I don’t need to extoll the virtues of a backpack—that’s a given. Big or small, backpacks are worn by pre-schoolers to seniors—and I don’t mean the high school variety! Most backpacks are functional, but today’s third installment of the Top 10 Creative Bag Ideas features a classy backpack.

Trace 'n Create California Bag-backpack variation



The featured design didn’t originate as a backpack—it started out as a bag, specifically the Trace ‘n Create Bag Template—California Bag Collection. Originally I designed a full-sized, convenient smaller size, and a fold-over feature. There are six variations in all!

Four of the six design options offered in the instructions.

After testing and sewing this design more times that I can count, I wanted to see if tweaking the design could turn the fashionable bag into a functional backpack. Sure enough, it worked! (Trust me, some of my tweaking doesn’t always work out.)

There are three tweaks necessary to convert the California Bag Template Set into a backpack: 1) modify the tab, 2) change the straps, and 3) add side-cinching snaps.

The unique supplies needed for this design variation are:

•            Two additional magnetic 1/2” snaps

•            One package of the 5/8” Create-A-Strap

•            2-1/2 yards of 1/2” (or slightly narrower) grosgrain ribbon

Tweak #1: Modify the tab.

•            Modify the tab. Use the tab template to make a new paper pattern. Select the length of the largest tab and the width of the smallest tab (die-cut area). Keep the snap in the same location.

Mark the length and the smallest width; then connect the dots!

•            Follow the instructions and trace and cut out the full-sized template and new tab piece from your outer and lining fabrics.

•            Also cut a layer of craft interfacing,Peltex, to give the bag professional shaping. Peltex has changed the look of my bags and totes—all for the better.

Tweak #2: Change the straps:

Note:  The backpack straps are added to the backpack prior to stitching the lower bag seam.

•            Create straps from the narrowest Create-a-Strap, 5/8” width, per the instructions, using 1-1/4” wide strips of fabric and coordinating 1/2″ wide grosgrain ribbon.

•            Cut two 36” straps and one 10” handle strap.

•            Place one end of each strap along the lower edge, 1-3/4” from each lower corner. Machine baste.

•            At the top of the back piece, mark the center point and measure down 2”. Bring the ends of the straps to the point. Machine baste.

•            Fold up the straps and stitch 1/2” from the fold. Double stitch to secure the straps.

•            Add the hand strap at each side of the backpack straps.  Stitching the straps in the same two-step process.

Tweak #3: Add side-cinching snaps.

•            At the same stage of adding the tab snap, insert the two side-cinching snaps. Measure 2” down and 2” over from each side. Place the “innie” snaps on the front and the “outie” snaps on the back piece. (It really doesn’t matter which snap goes on the front or back, just be consistent.)

Follow the instructions to complete the bag. When finished, snap together at the sides to create a narrower top, instantly creating a backpack shape.

Cinched snaps closed

Cinched snaps open

I hope you liked my third installment of Top 10 Creative Bag Ideas: Design #3— California Backpack. I’d like to hear about your creative designs!

Bye for now,