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Handmade Backpack

Make a great back-to-school gift: Sew a handmade tote bag using fun fabrics and a bit of rope. Stitch a bunch of these small backpacks to complement a special outfit or to celebrate school colors. Fabrics are from The Big E Group for Michael Miller Fabrics.

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Assemble Outer Bag


1. Place bag front wrong side up on flat surface. Measure 5" from top edge on both sides; make 1/4" clips (Diagram 5). From 1/4" clips to top edge, fold edges to wrong side; topstitch. Fold top edge 1/4" to wrong side; press (Diagram 6).

2. Fold top edge of bag front 1-1/2" to wrong side and topstitch 1/8" from pressed edge to make bag front with casing (Diagram 7).

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with remaining teal print 17-1/2x18-1/2" rectangle to make bag back with casing.

4. Layer bag front and bag back; sew together bottom edges to make bag unit (Diagram 8). Turn right side out.

5. Cut rope in half and thread one section. Referring to black arrows on Diagram 9, thread one section through bag unit casings. Even ends and knot rope if desired (see photo, bottom right). Pin and baste both ends of cord just above seam of bag unit (Diagram 9). Thread remaining rope section through casings in opposite direction (Diagram 9 white arrows). Turn bag unit right sides together.

6. Beginning at clips, sew bag unit side edges together, making certain rope is tucked inside bag so it is not caught in stitching (Diagram 10). Turn right side out; press.

7. Turn edges of a red print 2" square under 1/4". Center square over top of bag unit side seam; topstitch in place (Diagram 11). Repeat with remaining red print 2" square and other bag unit side seam to make outer bag.

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