So-Sew-Easy is another of my favorite pattern designers. While I’ve made technical packs (Alpine Rucksack, GVP Pack) and several cross body bags, the Small Backpack is my first fashion backpack. This fashion backpack is roughly 11” x 7” x 4” in size (308 cubic inches, 5 litres) and can be converted to a crossbody bag. I took several months to gather the hardware so this project has been on my “to do” list for quite a while.
This project is available as a 3-part sew along and includes a 34 minute instructional video. The PDF pattern is a free download. The pattern link, part 1 of the sew along and the video can all be found here:
Note this pattern is for limited-commercial use.
Here are my thoughts on this project.
Part 1 of the sew along beings with some great photos of the bag, and a description of the project. The photos are inspiring and the format (a 3-part sew along) encouraging for beginners. Note this project is described as “suitable for beginners”, however there are optional features (exterior zippered pocket and interior patch pocket) which increase the rating to “intermediate to advanced”. A walking foot is recommended for sewing multiple layers of thick fabric. I don’t own a walking foot and found that my teflon foot was needed for attaching the straps and the final assembly steps.
The Materials and Tools sections are next. The notes on materials include fabric suggestions. A pattern layout diagram and notes on which fabrics require interfacing are next. I used canvas-weight nylon for the exterior and a scrap of 100% polyester from a pillowcase for the lining. I interfaced the polyester as it was quite thin. I wasn’t able to find 2” cotton tape or 1” ribbon. Instead I used a 66” long piece of 2” wide fashion fabric and a 78” inch long piece of 1” wide nylon webbing.
Step 1 of the web tutorial is attaching the outer zipper and step 2 is adding the lateral small pockets. The video tutorial assumes that your pattern is assembled and your pattern pieces cut out. It begins by showing step 1. I did notice that the web tutorial and video did have some minor differences regarding the order of the steps. Do keep this in mind if you do refer to both
Part 2 of the web tutorial begins with a recap of the project. Step 1 of part 2 is sewing the outside zipper pocket. This is an advanced technique and a separate video tutorial and diagram are available for those who wish create this pocket. I choose to do so. I think this additional zippered pocket is of greatest benefit when the bag is being worn as a crossbody bag.
Step 2 of part 2 is making the backpack straps from 2” wide cotton tape and 1” wide ribbon. As mentioned in the web tutorial, the described method is a great way to make bag straps when you don’t have enough material for other methods (eg cutting a 66” long, 4” wide strip and folding in quarter’s lengthwise). As I stated early I was unable to find the recommended materials and improvised with a 2” wide strip of fashion fabric and a 1” wide piece of nylon webbing. I followed the steps indicated and my straps turned out fine.
Step 3 and 4 of part 2 are attaching the hardware to back panel and adding the hardware to the straps. I used an additional 12” of 1” wide webbing for these steps. The steps in the video and web tutorial differ in order here. I’m not sure if my straps are 12” longer than they should be or if there is a typo in the material list regarding how much 2”-wide cotton tape is needed.
Part 3 of the sew along beings with a recap of the project. Additional materials (bias tape) are noted and a link to the So-Sew-Easy tutorial for making bias tape is provided. I didn’t have enough lining material left to create my own bias tape so I used store-bought.
Step 1 of part 3 is creating and attaching the front pocket. As mentioned in the video and web tutorial this step can make or break the professional look of this project. While measurements for positioning the bottom and sides of the pocket were provided, there was no measurement for positioning the top of the pocket. I found it difficult to get the pocket to have the sharp rectangular shape in the photos. I recommend drawing a 6” wide by 5” tall rectangle for placement.
Step 2 of part 3 is assembling your backpack. Step 3 of part 3 is applying the bias tape and closing the backpack. Before I assembled the panels, I based the exteriors to the interiors. This extra step helped keep the slippery polyester in place. I noticed that the web tutorial and video tutorial used slightly different methods for attaching the bias tape. I followed the video as it made more sense to me. I some difficulty knowing where on the front curse to stop my bias tape. My pattern pieces didn’t have the “notches” mentioned in the video.
Here are some photos of my finished Small Backpack.
I really like how it turned out. Now that I’ve made 1, I know what I would do differently for the front pocket, and final assembly. I would make this project again.
Have you tried this pattern? What did you think about it?