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.
Fabrics: Bunny Tales collection by Darlene Zimmerman for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
Survive seasonal colds and allergies with cute and colorful tissue-pack covers! This project is courtesy of our sewing blog, howtosew.com. Visit daily for new sewing projects and easy home decor.
- 3–3-1/2×5-1/2″ rectangles of fabric
- 3×5″ tissue packet
Finished tissue cover: 3×5″
Assemble the Tissue Cover:
1. Fold one long edge of a fabric rectangle under 1-1/2″; press. Repeat with a second rectangle.
2. Lay your remaining rectangle right side up on your work surface. Position the two folded rectangles on top, with right sides facing down and folded edges overlapping.
3. Pin in place.
4. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the rectangles together. Clip corners just outside the seam line. Turn right side out and insert a tissue packet through the opening.
Once a month, we highlight our favorite free quilt and sewing patterns around the web! Here’s a round-up of the cutest Valentine’s Day projects. They’re great as gifts and decor (and are so quick to make!).
Lovely Mug Rug by How To Sew
A few appliqué hearts are all you need for this super-quick addition to your Valentine’s Day table! Use it to hold a cup of coffee or a mimosa. Or display it all year round with a candle on top!
Making a Candy Heart by Pfaff
These large candy heart pillows are perfect for spreading love! Don’t have an embroidery machine? No problem! The instructions include easy alternatives!
Simple Heart Quilt by Cluck Cluck Sew
This quilt is so sweet! It would look perfect in a baby’s room or as wall decor for the season! Or make one heart block to give as a gift!
Say “I Love You!” with a quilt made of X and O blocks! The big heart in the corner is so cute!
Simple V-Day Sachet by Crafty Pod
Fill a sachet with lavender for a romantic (and relaxing) gift for family and friends! The hearts on top are perfect for using up your felt scraps!
Over-dyeing black-and-white prints is a concept that has intrigued me for years. I was inspire by an article on the Marcus Fabrics website by Lisa Shepard Stewart and then discovered another article by Lisa on the RIT dye site where she overdyed zebra prints. I’ve wanted to experiment with this technique, so I finally did, making the Log Cabin block in Valerie Krueger’s Get Comfy quilt (American Patchwork & Quilting, April 2015, page 98). While Valerie’s quilt is very traditional in fabric colors, I made a version of the Log Cabin block using black-and-white prints for the “lights” of the block and the same prints overdyed for the strips for the “darks”.
Since I was only dyeing enough fabric for a few blocks, I used a disposable plastic container and the microwave technique outlined on the RIT studio website. I used powder dye, but only used a portion of the pouch as I wanted this light shade.
While I was thrilled with the results, I did learn several things, so here are some tips to ensure your success:
1. You may find that different fabrics, even if they’re 100% cotton, may take dye differently, resulting in a different hue of your color. As you can see below, all of the fabrics dyed beautifully, but one came out a slightly different shade than the others.
2. Match the amount of fabric you’re dyeing to the technique you’re using, because if you want the same intensity of color for each piece, they should be put into the same bath for the same length of time. So if you’re doing yardage or multiple larger pieces, use the stovetop method, pail method, or washing machine method and follow the instructions on the packaging or website for those techniques.
3. If you’re using a partial pouch of powder dye, measure your powder dye, don’t just eyeball it. The chances that you’ll make the next dye bath the same exact color is slim if you’re guessing. When the one fabric came out a different color, I thought maybe I needed to make a new dye bath. The result was some beautiful more-darkly-dyed fabric, as I was guessing at how much powder to add. Unfortunately, neither piece came out the same color as the other cut strips shown.
4. If you’re dyeing fabric for piecing, dye the fabric before cutting, as you’re putting fabric into a hot-water bath which might cause shrinkage plus you can expect your fabric to ravel a bit as you handle it during the process.
5. Do as they say: wear gloves!! Teal fingers aren’t attractive (at least not on me!), though mine only lasted a day. There’s a phrase that says, “If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible reminder.” Let me be your horrible reminder.
Next up, I might have to try to dye white-on-white prints! I’ll keep you posted…
Quick-Cut Bias Binding
To quickly cut binding strips on the bias, start with a fabric square or rectangle. We used a stripe fabric, resulting in a barber pole effect.
Diagrams below show a 5/8-yard length of fabric. If your fabric piece is a different size, the folded fabric may look different, although the instructions will be the same.
1. Lay out the fabric so the selvage edges are in the upper right and lower left. Fold the lower selvage edge to the cut edge, creating a 45º angle.
2. Fold the bottom corner up on top of first fold.
3. Fold top corner down on top of first and second folds.
4. Using a rotary cutter and acrylic ruler, trim off left-hand folded edge.
5. Cutting from trimmed edge, cut the desired-width bias strips.
6. Strips will be a variety of lengths; piece strips to equal the desired length of binding strip.