Linda Augsburg shows you how to turn a T-shirt into a fun drawstring backpack.


Hi I'm Linda Augsburg, Executive Editor of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine and this show me how video is brought to you by the Baby Lock Crescendo machine. I'm going to show you how to make this super easy T-shirt backpack. Now this is a great use for your T-shirts that you've outgrown, or the kids have outgrown or something that really holds memories for you. All you need is a T-shirt, some fusible interfacing and some cording. So there will be some Tips and Tricks online at So be sure to check in there to get some ideas on how to cut the right size. In addition to size the other thing you need to bear in mind, is oddly enough the depth of the hem on the t-shirt, you're going to cut off the hem first thing and turn it into the casing at the top of the bag, so when you pick out your cording you'll want to make sure you can get two thicknesses of your cording through this opening, this hem. Now I've used different cording in this t-shirt bag from the other ones that I've made, I used a thicker round eye cord that's filled with a cording, I've used flat trims and in this one I used a flat trim that has a little bit of stretch to it. In addition, in this backpack we're going to sew those cording ends into that side seam, but another option is to use a button hole or a grommet as I did here, in that case again you'll need to take into account not just the hem but whether two thicknesses of your cording can fit through and choose your grommet size or button hole size accordingly. If you do use a grommet there's always instructions on the package on how to install those. So the first thing you're going to do is cut off the hem of your t-shirt, and you can see where I cut it off with about 3/8 of an inch beyond the last row of stitching so that I've got something to sew on the top for the casing. Next you're going to slit the t-shirt up the side seams or just up the sides if there's not seams, cut all the way to the shoulder seam so that you've got that front and back separated. Then you're going to fuse, fusible woven interfacing to the wrong side of the front and wrong side of the back, you're going to want to make sure you press this with the logo or screen printed design towards your ironing board, so that the fusible interfacing is fusible side of course to the t-shirt but the other side up, you don't want to be hitting the iron to that transfer because you might take some of that transfer off. Once you've got that fused on the front and back, you can decide what size you want to cut it, I could have cut a smaller backpack, I like to go all the way up to that neck line because it gives me a little more up here at the top so when I'm sewing the casing on my logo doesn't get quite as scrunched, and I like a longer backpack so I went further down but you wouldn't have to. Whatever works for your t-shirt and your uses. So now you can see what I've got is two pieces, a front and back that are both fusible interfaced. And I've got two pieces of casings, and they are half inch shorter than the width of the front and back of the t-shirt back pack. Now we're going to sew it together. So you can see I've pinned the hem piece, which is now going to be the casing about a quarter of an inch from the edge of the front top of the t-shirt front and then I'm going to sew along here with a quarter inch seam allowance, if you have a serger this is a great project to use a serger on but you don't have to you can certainly just sew this with a straight stitch. Then you can do the same sewing the second casing piece to the back of the backpack, or in this case the back of the t-shirt. So when you get started on this part, you want make sure you do use the backstitch. Use a couple of those tack stitches so that you have a nice secure, you're going to get a lot of pull at that point with the cording going in and out so you want to be sure you have a good secure connection. Sew your bottom seam with a one quarter inch seam allowance then you're going to sew your side seams, you're going to leave a one inch opening at the bottom so I put two pins here so that I know when to stop sewing. And up at the top I wanted to be sure I got the two casings out of the way of that quarter inch seam so I've pinned them a little bit back so I won't catch them, and I'm just going to sew that side seam all the way down to the double pins and I'll do the same on the other side. So now that I've gotten it all sewn together, I'm going to run my cording through my casing. Now I'm using a tool called a drawstring threader, basically it's a long plastic stick with a little loop in it and that's where you put your cording through and pull it back through. I like using this but you can also just attach a safety pin to one end and run it through the casing, I just find this to be a little bit easier. Now I've pulled some cord through, some extra cord, I've threaded my threader back through the second casing with the loop at this end and I'm going to pull this end through, just going to feed that tip in to make it easier and pull it through. So I've used a two yard piece of cording for the inside and I've gone in and around and back out so those two cords come back out the same side then I'm going to take those cords inside the back pack and bring the ends out the hole that we left on that same side, so where they start and end at the top is where they're going to attach on the same side at the bottom. I'm going to pin that in place and I'm going to run the second cord through. So as you can see I've got the two little tails outside of the seam allowance, I'm going to make sure there's a little extra of that outside the seam so I'm not right up to the edge and run the risk of those cords fraying, I'm going to sew over that with a quarter inch seam allowance, I'm going to sew over that a couple of times just to be sure those cords are securely sewn in that seam. So as you can see it's just that easy to turn your t-shirt into a backpack. Be sure to go to to get some tips and hints on how to use different size t-shirts to make your own back pack. Thanks for joining us!