Sew up a backpack in a weekend and enjoy using it all season!

Click here to download the template

You’ll need

  • 0.5m x 150cm wide pleather
  • 1m cotton lining
  • 1m double-sided fusible interfacing
  • 1 snap fastener
  • dressmaker’s pen
  • cutting knife or rotary cutter
  • pen
  • 1 tube Bostik Sew Simple glue
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • leather needle
  • strong/upholstery sewing thread
  • iron
  • 6 x 20mm eyelets
  • eyelet tool
  • needle
  • 2 ‘D’ rings
  • 2 small buckles

Here’s how

  1. Download the PDF pattern above, print and cut out on paper according to
    pattern markings.
  2. Set pattern pieces out on your material, trace around pattern pieces with the
    dressmaker’s pen and cut out.

NOTE: add a 5mm seam allowance to your pattern pieces.

PIECE 1 (x2) (shoulder straps). Fold in half lengthways. Use glue along the length of the strap to keep it in position and then topstitch down entire length of both sides/edges of the strap, 2mm away from edge.

PIECE 2 (top handle). Fold in half lengthways. Use glue along the length of the strap to keep it in position
and then topstitch down entire length of both sides/ edges of the strap 2mm away from edge.

PIECE 3 (back of bag) Cut 1. Using the pleather piece, the double-sided fusible interfacing and the lining
fabric, fuse the 3 together. We cut a rough piece of interfacing and lining fabric, used the iron to fuse the
materials together and then trimmed the lining and interfacing to the pleather.

PIECE 4 (closure strap guide inside the back of the bag) Cut 1 x pleather and 1 x lining. With RS facing, sew together along 3 sides, turn RS out, neatly tuck in unsewn edges and topstitch all the way around, 2mm from edge. Position on area where the dotted line is marked on the pattern piece and sew 2 rows of stitches, one at the top and one at the bottom of the guide, stitching through the main body of the back of the bag.

PIECE 5 (placket covering/ holding in shoulder straps and handle on the outside back of the bag) Cut 1.
Neatly tuck in about 5mm along all four edges, snip off bulk on the corners diagonally, and glue into place. Once
glue is dry, topstitch all the way around, 2mm from edge. Position on area where the dotted line is marked on the
pattern piece, then sandwich the two shoulder straps and handle between the back of the bag and the placket and
sew onto the back of the bag, stitching through all layers.

PIECE 6 (strap anchors) Cut 2. Fold in half lengthways. Use some glue along the length of the strap to keep it in position. Slide the buckle onto the piece, fold in half and secure. Stitch on back of bag as indicated. Following diagram A, thread the straps through the buckle halfway down the strap, D ring at the base of the bag and
then back through the buckle again. Stitch in place. Repeat for other handle.

PIECE 7 (front flap) Cut 1 x pleather and 1 x lining. Mark where the snap fastener will be (indicated as x on the
pattern piece). Cut a small square of the leftover pleather, about 3cm x 3cm. Snip small openings through the lining
and in the centre of the small piece of pleather, just enough to slide the snap fastener split pin through the opening of both pieces of fabric together. Assemble the snap fastener (sliding a small washer over the legs of the clip’s split pin) and open out the split pin. This will help as reinforcement. With RS facing, sew together along 3 sides, leaving TOP EDGE open. Turn RS out, tuck edges in and topstitch all the way around.

PIECE 8 (front of bag) Cut 1. Using the pleather piece, the double-sided fusible interfacing and the lining
fabric, fuse the 3 together. Mark where the snap fastener will be (x on the pattern piece). THROUGH THE PLEATHER,
assemble the back half of the snap fastener in the space marked, then fuse the pleather, interfacing and lining together. With RS facing, sew the front of the bag to the back. Then again with RS facing, stitch the front flap to the back of the bag at ‘A’. Cut a strip of pleather, 3cm x 20cm and glue it over the raw edges at the join (see ‘A’ on pic 2).

PIECE 9 (thin closure strap) Cut 1 x pleather about 2cm wide and 1m long. Fold in half lengthways,
glue in place and topstitch.

PIECE 10 (‘Figure 8’ strap holder) Cut 1 x pleather 8cm x 8cm. Fold in half and glue in place.
Once glue is dry, fold again as in Diagram B, then stitch down the centre as marked on the diagram. Trim off any
excess fabric.

Mark the 6 places (seen on pattern) where you will position the eyelets on the top edge of the bag. Apply the
6 eyelets as per instructions on the packaging. Thread the thin closure strap through the eyelets and through the
strap holder (piece 10), then knot the ends of the straps to secure.

To embellish your bag, make a tassel with a piece of pleather 20cm x 15cm. Cut to 3.5cm from top edge in strips
about 5mm wide. Cut another piece of pleather about 15cm x 2cm, fold in half and glue. Fold the 15cm x 2cm piece in half to create a loop and position the raw edges on one end of the tasselled piece of pleather, leaving enough to fit your little finger in. Next, roll the tassel up and stitch down in place. Secure to the front flap of the
bag with a few stitches.


Magazine issue date: August, 2017

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.