DIY Children’s Backpack Sewing Tutorial

School is less than a month away for us!  And, of course, I have yet to get a single school supply.  If you are looking for a summer sewing project this toddler backpack is adorable.  My cousin Lindsay came up with this sewing tutorial.  I rock She rocks the sewing machine.  I am awesome at ironing and cutting out fabric for her 🙂

sewing tutorial for DIY backpack

On the above bag: I used Micheal Miller Dumb Dot Citron, Amy Butler Disco Flower Chocolate Fabric, Amy Butler Temple Door Fresh Mint, the lining I just used some old white sheets



Fusible fleece


sewing machine and coordinating thread

1/4” elastic (with a nice stretch)

safety pin

small magnetic snap

2 -1” D-Rings

Dritz Snap Applicator’>Dritz Snap Applicator Snap kit and snaps


Cut list:

(2) main pieces 13” x 10” (round the bottom corners) from fabric #1

(2) lining pieces 13” x 10” (round the bottom corners) from fabric #2 – I used some vintage sheets from the skirt I made Kayla so I didn’t waste the good stuff.

Flap pattern (cut 2) from fabric #3

Pocket 9”x 9” from fabric #1

Side panel piece 34” x 3 1/2” from fabric # 1

Strap pieces, cut one 34”x2 1/2” and another one 27”x 2 1/2” from fabric #1

Fusible fleece (see step #1 below)

3 1/2” piece of 1/4” elastic

**All seam allowances are 1/4” unless stated otherwise.


child's backpack

1.  Cut out all fabric and iron the fusible fleece to pieces #1, #2 (just lining piece), #5, and #6.  (Cut the fusible fleece pieces 1/4” smaller than fabric pieces on all sides so the fusible fleece won’t be in the seam allowances.)

2.  Press the 27 x 2 1/2” piece and the 34 x 2 1/2” piece (aka #6-the straps) under 1/4”.  Then press in half.  Sew up one side and down the other.  If you want to sew down the middle down for aesthetics – have at it!

how to make a child's backpack

backpack tutorial

3. Cut 7” off the 34” strap.  Both straps should now be the same size.  Then cut 9” off each strap, so you are left with a 7” piece for the backpack handle, and two 9” pieces and 17” pieces. On the 17” pieces finish one raw end by folding under twice and sewing down. Set aside.

children's backpack DIY

4: Pocket piece (#7): Determine your top and bottom and press both ends under 1/4”. Then for the top, press an additional 1/2” and sew down creating a casing.  Cut a piece of elastic 3 1/2”.  Thread through this casing with a safety pin. Line up the end of the elastic with the raw edge and tack in place with a few stitched from the sewing machine. Finish fishing pin through to the edge.  Sew other end of elastic at the edge where the raw edges of elastic and fabric meet.

5.  Measure 4” down on piece #5 and pin pocket in place.  Hand tuck a pleat along the bottom and iron in place in order to make the raw edges of the pocket the same width of piece #5. Sew ironed bottom of pocket in place. Set aside.

kids school bag DIY

6.  Next pin the flap pieces right sides together and sew all three sides and leave the straight edge at the top un-sewn.  Notch the edges to take out some bulk and turn right side out and press.  Topstitch 1/4” from the edge on all three sides.

child backpack DIY

backpack how to

7.   Fold flap in half and find the middle.  Using some small sharp scissors, make two holes to fit the snap through the lining flap piece (the one with fusible fleece attached). Push prongs through and lock in place. Note: Do not accidentally cut through the liner to the outer fabric! Here is a tutorial on how to install a magnetic snap if you’ve never done this before and I’ve confused you at this point.

backpack flap Now that we have sewn all of our pieces it is time to assemble the bag! Yay.

8.  Take piece #1 and #5 and with right sides together line up the raw edges around the curve.  Pin in place and sew.

backpack DIY

9.  Now we need to attach the bottom straps to the bag before we add the other main piece to this so take the other piece and baste the 18” strap pieces in the corners, right before they curve along the bottom (remember to line up the RAW edges with the bottom main piece NOT the finished ends).

10. Repeat step 7 with the other main piece (#1).

kids backpack 

This is what it should look like right sides out.

make your own backpack

11.  Repeat step 8 with piece #3 and #4 to create the lining of the bag.  Leave a hole on one side of the bag (not the bottom of the bag as is the typical spot) in order to turn the bag and add elastic later.

kids backpack how to

See the hole placement below…

DIY Child's backpack

12.  Turn main bag pieces right side out.  We are going to now attach the receiving end of the magnetic snap.  Measure 3” down from the middle and use your scissors to create holes for the prongs to go through.

magnetic snap in backpack

13. For the handle measure in 2 1/2” from each of the side seams on the center of the back main piece.  Place handle ends 2” from each other.  Insert the D ring in the 9” straps folding them in half.  Pin directly next to the handle.  Baste in place.

DIY backpack

14.  Grab the flap piece that we assembled in step #6 and place on top of handle and straps, lining up side seams with the snap side up. Baste in place.

backpack tutorial

15. Turn the bag inside out.  Leave the lining right side out.  Put the lining inside the bag and match up all the seams and raw edges (right sides should be facing).  Sew entire top edge perimeter.

DIY backpack

16.  Turn bag right side out through the side opening.

how to make a diy backpack

sewing tutorial backpack

17.  Tuck lining inside the bag.  Iron the top seam.  From the side seam all the way around to the other side seam, sew a 1/2” casing (just the three sides of the bag, not the back).  Keep in mind that side hole will allow you to thread your elastic in later.

diy_backpack (4)

DSC_0237child's backpack

18. Cut a 6 1/2” inch piece of 1/4” elastic.  Using the side hole we created, attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and thread it through the casing.  Thread the elastic until one end lines up with the edge of that casing along the side seam.  Sew edge of elastic in place so that you can continue to thread the elastic through to the other side.  Once elastic has been threaded through to the other end of the casing, sew this end in place making sure not to sew over the safety pin—pull it clear out of the way.

DSC_0238child's backpack

DSC_0239child's backpack

child's backpack

19.  Reach inside the lining to remove the safety pin.  Sew lining shut.

DSC_0243child's backpack

20. Next, thread the 18” bottom strap through the D-ring and apply snaps according to package directions.  We added 3 snaps in order to accommodate the child’s growth beginning with the very edge of the strap.

DSC_0247child's backpack

DSC_0252child's backpack

DSC_0254child's backpack

Wipe the sweat from your brow and sing “Halleluiah this freaking tutorial is over!.”  Sweet mother of 20 steps!


On this bag, I used Amy Butler Garden Maze Red Fabric, Amy Butler Buttercups Spearmint, and some vintage sheets for the liner.




In case you’re crazy ambitious and want to add more steps here is one with a ruffle inserted into the flap.  Heck try piping….let your creative juices flow. Ca-ute!



But not as cute as this girl!


This is a repost from July 2013


  1. Rachel Fairchild says

    Awesome tutorial! The backpack looks awesome! Such a cutie pie!!!

  2. What a fantastic step-by-step tutorial! The backpack and your daughter are both cute as a button.

  3. This is too cute. thanks for the tutorial.

  4. Beautiful bag! Excellent tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I absolutely love this! I now need to make a backpack, Thank you so much for the inspiration 🙂 and keep up the good work! Cheers!

  6. Lovely backpack! Your choice of fabric is some of my favorite.

  7. Looks lovely, Going to try this right now !
    Am I right in thinking there is a side panel peice for the lining too! I’m reading it over and over but can’t see it !

  8. Kelli Chatfield says

    I just made my son this! He and I both love it! Thanks so much for uploading this and sharing it!

  9. Ellen Gendron says

    So cute I am going to give it a go! Can you give me an idea in yards how much I need of each fabric? I’m a novice!

  10. Cathy Gates Edwards says

    Great tutorial, very well written. Just finished making it for my little guy!

  11. I’m unclear on the casing/elastic … 🙁 but it’s beautiful

  12. Lilliane says

    thank you so much this is a great bag and great tutorial…. hope i’ll find the time to do it very soon.

  13. Priscilla Cherry Delviken says

    Thank you for the design! I made one for my son with an additional pocket in front with flap. So Cute!

  14. I DID IT!!! I wanted to post a picture of it but there is nowhere to do it.
    Thanks so much for the tutorial…


  15. danielle Oliver says

    I love the ruffle flap version but I am having trouble finding the measurements for the lining side panel.

  16. I would like to know if the seam allowances are includes by the sizes.


  17. Cynthia Hudson says

    Great tutorial! I am making this for my granddaughter for kindergarten. I have a question, on the flap when you put the magnetic snap on, you say to put it on the part with the fusible fleece and not to cut through the lining, but don’t you want to put on the inside of the flap which to me is the lining piece? I put the fusible on the front part of the flap…hope this makes sense…thanks!

    • Yes, Cynthia, it does, and I probably need to update the tutorial to clarify that. The snap does go on the inside of the flap, which is the lining piece. I used the same fabric for both the top and the liner. In retrospect, we should have put the fusible fleece on the LINER piece so the magnetic snap had something to anchor to. For all other parts of the bag it was the outer fabric that had the fusible fleece not the liner. When I said not to cut through the liner, I just meant not to accidentally cut through the liner and get the outer fabric. Does that make sense? Sorry for the confusion.

  18. What a nice backpack, any child would be happy to wear it to school! This is a great tutorial, the 20 steps are very well explained. Thanks for sharing it!
    I featured your post on my blog here:

  19. Hi Linda, I love the backpack. Would you mind sharing the pattern fused for the bag or is that something to be purchased? Thanks!

    • There is not a pattern to purchase. I have listed all the dimensions for cuts and you can download the pattern for the flap. I hope that helps!

  20. Hi from France!
    Thanks a lot for your amazing tutorial 🙂
    I made one for my daughter, can I share you the picture?


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