Sew a DIY Backback with These Resources for 3 Backback Styles

Reader Contribution by Mikkie Mills
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Photo courtesy the author by rawpixel

This year alone, 88 million Americans are planning on a family getaway. While traveling with the family, it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of everyone’s clothes and toys and snacks. In addition to the chaos of carting around everyone’s belongings, providing everyone, from parents to kids, with their own luggage can be expensive.

Instead, try a more creative approach. Making your own backpacks can be an inexpensive, effective way to keep track of everyone’s things. It can also be a more creative way to express yourself as you design your own apparel.

Drawstring Bags

The simplest DIY backpacks can be worn while still closing tightly to keep your things safe. Drawstring bags use drawstrings that loop over the shoulders and close the mouth of the bag at the same time. It’s an ideal bag for carrying things that you won’t need for a while, because the style of the bag keeps your things safe on your back but just out of reach.

These bags are easier to sew than many other varieties, and give you the option of choosing the style of drawstring–from ribbon to shoelace to cord–that you want as well as the type of fabric. If you pick a simpler fabric, consider adding a sewn or an iron on decal to your bag. A flower, cute animal face, or band logo can add a great personal touch to an otherwise simple bag.

Keep in mind that the drawstring bag tends to wrinkle, especially near the top, so sew your decals accordingly.  

Over-the-Shoulder Bags

Another fairly easy bag to make is the DIY over the shoulder bag. While this one isn’t technically a backpack, it has a lot of potential for personalization, and can carry as much as you design it to. One of the best aspects of this type of bag is that it can be made reversible. By using two different styles of fabric sewn together, you can create two bags in one.

Use a fun, tropical pattern on one side for a family vacation on the beach, and switch it out (and empty out any lingering sand) to a bold pattern for walking through the city. An over-the-shoulder bag has the potential for added pockets, and the relatively flat surfaces it offers can make customization even easier.

While it doesn’t have a sealing feature like the drawstring bag does, the bag’s opening is right under your arm, making for a relatively safe bag that’s easy to access. For a little extra security, you can add an extra strap with a button or Velcro to seal the bag across the opening. Consider lengthening the strap to cross your chest instead of simply going over your shoulder, if that’s more your style.

The Full Backpack

If you’re feeling bold, it’s possible to make your own backpack, complete with clasps, straps, and different sized pockets. This option is the most difficult and time-consuming of the options listed here, but it can also be the most extensively personalized. You will need to purchase several different kinds of fabric and materials, which means more color and style options.

You will also have the option to fit the backpack to your own measurements, which, when done right, can be extremely rewarding. The full backpack has the advantage of distinct pockets, which the other bags are lacking. This means you can have one pocket designated for snacks, one for sunscreen, and one for souvenirs that you pick up on your travels.

Depending on your fabric, backpack might also be the most durable of the options listed here, so if you’re more of a hiking family than a band of beach bums, consider this option. In short, if you’re looking for a challenge, try to make your own full backpack.

Mikkie Millsis a freelance writer from Chicago. She is a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on natural health cures and news, budgeting hacks, and favorite DIY projects. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her little ones around or can be found rock climbing at her local climbing gym. Connect with Mikkie @DollarHacks on Twitter.

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