A simple step by step tutorial showing how to sew a lined drawstring backpack. A perfect sewing project for beginners since you only need to know a few sewing basics. This backpack can be whipped up in less than 2 hours. Let’s get started!
My daughter has been asking for a drawstring backpack to use for field trips at school or to take to dance class. All of her friends have one after all (she’s 10). So being the doting mother that I am, I looked for one when I went shopping. But, being picky and a penny pincher, I couldn’t get myself to buy her the ones I saw in store. (yeah, I’m that kind of mom)
I decided it couldn’t be that hard to sew a drawstring backpack myself. I could make it any color my daughter wanted and I’m sure it would cost less than a store-bought one. Plus I hadn’t sewn in a few months and it would be fun to get crafty again!
It turned out cuter than I had thought it would and was so easy to whip up, that I made 3 for all of my little girlies! This project took me about 2 hours and would be a great starter project for kids learning to sew since it only requires very basic sewing knowledge.
Supplies You Will Need to Sew a Lined Drawstring Backpack:
- 1/2 yard of main fabric for the outside of that backpack
- 1/2 yard of coordinating fabric for the lining of the backpack and tabs
- 4 yards of thick cording, rope or string
- thread that matches both of your fabric choices
- 2 Wooden Beads
Cutting Directions for one Backpack
- 2 rectangles 15″ x 15″ out of the outside fabric
- 2 rectangles 15″ wide x 17.5″ out of the lining fabric
- 1 rectangle 2″ x 6″ out of the lining fabric
Lined Drawstring Backpack Tutorial Instructions
Step 1: Prepare the Corners of the Backpack
First, you will need to cut a 1.5″ x 1.5″ square out of each of the bottom corners of each of the 2 lining pieces and each of the 2 outside pieces. These will become the boxed out bottom of the backpack to give it more structure and shape.
Step 2: Make the Tabs
Take the 2″ x 6″ rectangle and iron it in half lengthwise. Open the rectangle up and fold each long side toward the crease you just made. Iron these. Then fold the rectangle in half again lengthwise and iron. You should end up with a 1/2″ x 6″ rectangle. Sew close to the long open edge of this piece. Cut this in half making 2 – 3″ pieces.
Fold each of these 3″ pieces in half and pin to the main outside fabric pieces, 1″ above each of the squares you cut out in step 1. Baste these in place.
Step 3: Stitch the Sides and Bottom
With right sides together and matching the cut out corners, sew both pieces of the outside fabric together using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Do not sew the cut out corners.
Repeat this step with the lining fabric, but leave a 3″ gap in the middle of the line of stitching along the bottom.
Press the seam allowances open.
Step 4: Box Out the Corners
Now you will need to box out the corners on the lining and outside piece. To do this, pinch the top corner of the cut out squares on the front and back and pulling them apart, line up the side and bottom seams. The edges of the corner cut out should now be straight across, sew across the corner with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Step 5: Sew the Lining to the Outside of the Drawstring Backpack
With right sides together, put the outside of the backpack into the lining. Line up the top edge of each piece, making sure seam allowances match up. Stitch them together.
Using the gap you left in the stitching at the bottom of the lining, turn the bag right side out. Pinch the gap closed and stitch it closed.
Step 6: Make the Track for the Straps to Go Through
To make a track for the straps to go through, fold 1″ of the lining fabric up so that its visible from the outside of the backpack. Iron this up and stitch close to the seam between the lining and the outside.
Using a seam ripper, pick out the stitching in the seam allowances on the sides in this track for the straps to go through. This is where you will feed the strings through. To keep the seams from unraveling further stitch and backstitch a few times along the top edge of the bag where you picked the stitching out.
Step 7: Add the Straps
Next, cut your strings or rope for the straps into 2 – 2 yard long pieces. Use a piece of clear tape to go around the ends of the rope to keep them from unraveling while you feed them through the track on the backpack.
Take the first piece of rope and feed it through the track, coming back through the same hole you started it in. Do this same thing with the other rope so that you have two pieces of rope coming out of each side of the backpack.
Put both of the ends of each arm strap through each of the tabs at the bottom of the backpack and feed them through a wooden bead on each side.
At this point its best to try the backpack on your child to see how long the straps should be before you knot them and cut them.
When you have both sides how you want them and they look even, tie a tight knot under each bead and cut the ropes off underneath.
Let me know what you think of this simple lined backpack tutorial!
Wasn’t that simple! It was so quick and easy to sew three of these drawstring backpacks with lining for my girls to take on a zoo trip. They LOVED having a bag of their own to carry all of their snacks and water bottles throughout the day and didn’t take them off almost all day! A lady we met along the way complimented them on their “pretty bags” and my girls were quick to let her know that “Mama sewed them for us!” (I love these girls).
Are you ready to sew your very own drawstring backpack with a lining for your kids? I bet little boy prints would be especially cute! If you do make one, let me know in the comments as well as any questions you might have!