Hi! I’m Annika from Näh-Connection and I can’t even tell you how excited I am for being able to guest post at the Sewing Rabbit today. When I pitched my idea for a tutorial to Jess, I wasn’t sure what to expect and am so happy that she was interested.
Some weeks ago I posted a drawstring backpack on instagram. There were many comments and some people asked for a tutorial. I have to mention that I’m german and drawstring backpacks or „Turnbeutel“ (i.e. gym bags) as they are called here, are THE thing right now. There is probably not one german sewing blogger that hasn’t sewn one. Especially in the last weeks probably hundreds maybe even thousands of them were made. Do you remember Jess’ post about the refugees in Europe in which she talked about caring and asked what could be done? Well, drawstring backpacks are some of the things that german sewers „do“. These backpacks are being filled with shower gels, tooth brush and paste, toiletries for women etc. They are handed to new arriving refugees. This way they 1. have a place to put some of their belongings and 2. hopefully feel welcomed. The situation isn’t easy and these packs won’t solve big problems, but hopefully they put a smile on the faces of people that are experiencing the worst time of their lives.
Drawstring Backpack DIY.
Anyhow, that’s just the background to the drawstring backpacks. Today, we will sew a trick or treat variation with an appliqued spider and spiderweb. And while I’m at it, I might sew some more to send to Sew a Smile for the refugees… Halloween isn’t very important in Germany. There are some kids ringing bells and asking the “Süßes oder Saures” – question, but it’s not very popular. After all we get to disguise and dress like animals, princesses, cowboys etc. during carnival. I, thus, chose to make a drawstring backpack that doesn’t shout “Halloween” too obviously and will be absolutely wearable all year round. You could of course applique other things like bats, witches, ghosts etc. or you can make your drawstring backpack to go with the costume. The basic tutorial is always the same and so easy that you can adjust it too your needs. You can go crazy color-blocking, do a lace overlay, add ribbons, stamp your fabric etc. The possiblites are endless.
So, let’s get sewing.
- Fabric for backpack
- Cord -or- rope
- Leather scrap, vegan leather, some ribbon -or- scrap fabric.
I like to use midweight fabric that still gathers nicely when you draw the cord, but I’ve also made one from canvas and it is great, too.
1. Cut your fabric. You need two 14″ x 18″ rectangles (here in blue). Plus, for this version, you need an additional piece of fabric in a contrasting color (white) that is just slightly smaller than the other two. (You can adjust the fabric sizes according to the fabric that you want to use…)
2. Iron some fusible adhesive to the back of the contrasting fabric. Then sketch your spiderweb to the back. Remember that you’ll later turn the fabric around, so whatever you sketch needs to be mirrored! This hasn’t got to be perfect. Just go with the flow. Now cut the net out, peel the fusible off, turn it around and iron it to the right side of your front piece.
3. Now, make yourself comfortable in front of your sewing machine and topstitch the spiderweb in place.
4. Also cut your spider from the vegan leather (or whatever you want to use). If you use a scrap of fabric, you can also iron some fusible adhesive on it and then iron it onto the spiderweb. Topstitch the spider in place.
5. Serge or zigzag the edges of your two rectangles.
6. Cut four 1″ x 2,5″ rectangles from the vegan leather or cut your ribbon in the same length. We need two of them now and two in the last step.
7. Lay your front right side up on the table. Fold two of your leather rectangles in half lenthwise (left sides together). Lay them on the front piece (1″ from the bottom) with the open ends aligned to the serged edge of the front piece. Baste in place.
8. Lay front and back piece right sides together, pin and sew with a 3/8“ seam allowance. Start 2 1/4″ from the top, sew down to the corner, pivot, sew along the bottom, pivot and sew up until 2 1/4″ from the top. Iron your seam allowance open (also at the top parts that you haven’t sewn together). Turn right sides out.
9. Top stitch the seam allowance of the slits at the top in place.
10. Fold the top of front and back piece 1″ to the wrong side to create the channels for the drawstring. Topstitch the tunnels in place (approximately 3/4″ from the folded top).
11. Thread the cord through the channels as shown on the picture. You start at one channel, thread the cord through and go back through the other channel. For the second cord you do this the other way round.
12. Thread one of the loose ends of each cord through the vegan leather guides at the bottom of the pack. Then lay the two ends of each cord in between the remaining vegan leather rectangles (from step 6) that are again folded in half. Sew the rectangle closed. Try to stay really close to the cord. Cut close to the stitching line so that the rectangles aren’t much wider than the two cords (see below).
Admire your new drawstring backpack.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will join us Germans and sew several drawstring backpacks right away. Choosing your fabric, making an applique or stamping the fabric is by far the longest part of each drawstring backpack. The actual sewing is super fast. So, what are you waiting for?
I’d be happy to see you over at Näh-Connection.
Thanks so much for stopping by, until next time…happy sewing!