Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial

This DIY drawstring backpack is an easy sewing project perfect for beginners!  It’s simple to sew and makes a cute backpack that kids and teens will love. 

A DIY drawstring backpack is a great beginner sewing project!   It’s easy to make and you’ll end up with a useful bag that’s also quite cute! 

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial

It’s especially nice to use as a first sewing project when teaching a teen to sew.  They’ll enjoy being able to pick out the fabrics to give their own stamp of personality to it. The bag is made from quilting weight cottons which are easy to find in a wide range of colors and prints and styles.

The drawstring is lined which creates a nice finish on the inside and also adds strength and durability. The rope shoulder straps are threaded through a casing at the top to make a simple drawstring closure. 

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial

At the top, there’s also a handy hanging loop to make it easy to hang your backpack from a hook. (That’s an optional feature – not necessary at all, but a nice “extra” if you don’t mind adding in an extra step or two.)

The finished size is roughly 12” wide x 16” tall, which is big enough to hold books for a trip to the library or a change of clothes for an overnight trip. 

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial

I’ve got even more beginner sewing project inspiration for you!  Check out my roundup full of cute and easy things to sew for lots of beginner sewing ideas!

Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps and sections.  I wrote the instructions with more words and steps to make it easier for beginners to know what to do. 

There are also a couple of optional sections that you can skip over if you want to keep things super simple.  The hanging loop is a nice addition but isn’t necessary.  And I liked the look of the tabs and hanging loop being the same fabric as the lining and casing, but you can just use grosgrain ribbon or twill tape instead and shave off a couple of steps. 

If you’ve got scraps left over from making your backpack, why not also make a matching pencil case? I’ve got an easy zipper pencil case tutorial you can use.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial

How to sew a DIY Drawstring Backpack

You’ll need ½ yard of quilting cotton for the main fabric, 2/3 yard of quilting cotton for the lining fabric, and 4 yards of cotton rope or cording.

Some terms to know

If you’re new to sewing, here are some terms that will be helpful to know:

Raw edge –An unfinished edge of a piece of fabric

Right sides together – Placing layers of fabric with their right sides (the pretty sides) facing each other.

Seam allowance – The distance between the seam and the raw edge.  If we say, “sew with a ½” seam allowance”, make your stitch line ½” from the raw edge.

Baste– Sewing temporary stitching to hold layers together until more permanent stitches can be sewn.  Sometimes basting stitches are large stitches sewn by hand and are later pulled out.  In our project, though, basting will be just regular machine stitches that won’t be visible in the final product.

Now let’s get started!

Supplies:

Outer Bag – 2 pieces, 13” wide x 17” tall from your main fabric

Lining – 2 pieces, 13”  wide x 17” tall of your accent fabric

Casings – 2 pieces, 12” wide x 3” tall from your accent fabric

Tabs – 1 piece, 12” wide x 2” tall from your accent fabric OR 12” of grosgrain ribbon or twill tape

Cotton rope or cording – 2 pieces, 66” – 70” long

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - tutorial key
Sew the tabs – Optional

If you are using grosgrain ribbon or twill tape for the tabs, you can skip this section and just cut the ribbon into 3 pieces: 6”, 3” and 3”.

Press the Tab piece (12” wide x 2” tall) in half lengthwise, then open up and fold long edges to the center and press again.

Stitch close to the edge down both sides.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 1

Cut the strip of fabric into 3 pieces: 6”, 3”, and 3”.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 2
Sew the hanging loop – Optional

Take the 6” tab strip (or piece of ribbon) and place the ends side by side centered along the top of one of the Outer Bag pieces, raw edges aligned and right sides up.  (The loop will be pointed down.)

Baste in place with 1/4” seam allowance.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 3
Sew the casings

Press the ends of the Casing pieces ½” to the back.  Stitch down close to the edge.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 4

Fold the Casing pieces in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 5

Place the Casings across the tops of the Outer Bag pieces, centered and with raw edges aligned.  Baste in place with ¼” seam allowance.

If you chose to add the optional hanging loop, the Casing will be layered over the loop.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 6
Baste down the tabs

Place one of your Outer bag pieces right side up. 

Fold one of the 3” long Tab strips in half, and place it along the left edge of the Outer bag piece, 1” from the bottom and with raw edges aligned.  (The loop will be facing the inside of the bag.) 

Baste in place with a ¼” seam allowance.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 7

Repeat with the remaining 3” long Tab strip on the right edge of the Outer bag piece.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 8

Sew the outer bag

Place the Outer Bag pieces right sides together.

Sew around the sides and the bottom with a ½” seam allowance.  Leave the top open.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 9

Clip off the seam allowance at the corners. Cut close to but not through the stitch line.  Clipping the corners reduces the bulk of fabric in the corner when you turn it right side out.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 10

Turn the Outer Bag right side out.

Sew the lining

Place the Lining bag pieces right sides together.

Sew around the sides and the bottom with a ½” seam allowance, but leave 3” open on one of the sides.  This will create a hole you’ll use to turn the bag right side out later.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 11
Assemble the bag

Place the Outer Bag inside the Lining, with right sides together.  Sew all the way around the top of the bag with a ½” seam allowance.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 12

Turn the bag right side out through that hole in the side of the Lining.  Don’t push the Lining down inside the Outer Bag yet. 

Now let’s close that hole.  Press the raw edges to the inside of the hole.  Sew the hole closed, close to the edge.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 13

NOW push the Lining down inside the Outer Bag. 

Finally, let’s thread the cord through to the casings to make the drawstring.

Thread one of the pieces of cording through one casing, back through the other.  Thread one of the ends through the tab at the bottom.  Tie the ends together in a knot.

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 14

Repeat with the other piece of cording, but starting on the opposite side of the pouch. 

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial - step 15

Your DIY drawstring backpack is done!  LOOK WHAT YOU MADE!!!!  You’ve got this sewing thing DOWN!

Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial
Easy DIY Drawstring Backpack Sewing Tutorial
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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Beginner sewing projects: Quick and easy things to sew - Orange Bettie

  2. Julie April 21, 2020 at 10:15 am

    What a great tutorial, I love how you make every step so clear. The fabric is super cute too.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: How to Sew a Pencil Case – Easy Sewing Tutorial - Orange Bettie

  4. Donna graybill May 16, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Made this for my grandson who is a stock boy for our local Wal-Mart…he will take his lunch and face mask in it…I have not sewed in a couple of years but directions were very clear and illustrations too…thank you!

    Reply
    1. Orange Bettie May 22, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      I love this! Thanks for sharing this with me! And all the best wishes for your grandson!

      Reply

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