we're going to assemble the bag body. To do this, first you'll take your three side/edge pieces, and piece them together. They're the pieces that are 11" and 14" by 3.5". The 11" piece is going on the bottom of the bag, and thus should be in between the two longer pieces. You'll sew them together like this:

Yeah, that's a long strip of fabric. :)

Now comes one of the trickiest parts of sewing the bag together--attaching the bag front and back to the sides. Don't worry, it's not hard, just try to get your pieces lined up right so your corners come out ok. To attach them together, you're going to lay down your main fabric, and then pin, right sides together, your long side strip, all the way around it. I recommend starting in the middle of the bottom piece, and working your way up to the top. It's not a big deal if the top doesn't end up perfectly even, as you can trim it. It is a big deal if there's a hole in the bottom of your bag because they don't match up. :) So when you're done pinning those pieces together, you should have something that looks roughly like this (minus the batting, that comes later but I didn't have a better picture of this step):

Now you can sew along the edges, creating 1/2 the bag. When you come to the corners, sew until you're about 1/4 inch away from the edge, then put down your needle, pick up your presser foot, and turn the bag 90 degrees.

Continue sewing, but make sure to keep all the extra fabric out from under the needle. The 3D-ness of the bag makes this just a little bit tricky, but it's not hard, just go slowly.

Do the same with the other piece of your main fabric--make sure your fabrics are all facing right sides together, and pin and sew along the edges. Yay, you now have a bag shape!

Now is the time to add piping to the top of your bag if you want it. Same as with the pocket--just pin it on along the edge of the fabric, and sew as close to the cording as you can (I hear zipper feet make this way easier, but I only have my one foot... sigh. :)).

Next up, make the lining of your bag. This is pretty much the same as the above steps, minus the pocket (unless you want one inside, too--you can change this up however you want), and with batting added. My recommendation? Pin your batting like crazy. I made the mistake of not pinning one piece, and it was all sorts of wonky when I finished sewing it, even though it was a pretty basic piece to sew. So. Pin all your batting pieces to their corresponding lining piece, like this,

making certain that you're pinning the batting to the *back* of the fabric (unpicking stuff sewn to batting is no fun, if you're wondering... ask me how I know). Then continue and sew the rest of the pieces together like you did the outside. Yay, you have another bag shape!

Next up, the flap. Take your last 11.5"x14" pieces of fabric and batting and stack them up, fabric right sides together, and batting on top. To round your corners out, find a plate or cd or something with the corner shape you're looking for, place it in the corner of your fabric, and either trace it or (if you're lazy like me), just cut around it.

(Haha, Jess, I bet this is TOTALLY what you had in mind for me to do with this giant button... I do have other ideas, just haven't utilized it yet, and didn't have a plate or cd upstairs with me. :))
Again, I wanted piping around the edge, so pin that to the top piece of your fabric, and sew it on, same as before. If you're putting a closure on the bag, put that on the lining side of your fabric now, too. Then you can stack your pieces back up, and sew them together, being careful to sew as close to the piping as you can. Flip it right-side out, and you've got a flap.

Good job!

The last piece to put together is your strap. For this, you take your 3.5" by whatever you decide strips, stack them up, fabrics right-sides together with the batting on top, and fold them in half. Put your webbing over the ends, and taper the fabric, like so:

Just remember to give yourself a quarter of an inch on each side for your seam allowance.

Next up, put your clip-adjuster thingy on one of your 4 inch pieces of webbing, and sew the webbing closed around it, like so:

Sew it on there good and tight.

Now you're ready to sew the strap together. Sandwich your strap with adjuster thingy in between your two pieces of fabric (right-sides together) on one side, and your other 4" strip of webbing on the other side, and place your batting on top, then pin it all together.

Sew along your edges, leaving a gap on one of your long sides to turn it right-side out. Make sure to double back on your webbing pieces, to make sure they're plenty secure. When you're done sewing, you can reach inside and pull the webbing to pull it right-side out. Top stitch around the edges, and your strap is done!

All that's left at this point is assembling and finishing the bag. Wahoo! Start with your lining bag, with the batting on the outside, fabric inside. Place your main fabric bag, right side out, inside your lining bag, like this:

Then pin your strap in on the end that doesn't have the adjuster-thingy. On the opposite side, pin your 12" strap. Then pin your flap in on the side opposite your pocket, and you are ready to sew the bag together!

Start towards the middle of the side without the flap, and work your way (carefully! I broke a needle on this part because some of the seams were too thick for me to go as quickly as I wanted) around the bag, but be sure to leave yourself a good-sized gap to turn your bag through, like so:

Now you can flip that baby right sides out, and push the lining back down inside the bag. Look at that! You've created a lined bag! You just need to pin the opening shut (and any areas you may have missed on accident during the last step, like I did here):

and then you can topstitch the holes closed, and your bag is finished! Connect your 12" strap through your adjuster thingy, and you are good to go.

And there you have it! You've made your own school bag. Who is excited for school?

These two are! And they're one step closer to being ready.

I think their little sister is excited, too. Alone time with mom, what could be better, really?


BECKY said...

I especially love your detail on the shoulder strap! Love the pic of the three girls. :)

~Beth D. said...

I too, love the shoulder strap. Awesome! the tutorial looks good, nice job!

Jess@craftiness is not optional said...

ok, yay!! I love the shoulder strap, and the fabric is really cute. hehe, love the button in there, I'm glad he's working hard for ya. Congrats on your first tutorial!

Jessie said...

You are super cool. You should make one for me. I'll even pay you.

gilian said...

Very cute bags. Adorable girls. Of course.

Jill said...

You are crazy! But they're super cute. Maybe they wouldn't look quite as big if you made them horizontal instead of verticle. (Next time right? wink wink)

Melanie said...

WOW!! I can't believe that you made these! Thanks so much for linking them up to "Crafts for Under Twenty Somethings" Thursdays!


Holly Decker said...

gosh i miss you.

thanks for being excited for me! we move in December... when Jeff takes his last final :)

Amanda Nemelka said...

There is no way in 800 million years I could do any of the projects you do! Amazing.

SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime said...

Hi, friend! You've got so much creativity and I'm admiring them all. Can you share your creative posts at my Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? Hope to see you there :)

Btw, every Tuesday is my Market Your Biz and Giveaways blog party. Please feel free to link up your etsy for free promotion :)

Free Things By Britney said...

I gave you an award at: http://freethingsbybritney.blogspot.com/2011/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

I'm a new follower, too!

SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime said...

Really appreciate you linking up this awesome post at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop :)

Grandma Bonnie said...

Thank you for sharing your tutorial.
I just love to learn new things to sew. New follower from The Creative bloggers hop. Hope you stop by for a visit.