Sewing for Children

DIY Toddler backpack

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One of the first projects for the Sew it Academy was to create a railroad tote bag. After making my own tote bag successfully following the online course, I was inspired to make my son a backpack. For this project I used a bright yellow duck canvas I purchased at Joann’s. I’ve had some cotton fox print for a while now and after searching YouTube for tutorials, I found one that was very helpful . The YouTube video Tutorial mochila infantil – DIY toddler backpack was very thorough and even though it is in Spanish, it does has English subtitles and I think anyone could follow the visuals. It took me about 2 days (approximately 6-7 hours to complete the backpack or actually I should say, I still have to finish the inside lining (LOL).

I didn’t use the measurements provided, but instead I used my son as a guideline for the measurements that would fit him just right. I measured his back and then use my ruler and dressmakers curve to create a pattern from scratch. I believe the instructor from the tutorial has a pattern on her website but I don’t have a printer and I couldn’t wait to get started so I went ahead and drafted my own pattern. I had some left over fusible fleece which came in handy and also an 18″ off white zipper. This was my first time installing a zipper and I was very nervous, but it was surprisingly easier than I thought. The lesson in the Sew it Academy came in handy because I knew how to work with duck canvas and provided instructions on what needles I needed for that type of fabric. I also had some left over fusible fleece that I used in combination with the fox print cotton. The problem I have in sewing (or should I say in life) is that I’m not patient and I tend to act on impulse. That leads to not taking exact measurements, not pinning and not making patterns as I go. Since I wasn’t working with a pattern for the side panels, at the time of sewing the side panel was too short so I had to improvise and add a piece of duck canvas to properly enclose the backpack. Yes, my impatience is a big flaw but I guess I can say one of my strengths is that I try to make things work on improvise a solution. The hardest part of this project was putting together the inside lining (sport nylon fabric) because it frays and because you are sewing the inside, in a way it is like you have to sew inside out. One side worked out okay because I was very careful on how I sewed it but I sewed the opposite side incorrectly so the seams are showing as you can see in the picture below. I hate using the seam ripper to undo stitches so the backpack is still sitting on my dining room table…I will get to it (someday) maybe by the time my boy goes to kindergarten? The straps would have been a piece a cake had I pressed them and measured them properly as the video demonstrated. I struggled at first because I didn’t write down measurements so when I compared both straps, they were not the same size so again I had to improvise to make the straps match in width. Overall I would have to say this is a project a beginner can sew. The duck canvas is sturdy and easy to work with as well as is the cotton. I loved the combination of the bright yellow duck canvas and the cotton fox print. The backpack isn’t perfect, but I really enjoyed making it. I was especially excited that I already had the KAM snaps for the adjustable straps so it saved me a trip to the local crafts store.

I already have materials for another backpack and I will definitely take measurements for the next projects. If you take anything from this post, consider taking your time, pinning and creating a pattern as you go rather than creating a pattern after you’ve finished the project. I hope this inspires you to make a backpack for yourself or for any child in your family/friends. I am certainly inspired to make more backpack for the children in my family and even a full size for myself. We’ll see if that happens…Take care!

supplies used (all purchased from Joannes)

  1. duck canvas
  2. cotton fox print
  3. 18″ universal zipper
  4. denim needles
  5. sport nylon fabric
  6. fusible fleece
  7. coordinating thread
  8. kam snaps
inside lining sewn inside out – need to undo stitches
Additional piece of duck canvas added because I didn’t measure the circumference of the backpack correctly
final product

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