This great-for-guys carryall can be worn as a backpack, crossbody, or carried by hand. Study navy canvas is combined with bright orange sport nylon plus jet black accents in the faux leather base, webbing, and mesh. When a project has a variety of substrates like this, you need a machine that can move through thick and thin without skipping a stitch. That’s why we love our Janome machines and are an exclusive Janome studio. We’re guaranteed to sew with power and precision – it’s one of our secrets to a fabulous finish.
Did you spot the three zippers? They’re what help give this bag such great functionality to tote whatever you need without the worry of items falling out. But the zippers!! Yes, for many people, the fear of zippers can cause them to turn their backs on a project. Don’t do it! All these zippers are done with flat fabric, and the front and back pockets are even stitched on top on the exterior fabric rather than being encased in a seam. Besides, it’s S4H, so you know we’ll give you thorough step-by-step instructions and lots of helpful photos.
A clever adjustable strap is what allows two of the three carry options. Strategically positioned D-ring tabs on the front and the back along with swivel clips at either end of the strap lets the wearer switch from hands-free backpack mode to a comfy crossbody option. There are also reinforced double handles when you need to simply grab and go.
We used the Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 for our sample, a top of the line model that literally does it all. But, you can take on this project with any machine that has strong needle penetration, a good feeding system, and a selection of presser feet to help tackle specific tasks. We’ve listed our favorite options below, including links so you can read more about specialty feet. One of our mantras here at S4H has always been, “Use the right foot for the job and the job with be done faster and with a better finish.”
We’ve designed four pockets on the pack’s exterior. The two zippered pockets described above along with two handy side pockets. One plain pocket is a perfect place to slip a phone or snacks. The opposite side pocket is created from cargo mesh with an expandable elastic top where you can drop a water bottle.
We’ve shown our sample day pack being worn by super dad and hardworking RN, Ben with his twin daughters in tow. It would be a wonderful gift option to a “traditional” diaper bag for a father in your life. Off-the-shelf diaper bags are often quilted and embellished to within an inch of their lives, and not everyone is down with toting a bag covered in blooms and bunnies. This good looking alternative with strong colors and urban styling has a bit of a retro 70s vibe that matches well with our dad’s style… and maybe yours!
We used a standard quilting cotton (from Tula Pink’s HomeMade collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics) for our sample’s lining. If considering the pack as a diaper bag alternative, you might want to consider using a ripstop nylon or PUL for the lining instead.
Our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring the project, which allows us to provide the full pattern download at no charge. For more information about the Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000, visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer to see it and sew with it yourself!
Are there a lot of instructions? Yes – there are! But don’t let that put you off from trying this project – even if you’re a beginner. There’s a lot of information below because we always work hard to be as detailed as possible with our steps and images. We do this to insure you have extra help along the way as well as to give you our tips and tricks to get a truly professional finish. Read through a couple times to, as we say, “make it in your head.” Then, give it a go. We think you might be surprised at what you can accomplish!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional for zipper topstitching
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for thicker layers – or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
- Blind Hem foot; optional for some of the precision topstitching
- Variable Zig-Zag Open Toe Foot; optional for attaching the front and back overlaid pocket zippers with a zig zag stitch
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 54″+ wide mid-to-heavyweight canvas or similar for the exterior body and pockets; we used a classic 100% Cotton Duck Canvas in Navy
- 1¼ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we used a S4H Stash Cut of Seed Stitch in Noon (a deep navy) originally from the HomeMade collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ¼ yard of 44″+ wide ripstop or similar lightweight sport nylon for the accent stripes and D-ring loops: we used 59” Ripstop Nylon in Orange
- ¼ yard of 44”+ wide lightweight faux leather for the accent base; we used a 59” high-grade upholstery vinyl in black
- ¼ yard of 44”+ wide cargo mesh for one side pocket; we used 50” polyester cargo netting in black
- ½ yard of 45″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing for the pockets as well as a second layer of support for the D-ring tabs; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ¾ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing to back the sport nylon; we used and recommend Pellon Shape Flex
- ONE 20”+ zipper
- TWO 12”+ zippers
NOTE: We recommend chunky metal zippers in a slightly longer length if possible. Our steps below show you how to shorten each zipper for a perfect fit. We started with one 24” zipper and two 14” zippers – both in black with nickel teeth.
- 3 yards of standard commercial piping; we used Wrights packaged piping in black, which comes in 2½ yard packs – we purchased two packs
- 3 yards of bias tape for interior seam binding; we used Wrights packaged extra wide double fold bias binding in navy, which comes in 3 yard packs; although this is “just enough,” we recommend buying two packages to insure there is plenty for “futzing and overlapping.”
- 2½ yards of 1½” wide polyester webbing or belting; we used black
NOTE: You need exactly 2½” yards (90”). We used and recommend Dritz Belting, which comes in 2-yard packs, so we purchased two packs. If you wish to conserve and source/buy by the yard, be mindful that you will need ONE 68” length and TWO 11” lengths.
- FOUR 1” D-rings; we used nickel
- ONE 1½” D-ring; we used nickel
NOTE: We are using all 1½” hardware for our strap, which is the easiest to find. This does mean you will be threading a 1½” hook and slide buckle through a 1½” D-ring when switching from backpack mode to crossbody mode. This takes a bit of “futzing” but it is certainly possible by pinching the layers and inserting sideways through the D-ring. If you can find a 1¾” or 2” D-ring instead, it would make it a bit easier and faster to change from backpack and crossbody when the pack is in use.
- TWO 1½” Adjustable Slide Buckles; we used nickel
- TWO 1½” Swivel Hooks; we used nickel
- ¼ yard of 1” wide fold over elastic; we used black
- ½ yard of colorful paracord or similar for the optional front pocket zipper pull
- All purpose thread to match fabrics and belting
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth
- Straight pins
- Craft scissors and small needle nose pliers for cutting metal zippers if you start with longer lengths
- Fabric clips; optional but helpful in several situations – we used Wonder Clips
- Lighter or match to seal the ends of the webbing and the paracord
- Black permanent marker to “color” cut edges of vinyl; optional – we used a black Sharpie®
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the FIVE pattern pieces required for this project.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of TWELVE 8½” x 11″ sheets that have been bundled together to make the download easier. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There are guidelines on each page to confirm your printout is to scale.
- Below are assembly diagrams that show how all your printed pieces will come together to form the five final patterns.
- Cut out each of the individual pieces along the solid outer line. These pieces are designed to fit together precisely; be careful with your cutting. The goal is to cut down the center of the thick black outer line. Once cut apart, butt together the pieces – do not overlap – and tape to complete each full pattern.
NOTE: The diagrams below show how to assemble the full pattern pieces; they are NOT the sewing pattern. To access and print the sewing patterns, click the DOWNLOAD button above.
The front and back body pattern is made up of FOUR pieces: A, B, C and D.
The bottom front faux leather base overlay section is made up of TWO pieces: E ad F.
The base/side panel is made up of FOUR pieces: G, H, I and J.
The zipper panel is made up of THREE pieces: K, L and M
The side pocket pocket is ONE pattern piece that does not require any assembly: Side Pocket.
- From the main exterior fabric (navy canvas in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled front/back body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled zipper panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled base panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the side pocket pattern, cut ONE
- From the base accent fabric (black upholstery vinyl in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled front base overlay section pattern (E/F), cut TWO
Using the assembled base/side section, but cutting with just the center “BASE OVERAY” section as show below, cut ONE
NOTE: We recommend cutting vinyl with a rotary cutter for the cleanest edge. If your cut edge reveals any of the vinyl’s backing that might be in a lighter color, you can run a permanent marker in a matching color along that edge to mask it. We used a black Sharpie® to give our vinyl’s cut edges a finishing touch.
- The sport nylon fabric (orange ripstop in our sample), will be cut after fusing the interfacing in place. See below.
- From the fabric for the lining (Tula Pink HomeMade in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 10” wide x 13” high rectangle for the lining patch pocket
Using the assembled front/back body pattern, cut FOUR
Using the assembled zipper panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled base/side panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the side pocket pattern, cut ONE
- From the cargo mesh, cut ONE 8” x 8” square.
- From the mid-weight interfacing (Décor Bond in our sample); cut the following:
Using the assembled front/back body pattern, but cutting on the dotted seam allowance line rather than the outer solid line, cut
TWO for the front and back pocket lining
Using the side pocket pattern, but cutting on the dotted seam allowance line rather than the outer solid line, cut ONE for the side pocket lining
ONE 1½” x 5″ strip as extra support for the back accent strip/1½” D-ring
ONE 1″ x 12″ strip as extra support for the four 1″ D-ring tabs
ONE 9” x 6″ rectangle for the interior lining patch pocket
- From the lightweight interfacing (Shape-Flex in our sample); cut one 9” x 20” rectangle to back the sport nylon.
- From the belting, cut ONE 68” length for the strap and TWO 11” lengths for the handles.
- From the fold-over elastic, cut ONE 6” length.
- The piping and seam binding will be cut to length during the construction.
- The paracord should be cut and knotted at the very end; its length and look is up to you. We used 18” to slip through and knot into two long tails.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Because of its see-through quality, we recommend first backing the sport nylon with a lightweight fusible prior to cutting out the pieces. You want the interfacing to go edge to edge on your nylon yardage. This means the width of the interfacing should be 9”. As noted above, the length is 20”.
- Place the interfacing on the ripstop with raw edges flush. Using a pressing cloth and a low heat seating, fuse the nylon in place.
NOTE: It is somewhat unusual to add fusible interfacing to a nylon substrate that is not meant to take the heat of an iron. However, with proper precautions, it can be done. As mentioned, use a pressing cloth and a lower heat setting. Keep the iron moving; avoid allowing it to rest for any length of time in one position.You’ll see in the photo below that we sketched out our cuts on the interfaced back of the sport nylon for the best use of fabric.
- From the interfaced sport nylon fabric (orange ripstop in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 12” x 3” strip for the four D-ring tabs – this strip will be seamed and cut into four equal pieces
ONE 4½” x 13½” rectangle for the front accent strip
ONE 2” x 5” rectangle for the back accent strip/D-ring loop
- Find the additional small strips of mid-weight fusible interfacing. These are optional, but we recommend them to add some additional stability to the D-ring tabs as these tabs will be pulled on by the adjustable strap in both the backpack and crossbody configurations. Place the 1½” x 5″ strip directly on top of the already-interfaced back of the 2″ x 5″ strip so the top and bottom edges are flush and there is ¼” of the strip itself showing beyond this second layer of interfacing. On the 12” x 3” strip, the additional 1″ x 5″ layer should be positioned so one 5″ edge runs down the exact vertical center of the strip with ½” of the strip showing beyond the second layer at one outer edge
- The photo below shows all our cuts assembled into sections and ready to go!
- Find the four panels of mid-weight interfacing and the four appropriate lining panels: two of the front/back body panels, one lining patch pocket panel, and one exterior side pocket panel.
- Place the appropriate panel on the wrong side of the side pocket lining panel, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place one large panel on the wrong side of each of the two front/back body lining panels, centering as above so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Center the 9” x 6” interfacing panel on one half of the 10” x 13” interior patch pocket lining panel. It’s easiest to fold the fabric in half wrong sides together so it is now 10” x 6½”. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Align one 9” edge of the interfacing along the center crease line, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on the remaining three sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the four D-ring tabs
- Find the 12” x 3” strip of the sport nylon. Fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together, so it is now 12” x 1½”.
- Check to make sure you have thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin and that the machine is set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance stitch the 12” side. The ends remain open.
- Carefully turn right side out and press flat, making sure the seam runs evenly down one side. It’s a little tricky because of the layers of interfacing, but you can do it. Using a pressing cloth, press flat.
- Cut this finished strip into four equal sections; each should be 3” x 1”.
- Find the four D-rings.
- Slip a tab strip through each D-ring and align the raw ends. Pin in place. Set aside.
Create the plain side pocket
- Find the exterior and lining panels for the plain exterior side pocket. The lining panel should already have its interfacing fused in place.
- Place the two layers right sides together, aligning the upper edges. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the upper edge only. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
- Open up and then fold the layers so they panels are now wrong sides together and the seam is straight along the top edge. All edges should be flush.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Topstitch across the top sewn edge of the pocket to secure the layers.
- Set aside the plain pocket.
Create the mesh side pocket
- Find the 8” x 8” square of mesh and the 6” length of fold-over elastic.
- Fold the elastic in half and slip it over the one edge of the mesh; this will become the top of the mesh pocket. The ends of the elastic should be flush with both side edges of the mesh, which means the mesh will be bunched up in the center. This is correct. Pin or clip together the layers at the outer ends.
- If necessary, re-thread with thread to best match the elastic in the top and bobbin and re-set for a zig zag stitch.
- Drop your presser foot and needle at one end and stretch the elastic to compensate for that original “bunched up” center center. As you sew, the mesh and elastic should be flat. Zig zag along the inside edge of the fold-over elastic. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the elastic in this one zig zag seam.
- Set aside the mesh pocket.
Create and place the interior lining pocket
- Find the interior lining patch pocket panel, which should already have its interfacing fused in place, and one of the non-interfaced lining panels.
NOTE: Remember, the two interfaced lining body panels will become the back of the front and back pockets. The two non-interfaced lining body panels are the interior lining panels. For this step, you are working with one of the non-interfaced lining panels.
- Fold the pocket panel right sides together so all raw edges are flush. Pin along both sides and across the bottom, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom for turning.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the bottom opening.
- Gently push out all four corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool is best for this, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner.
- Press flat, pressing in the seam allowance across the bottom opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
- Place the lining body panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Position the pocket right side up on the body panel. It should be centered side to side, 5½” down from the top raw edge of the pane, 3½” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. Pin in place along the sides and across the bottom. Remember, the folded edge is the top of the pocket.
- Measure to find the center of the pocket, and using pins or a fabric pen or pencil, draw in a vertical guide line. You’ll use this to divide the pocket panel into two sections
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch along the center guide line.
- Edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting sharply at the bottom corners. This seam closes the opening used for turning. You can certainly use a standard presser foot for this step, but for extra precision, we switched to a Blind Hem foot and moved the needle to left.
Prep the handles
- Find the two 11” lengths of 1½” webbing. With polyester webbing, we suggesting “sealing” the cut ends with a small flame. It doesn’t take much to melt and seal, simply pass the webbing through the flame a couple times. If you want to be really clever, you could go ahead and seal the ends of the 68” length of webbing at this time as well.
- Find the center point on each length, which would be 5½” in from each end. Place a pin at the center point. Mark 1½” to the right of center and place a second pin, then measure 1½” to the left of center and place a third pin. Remove the center pin.
- Fold the belting in half between the two outer pin points.
- If necessary, re-thread with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin and set for the same slightly lengthened stitch you’ve been using throughout for topstitching.
- Edgestitch from one outer pin to the other (3” of stitching in total) through both layers. This creates an easy-grip center for each handle.
Mark the front/back panels + prep and place the accent strips
- Transfer all the pattern markings from the main body panels to the front and back exterior panels.
- You want to make sure you have guide markings for the D-ring tabs, the handle ends, and the accent strips.
- Find the front and back accent strips. Along each side edge of each strip, press back ¼”.
- Find the front exterior panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
NOTE: At this point, both the front and back panels are exactly the same, simply pick one.
- Place the larger front accent strip into position. It should be centered side to side, aligned with the pattern marking points, and the top raw edge of the strip should be flush with the raw edge of the exterior panel. Pin in place.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the sport nylon in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of the accent strip with your favorite presser foot. We again chose to use the Blind Hem foot with the needle set to the left at 0.5. It provided a very straight, tight seam.
- Find the back exterior panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the smaller back accent strip into position. It should be centered side to side, aligned with the pattern marking points, and the top raw edge of the strip should be flush with the raw edge of the exterior panel. Use your ruler to measure 1” down from the top raw edge and draw in a horizontal guide line with a fabric pen or pencil.
- As above with the front accent strip, edgestitch around all four sides, however, your “top edge” should be stitched along the drawn horizontal guide line.
- Find the 1½” D-ring. Slip it under the free end of the back accent strip so it rests against the horizontal seam.
- Machine baste the top end of the strip in place within the seam allowance, approximately ¼” from the top raw edge.
Apply the faux leather accents + D-ring tabs to the front and back panels
- Place the front and back exterior panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Both panels should have their accent strips already stitched in place.
- Find the four D-ring tabs and the two faux leather base overlap pieces.
- Using the guide lines previously transferred from the pattern, place each of the D-ring tabs. There is one tab along the top of each panel at the top right. These are for attaching the adjustable strap for crossbody. The back panel also has two tabs on either side near the bottom. These are for attaching the adjustable strap as a backpack. Notice that these two bottom tabs are slightly angled up; this is correct and will allow the tabs to finish in the correct downward position, after they are sewn into the seam, to best hold the backpack strap ends.
- Pin or machine baste the four D-ring tabs in place.
- Pin the base overlay pieces in place on each panel.
- At this point, the machine should already be threaded with thread to best match the sport nylon, so if machine basting the tabs, do that now.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the faux leather in the top and bottom and re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Edgestitch along the top and bottom of each base overlay piece. We used a Standard presser foot.
- A Blind Hem foot would be another option for added precision. You want your edgestitching along the top of each overlay piece to be very close to the cut edge to prevent any “flapping” along that edge.
Create front and back exterior zippered pockets
- Using the original assembled pattern for the front/back body panel, make sure you have transferred the marks for the horizontal slice line. It slices across at approximately 5” down from top raw edge of the panel.
- Using a rotary cutter and ruler for the straightest/cleanest cut, slice across each panel.
- Fold both cut edges forward ¼” and press well. This means the two folded edges to either side of the zipper opening are folded back so the wrong side is showing.
NOTE: In the photo below, we show the iron resting on the sport nylon (!)… this is because our iron was actually off and we were shooting just to show you our forward folds. When you are pressing for real, use a pressing cloth and always avoid touching the iron to the sport vinyl as it will likely melt.
- Find one of the 12-14” zippers. We used a 14” zipper and cut it to size, which does allow the best fit. If you have a 12” zipper, it should simply fit side to side. If you have a longer zipper, first align the top end of the the zipper (the pull end) with the right edge of the main panel. Measure ½” in from the raw side edge and place the top of the zipper pull at this measurement. Then, mark on the ends of the zipper tape where they are flush with the raw side edge of the panel and trim off this little bit of tape.
- With the top end of the zipper trimmed and with those trimmed ends flush with the raw side edge of the panel, smooth the zipper across the opening to the opposite side edge. You’ll make TWO measurements on this end as well. First mark the tape where it is flush with raw side edge of the main panel. Then, make a second set of marks ½” in from the first mark. Clip into the tape at all four marks.
- Thread a hand needle and whip stitch around the teeth at the inner marked point to create a little faux bottom zipper stop.
- Grab your utility scissors and pliers. Pull apart the excess zipper below your faux zipper stop, then cut away/pull away the teeth from the stop to the end of the zipper.
- With the teeth gone, trim away the excess zipper tape at the outer set of marks. You should now have a ½” space for a seam allowance at both the top and bottom of your perfectly-fitting zipper.
- Overlay the zipper across both panels. The zipper sits on top of the right side of the panels, concealing the folded-forward edges. At the back of the zipper, the folded edge should be flush along the zipper teeth; you want just the teeth exposed at the back to allow the zipper to open. This process gives you a completely finished edge on what will be the inside of the pocket. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the zipper tape in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a medium zig zag stitch. Open the zipper about half way.
- Stitch along both sides of the zipper tape, staying close to the outside edge of the zipper tape but without the zig zag dropping onto the main panel fabric. We used a Standard presser foot, running the edge of the foot along the zipper teeth as a guide. Slide out the pins as you stitch.
NOTE: As with most zipper installations, you will need to stop, with the needle in the down position, and close the zipper as needed to allow the presser foot to pass the zipper pull.
- Since we were using the Janome MC15000, we dove into all the great specialty feet that come standard with this model and pulled out the Variable Zig Zag Open Toe foot. With its narrow edges and wide open front section it was a great option to allow us to snug right up again the teeth and still be able to clearly see our stitches so they stayed nice and straight all the way across.
Apply piping to front and back panels
- Place the front and back panels right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the remaining piping.
- Starting along a straight side edge of one panel, pin the piping to the right side of the panel. The piping’s insertion tape should be flush with the raw edge of the panel all around. Leave about 1½” free at the head and tail of the piping.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the piping in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a basting stitch. Attach a Zipper foot with the needle to the left.
- Machine baste the piping in place around the entire perimeter of the panel. Remember to leave those head and tail ends free.
- You can clip into the insertion tape just a bit at each corner to help it curve around the panel.
- When you get back to where you started, lock the basting stitch and remove the panel from under the needle.
- Use your seam ripper to open up the tail end of the piping and clip back the cording inside so it butts together against the head end.
- Fold under the end of the empty binding to create a finished edge and pin in place at the overlap.
- Complete the basting seam across this overlapped point.
- At each of the rounded corners, we added an additional seam straight across to stabilize the curve.
- Repeat to baste the piping around the remaining panel in the same manner. One additional note, it helps to slightly open the zipper to baste past that point in the process.
NOTE: If you are brand new to working with piping, we have a full step-by-step tutorial on making and attaching it that you can review prior to starting.
Create the top zipper panel
- We worked with a 24” zipper for this section, trimming it to fit the 20” opening, using the exact same steps as above for the front and back pocket zippers.
- Remember you need ½” at both the top and bottom for a seam allowance.
- Find the exterior and lining zipper panels. Find the exact lengthwise center of each panel by measuring 3” in from either edge or use the marked center line on the original assembled zipper panel pattern.
- Slice both the exterior panel and the lining panel along this horizontal line, giving you two 3” sections of the exterior and two 3” sections of the lining.
- Find one of the 3” strips of exterior fabric. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Open up the trimmed zipper about half way and place it right side down on top of the fabric, centering the zipper end to end and with one side of the zipper tape flush with the long side of the fabric strip. The zipper should be the same length as the fabric strip. Lightly pin the zipper in place along just the top edge.
- Find one of the 3” lining strips. Place it right side down on top of the exterior strip, sandwiching the zipper between the layers. The two fabric layers are right sides together and their raw edges should be flush on all sides.
- Re-pin through all three layers (exterior, zipper tape, and lining) along just the one edge.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a standard straight stitch. We continued to use a Zipper foot.
- Stitch across through all three layers, running the seam about ⅛” from the zipper teeth.
NOTE: As above, when you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly in order to access the zipper pull and carefully close the zipper, moving the pull out of the way. Re-position the fabric, drop the presser foot, and continue sewing.
- Press both strips away from the zipper teeth so they are now wrong sides together.
- Repeat to attach the remaining 3” exterior and lining strips to the opposite side of the zipper.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along both sides of the the zipper. We used a Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a precise distance from the seam on either side.
- We also machine basted along the outer raw edges on both sides to simply help hold the layers in place throughout the balance of construction.
Create the base panel with pockets
- Find all the elements for the base/side of what will become the outer “wall” of the pack: the main exterior panel, the main lining panel, the faux leather overlay panel, the plain side pocket, and the mesh side pocket.
- Place the exterior and the lining panels wrong sides together and machine baste along both outer edges. As above with the zipper panel, this basting simply holds the exterior and lining together so it can be handled as one unit rather than two layers.
- Place the layered main base panel right side up (exterior side up) and flat on your work surface.
- Place the top of the mesh pocket (the elastic is the top) 1” in from the left raw edge of the panel. Pin or clip in place.
- Place the faux leather overlay panel into position at the center of the panel to confirm that its left edge covers the bottom raw edge of the mesh by at least ½”.
- Machine baste along each side of the mesh pocket, staying close to the raw edges.
- Repeat to place and baste the plain side pocket into position in the same manner on the opposite end of the base panel.
- Place the faux leather overlay panel back into position.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the faux leather in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch across each 6” cut ends of the faux leather through all the layers. As above when you edgestitched the front/back faux leather overlay sections, stay as close to the cut edge as possible.
- Find the zipper unit. Align one end of the zipper unit to one end of the base section so the two layers are now right sides together (exterior sides together) and the 6” ends are flush. Pin in place.
- Using a seam ripper, peel back about 1” of the base panel lining, then fold and pin the lining out of the way.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the remaining exposed layers. Because the excess zipper teeth were removed, this seam can be sewn with no worries of hitting the metal teeth.
- Un-pin that 1” section of lining and wrap it around the seam allowance of the seam just stitched. You can trim or grade the seam allowance if need be for the best fit. Pin the wrap in place at either end.
- Turn the panel right side up and stitch-in-the-ditch of your seam to secure the wrap.
NOTE: If you are new to stitching in the ditch, it simply means your new seam is going right along and on top of the previous seam as shown in the photo below.
- Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the base panel to the remaining raw edge of the zipper panel.
Place the handles + layer the main panels
- Using the markings previously transferred from the paper pattern, place a handle loop on both the front and back panels. Align the raw ends of the handles with the top raw edge of each panel. Pin and then machine baste in place, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Find the non-interfaced plain lining panel and the non-interfaced lining panel with the pocket. We consider the lining panel with the pocket to be the back panel.
- Find the two interfaced lining panels.
- Layer an interfaced panel WRONG sides together with each non-interfaced panel. Pin together around the outer perimeter.
- Stack each exterior panel with a set of layered lining panels. The wrong side of the exterior panel should be against the interfaced lining panel. This interfaced panel is what you see when you zip open the exterior pocket.
NOTE: As mentioned above, we wanted to have our lining pocket sit against the back of the bag so that lining set is layered with the back exterior panel. Make sure the pocket is facing right side up.
- Make sure the front/back faux leather lines up with the side faux leather.
- Baste around the outer perimeter of both the front and back layered panels. As above with the side wall, this simply helps hold all the layers together to make them easier to manage for the balance of the construction.
Insert the front and back panels into the side wall
- Find the front and back exterior layered panels. Fold each in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold. Fold in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. You now have pins at the quarter points of each panel, a little bit like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock.
- Repeat this process with the side wall loop to mark quarter points along each raw edge. The center of the zipper is the 12:00 point on the loop.
- Flip the side wall loop wrong side out. Set the front exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together.
- Align the quarter point pins of the front panel with the matching quarter point pins of the loop. Pin through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the panel. We used clips rather than pins, which made the thicker layers a bit easier to handle.
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat panel into a tube. In this case, we simply have a non-traditional “circle.” If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- Clip around the curves for the best fit.
- Re-thread if necessary with thread to best match the lining in the top and bobbin and re-set for a standard straight stitch. Attach a Zipper foot and move the needle position to the left.
- Stitch all the way around the panel, running your seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
- Repeat to add the back exterior panel in the same manner. Remember to open the zipper all the way before sewing the back panel into place.
NOTE: The second side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop as needed – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers.
Finish the interior seam allowances
- We opted to wrap the exposed interior seam allowances with bias binding. You can choose this method or your favorite machine sewn finish.
- To wrap your seams as we did, turn the entire bag wrong side out through the open zipper.
- When working with a number of curves as we are with this project, it can help to first “train” the binding into position by first wrapping it around the paper pattern and steaming it. This gives the binding a “memory” of the curves you want it to make.
- Slip the binding over the seam allowance and pin or clip in place. Remember, you are only working with the seam allowance – NOT the bag itself.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a wide zig zag.
- With the binding wrapped around the raw edges of the seam allowance, stitch in place through all the layers to secure. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching the front and back of the binding in this one seam. The zig zag stitch makes it easier to catch both sides, but you should still be careful.
- Find the 68” length of binding, the two adjustable slide buckles, and the two swivel hooks.
- If you are brand new to making an adjustable strap, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- The main difference with this strap is BOTH ends are adjustable, which allows it to work as a backpack as well as crossbody.
- This means you’ll attach both a slide buckle and a swivel hook on each end, following our tutorial steps.
- As mentioned above in our supply list, we used all 1½” hardware for our strap, which is the easiest to find. This does mean that you will be threading a 1½” hook and slide buckle through a 1½” D-ring. This takes a bit of “futzing” but it is certainly possible by pinching the layers and inserting sideways through the D-ring. If you can find a 1¾” or 2” D-ring instead, it would make it a bit easier and faster to change from backpack and crossbody when the pack is in use.
- If using the optional paracord zipper pull on the front, thread it through the zipper pull now. Bring the cord through until the tails are just slightly offset. Knot the tails together tightly up against the pull and then knot the end of each tail individually. The ends should hit within the faux leather base panel of the pack. As you did above with the cut edges of the belting, pass the cut ends of the paracord through a small flame to seal.
- In addition, check all the cut edges of the faux leather and use a Sharpie® or similar permanent marker in a matching color to touch up any light spots where the backing of the faux leather might be visible.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever