contact us follow us on Pinterest like us on Facebook follow us on Twitter    
  home  >  sewing center   >  free sewing patterns   >  purses & totes  >  drawstring backpack

Drawstring Backpack

3 designs - same easy pattern

drawstring backpack pattern
pinterest tell a friend

Page 1 of 2

Designer: Christina Sherrod

Also see Purses, Totes & Bags

drawstring backpack pattern

Page 1: supplies & pocket
Page 2: finish backpack

One Easy Pattern - three choices

This is a fabulous "first sewing project". No zippers or buttons. Learn how to make a casing and practice straight stitching. Add a pocket for added detail.

Use just one fabric for the entire backpack. Use a contrast fabric for the casing. Add a pocket. Your choice! Use 430 Denier Nylon waterproof fabric for backpack with letters (perfect for college) - or use canvas with cotton trim. Design your backpack for your own taste and purpose. Whichever way you go, it's still a very easy pattern!

Backpack Size

Approximately 18" high x 13" wide. Adjust size to fit your needs. The bag has a 1" casing. The finished pocket measures 4" square.


Fabric - all one color

Choice 1 - One Fabric:
Two 13.5" x 19.25" pieces of 430 D waterproof nylon fabric
OR: Two 13.5" x 19.25" pieces of fabric of your choice (I used cotton canvas for my second backpack)

Optional Letters - for use with nylon fabric: Insignia cloth large enough for lettering (one 4" x 15" piece is enough for school initials). NOTE: insignia cloth sticks like scotch tape. It is NOT a permanent bond, but is also NOT easily dislodged. We scrunched up the bag, tossed it around, etc. and the letters stayed on firmly. Insignia cloth is very flexible and easy to work with. If you grab a letter and carefully peel, however, you can peel it off. This is nice if you wish to re-position the letters, remove them, etc. If you want a permanent bond, use fabric glue or iron-on adhesive (such as our heat-n-bond) and other fabric of your choice, or stitch around these letters. Cotton, twill, denim, duck cloth and fabrics with similar weights would work well, too. Any good quality cotton fabric could be appliqued on as letters.

If you are using cotton fabric and wish to stitch on letter appliques, refer to my Letter Applique Pillow Pattern. I provide directions for creating and attaching applique letters.

Play Around With Fabrics

fabric ideas for backpack I played around with a few combinations of fabrics before choosing to add contrast casing plus a pocket with contrast trim. If you decide to use contrast casing or add a pocket, refer to the following requirements for fabric.

Choice 2 -Bag With Contrast Casing:
two 13.5" wide x 2.5" high contrast casing fabric
two 13.5" wide x 17.5" high main bag fabric

Choice 3 - Add Pocket:
If you are adding a 5" wide x 6" high pocket, you will need a 5.5" wide by 6.5" high piece of lining fabric, and a 5.5" wide by 6.5" high piece of pocket fabric.

Add Trim To Pocket: If you wish to trim the upper 1" of the pocket in a contrast fabric, you will need a 5.5" wide x 5.5" high piece of pocket fabric, and a 5.5" wide x 1.5" high piece of contrast pocket fabric. You will also need a 5.5" wide x 6.5" high piece of lining fabric.

two 64" pieces of 1/4"nylon cording
thread to match background of fabric
fabric marker
large sewing ruler
scissors or rotary cutter / cutting mat
pins (I prefer large quilting pins)
seam ripper (optional but nice to have if you need to remove stitches)


NOTE: All seams 1/4"

Create Main Bag Cord Casings - Choice 1 (one fabric)

Without Contrast Casing

Cut out two pieces of backpack fabric, each measuring 13.5" wide x 19.5" high. Set aside.

With Contrast Casing

press casing ends Cut out two pieces of backpack fabric, each measuring 13.5" wide x 17.5" high.

Cut two pieces of casing fabric, each measuring 13.5" wide by 2.5" high. Press under 1/4" on each short end of the casing piece. Stitch the end hems that you just pressed under. Press one long side of casing piece 1/4". Repeat for the second casing.

stitch casing to backpack Center the casing strip at the top edge of one backpack piece, aligning raw edges. Pin in place so that the RIGHT SIDE OF CASING PIECE is against the WRONG SIDE OF BACKPACK PIECE (in other words, both are wrong side up). Each end of the casing should be 1/4" from the side edge of the backpack piece. If it is not that exact measurement, that is OK. I pressed under a bit more than 1/4" on my casing ends, so my casing was slightly short. Stitch casing to backpack piece, stitching all the way across. Stitch from one edge to the other. This will enforce the edge top edge of the bag side beyond the casing area. I enhanced the stitch line in red in the photo. Press seam open.

wrong and right side of backpack Repeat for the second backpack piece.

NOTE: the seam allowance is on the RIGHT side of the bag, and the inside of the casing is face up.


If you wish to add a pocket, do so now. If you do not wish to add a pocket, proceed to the next step: ""Stitch Bag Sides".

backpack pocket pattern If you are using trim, stitch the contrast strip to the main pocket piece. Press seam. You should now have one pocket piece, and one lining piece, eash measuring 5.5" wide x 6.5" high.

stitch pocket Place pocket pieces right sides together. Stitch around the three unpressed sides. I enhanced the stitching in red in the photo.

Trim the upper corners (this assists in turning the pocket right side out). Turn pocket right side out. Press firmly.

trim pocket corner     press pocket

stitch pocket to backpack Place the pocket on the right side of one backpack piece. Center the pocket, and place it approximately 3" from the bottom of the bag piece. Pin in place. Stitch the the pocket to the bag piece, stitching the two sides of the pocket, and across the bottom. DO NOT stitch across the top of the pocket. Stitch close to the edge of the pocket. Use a slightly longer stitch length (I use 3 or 3.5).

NOTE: if you have contrast casing, remember that the RIGHT side has the casing seam allowance showing.

Please Share

I rely on advertising to keep my site free. Please use the buttons at the top of the page to share with friends on Pinterest, Facebook and email.

Page 1: supplies & pocket
Page 2: finish backpack

All Patterns, images and instructions are copyright protected.
Please read our Terms & Conditions before using our patterns.

craft patterns
craft accessory patterns
Stitch Glossary
free sewing lessons
Sewing Book