Mini Backpacks

The Brady Bunch is getting ready to saddle up the Suburban and trek across the country on their annual road trip summer vacation. I like to think of it as the Griswolds, except more kids and less Aunt Edna.

The littles asked me if I would make them some mini backpacks so they can tote around whatever 10-12 year olds tote around.

I’ve found a new favorite fabric for backpacks and it’s Ottertex. This stuff is awesome! It’s waterproof, easy to sew, and Fabric Wholesale Direct offers it in assorted solids and prints at a very good price.

Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er. Here’s how it’s done.

The finished measurements of these little guys are 9” wide x 11” tall x 4.5” deep. They are fully lined and sized to fit an iPad with plenty of room for other stuff.

Materials

  • Front and Back: 10” x 12” (2 outer; 2 lining) - I cut a template to create a curved top.

  • 3D Front Pocket Top: 3” x 10” (1 outer; 1 lining)

  • 3D Front Pocket Bottom: 6.5” x 10” (1 outer; 1 lining)

  • Top Zipper Gusset: 22” x 2.75” (2 outer; 2 lining)

  • Side Gusset: 5” x 5.5” (2 outer; 2 lining)

  • Bottom Gusset: 10” x 5.5” (1 outer; 1 lining)

  • Straps: 24” x 2” (4 outer)

  • 3D Pocket Zipper Tabs: 2” x 1” (2 outer)

  • Strap Zipper Tab: 1.25” x 2” (1 outer)

  • 1 zipper 12” (not sure which number, I think it’s #7, 1” wide zipper tape)

  • 22” #5 YKK zipper chain with slider (2)

  • D-Rings: 1” (2)

  • Clasps: 1” (2)

  • 1” Adjustable Sliders (2)

  • 1” Nylon Webbing

  • 1/4” seam stick basting tape

  • If using waterproof canvas (like Ottertex), a teflon non-stick foot is highly recommended.

3D Pocket Assembly

Click through the slide show below for photos of each step.

  1. Take the 3D Pocket Top pieces (lining and outer) and cut out 1” square at the top left and right corners.

  2. Take the 3D Pocket Bottom pieces (lining and outer) and cut out 1” square at the bottom left and right corners.

  3. Take one 3D Pocket Zipper Tab and sew it right sides together (RST) to the end of the zipper with the stop.

  4. Fold it over and topstitch.

  5. Cut away the excess zipper tape to reduce seam bulk.

  6. If using a 12” zipper, move the slider towards the center and trim off 3” of the zip. Bartack the open edge.

  7. Place the other Zipper Tab RST together with the bartacked edge and sew at 1/2”. Flip and topstitch.

  8. Place the zipper RST with the 3D Pocket Bottom piece (the 10” edge without the cutouts). Place the matching lining piece RST on top and sew along the zipper edge, backstitching at each end.

  9. Flip over and topstitch along the zipper.

  10. Repeat with the 3D Pocket Top pieces - place outer RST with zipper, layer lining RST on top, sew, topstitch.

  11. Bring each notched corner RST and sew (all 4 corners - on lining and outer separately). Remember, the lining is the inverse of the outer, so make sure you do the lining the correct way - the right side of the lining is what faces out.

  12. Fold all raw edges under 1/2” and apply basting tape.

Attach 3D Pocket to Front

This is the hardest part of the entire thing. Get it over with early in the process and the rest goes easier!

  1. Position pocket in place (I placed mine 1” up from the bottom raw edge and about 1.5” in from each side. Remove the paper from the bottom edge of the basting tape and press in place.

  2. Stand the 3D pocket up and sew the bottom edge only, from the inside of the pocket, backstitching at each end, and staying very close to the edge.

  3. Remove the remaining paper on the basting tape from the other 3 sides and press into place. Use a straightedge to ensure it is placed properly.

  4. Put a zipper foot on the machine (this will make it easier to work in tight spaces). Starting at one bottom corner, stitch around all 4 sides, staying close to the edge. Backstitch at each corner to reinforce. Set the front piece aside for later.

Zipper Gusset

This will be assembled using the Free Seam Allowance (FSA) technique. Make sure you start and stop at least 1/2” from edges to leave the seam allowances “free” for when they will be attached to the front and back main pieces.

  1. Install the zipper slider on the 22” of zipper chain.

  2. Place the zipper face down on the right side of one of the Zipper Gusset pieces. Place the corresponding lining piece on top (face down) so that the outer and lining are RST.

  3. Using a zipper foot, sew. Turn right side out (RSO) and topstitch. Note, the seams along the zipper tape do not require the FSA, so begin and end right on the edges.

  4. Place the remaining outer Zipper Gusset piece right side up. Lay the zipper assembly face down on top, matching up raw edges. Layer the remaining lining piece face down so that outer and lining are RST. Sew, flip, and topstitch.

  5. Take one Side Gusset outer piece and place it RST on top of one of the short edges, lining up raw edges. Flip over and place one Side Gusset lining piece face down (RST).

  6. Sew at 1/2”, using the FSA technique. Turn RSO and topstitch.

  7. Repeat for the remaining Side Gusset pieces, attaching to the opposite end of the Zipper Gusset, using the FSA technique.

  8. Take the Bottom Gusset outer piece and place RST with one of the side gusset pieces. Flip over and place the Bottom Gusset lining piece face down (RST).

  9. Sew at 1/2”, using the FSA technique. Do not topstitch.

  10. Put the remaining raw outer piece edges RST.

  11. Sew at 1/2”, using the FSA technique.

  12. Put the remaining raw lining piece edges RST.

  13. Sew at 1/2”, using the FSA technique. This creates a loop.

Zippered Straps

The strap contains a zipper so that it can be zipped up to create a single strap, or unzipped to create two traditional backpack straps.

  1. Install the zipper slider on the remaining 22” length of zipper chain.

  2. Take the Zipper Strap Tab piece and place RST at the top (closed end) of the zipper (see photo) - the top is where the slider lands when the zipper is UN-zipped. Sew at 1/2”.

  3. Flip the tab over and topstitch.

  4. Take one Strap Piece face up and lay the zipper face down on top. Layer another Strap Piece face down on top (strap pieces RST).

  5. Starting at the top (the tab), sew down. At about 1.5” from the bottom edge, pull the zipper teeth toward the seam allowance and continue sewing to 1/2” from the bottom edge.

  6. Flip RSO and topstitch, stopping 1/2” from the bottom edge.

  7. Take another Strap Piece and place it face up and lay the zipper assembly on top (face down). Layer the remaining strap piece face down on top (strap pieces RST).

  8. Starting at the top, sew down. At about 1.5” from the bottom edge. pull the zipper teeth into the seam allowance and continue sewing to 1/2” from the bottom edge.

  9. Flip RSO and topstitch, stopping 1/2” from the bottom edge.

  10. Fold long edges of Straps in 1/4”. Clip in place.

  11. Fold under the bottom edges as much as possible (may be less than 1/2”). LEAVE BOTTOM OPEN.

  12. Sew down the long edges of each strap to close, staying very close to edge.

Back Piece

  1. Cut two 3” pieces of 1” nylon webbing.

  2. Loop around the D-Ring and sew ends closed.

  3. Baste to Back main piece (right side up) at about 1.5” from side edge. Zigzag them in the seam allowance for strength.

  4. Repeat for other D-Ring.

  5. Mark the center of the top back and the center of the top of the straps. Baste together. Zigzag stitch within the seam allowance to reinforce.

  6. If you want to add a little handle, baste it to the top center now.

Front to Gusset

  1. Mark the top center of the lining gusset and the top center of the front lining piece. I suggest starting with the lining because it will be easier to maneuver out of the way when you get to the outer pieces.

  2. Match up the centers and begin clipping in place. Clip into the seam allowance on the gusset piece where it needs to curve along the top.

  3. Starting at one bottom corner, sew at 1/2”, backstitching at both ends.

  4. Reposition and start at the bottom corner and come up one of the sides, keeping the lining out of the way. Go slowly. Using a zipper foot is recommended to get past the side gusset seams (the FSA).

  5. Repeat for the front outer piece. This time, take care to keep the lining pieces out of the way.

  6. Open the zipper.

Back to Gusset

  1. Starting with the lining, clip together the back lining piece in the same fashion as the front. However, leave most of the bottom open - this will be used to turn the entire bag right side out. I recommend sewing only 1” on either edge of the bottom to allow for turning.

  2. Sew the lining at 1/2” around the sides and top.

  3. Assemble the outer in the same way as the outer front (don’t leave anything open).

  4. Turn RSO via the hole in the bottom of the lining.

  5. TIP: before closing the lining, push out any air if you’re using waterproof fabric…I didn’t do this on my first run and it feels like there’s air trapped inside!

  6. Turn in the seam allowance on the lining bottom and stitch closed, very close to the edge.

Adjustable Strap Ends

  1. Cut two pieces of your desired length of 1” nylon webbing.

  2. Loop one end over the center bar of the adjustable slider.

  3. Sew in place.

  4. Take the raw end and loop it through the clasp.

  5. Come back up through the back of the slider, over the top, and down the front of the slider.

  6. Feed the raw end (at least 1”) into the open bottom end of the strap.

  7. Sew the bottom of the strap closed, very close to the edge.

  8. Reinforce as desired.

And there you have your super cute mini backpack! Or, in my case, 4 of them!