DIY Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

DIY Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

I don’t know if your kids are like mine but they always love to take things with them. Even if it’s a trip to the store or to just drop something off they always seem to have something in their hands. Due to this half of it is left in our car and I wanted to help them to keep up with the stuff they take around. This is why I decided to do this DIY drawstring backpack with a pocket project. No more random items all over the place just their drawstring backpacks.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

My kids loved how it turned out as one was for my son and the other was for my daughter. The kids use them for carrying all kinds of items. I decided to make one drawstring backpack with a pocket and one without. Surprisingly my daughter usually takes a book with her or a journal so I kept hers simple with no pocket. As with all the DIY projects I do, you can customize with colors or patterns of fabric to the end-users liking or style.

SUPPLIES FOR DRAWSTRING BACKPACK WITH POCKET

Supplies for Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

DIY Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

Wash and Dry Fabric for Backpack

Wash, dry, and press the fabric. With all the sewing projects I have done, I have found that the end result has fewer flaws when I pre-prep my fabrics with wash, dry and press. Remember you can always customize the fabrics to your child’s liking. Now on to the cutting and sewing of the drawstring backpack with pocket.

Cut Backpack Fabric

Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric. You will want to measure the child you are creating the backpack to get an accurate size. You’ll need a top to bottom measurement, as well as side to side. My backpacks were created for a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy – I’ll include their measurements below.

Measuring Back

Once you get their measurements, add 2 inches to each one. Then, for the height measurement, double that total and add 2 more inches. For the width measurement, add 1.5”. This will give you plenty of room for seam allowances and allow the bag to puff up when items are placed inside. I’ll walk you through my 5-year old’s measurements:    

  • Her back-height measurement was 10”, so I added 2” to make it 12”. Doubling that comes to 24”. Then for seam allowances, I added two more inches to make it 26”.
  • Her width measurement was 8”, so I added 2” to make it 10”. Then I added 1.5” for seam allowances.
  • The rectangle piece of fabric I cut was 26” x 11.5”
  • For the 7-year-old, I cut a 30” x 12.5” rectangle of fabric. His back was 12” high by 9” wide.
1-4 inch fold

Fold one short end of your fabric in ¼” and press with an iron. This will be the casing for your drawstring.

3-4 inch fold

Fold again to ¾” from the end of the fabric. Pin if desired. Repeat for the other short end of the fabric.

Stitch Close to the Edge

Stitch very close to the edge of the ¾” edge across each end of the fabric.

Pocket Rectangle

For the DIY Drawstring backpack with pocket, follow these 4 steps. If you do not want a pocket, skip to the next 4 steps. Cut a rectangle of fabric to match the size of your backpack. I knew my backpack would be about 14” x 11” finished, so I made my pocket 8.5” x 8”

Pocket Edge

One side at a time, fold in each edge ½” and press well. Sew a hem along one side of the rectangle – this will be the top of the pocket.

Pocket Pinned

Place the rectangle on top of the backpack material with the hemmed edge on top. Pin to only the top layer of fabric.

Sewing Pocket on

Stitch around in a “U” shape around the sides and bottom of the pocket with ¼” seam allowance. You can sew another row of stitches outside of the first seam if desired. This was for aesthetics for me, but also to reinforce the hold of the first seam. Now that the pocket is on let’s get back to the DIY drawstring backpack.

Fabric Folded in Half

To enclose all raw edges, we will create a French seam inside the backpack. This will keep the fabric from fraying on the inside of the bag, and will look neater. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half with the newly sewn casings at the top. The insides (wrong sides or not printed sides) of the bag should be facing each other. Be sure the fabric is lined up along the top and sides. Pin along each side to hold.

Backpack U Sewn

Stitch along the sides of the bag with a ¼” seam allowance. The bottom does not need to be stitched since it is just a fold of the fabric.

Snip corner off

Snip a tiny bit off of the corner on each bottom corner to create less bulk when turning. Be careful not to snip stitches!

Turning Backpack inside out

Turn the backpack bag inside out. Using a turning tool, carefully push out the sides along the seams you just sewed. Once the fabric is flat, press to hold.

Ribbon Cut

Cut two 2.5” pieces of ribbon. Use a lighter to heat seal each end.

Fold Ribbon

Fold the ribbon in half so that the ends line up together.

Pinning Ribbon in Drawstring Backpack

Inside the drawstring backpack bag, you’ve created (remember this will look like the right sides of the fabric!), place the ribbon about ½” from the bottom of the bag along one side. It may help to hold your fabric up to a light to see through it a bit or feel with your fingers and measure with a hem gauge. The ribbon will be sandwiched along the edge by the fabric. Pin the ribbon twice to hold it in place (twice will ensure the ribbon doesn’t pivot to either side).  

Sew half inch seam

While the bag is inside out, sew along each side again with a ½” seam allowance. Be sure you are sewing past your previous stitches so they will be enclosed. Backstitch over your ribbon several times to create a stronghold, as well as when you get close to the drawstring casing.

Flip backpack back right side out

Flip the bag right side out again. Now we have the bag part for the DIY drawstring backpack with a pocket we need to cut 2 pieces of drawstring cording. The drawstring length also depends on the size of the backpack. Once it is finished, you can lay it out on a table. Beginning at a bottom corner, lay the string along one side and across the top. Then double back on itself along the top and back down the side. You’ll want to add a couple of inches to this to accommodate tying the knot. The 5-year-old’s strings were 48” and the 7-year-old’s were 50”. If it is heat fusible, use a lighter to burn the ends. This will keep them from fraying.

Safety Pin cording for Drawstring backpack

Insert a safety pin into one end of one string. Feed the ribbon through one casing with the safety pin. Once you reach the other end, insert it into the casing on the opposite side (see photo for reference). You will be making a “U” shape with your ribbon.

Drawstring Thru the Backpack

Once it comes out of the other end, pull both ends down to your ribbon. Ensure they are even. Insert one end through the ribbon loop, then tie off both ends together.  

Drawstring Tie off at End

Insert the safety pin into the other piece of ribbon. Repeat the process with this ribbon but start on the other end of the casing (the one with the bottom of the “U” connecting the casings). The ends should come out of the opposite side of the casings. Repeat the process of evening out the strings, inserting one through the ribbon, and tying in a knot together. You will be able to pull on both strings simultaneously to close the bag, and the strings become the backpack straps!  That’s it you now completed the DIY drawstring backpack with pocket.

Boy and Girl DIY Drawstring Backpack with Pocket

Now it’s time to gift the Drawstring backpack to a kiddo! I even made it more fun by adding some scrunchies I made last week in it, so she already had something in it. For my son, I put in a book for him to start reading. This backpack can also be made for teens or adults, just adjust your measurements accordingly.

Drawstring Backpack Anyone Can Sew

If you liked this DIY drawstring backpack with pocket tutorial make sure to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board or share it with friends on social media. If you decide to make the drawstring backpack take a picture afterward and tag us on social media as we love seeing the fabrics and color choices others make.

Yield: 1

DIY Drawstring Backpack

DIY Drawstring Backpack

Simple DIY Drawstring Backpack. This is great for kids and makes a good gift for them to keep the things they love with them.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10.00

Materials

Tools

Instructions

  1. Wash, dry, and press the fabric.
  2. Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric (**see notes for sizing!**).
  3. Fold one short end of your fabric in ¼” and press with iron. Fold again to ¾” from end of the fabric. Pin if desired. This will be the casing for your drawstring. Repeat for the other short end of the fabric.
  4. Stitch very close to the edge of the ¾” edge across each end of the fabric.
  5. **If you want to add a pocket on the front of the backpack, follow these steps. If not, skip to step 11
  6. Cut a rectangle of fabric to match the size of your backpack. I knew my backpack would be about 14” x 11” finished, so I made my pocket 8.5” x 8”
  7. One side at a time, fold in each edge ½” and press well. Sew a hem along one side of the rectangle – this will be the top of the pocket.
  8. Place the rectangle on top of the backpack material with the hemmed edge on top. Pin to only the top layer of fabric.
  9. Stitch around in a “U” shape around the sides and bottom of the pocket with ¼” seam allowance.
  10. You can sew another row of stitches outside of the first seam if desired. This was for aesthetics for me, but also to reinforce the hold of the first seam.
  11. To enclose all raw edges, we will create a French seam inside the backpack. This will keep the fabric from fraying on the inside of the bag, and will look neater. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half with the newly sewn casings at the top. The insides (wrong sides or not printed sides) of the bag should be facing each other. Be sure the fabric is lined up along the top and sides. Pin along each side to hold.
  12. Stitch along the sides of the bag with a ¼” seam allowance. The bottom does not need stitched since it is just a fold of fabric.
  13. Snip a tiny bit off of the corner on each bottom corner to create less bulk when turning. Be careful not to snip stitches!
  14. Turn the bag inside out. Using a turning tool, carefully push out the sides along the seams you just sewed. Once the fabric is flat, press to hold.
  15. Cut two 2.5” pieces of ribbon. Use a lighter to heat seal each end.
  16. Fold the ribbon in half so that the ends line up together.
  17. Inside the bag you’ve created, place the ribbon about ½” from the bottom of the bag along one side. It may help to hold your fabric up to a light to see through it a bit or feel with your fingers and measure with a hem gauge. The ribbon will be sandwiched along the edge by the fabric. Pin the ribbon twice to hold it in place.  
  18. While the bag is inside out, sew along each side again with a ½” seam allowance. Be sure you are sewing past your previous stitches so they will be enclosed. .
  19. Flip the bag right side out again.
  20. Cut 2 pieces of drawstring cording. If it is heat fusible, use a lighter to burn the ends. This will keep them from fraying. (**See notes about measuring!**)
  21. Insert a safety pin into one end of one string. Feed the ribbon through one casing with the safety pin. Once you reach the other end, insert it into the casing on the opposite side. You will be making a “U” shape with your ribbon.
  22. Once it comes out of the other end, pull both ends down to your ribbon. Ensure they are even. Insert one end through the ribbon loop, then tie off both ends together.  
  23. Insert the safety pin into the other piece of ribbon. Repeat the process with this ribbon but start on the other end of the casing (the one with the bottom of the “U” connecting the casings). The ends should come out of the opposite side of the casings. Repeat the process of evening out the strings, inserting one through the ribbon, and tying in a knot together. You will be able to pull on both strings simultaneously to close the bag, and the strings become the backpack straps!  
  24. Enjoy the Drawstring Backpack

Notes

You’ll need a top to bottom measurement, as well as side to side.

Once you get their measurements, add 2 inches to each one. Then, for the height measurement, double that total and add 2 more inches. For the width measurement, add 1.5”. This will give you plenty of room for seam allowances and allow the bag to puff up when items are placed inside.

For the 7 year old, I cut a 30” x 12.5” rectangle of fabric. His back was 12” high by 9” wide.

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