See it in action: Watch a video of editor Linda making this T-shirt backpack here.
No matter whether you call it a sackpack, a drawstring backpack, or a cinch bag, we’ve got some tips on how to make a drawstring backpack out of a T-shirt. So, here are tips and tricks as promised in our video on how to make a T-shirt backpack.
6 Tips for Making a T-Shirt Backpack
- The size of the backpack is determined by the size of the T-shirt and the size of the logo you want to feature. Figure out how large you want the backpack to be, knowing that it can only be as large as the T-shirt.
- To avoid cutting off the logo, be sure there is extra space around your logo for the seam allowance.
- You will be ironing the woven fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the T-shirt front and back. Fuse a larger rectangle of fusible to the T-shirt, so that when you cut the desired finished size, the whole piece is stabilized by the interfacing. It’s easier to cover too large of an area than not enough area.
- When ironing or pressing, keep the logo facedown on your ironing board, so the hot iron doesn’t come into contact with the screen-printed logo. For extra caution, place a Teflon pressing sheet under the logo on your ironing board.
- If you have a serger sewing machine, you can serge many of the seams on this project. Be careful when sewing the cords into the side seams, as that section can get bulky. You may want to serge that section a second time to add extra security to the cord ends.
- Be sure the cord you purchase can fit through the hem of the T-shirt twice. You will use the hem of the shirt as the casing, so it has to accommodate two thicknesses of the cording in order for the drawstrings to work.
Materials for One T-Shirt Backpack:
- One T-shirt (we used a men’s large)
- 1-1/2 yards of woven fusible interfacing
- 4 yards of cording for straps
- Drawstring threader or large safety pin
Finished T-shirt backpack: approx. 17×23″
Note: If you’re making a backpack from a smaller T-shirt for a child, you’ll need less cording and interfacing, so adjust accordingly.
Assemble T-Shirt Backpack:
- Determine finished size of backpack. For cutting, add 1/2″ to both the desired finished width and length. (We used 1/4″ seam allowance. If you use larger seams, add 1″ to desired finished width and length and sew with 1/2″ seams.)
- Cut hem off T-shirt, cutting 3/8″ from stitching line. This will become the top casings.
- Cut T-shirt up sides to the shoulder seam. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse one piece of interfacing to wrong side of T-shirt front and another to wrong side of back.
- Centering the logo, trim front and back to the cutting size.
- Cut two casing pieces from hem, 1/2″ shorter than the cutting size width. (Our bag cutting size is 17½”, so our casing length is 17″.)
- With right sides facing and cut edges aligned, center one casing piece on top edge of backpack front (casing ends will be 1/4″ from side edges of bag). Sew casing to the bag front. Repeat to sew a casing piece to bag back.
- With right sides together and all edges aligned, sew together bottom edges of backpack.
- Pin side seams. Sew side seams, leaving a 1″ opening at lower edge of each side for casing. Make sure casing pieces don’t get caught in seam.
- Cut two 2-yard pieces of cording. Thread one cord through casing pieces, beginning and ending on left side of the piece. Even up ends, then bring ends inside the bag and out opening on left side. Pin ends in place.
- Starting from right side of the bag, thread second cord through casing pieces; you’ll be going in the opposite direction as you did with the first cord. Even up ends, then bring ends inside bag and out opening on right side. Pin ends in place.
- Sew openings closed, sewing cording in the seam, and reinforcing the seams.
- Turn backpack right side out to finish.