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)
UPcycled MIni Skirt to Tote Bag
A mini skirt is the perfect size to turn into a tote bag that’s great for everyday use. This is an easy beginner project to get into bag making.
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.
Get inspired to turn a plain bag into a statement piece. Learn to make your own fabric patches and easy ways to install metal studs.
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!
Denim Luggage Tags with Free Sewing Pattern
Use up leftover denim scraps and make luggage tags to mark your bags. These DIY luggage tags will help your bags stand out from the rest of the bags.
Do you like to upcycle clothes? Check out my other refashions here.