Burberry-Ish Backpack

Spotted this "London" style plaid and couldn't resist, it reminds me of Burberry plaid. The plaid fabric is actually PUL (polyurethane laminate), which is waterproof, wipe-clean, and often used to make diapers. Since I have no need to make diapers, I figured this would be good for a backpack!

I used up some more of my brown vinyl (pleather) for accents and the bottom. I picked up some brown sport zippers (for the top and the front pocket) and black nylon for the lining. My plan was to make a small-ish backpack I can wear when I walk to get my groceries. I have been using one of my drawstring backpacks, but since fruits and vegetables have reentered my diet, my little drawstring backpack just doesn't have enough room, and I only buy what I can carry.

It turned out larger than I planned, partly because I wasn't sure how big to make it, so I wound up measuring my backpack from college (yes, that's still in use) and studying it to understand how it all went together.

Since I only purchased a yard of the fun plaid PUL, I sat down and wrote out exactly how I was going to put this thing together. PUL is a little like pleather in that once your needle makes a hole, it's there to stay...so I did not want to fly by the seat of my pants and wind up ripping seams left and right.

Only 2 seams needed to be ripped. When I mapped out the measurements for the gusset (the top zipper and the bottom), I incorrectly added a couple extra seam allowances that didn't need to be there. So, when I started piecing the bag together, I wound up about 4 inches longer than I needed to be. Those seams were ripped, but that was okay because I was going to cut it down, so no harm/no foul. However, somewhere in my measuring (and I still am not entirely sure where I went wrong), I wound up being off and the vinyl bottom does not match up on the sides. However, since I was making this for me, I don't care, it's FINE.

I'm only slightly bothered that I couldn't really match up the plaid everywhere, but again, since I only had a yard, I didn't have room to fussy cut the pattern. For the straps, I made sleeves out of the plaid PUL and then inserted Soft and Stable interfacing (which has a foamy padded feel). I used nylon webbing for the top grab handle and the strap adjusters.

Because I don't go anywhere without my sippy cup, I made mesh pockets on both sides with an elastic channel on the top. I originally used fold over elastic but I don't think I sewed it right and it was all twisty and turny. Since I had to cut that down after the gusset snafu, I switched gears and went with a standard channel for the elastic, I think it looks better. I even added a little bit of brown piping at the side joins of the gusset 'cuz that looked sophisticated.

Yes, that's my BB-8 sippy cup in there. I'm supposedly an adult...that's up for debate. If you look close, you can see where the brown leather on the sides is lower than the front/back, but now that I'm looking at it, it's kind of hidden by the mesh, so we're cool like Fonzie!

I didn't have it in me to do a full tutorial on this one. But, here's the gist of it...

Zipper Gusset (Top)

Lay your zipper facing down on the right side of your outer fabric. Place the liner on top (right side down). Sew together and then unfold it and topstitch it. Repeat for the other side of the gusset. Set aside.

Bottom Gusset

Because I had a contrasting bottom (the brown vinyl), there were three pieces to the body of this gusset that would comprise the bottom and about half of the sides. I laid the vinyl face up and then placed a piece of black mesh on top, lining up the raw edges on the short end. Then, I placed the plaid (facing down) on top of that and stitched it together. I unfolded it out, and then topstitched the seams to lay flat.

I made small channels for the elastic, just two strips a couple inches longer than the width of my gusset, and wide enough to slide the elastic through. Fed the elastic through the channel and anchored with a zigzag stitch on one end. Pulled the elastic tight(ish) and then anchored it to the other side of the channel. Then I basted the mesh up the side of the assembly, anchoring the elastic channel.

Place the two gusset pieces (top and bottom) right sides together and sew together along the short ends to create a loop. I also added piping at these seams.

Front Pocket

I sewed my vinyl accent (bottom) to the bottom of the front pocket piece. With the front pocket piece face up, place the zipper face down and the pocket liner piece face down (another zipper sandwich). Sew, turn out, and topstitch.

Things got a little cattywampus on this part, so don't go by my procedure if you want it to look perfect...I took the pocket assembly and placed it right side down and basically upside down on the front bag piece and sewed the zipper right to the front of the bag. This way, when it folds down, the bottom should line up. It didn't. I think it's because I had added some pleather to the ends of my zipper for "aesthetic effect" and didn't consider that would mean folding the pleather back on itself (so now I had 4 layers of vinyl plus a zipper) and it really didn't go well. It got a little bunched up but whatever.

Anyhoo, I then basted the pocket to the front piece to keep everything together. I then placed the lining on the wrong side of the front piece and just basted that all around.


I cut channels for my straps, just folded them right sides together and sewed up the long side to close it. Turned it right side out, and slid in some Soft and Stable. I cut the Soft and Stable about a half inch short on the top and about two inches short on the bottoms. I left the top "raw" since that was going to get sandwiched in the seam between the gusset and the back of the bag. I ran a line of stitches down each side (stopping at about an inch from the bottom) to hold the interfacing in place. On the bottom, I folded about a half inch hem in, and sandwiched my nylon webbing (looped around a strap adjuster) inside and stitched it shut and then sewed a box to reinforce and really hold onto the nylon webbing.

For the adjustable part of the strap, I just cut some more nylon webbing and set aside. I also cut a piece to serve as the grab handle at the top. Burn those ends to prevent fraying!


I used a firm interfacing on the back to hold the shape and make the bag stand up on its own (I think I used Pellon 70F). I couldn't get it to fuse to the PUL so I just clipped in place and decided that basting the liner would do enough to hold in place. I made sure the interfacing was outside of my seam allowances (so about 1/2" shorter all around) and then basted the lining to the back piece.

Mark the center at the top of the back piece. Then mark about 2" on either side. Place the grab handle (looping down against the right side of the top piece) and baste in place (zigzag stitch) with the edges hitting those 2" off-center marks.

Then, place the straps (right side up, wrong side facing the right side of the back piece of the bag) next to the grab handles and baste in place with a zigzag stitch. I angled mine slightly outwards because that's how my other backpack was made and Jansport knows what they're doing.

Clip those remaining two pieces of nylon webbing a few inches up from the bottom. I angled these as well (upwards) because Jansport knows better than I do about straps. Baste those with a zigzag.


One trick I like to use when making things with gussets is to find the center of the top and bottom of the pieces that will come together and snip little notches (staying within the seam allowance). That helps me line things up. I also make sure to clip (or pin) things together starting with the centers at top and bottom, and then work my way around the sides. That's how I figured out initially that my gusset was not measured correctly!

Take your gusset and flip it wrong side out. Line up and clip it (since I was using PUL and vinyl, pins are verboten) to the back piece right sides together all around and make sure everything lines up the way it should. Sew together. Unzip the gusset at least halfway. Repeat to attach the front to the gusset in the same manner.

I then went around and zigzagged the seams to finish them and to secure all the pockets and straps yet again. I could have used some bias tape to hide the ugly seams inside but again, this bag was for me, and I didn't care.

And that's it! Turn it right side out and put it on!