When my husband gave me an old pair of gray Levis, I instantly knew I would be upcycling those jeans into a small backpack. The interior of the backpack would be made out of an old button shirt of his too. It was the perfect opportunity to create a small toddler backpack upcycled from Daddy’s old clothes.
I found this free small backpack pattern with tutorial just the right size for a toddler backpack. The pattern and tutorial are super easy to follow and great for beginner sewers. I highly recommend it! There are a few variations to the pattern for the pockets and straps. However, I mostly followed the tutorial for assembly.
Denim Backpack Materials Used
- denim jeans
- men’s button-up shirt
- 2 1/2 yards 1″ cotton strapping/webbing
- 2 1/2 yards 1/2″ grosgrain ribbon
- heavy duty thread (optional for decorative stitching)
- regular weight coordinating thread
- Heat ‘n Bond Lite
- heavyweight fusible interfacing
- iron-on temporary fusible tape
- 4 – 1″ D rings
- 2 – 1″ lobster clasps
- 2 – 1″ adjustable sliders
- 2 – 40″ double zip polyester zippers (cut into 3 smaller zippers)
- 2″ bias tape (created from the men’s dress shirt)
To get started on this upcycled denim backpack I printed and cut out the paper pattern. Before cutting into the jeans and shirt, I sketched out a plan for how to cut out the backpack pattern pieces from the fabric.
For the lining pieces created from the dress shirt, I added either fusible interfacing or Heat n’ Bond to give it more structure.
Instead of adding the applied pocket to the front of the backpack, I used one of the butt pockets from the jeans. Above the jeans pocket, I added a zipper pocket. I pieced together several pieces of denim to be able to create the front panel of the backpack. The front panel is backed with lining and a double layer of lining to create the pocket.
I also added the shirt pocket to the interior for an extra slip pocket inside, perfect size for a phone.
The side pockets were cut from the bottom of the jean legs and are not lined.
For the back zipper pocket, I followed the tutorial.
To create the back panel interior pocket, I followed the same directions as the exterior back pocket.
The straps are made from 1″ gray cotton webbing and lined down the center with grosgrain ribbon. I added a long stitch with heavy-duty thread for decoration. To keep the ribbon straight down the middle of the webbing, I used an iron-on temporary fusible tape before stitching.
The top of the backpack straps are attached slightly different than the tutorial between two layers of denim. I also added a small handle to the top of the backpack.
I had just enough shirt fabric left to create bias tape to finish off the inside edges.
This small backpack is a great size to use as a toddler backpack with some room to grow. Upcycling the denim jeans created a sturdy bag that will withstand wear and tear. The button-up shirt for the inside gives it a light, soft interior.
This upcycled denim project turned into the perfect backpack for my toddler. Now I need to refashion other clothes into a small backpack for myself, so I don’t have to borrow his!
Do you like to upcycle clothes? Check out my other refashions here.