If you’re creative, let it show! The new Message Belting from Dritz® is a fun way to shout out your passion. Let the world know that you are a Maker, One of a Kind, or a true Original. We used it to create handles as well as the adjustable shoulder straps on a stylish corduroy backpack. The dual carry options make it a great Walkabout bag for wherever your passion takes you. Our choice was the Maker message option in a black outline block script on the 1½” polyester belting in Stone. This is the same base as the main 1½” Dritz Belting/Strapping collection that comes in 13 colors plus 4 stripe combinations.
The look and feel of the Message Belting is very similar to natural fiber, but because it’s 100% polyester, it’s stronger and more weather resistant – important for a bag that is designed to be used when you’re out and about. The polyester base also means any cut ends can be finished by lightly melting the edges with a low flame; no bulky hems needed.
Coordinating Dritz 1½” hardware comes in matte black (our choice for this project) as well as a classic bright nickel finish. We used both the 1½” Adjustable Slide Buckles as well as the 1½” Rectangle Rings to create the fully adjustable shoulder straps. Because there’s a generous pocket on the back, if you decide to use the carry handles instead of the straps, you can tuck the straps into the pocket to keep them from dangling.
Heavy Duty Dritz Snap Fasteners, also in a matte black, secure the front pocket. These snaps are specially designed with long, sharp prongs for thicker substrates, like our layered corduroy. We appreciate how Dritz always offers the proper tools for attaching their hardware so you can get a successful insertion on your first try.
As always, we send out a huge "thank you!" to Dritz for providing us with access to their wonderful products and for sponsoring these project instructions. Dritz has so many ways to keep your sewing easier and more creative. To find out more, we invite you to visit their website or blog; or follow them on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Plush, wide wale corduroy is a perfect compliment to the colors and textures of the changing seasons. We loved how the deep solid green provided such a strong background color on which to showcase the Message Belting.
The lining is a quilting cotton from Tula Pink’s Monkey Wrench collection, adding bright pops of color and fun whenever you peek inside the backpack, the pockets, and under the front pocket flap. Between exterior and lining are double layers of interfacing and fleece, a combination that gives just right blend of structure and slouch. It’s corduroy… ya gotta have a little soft slouch!
The wraparound zipper is a chunky, parka style zipper, which means there’s a pull on either end so you can open the backpack all the way from both the left and right sides with one hand. We show you the steps below for how to cut the zipper down to the correct size by removing the teeth – it’s easy!
Our full pattern download below includes all the necessary elements. If using a corduroy as we did, notice how we cut most of the pieces with the wale running vertically, but cut horizontally for the side pockets, allowing them to subtly stand out.
There are a lot of great features on this backpack – from the wraparound zipper to the adjustable shoulder straps to the six handy pockets (front, back, both sides panels plus two inside). But don’t let any of that scare you away! Our signature step-by-step instructions and photos take you through each section in detail. And we always add links to additional tutorials that break out techniques even further.
Slip it on your back, sling it over one shoulder, or grab the handles and go; the Dritz Message Belting is fashionable, functional, and makes a bold statement. It’s like your own designer logo. The Belting is coming soon to your favorite online and in-store retailer on handy 2-yard cards in four creative options.
If you love the look the Dritz Message Belting used on this project, you may also love the other projects we’ve done with both the Dritz solid color 1½” belting and 1” belting: Unisex Belted Half Aprons, Slim Crossbody Shoulder Pouch, Fast and Easy Gym Tote, Washed Canvas Tote with Belting Handles and Drawstring Lining, Feed Sack Big Bag, Yoga Tote with Wraparound Mat Straps, Fold Over Backpack, and Table Top Sewing Caddy.
Our Walkabout Corduroy Backpack finishes at approximately 10" wide x 14" high x 4½“ deep with fully adjustable straps and dual carry handles.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot; optional for zipper insertion – we used our standard 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 - thanks to the power and precision of our Janome studio machines, we were able to use our standard presser foot throughout this project with no problem, but these other options are good solutions should you have any stitching issues with the thicker layers
- Hump jumper; optional but helpful for stitching across the particular thick layers at the pocket tops
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 3¾ yards (two 2-yard packages) of 1½” Dritz Message Belting/Strapping; we used block Maker in Stone
- TWO Dritz 1½” Dritz Adjustable Slide Buckles; we used black
- TWO Dritz 1½” Dritz Rectangle Rings; we used black
- TWO Dritz Heavy Duty Snap Fasteners; we used black
- Dritz Heavy Duty Snap Fastener Setting Tools
- ¾ yard of 54"+ wide wide-wale corduroy or similar for the exterior body and pockets; we used a wide wale corduroy solid from Joann’s in Sycamore
- 1⅓ yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we used Spots on Spots in Mango from the Monkey Wrench collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ⅜ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the interior binding of the seam allowance: optional
NOTE: We chose to bind our interior seam allowances in a solid complimentary color (we used Kona Cotton in PFD Bleach White). You could go this same route or you could increase the amount of lining fabric by ⅜ yard and use lining fabric for this binding or you could choose another seam finishing option.
- 1½ yards of 45"+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus one-sided fusible
- 1½ yards of 45"+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ONE 22” zipper; we recommend a chunky plastic parka zipper with zipper pulls at either end – these zippers traditionally come in very long lengths – get one as close to 22” as possible; our steps below show you how to shorten it. You will need a small, sharp knife.
- All purpose thread to match fabrics and Dritz Message Belting
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Small hammer to set snaps; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a hammering surface for setting the snaps; we like to use a small granite block
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: the SEVEN pattern pieces required for this project. You may want to print two copies of the eight-page pattern set to allow you to have one complete set for cutting the fabric panels and a second set for cutting the trimmed interfacing and fleece panels.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of EIGHT 8½" x 11" sheets. 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.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid line.
- Following the arrows on the pattern pieces, align Body Lining Bottom and Body Lining Top. Butt together, do not overlap, and tape to create the full Body Lining pattern piece.
- Following the arrows on the pattern pieces, align Pocket Flap A and Pocket Flap B. Butt together, do not overlap, and tape to create the full Pocket Flap pattern piece.
- Cut the Dritz Message Belting into TWO 24” lengths for the handles and TWO 41” lengths for the adjustable straps. In both cases, center the words (our word is Maker) within each length. Using a small flame, lightly melt each cut end to prevent fraying. It doesn’t take much heat; simply pass the cut ends through a small flame two or three times.
- From the exterior fabric (the corduroy in our sample), cut the following:
NOTE: Corduroy has a distinct nap; take care when placing the pattern pieces on the fabric to insure the nap is going in the same direction on all the elements.
ONE 25¼” x 5½” rectangle for the base panel (cut with the wale running parallel to the 25¼” edge)
TWO 23”x 3” strips for the zipper panel (cut with the wale running parallel to the 23” edge)
Using the Body Bottom pattern, cut TWO (wale running vertically)
Using the Body Top pattern, cut TWO (wale running vertically)
Using the Exterior-Interior Back Pocket pattern, cut ONE (wale running vertically)
Using the Front Pocket pattern, cut ONE (wale running vertically)
Using the assembled Pocket Flap pattern, cut ONE (wale running vertically)
Using the Side Pocket Pattern, cut TWO (wale running horizontally)
NOTE: Several of our pattern pieces are meant to be cut on the fold and are marked accordingly; make sure you keep track of which pieces are cut on the fold and which are cut flat. Alternatively, you can print double copies of the cut-on-the-fold pieces and butt them together at the center fold to create one pattern piece you can use to cut flat.
- From the lining fabric (the Monkey Wrench quilting cotton in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 25¼” x 5½” rectangle for the base panel
TWO 23”x 3” strips for the zipper panel
Using the assembled Body Lining pattern, cut TWO
Using the Exterior-Interior Back Pocket pattern, cut THREE
Using the Front Pocket pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled Pocket Flap pattern, cut ONE
Using the Side Pocket Pattern, cut TWO
- If you are planning to bind the interior seam allowances, from the remaining lining fabric or your coordinating cotton fabric, cut enough 2” wide strips on the bias to make a continuous strip of bias tape, approximately 3 yards in length.
- Once all the main exterior and lining pieces are cut, trim all the paper pattern pieces along the dotted seam line. Or if you printed a second set of pattern pieces, assemble them now (as noted above) and trim along the dotted seam line.
- From the mid-weight fusible interfacing, cut the following
ONE 24¼” x 4½” rectangle for the base panel
TWO 22”x 2” strips for the zipper panel
Using the trimmed Body Bottom pattern, cut TWO
Using the trimmed Body Top pattern, cut TWO
Using the trimmed Exterior-Interior Back Pocket pattern, cut TWO
Using the trimmed Front Pocket pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Pocket Flap pattern, cut ONE
Using the trimmed Side Pocket Pattern, cut TWO
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following
ONE 24¼” x 4½” rectangle for the base panel
TWO 22”x 2” strips for the zipper panel
Using the assembled and trimmed Body Lining pattern, cut TWO
Using the trimmed Exterior-Interior Back Pocket pattern, cut ONE
Using the trimmed Front Pocket pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Pocket Flap pattern, cut ONE
Using the trimmed Side Pocket Pattern, cut TWO
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: When working with a napped fabric, like this corduroy, it's important to maintain the nap. The traditional method for pressing fabrics with nap is to use a needle board or Turkish towel. We are not sure if needle boards even exist anymore, and a Turkish towel is simply a heavy bath towel. Let’s go with that! Place a towel, folded in half, over your ironing board, securing it with safety pins to hold it in place. One additional note; corduroy sheds lots of lint. A lint roller or a roll of wide masking tape works well at controlling the lint and preventing it from working its way under the interfacing and fleece.
- Find all of the exterior panels and the matching panels of fusible interfacing. Match up each of the fabric panels with its appropriate interfacing panel.
- You’ll have one extra panel of Exterior-Interior Back Pocket interfacing. This is for the lining pocket. So, in addition to all of the exterior corduroy panels, find one of the Exterior-Interior Back Pocket panels cut from the lining fabric. Match up this panel with that remaining interfacing panel.
- In all instances, the interfacing should be centered on the wrong side of the fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing all sides.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place on all the fabric panels. Remember our “towel trick” described above to save the wale of the corduroy.
- Find all the fusible fleece panels. These panels are fused in place on top of the interfacing on the following pieces: the Exterior Back Pocket, the Front Pocket, both Side Pockets, the Pocket Flap, and the strips for base panel and the zipper unit. The fleece panels for the Body Lining will be applied later in construction.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, and again remembering to use a towel under the corduroy, fuse the fleece in place.
Create the Front Pocket, the Exterior Back Pocket, and the lining back pocket
- Find the exterior panels for the Front Pocket and the Exterior Back Pocket, both of which should already have their layers of interfacing and fleece fused in place.
- Find the non-interfaced lining panels for both of these pockets (do not use the Back Pocket lining panel with the interfacing; it is for the lining pocket).
- Place the lining panels and the exterior panels right sides together. Making sure the top raw edges of both panels are flush, pin in place across the top edge only.
- Using thread to best match the lining fabric, and a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top of each pocket.
- Trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
- Finger press the seam allowance towards the lining and understitch to prevent the lining from rolling up.
NOTE: If you are brand new to understitching, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting this project.
- Fold the lining around to the back so the two layers of each pocket are now wrong sides together. Make sure the bottom raw edges are flush. Press the pocket flat from the lining side, slightly rolling the seam down on the lining side so it is hidden below the top edge of the exterior corduroy layer. You can see the understitching seam along the top that is helping with this process.
- Find the two remaining Exterior-Interior Back Pocket pieces cut from lining fabric. These will become the pocket for the interior of the backpack. One of the pocket pieces should have been interfaced already; this will be the right side of the pocket.
- This pocket is constructed in the same manner as the exterior pockets.
- First place the two panels right sides together, aligning the upper edges. Pin in place.
- Stitch across the upper edge using a ½” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼".
- Finger press the seam allowance toward the lining and understitch.
- Fold the layers wrong sides together, matching the lower raw edges. Press, rolling the seam toward the back panel (the non-interfaced panel) as needed.
Create the pocket flap and insert the top halves of the Dritz Heavy Duty Snaps
- Find the exterior Pocket Flap panel and its matching lining panel. Place the pieces right sides together, matching the raw side edges and the curved bottom raw edges. Pin in place along the sides and across the bottom. The straight upper edge is left open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the sides and across the bottom, leaving the upper edge unsewn.
- Trim the seam allowance to ¼” and clip the corners.
- Press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the flap right side out and press from the lining side, slightly rolling the seam toward the lining as you did above with the pockets.
- Find the original Pocket Flap paper pattern. There are two marked circles indicating the placement of the upper half of the two Dritz Heavy Duty Snaps. Using small sharp scissors, cut out the marked holes.
- Place the pattern over the completed pocket flap. Using a pin, mark the center of each hole.
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions or our own Metal Snap Insertion tutorial, attach the top half of a snap set at each marked point.
Create the side pockets
- Locate the two Side Pocket exterior panels and the two matching lining panels.
- Trim ¼" from each lining panel along one of the short sides.
- As above with the other pockets, place each pair of exterior and lining panels right sides together, aligning the upper edges. Pin in place.
- Stitch across the upper edge of each, using a ½” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼".
- Finger press the seam allowance toward the lining and understitch.
- Fold the layers right sides together again, matching the lower raw edges. Pin in place along the lower edge. The pocket units may bow slightly; this is correct.
- Stitch across the lower edge of each, using a ½” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
- This bottom seam is not understitched, instead press the seam allowance open.
- Turn each pocket unit right side out. Press each flat from the lining side, rolling both seams toward the lining.
Prepare the Dritz Message Belting handles and Adjustable Straps
- Find the two 24” lengths of Dritz Message Belting. Find the center point on each length, which would be 12” from each end. Place a pin at the center point. Mark 2½” to the right of center and place a second pin, then measure 2½” to left of center and place a third pin. Remove the center pin.
- Fold the belting in half, wrong sides together between the two outer pin points.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Dritz Message Belting in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch from one outer pin to the other (5” of stitching in total). This creates an easy-grip center for each handle.
- Set aside the two handles.
- Find the two 41” lengths of Dritz Message Belting. Place the Belting on your work work surface so the lettering on one length is a mirror image of the other length. Measure and mark 7” up from one end on each length. Cut both lengths at the marks. These shorter pieces will become the upper sections of the adjustable straps. As you did above to start, lightly melt the new cut ends to seal.
- Find the two Dritz Rectangle Rings and the two Dritz Adjustable Slide Buckles.
- Thread one end of each of the short lengths of Belting through a Rectangular Ring. Bring the end around approximately ¾” and pin in place. Make sure the lettering is still a mirror image from one to the other.
- Stitch across each end to secure, sewing as close to the Rectangle Ring as possible.
- Find the longer sections of Belting from which you just cut the 7” lengths. Wrap each of these ends around the center bar of an Adjustable Slide Buckle. Pull the end around the bar and back on itself approximately ¾” and pin in place. Once again, make sure the lettering is still a mirror image from one length to the other.
- Stitch the ends in place just as you did when securing the Rectangle Rings.
- Thread the free end of the longer section of Belting through the open side of the Rectangular Ring, working from back to front.
- Thread the end up and over the center bar of the Adjustable Slide Buckle. This creates the adjusting loop.
- Set aside the two adjustable straps.
NOTE: If you are brand new to making an adjustable strap, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review.
Place the handles and complete the front and back exterior panels
- Find the two Top sections of the main backpack body. Place them right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the two prepared handles.
- Place a handle on each of the Top sections. The raw ends of the Belting should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the fabric panels. The outer edge of each side of the looped Belting should be 1¾” in from the raw side edge of the fabric panels. Pin the Message Belting in place on each panel, stopping the pins 1½” down the the top raw edge of the fabric panel. This will be the pivot point for the stitching that secures the Belting.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the Belting in the top and bottom and the stitch should still be slightly lengthened.
- On each side of each Belting loop, edgestitch along both sides and across the top at the marked point (1½” down the the top raw edge), pivoting sharply at the upper corners.
- Find the finished flap. Place it right sides together with one of the Top sections, this will become the front section. The front and back sections are the same at this point, but if you feel one of your handle loops is better than the other, make this the front. The flap should be centered side to side and the top raw edge of the flap should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the Top section. Pin the flap in place. We simply pinned our flap in position. You could choose to machine baste it in position for increase stability.
- Find the two Bottom sections of the main backpack body. Place them right sides together with the two Top sections. On the front, you are sandwiching the ends of the handle as well as the top of the flap. On the back, you are sandwiching just the ends of the handle. You are aligning the top of the Bottom section with the bottom of the Top section (that’s a brain teaser, huh?) Align the wale of the corduroy on the two panels. Pin together.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top and bobbin and re-set for a normal stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across both sets of panels through all the layers to create the full front and back body panels.
- Press each seam allowance down towards the bottom of the panel.
- Find the two fusible fleece panels cut from the Body Lining pattern. Center a panel on the wrong side of each completed front and back panel. The fleece should cover the interfacing already fused in place so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece in place.
Place the front and back exterior pockets and insert the remaining halves of the Snaps
- Find the completed front and back exterior panels and the front and back exterior pockets.
- Place the exterior panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Flip up the flap on the front panel so it is out of the way.
- Place the back pocket on the back panel, aligning the raw side edges and the curved bottom edges. Pin the pocket in place along the sides.
- Place the front pocket on the front panel, aligning the raw side edges and the curved bottom edges. Pin the pocket in place along the sides.
- As you can see in the photo below, the top of the back pocket is exactly in line with the center horizontal seam on both the front and the back. The top of the front pocket sits about ½” - ¾” below this seam line.
- Bring the flap down into position over the top of the front pocket. Using the top Snap halves as your guide, mark the position for the bottom halves of the Dritz Heavy Duty Snap Fasteners.
- Again following the manufacturer’s instructions or our own Metal Snap Insertion tutorial, attach the bottom half of a snap set at each marked point.
Prepare the main lining panels, and layer the front and back
- Find the two lining body panels and the lining pocket you prepared above with the layer of interfacing.
- Place one lining panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pocket right side up (interfacing side up) on the panel, aligning the raw side edges and the curved bottom edges. Pin in place along the sides.
- Our pocket is divided into two sections. You can follow our division line, create your own section sizing, or leave the pocket as one large opening. We marked one vertical line 6½” in from the left side of the pocket.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and bobbin and stitch along the drawn line through all the layers. As with all pocket divisions, for the neatest finish, we suggest using a lock stitch at the beginning and end of this seam. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, leave the thread tails long, pull them through to the back, and hand knot.
- Place the front and back panels wrong sides together with the two lining panels. Remember, the lining pocket is meant to go with the back exterior panel. Pin around the entire perimeter of both layered pairs.
Place the adjustable straps and baste the front and back panels
- Find the main back body panel, which should be layered with its lining panel (the lining panel with the pocket). Place the panel exterior side up on your work surface.
- Find the two adjustable straps.
- Position the adjustable straps with the raw ends of the short sections centered at the upper edge of the backpack, side by side. Adjust the position of the straps so they sit at a slight angle as shown in the photo below. Pin in place.
- Position the opposite raw ends of the longer sections at the lower side edges of the backpack, about 2” up from the bottom raw edge as shown in the photo below. Pin in place.
- Machine baste around the entire perimeter of both the front and back panels. This bonds the lining to the exterior, secures the ends of the adjustable straps in position, and secures the front and back pockets in position.
- To keep the straps and handles out of the way for the next steps of construction, tuck the straps into back pocket.
- Fold the handles down and secure each with a pin.
Create the zipper unit
- As listed above in the supplies section, we recommend a separating parka zipper with zipper pulls on each end for this backpack. However, this type of zipper usually comes only in very long lengths. The shortest we could find was 28”. Our backpack pattern calls for a 22” zipper. To adjust the length of the zipper, we needed to remove excess teeth. This is easier than you might think with a plastic zipper.
- To start, remove ¾” - 1” of teeth from one end.
- To do this, use a small, sharp knife to work under the edge of each plastic tooth. Lift up on the blade to break away one half of the tooth.
- Pry away the second half of the tooth in the same manner.
- Butt the ends of “cleaned” zipper tape together. Pin or even tape these ends together. Trim away the excess zipper so you have just ½” of tape extending from the teeth. Thread a hand sewing needle and whipstitch the ends together. You’ve created your own zipper stop.
- From the “new” end of the zipper teeth, measure 22” down the zipper and make a mark at this point at the opposite end of the zipper.
- Remove ¾” - 1” of teeth beyond this mark in the same manner as above.
- Trim away the excess, leaving the same ½” tab and whipstitch this end together in the same manner.
- Find one of the 3” strips of exterior fabric (the corduroy in our sample). Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Slide the zipper pulls toward the center, opening up the zipper about 5” on both ends. Place the trimmed zipper 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 23” 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 top edge.
- Stitch across through all three layers, running the seam about ⅛” from the zipper teeth. We used our standard presser foot and moved the needle position to the left position. A Zipper foot would be another good option.
NOTE: As mentioned above, each end of the zipper should be open about 5". As you’re stitching, when you can start to feel you're approaching a 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.
- 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 our Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a precise distance from the seam on either side.
Complete the side wall of the backpack
- Find the 25¼” x 5½” exterior base section, which should have its interfacing and fleece layers fused in position. Place the base section right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the two side pockets. Each pocket has one understitched seam and one plain seam. Place the understitched seam of each pocket ½" in from either end of the base section. Pin in place along the sides of the pockets.
- Edgestitch across the lower edge of each pocket (the end with the plain seam), securing it in position.
- Remove the pins along the sides of each pocket and flip the pockets to the middle of the base section. Insert a pin to hold them together, keeping them out of the way during the next few steps.
- Find the zipper unit. Align one end of the zipper unit to one end of the base section. Make sure the nap of the fabric is running in the same direction on both pieces.
- Flip over the zipper unit onto the base section so the two layers are now right sides together (exterior sides together) and the 5½” ends are flush. Pin in place.
- Find the 25¼” x 5½” lining base strip. Place it right side down on top of the layers. The zipper unit is now sandwiched between the two base layers, and those base layers (the exterior base and the lining base) are right sides together on either side of the zipper unit. Re-pin in place through all the layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers. Because the excess zipper teeth were removed, the seam can be sewn with no worries of hitting the plastic teeth.
- Sandwich the remaining end of the zipper unit in the same manner, creating a circle
- Un-pin the pockets and bring them up into position on either side. Re-pin them along their sides to secure.
Insert the front and back panels into the side wall
- Flip the side wall loop wrong side out. Set the back exterior panel into the side wall loop so the two pieces are right sides together.
- Match the upper edge of the back pocket to the upper edge of each side pocket and pin. Match the center of the base section to the center of the back pocket and pin, and match the center of the zipper unit to the center top of the backpack back and pin. As you’re pinning, think of it like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock. Place your quarter point pins first and then fill in between. Here’s a look down into the bag with the side wall pinned into position.
- You can clip into the curved corners at a depth of about ⅜” to help ease around the curves.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the loop.
- There are a lot of layers and bulk where the pockets meet. It helps to use a hump jumper to stitch through these bulky areas.
- Repeat to insert the front panel in the same manner.
NOTE: At this point, turn the backpack right side out to check for any tucks or missed areas of stitching. If you see anything, use your seam ripper to carefully open the seam at the problem area and re-stitch that section of the seam. We can all make mistakes when working with thicker layers, and taking the extra step to check and re-check your work will give you the professional finish you’re looking for.
- When both seams are complete, trim back the seam allowances to ¼” all around.
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, you simply have a narrower “tube” and your “circles” are the rounded rectangular main panels of the backpack. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
Finishing the interior seam allowances
- The layered method used for this backpack is an easier type of construction that also results in a much smoother inside lining, however, it also creates interior seam allowances and we do always recommend some type of seam allowance finish. The method you use is up to you. Pick your favorite machine sewn finish. If you have a serger, you could use a wide four-thread overlock stitch to finish the edges. Or go with our choice: wrap the seam allowances with a custom-made bias binding in a solid quilting cotton that coordinates with the lining fabric. You could also make the binding from the same fabric as your lining or simply buy a packaged bias binding.
- To attach, fold the bias binding in half wrong sides together and press flat.
- Align the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the seam allowance and pin in place.
- Stitch in place, using a ¼” seam allowance. Remember, you are only stitching on the seam allowance. Do not stitch on the backpack panels itself. The head and tail of the binding can simply overlap to finish.
- Wrap the bias strip around the seam allowance. Pin in place so it covers the line of stitching. We finished our bias binding by slip stitching in place by hand, but you could also sew it by machine using a small zig zag or a straight stitch.
We received compensation from Dritz® for this project, and some of the materials featured here or used in this project were provided free of charge by Dritz®. All opinions are our own.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler