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. :)

  • Top notch bags!

    • Piggledee

      Aw, thanks for commenting. :)

  • Erika Chagnon

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

    • 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.


    • 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.

  • 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 :)

    • 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???

    • 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.