Oct 27

Print this Post

Convertible DIY Mini-Backpack

backpack 01 web

I needed something to tote stuff around to work last year, and since I walked to work every day, I didn’t like the way that a shoulder bag would put more stress on one side of my body than the other. Thus, I figured I’d make a mini-backpack, since they’ve come full circle from fashionable to unfashionable to outright dorky… to fashionable again. Personally, I think mini-backpacks are really convenient, and much healthier for your back than a purse or messenger bag is.


I wanted a backpack that was small and light enough to carry just my daily essentials for work (pens, pencils, notes, paper documents, occasional 11″ EeePC), but also hardy enough to put up with daily use and rainy weather. It also had to be secure and multi-functional… kind of like cargo pants. I’m just a cargo pants kinda gal!


Anyway, I drafted up a pattern, based once again on simple rectangles to make life easier, and came up with a basic design that has two side pockets, a fold-down top flap, a drawstring top, and a convertible double strap/messenger strap. Because it was really a first attempt and an experiment, just like most of my sewing projects, the pattern was totally off and I had to make a million adjustments along the way, so I didn’t scan the pattern to post because it’s not really useable.

backpack 02 web backpack 03 web

Materials used:

-Printed canvas, probably around 1.5 m (this one is from Ikea)

-Interfacing (same amount as canvas)

-Webbing straps (~3m)

-Buckles (2) and those… strap adjuster loop things (2)

-Optional snaps for side pockets (2-4)



backpack 04 web

Pinned mockup from the front. Note that the bottom is reinforced with a second layer. It was really hard to sew through :(

Since it’s been already over a year, I don’t remember exactly the steps I took, but there is one important things to remember:

ALWAYS IRON AS YOU GO. Iron all hems before serging, iron before cutting out your pieces, iron corners before attaching pieces… Basically, when in doubt, just iron; when not in doubt, iron anyway. I didn’t learn this until recently, and it really goes a long way to making your project look polished and clean :)

backpack 07 web

Above: I cheated a bit with the drawstring part– I had a blanket that came in a water-resistant drawstring pouch, so I simply sewed the entire pouch to the inside of my backpack as a liner. It was the perfect size and works really well to keep stuff in and keep raindrops out.

backpack 05 web

Above: Here you can see the side pockets with the snaps. For some reason, the snaps really didn’t want to stay on, maybe because they were made for lighter fabric. I would recommend using the most heavy-duty ones you can find if you’re attaching to canvas + interfacing.

backpack 06 web

The pins are still on the top of the straps on the photo above due to technical difficulties with the snaps, but this is a view from the back.

The straps are convertible — if you unsnap the top (the two tabs at the top), and pull up from the handle, the whole thing converts to a messenger bag:

backpack 10 web

Messenger bag mode!

Putting this backpack together was a good learning experience, and I actually got to use it right away on a weekend trip to Salzburg. It also was super helpful for work and for running errands.

All in all, success! :)

Permanent link to this article: http://project-aika.com/2014/10/convertible-diy-mini-backpack/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>