Red Rover Backpack for Hugo

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.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

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.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

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.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

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!

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

*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.

Made by Rae backpack pattern

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.

Hugo’s backpack

Hugo's backpack / made by rae

Since it’s Back To School time again, adorable backpacks made with my Toddler Backpack Pattern have been popping up in my feed, so I thought I’d share these photos of Hugo with the original backpack I designed the pattern from (it used to be Elliot’s). I took these over a year ago but he still LOVES putting it on his back and parading around.

hugo's backpack / made by rae

I love that lots of you are sewing cute little backpacks for your cute little cuties! It’s a fun way to make a backpack that is custom and unique, and since it’s possible to make this pattern for older kiddos too, it’s not just limited to toddlers or preschoolers (when we updated this pattern a few years ago, we included easy instructions for making it large enough for school-aged kids and 8.5×11 binders).

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

The canvas fabric I used for this backpack is now long gone and out of print, but the pattern is available in my shop!

Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern – $8

‘Tis the Season for Backpacks!

I can hardly believe that some kids are already back in school! August school seems totally wrong to me, especially since it’s just starting to feel like summer here in the Midwest. Some of you have been thinking ahead though and have already been sewing backpacks using my Toddler Backpack Pattern for the coming school year. I love the print combos on this one. Are those tiny polka dots on the aqua fabric? Why yes, they are.

Photo Via

I’m always a sucker for transportation prints.  Kokka really pulls out all the stops with the Echino line (the two on either side below).  Don’t you think someone needs to make a backpack Right. Now. with the scooter print??And those bicycles in the middle are just about the best; they look sweet with orange piping.

backpack roundup 2
Above: Blue CarsBicycles, Busses & Cars

Here are some playful versions.  The ruffles on the top right are amazing.  Who needs pockets when you can have ruffles?

backpack roundup 1
Above: ElephantRuffles, DogsStar Wars

Photo Via


The PDF pattern also comes with instructions to enlarge the backpack to fit school-aged children like this one:


Photo Via

If you just don’t have enough sewing machine hours between now and when your littles go back to school, take a look at the Made By Rae Sellers Pool on Flickr!  You’ll find some awesome backpacks for sale there, with links to registered sellers’ shops.

Now get thee to a sewing machine and whip up some Toddler Backpacks! When you’re done, share them in the Backpack Photo Pool on Flickr!

backpack roundup

My Elliot starts kindergarten next week. WAAAAAH! Unbelieveable. With back-to-school season here, I thought we should take a peek at all the great backpacks that people have been making with my Toddler Backpack pattern. The original pattern was intended for preschool-aged children, 2-5ish (hence the name, “toddler”), but has since been updated to include easy instructions for enlarging it for a school-aged child so it can accommodate the normal 8.5×11″ sized notebooks and handouts and whatnot. At the top of my current To Sew List is a school-sized one for E. Only time will tell if this backpack actually materializes by the first day of kindergarten or not.


1. Helicopters, 2. Rapunzel, 3. Numbers, 4. Giraffe, 5. Robots, 6. Scooters, 7. Blue w/ Orange, 8. Dragons, 9. Buses

This viewfinder version makes me so happy I have enough of this Melody Miller fabric left to make a copycat backpack of my own:


Johanna, who made this adorbsible version for her toddler son, has a post called “Backpack with a View” if you want to see more (and clever name, eh?)


1. Daisy Backpack 1, 2. Pair of Backpacks, 3. Purple ZigZags, 4. Green Giraffes, 5. Rockets, 6. Big Polka Dots

Here’s an example of one of the backpacks made using the bigger kid dimensions:


1. Dump Truck BackPack – Side, 2. Dump Truck BackPack – Front

You can find the pattern here, and of course, keep adding your pictures to the backpack pool and the Rae Made Me Do It photo pool so I can feature them on the blog!

New backpack for Clementine!


Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern – $8

Tonight I’m winding up the “Back to School Wardrobe” course I have been teaching over the last couple of months with Karen LePage at Blue House in Ann Arbor. We’re having a “show and tell” at a local restaurant and I cannot WAIT it’s going to be so much fun. We had a fantastic group of women who have been sewing up a storm and have been so much fun to hang out with. There were five projects over five sessions (a basic pant, Tee for Two knit tee, Charlie Tunic woven top, the Toddler Backpack, and the Reversible Jacket from Sewing for Boys), so as you can imagine it was a rather ambitious curriculum. One of the fun things about teaching classes with your own patterns is that you get to revisit them again, and every week in preparation for our class Karen and I would make a few samples to use as demonstration and make sure we knew what we were doing. This little backpack was used as a sample for the class, but now it’s finished so Miss Clementine has been proudly carrying it around.


These prints are from the Far Far Away II line by Heather Ross . The cotton/linen canvas with the girls and the horses is (I’m not sure, can see this in the pictures?) a pale grey with orange and coordinates with the lighter-weight orange floral linen blend from that line so well. A half yard of each fabric is really plenty for one backpack, so I think the backpack is a nice way to feature the print. I ordered a yard and am terribly conflicted now with what to do with the rest of it. So many ideas, ack!!! A few of my sponsors still currently carry all or part of this line, so I would love it if you would shop with them (they’re linked from my sidebar) if you decide you need some.



The Toddler Backpack was the very first pattern I digitized and began to sell back in 2009 at the prodding of readers, and as I combed through it again I realized it needed a facelift. So Elli (my seester and design-software-extraordinaire) and I are currently re-working the pattern a little bit: improving the section on the larger (school-aged) version of the backpack, which is very easy to make but needed some clarity in the instructions, changing the type-Os and adding a section on lining the backpack, something I have always wanted to do. I lined this version and found it to be quite easy to do. Here’s a little peek at the lining, which I found harder to photograph than expected:


We’ll be putting up the new and improved version of the pattern soon so I wanted to put the word out on the street that the current version of the pattern will only be available for a little while longer at its current price ($6). The new version of the pattern will include (in addition to the original pattern pieces and updated instructions), a new printable summary sheet, improved instructions for making the larger school-aged version of the backpack (to fit a binder and letter-sized papers), and a new section on lining the backpack and will be sold for $8.

UPDATED: The new version is available now in the pattern shop; you can also read more about the updates here.

If you’re interested, Karen and I are thinking we might offer the kids’ wardrobe course again next winter, maybe in January or February. Let us know if you’re thinking about this as it definitely helps to know how many people might be interested.

And speaking of Heather Ross, did you see that she is offering the always-awesome Blueberry Hill workshops again next summer? AND a new Fabric Design workshop in New York next spring? I don’t know which will be more fun, but I do know they sell out fast!!!

Finally, we’re having another one of our Crafty Meetups here in Michigan on Thursday night at Makerworks — it’s rollicking good fun so if you can join us, let us know on our Facebook page or November Meetup page (more information there as well). If you don’t “do Facebook,” just send me an email (click on the contact nav button, above). If you can’t make it this week, our next meetup will be Thursday, December 1. Hope you can join us!

Boy Backpacks!

1. Boy Backpacks, 2. Toddler backpack-4, 3. DSC_0763, 4. For My Mother (for Betsy, Brigid and Me), 5. DSC_0376, 6. Toddler Backpack (Made by Rae pattern), 7. backpack, 8. Airplane Backpack, 9. Toddler Backpack, 10. Snail back pack, 11. BackpackSide, 12. babym backpack back, 13. Toddler backpack, 14. Groovy guitars, 15. backpack, view 3, 16. Toddler Backpack

All of these adorable backpacks were made with my Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern. Boy-friendly fabrics make these fun for boys and extra accents such as pockets, tags and applique make them even more unique!

Backpack Madness!

From the sudden increase in toddler backpack pattern sales over the last couple of days, it seems many of you have decided it’s time to sew your kiddo a backpack so they can be stylin’ as they hop off the bus. Be sure to post them to the Toddler Backpack Pool (along with modifications, suggestions, and the fabric you used) so that we can all enjoy your handiwork!

Photo Cred (as with Spring Top Week, I assume that you’re OK with having your picture up on my blog if it’s in the pool; if not, please let me know ASAP!):
1. Toddler Backpack, 2. IMG_0412, 3. Toddler Backpack, 4. DSC_0505, 5. Toddler Backpack, 6. Toddler Backpack, 7. Backpack Front, 8. Front, 9. toddler backpack back view

Little Truck Backpack

One of the things on the top of my list to finish last week was another little toddler backpack:

I had had a request from a non-sewing mom to make one awhile back; she liked the pattern but it’s not exactly a learn-to-sew project. She wanted a dark denim and liked the idea of piping with red (I had red and brown on hand), so I went for a truck applique with some newly-acquired Michael Miller Polka Dots (more projects with that soon!).

I wanted to use the fabric I had on hand (for custom stuff especially rather than go out and buy yards of fabric for samples that might then never get used), so I used some denim that had been “mined” from a pair of jeans in the thrift store pile. I’ve been saving old pants that are just going to get tossed or donated; I washed them and cut along the side seams and cut off the waistband — for men’s pants especially that’s a TON of great bottom-weight fabric, perfect for making a backpack out of.

I interfaced the denim to give it more bulk and serged all the inside seams. The notions needed (you can also use D-rings instead of strap adjusters) for this project are pictured here. In the pic above you can see it with strap adjusters (all are available at your local chain fabric store).

Here’s a couple of samples that didn’t make the cut:

I liked the middle one enough that it’s about halfway done already; the other two appliques will probably make it onto t-shirts or bibs. I use fusible web to iron them onto the fabric and then use a very short zig-zag stitch around all the edges.

I’ve been sent a ton of great pictures of backpacks lately from those of you who have made backpacks with the pattern — I’d love it if you would put them in the newly-formed photo pool so we can all admire them!

The actual address of the photo pool is:

Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern PDF


buy now2


(NOTE: this is the new updated version of the pattern, if you purchased the pattern between March 2009 – October 2011 and do not wish to purchase the updated version click here to find the edits you should make to your pattern.)

Purchase this version if you will use the pattern for yourself or for gifts for others (no profit, for personal use only).

License to Sell Toddler Backpacks (pattern not included)

Purchase this license in addition to the pattern if you would like to sell backpacks from the pattern. Small-scale handmade sales only; one license for each person who makes/sells the bags. Design credit must be given wherever the bags are sold (“Pattern designed by Rae Hoekstra of” on tags or listings) Please register your shop with me once you have backpacks ready to sell. For more information on my Seller’s Program, please click here.

Included in the Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern PDF:
Step-by-step instructions
Full-color photographs to augment the instructions
Clear directions on how to easily enlarge the pattern for a larger child
Complete set of pattern pieces (including rectangular pieces)
*Updated instructions
*Clearer and more detailed instructions for making a larger (school-aged child) sized backpack
*NEW! Step-by-step photos and instructions for lining the backpack
*NEW! Printable one-page summary instruction sheet (“cheat sheet”)

The pattern uses about a 1/2 yard of medium- to heavy-weight canvas for the outside. The backpack holds its shape pretty well due to the piping and the quilted bottom, but if you wanted a more rigid backpack you could also interface it with something thick, like another layer of canvas. In addition to the outer fabric, you’ll need about 1/4 yard of 54″-wide (or 1/3 yard of 45″-wide) medium-weight fabric (I used some bottom-weight twill from JoAnn) for the straps and bottom and a small amount of fleece or quilt batting for the bottom panel and strap padding.

Notions: two 1″ plastic strap adjusters (or four 1″ D-rings), 3/4″ yards of 1″ nylon strap, one 14″ zipper, and one package of pre-made 1/2″ bias tape piping (2 1/2 yards total if you are a Crazy Person and think you’d like to make your own).

The larger version uses the same materials/fabric amounts as the original instructions with these exceptions:
• 16″ zipper (14″ + 2″ width increase)
• 3 yards pre-made ½” bias tape piping (you will need two packages instead of one.)

a few of the notions needed

I actually bought all of my supplies at JoAnn. The piping comes in all kinds of colors and I was pleasantly surprised at the selection of colors in nylon strap (often called “webbing”).

Finished dimensions, toddler size:
Height: 11 3/8″, Width: 10″, Depth: 4 1/4″

Finished dimensions, Larger size (if you add 2″ to the pattern pieces as clearly instructed):
Height: 13 3/8″, Width: 12″, Depth: 4 1/4″

See more Toddler Backpacks
The toddler backpack was featured on my blog in the following posts:
Toddler Backpack
Little Truck Backpack
Backpack Madness
Jackpack Giveaway

Here’s my little guy (almost 2 years old!) modeling his very own backpack: