This was supposed to be for his first day of Kindergarten but when you realize you want to make your kid a new backpack the day before school starts, that is simply not a realistic goal. I finished it this past weekend, though, just in time for week four.
I love this little backpack sewing pattern (designed for Elliot TEN YEARS AGO and I’m pretty sure it was the very first PDF pattern I ever sold in my shop. can you even believe?!), but it’s not exactly something you can whip up in an afternoon. It’s not necessarily all that difficult at any given point, but there are a lot of pieces and steps to get through (straps, piping, quilting the bottom piece, the zipper, etc), so it’s always been one of our more “advanced” designs. One of the things I love about it, though, is that if you can stay focused and stick with it, you get this amazingly crafted backpack at the end. Never ceases to leave me with a sense of immense satisfaction at the end result.
Currently the Toddler Backpack Pattern includes pattern pieces for a smaller “toddler” size, with instructions to easily modify the pattern for bigger kids; it also does not currently include any pocket pieces, but over the years we’ve seen lots of you add pockets of various shapes and sorts, and we’ve always thought it would be great to add pocket options to the pattern if we ever updated it again. We’ve worked a bit recently on new pattern pieces for the larger school-aged-kid size as well as some new pocket pattern pieces, so this backpack for Hugo was a bit of a test run to see how everything worked, with the additional experiment of trying out the laminate* as an additional experiment (it was tricky, not gonna lie, see notes below). While I wouldn’t expect the new pattern pieces anytime soon (we’re still in the thick of updating size range for two of our womens’ patterns), it was fun to try them out on this backpack and get some idea of how they might work.
A few notes:
- I used fusible fleece to reinforce the outer panels, with limited success. You have to be pretty careful using an iron on the laminate (I put a piece of butcher paper between the iron and the laminate surface to prevent it from melting).
- I couldn’t find my teflon foot, so I used strips of washi tape on the underside of my presser foot and along my throat plate so that the laminate wouldn’t “stick” while I was sewing it. Painter’s tape also works well for this.
- Pattern mod: added a front pocket with a magnetic snap (this pattern piece will be added if/when we ever update this pattern)
- Pattern mod: added an elasticized water bottle pocket on the side. This seems like something most kids need, so we’ll have pattern pieces for that in an eventual update as well. Mine came out a wee bit shorter than I think it should have been, but it’s perfect for the mini-Kleen Kanteen that Hugo uses.
- I used a separating zipper because it was the only red zipper I had and that ended up being a bad idea because if you accidentally unzip it all the way to the end, it can be a bit hard to get it back together. Don’t recommend. Oops!
*About the fabric: this “Red Rover” design originated with my Small World corduroy collection for Cloud9 back in 2015. The dog design was so popular that it was the first one in the collection to sell out, so we added it to the Sidewalk knit collection (in a slightly different size and colorway), and later Cloud9 decided to add it to their organic laminate collection, which is a nice waterproof alternative to oilcloth in that you don’t have all of the toxic off-gassing (just google it).
Anyway, I finished it this past weekend so he’s been carrying it to school all week and he seems to like it so far. Especially the attention it gets him. It’s heavier than his previous one — the “school-age” size definitely feels oversized for a kindergartener — but it had to be this big to fit his homework folder (please don’t get me started on homework in kindergarten, I will rage.), so there you go. Happy dog backpack, happy kid.
PS. This backpack pattern is available in my shop! It currently comes with easy instructions for modifying the smaller sized pattern pieces to a larger, school-aged size backpack like the one shown here.