Backpack envy

My son started attend­ing a Steiner preschool this year. My daugh­ter, who attended that same preschool last year, has moved up to their “Lit­tle Kindy” class­room. So to cel­e­brate this mile­stone of both my kids going to the same “big school,” I promised them each a new backpack.

Until now I had been pack­ing the kids’ school and day­care stuff in large nappy-bag style bags I made. But when my kids see all the other chil­dren going to school wear­ing (mostly bright-colored plas­tic) back­packs, they nat­u­rally wanted back­packs just like them. Yes, peer pressure.

Well, I really dis­like the look and feel of plas­tic back­packs, but I didn’t want my kids to feel left out at school. So I wanted to make nice fab­ric back­packs that still resem­ble the shape of plas­tic ones.  Here’s what I came up with for Mr. A.  He chose this fab­ric himself.

fabric backpack in black zoo print

The pat­tern is my own, but let me tell you, there were some strug­gles along the way. The first ver­sion came out ter­ri­bly (I’m embar­rassed to even tell you why), and the sec­ond ver­sion came out way too big. After going back to the draw­ing board, the third ver­sion was just right. Well, it still looks pretty big on Mr. A., but you know, he’s barely three, and will soon grow into the back­pack size — I hope.

My son wearing the new zipper backpack

Here are more pho­tos of the back­pack details. It has a flap pocket in the mid­dle, side patch pock­ets, and lit­tle tabs on both sides to make it eas­ier to open and close the zip­per. The strap is padded and adjustable.

zipper backpack front detail - pocket

zipper backpack side detail - patch pocketHere’s what the inside looks like.

zip backpack detail - inside view

I used a heavy-duty cot­ton can­vas for the lin­ing, to give the back­pack a good struc­ture and shape, like those plas­tic ones. I bound the raw seams with orange bias bind­ing, just because a bit of color is fun.

A few days later, and after much nag­ging by Miss M., I fin­ished her new back­pack. Of course it’s pink — but I love that my kids chose the match­ing print. How cute!

zip backpack in pink zoo print

I have to admit this one came out nicer than my son’s. I made small improve­ments, like using larger tabs on the side, and using slid­ers for for adjust­ing the straps (for the black one, I used dou­ble D rings, which didn’t work too well).

zip backpack detail - side D ring tab

zip backpack detail - adjustable strapszip backpack detail - inside viewI hope my kids will be happy to wear them to school, and not feel too envi­ous of other plas­tic back­packs out there.…

  • Ash­ley Ison

    These are gorgeous!

    • Pig­gledee

      Aw, thanks, Ashley. :)

  • Mark E. Mark

    Top notch bags!

    • Pig­gledee

      Aw, thanks for commenting. :)

  • Erika Chagnon

    When will this pat­tern be in print ;) LOVE them so cute!!

    • Asako Sakai

      Hi Erika. I had a feel­ing I’d hear from you. The back­pack pat­tern? Ha ha, one of these days.… Thanks for your sup­port though!

  • Kaye Sten­der

    Hi Asako,

    just test­ing and leav­ing a mes­sage on your blog…I hope this works.

    beau­ti­ful job on your backpacks.


    • Asako Sakai

      Yay, it worked! Sorry you had prob­lems before. I’m glad it’s all sorted now. :)

  • Kaye Sten­der

    Hi Asako,
    just testing…beautiful job on your back­packs.

  • Kim N Damien Griffiths

    Absolutely gor­geous!!
    When will we be able to cus­tom order?? I’ll take 3 & would live their names to be added on too!
    I love see­ing your work Asako :)

    • Asako Sakai

      Thanks for your lovely com­ment, Kim. I appre­ci­ate your inter­est in order­ing the back­packs! Maybe soon-ish… I need a lit­tle more prac­tice first because those two back­packs took a very long time to make! I’ll let you know. :)

  • Lisa

    Ohh­h­hhh… I love these bags. You’ve done a great job, Asako. I’m with
    you on those gar­ish plas­tic bags… to avoid these, we bought my
    daugh­ter a back pack from Coq en Pate, then, when she out­grew it, a Skip
    Hip back­pack. When my son out­grows the Coq en Pate bag, we’ll be on the
    look­out for another back­pack… I hope by then you’ll be able to make
    these back­packs for sale???

    • Asako Sakai

      Hi Lisa! Glad you like the back­packs. :) I just looked up Coq en Pate though (what a great name, too), and I LOVE their school bags and back­packs, too, of course. So delight­ful, and organic fab­ric as well. I want one for myself, ha ha.