Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Easy and Inexpensive Drawstring Backpack

Have you heard of Craft Hope?
Because you should check it out!

They encourage crafters from all over the world to help with their newest project, by making something in the theme and sending it to one person who collects everything and then gives them to people in need.
Last round was sock monkeys to go to burn victims.
I tried, I really did.
Have you ever argued with an unfinished sock monkey that just wasn't going as hoped?...

Anyway! :) This round is about making hats and bags for kids who are fighting cancer. 
Read more about it, here

So as one who makes all her own purses, has made purses and bags for others and to sell and made soft hats to sell, and has known many people who have battled cancer, you know I'm on this one!
So don't be surprised if some of my posts in the near future have to do with projects that would be good for this round of Craft Hope.
The deadline to send these items for the kids is Monday March 12, 2012 so if you want to join in, you've got time to work some creations into your crafting schedule.

Even if you aren't the most capable at sewing you can still help out. 
The following is a "how to" for making a very easy and inexpensive drawstring backpack that is big enough for the recipient kid to take coloring books, notebooks, or a teddy and small blanket with them on their next trip to the hospital.

Made with a couple flat quarters (if you are unfamiliar, that is a sewing term for fabric that measures about 18 inches by 22 inches, or about a quarter of a yard of fabric) and some ribbon, this bag could cost you well under $5.00 easily. 
(I usually buy my flat quarters either on sale or at Wal-Mart, costing about .99 cents each. The ribbon I used, one spool costs at most .50 cents, the other $1.00 and I didn't use all of either)
If you want a thicker bag you could line it with more fabric or use four flat quarters, two for each side.

Start with two flat quarters, or two pieces of fabric measuring about 18 inches wide by 22 inches tall. I actually used a flat quarter laid out on top of the fabric I wanted to use and used the FQ as an easy template to cut around.

You'll also need some ribbon.
I used some thin dark blue satin ribbon for the closure and wider medium blue grosgrain ribbon for the arm straps. And of course you'll need thread and either a needle to hand sew or a machine to make it faster.
I first folded the top edge of one of the long sides in for about 2 inches down. I did this on all four top corners.

Next I folded the top down towards the "wrong" side of the fabric, about a quarter inch then folded again about three quarters of an inch. Then sewed straight across. This created a roll where the closing ribbon can be run.

Once both pieces have the casing sewn on top, match the "right" (printed) sides together and sew the three other edges. Stop just short of closing up the casing you made for the ribbon.
If your fabric is prone to fraying, you have two options. Use Fray Check or something like it, put on all three sides you just sewed. Or instead of sewing right sides together, first sew wrong sides together, turn inside out and sew the same area again, then turn back right side out. This encloses your seem and stops the frays.

Now for the ribbon.
I cut two pieces 25 inches long of the thin ribbon for the drawstring and two pieces about 26 inches long of the grosgrain for the straps. 
For the straps I folded the ends of the ribbon over about half an inch and sewed at the bottom corner and at the top corner just under the casing for the drawstring. I sewed the ribbon over and over on each end so it has multiple layers to help it withstand being used.

For the drawstring I ran the ribbon through the casing using a tool just for that but simply attaching a safety pin to the ribbon will help you run it through.
Tie the two ribbons together in a simple knot at each end. These can be pulled and tied together to close the bag.

That is all!
However (hey it's not a "but"!) if you used a plain fabric with no design like I did, you may want to embellish the front in some way.  If you used a decorative fabric you may like it just as is.
Most decorations would be best if added before you sew the two main pieces together.
I created a simple front pocket by taking another fat quarter and cutting out a piece that measured 8 inches by 10 inches.
I double folded the top and sewed then sewed the sides and bottom after folding them over once. Then sewed it onto the front of the bag.
You could also embellish with iron on transfers, buttons, etc.

I wanted to keep this one as gender neutral as possible. The blue makes it boy friendly but most of it is a bright pretty blue that some girls will love also. Other bags I'll make more girl or boy defined but I wanted one that could easily be given to whoever was in need.

So for just a couple dollars and the knowledge of how to sew a vaguely straight line, you have a great backpack, ready for a young kid. In this case, ready to brighten the day of a young warrior battling cancer!

The bag being modeled by a large bunny I have as a prop for my photography business:


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