We Made A Backpack

Last year, at the end of first grade, Myla told me “I have an idea for a backpack.”  She drew out a doodle that sort of looked like Yoda hanging on Luke’s back, but with her own little character she created: an arctic fox in an orange sweater.

(I drew it on a napkin in her lunch once:)


Since I have no magic skills in patternmaking on my own, I found a beautiful little backpack pattern from a website called Birch that was functional, not too complicated, and adaptable to the idea Myla had. (The free tutorial I used & altered a bit is HERE.)


Then I gathered supplies at the craft store.  The idea of a WHITE backpack–especially for a kid–is daunting, but thankfully Myla gave me some artistic leeway by at least letting me choose fabric with pattern–a thicker canvas with stripes, and another with zigzags.  I had some orange fabric in my own stash, and purchased everything else I needed on the pattern’s supply list.  I bought extra, because I decided to add a little extra to the measurements to make it larger all over (it’s perfect for a smaller kid, but I needed to really make sure I could fit her school folder and her lunchbox in there).

The cool thing about this pattern was that it closes & opens with velcro with an elastic bunched opening under the flap–no crazy buckles or zippers to deal with, and even an intermediate amateur like myself was able to figure out the elastic situation pretty easily.


The tutorial itself was very easy to follow (like I said, I’m no pro) and I made little tweaks as we went along.  She chose the inside liner herself, which was a brown pine cone pattern…pinecones

And BOOM here it is!  She wanted to be sure there was a little white fur tail at the bottom (which lines right up with her pants, making it look like SHE has a tail, which is fun).  I added a face & ears to the flap (she initially wanted the flap to be the face but cut to a point like an animal nose, but we met halfway, so it could be functional).  Admittedly, I got a little confused with the strap situation, but it’s probably because I was trying to alter the straps a bit to make part of them look like paws, lying over her shoulders.


She drew the little body on the back in pen, and I painted it with acrylic paints.  One reader thankfully suggested sealing it in Scotchgard, which was a VERY good idea, so it’ll hopefully protect it a bit from dirt and stains for as long as possible.


Sometimes people think working together is some sort of ethereal, magical situation, but it does take some patience that I don’t always possess.  I got pretty crabby near the end of this one, because she was trying to explain the arm situation and I wasn’t understanding what she was wanting, but we finally worked it out, and overall it turned out to be another good collaboration! 

I may not always be rosy and cheery working through some ideas, but I always consider it a fun challenge when she has an idea she wants to make.  I’m working on teaching her a little bit of sewing here and there so that one day she might make things herself, but at this age, she doesn’t always have the attention span for it, and I don’t always have the patience.  So we start of sharing for a bit, then she runs off and does projects nearby, while I work at my art desk.  But at least she can say she was part of building it! 

So, yeah.  BOOM.  We made a backpack.  Yay!


10 responses

  1. To have an older person at hand who is interested in assisting a child to actually make their ideas reality, through all the steps necessary, is one of the best things an adult can offer a child. My Uncle Cam provided workbench space, tools and wood for me to build my first hinged, lockable wooden chest when I was nine. I was ecstatic when I finished it, even if there were flies stuck in the paint. Have never forgotten that. You are doing such great work. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

  2. It’s adorable! I especially love the tail. And she has an absolutely unique backpack!

  3. This is amazing! I really love it.

  4. Lucky child. Lucky mom.

  5. You totally rock! Mom level 1000.

  6. Have you considered a vintage hand crank Singer 99 or Singer 66 for Myla?

    The amazing advantage that these machines have over a modern machine is that Myla will have complete control of the needle via the hand crank. The other real neat advantage is although they “can’t” sew knit, they can sew pretty much anything else, even multiple layers of leather. In fact, it would have been easier sewing Myla’s new backpack on a Singer 66/99.

    By the way, I’ve seen some amazing repaints done to these vintage machines. I’m sure Myla could paint hers beautifully if she doesn’t like the vintage decals.

    1. That’s a wonderful idea–I’ll have to check it out–thank you so much! We’ve looked at the little cheap kid machines, but they fall apart and don’t work, from what friends have said. My thoughts also were to get her a real machine one day. I’ll have to look into it! Thanks!

  7. This is so adorable!! ❤

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