Small Backpack Pattern, for Small Budgets: Part 1

small backpack pattern

If you have been watching the size and style of bags lately, you've probably noticed all those impossibly cute little backpacks everyone is carrying.  Along those lines, I've made this small backpack pattern to be small (and cute) but still big enough to be practical.

You can also use this small backpack as a cross-over or cross body bag as well.  I made that way because I like to have options and truth-be-told, I am a bit paranoid with a backpack.  I guess having grown up in Panama where, as the saying goes, “pickpockets can remove your socks without even taking off your shoes” I have had my share of missing money and wallets.  This is why I've added a pocket in the back with a zipper.  There's an internal pocket, also with a zipper, and even the outside pocket has a zipper.  So if you can remember where you put your wallet, the chances of keeping it are high..

small backpack patternThere's also a possibility of adding one more pocket to stash your mobile phone, but I will leave that up to you. I will show you how to add it you want it.  Please note, however, it will not be included in the pattern, so this is probably for the intermediate to advanced sewists.  The rest of the project is suitable for beginners.

small backpack pattern

This is not an easy-to-make backpack because it involve a few steps, so I have decided to offer this pattern and project as a kind of sew along.  The first part will give you a general idea on how to make the backpack and the inside components.  You'll find this below.  The second part will show you how to make the straps and attach them to the small backpack.  We'll be releasing this part on Tuesday along with a video.  The third and final part will show you how to assemble and finish the bag and that should be out on Thursday.

small backpack pattern

This is an advanced project but if you love to be challenged particularly if you have just started out making bags you will find rewarding to make.   It will make a great accessory for your wardrobe or a fantastic gift for a friend or a loved one.  I made two for this tutorial and I'm keeping one and giving the other to my teenage daughter.  She loves it.

Video Tutorial


small backpack pattern


  • Zipper foot
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Walking foot (optional)

Small Backpack Pattern Download:

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Small Backpack from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Pattern layout:

This is just meant to show you what the pattern will look like once it is printed and assembled.

small backpack pattern

Part One of the Three Part Series:

In this part of the sew along, we're going to be printing the pattern, assembling the materials, and sewing the inside pocket as well as the gusset and the main zipper.

Cut all pattern pieces following the pattern.

A note on fusible interfacing:   The use of fusible interfacing will depend on the fabric you choose to work with.  Canvas and think upholstery fabric do not need it.  Cotton quilting will need both in the outside fabric and it the lining. I am using 100% cotton fabric from the upholstery section at IKEA and have opted to fuse a medium weight interfacing to both outside and lining fabrics.  In hindsight, I wish I hadn't since it made it impossible to sew a cotton tape handle  (to hand the bag) on the top of the backpack.  I could have done it,  had I used my industrial machine to finish the bag. However, not everyone has an industrial machine at home.  Before placing the handle or using thick upholstery fabric make sure your machine can handle many layers of fabric.

Step One:  Attaching the outer zipper

Place the right side of the fashion fabric up.Place the zipper right side down.    Place the lining wrong side up on top of the zipper.  This will make a sandwich with the fashion fabric.
Use the zipper foot and sew at 3/8″.  Once you have sewn the zipper down, open to turn to the work to the right side and iron. (We're going to be showing this in the video that will come out shortly as this might be a bit confusing for the beginners in the group.)small backpack pattern

We will repeat the same procedure, but this time on the other side of the zipper.  Lay the fabric right up and place the other side of the gusset wrong side up aligning the sides. Pin together and turn to the lining side. small backpack patternPin the lining and sew at 3/8″.  Iron once again and topstitch. small backpack pattern

Sew 1/8″ from the edge using the zipper foot.
small backpack patternPin the lining and fashion fabric and sew at 3/8″.
small backpack patternsmall backpack patternTop stitch 1/8″ from the seam and trim the seam allowance.  You can trim the zipper to the edge of the gusset at this point as well.

Step Two:  Adding the lateral small pockets

Following the pattern, fold the top edge 1/2″ and iron.  Use the crease to fold the edge 1/4″ in so it does not show.
small backpack pattern

Pin the pocket to the bottom of the gusset.small backpack pattern

Step Three:  Making the small inner pocket

I have chosen to use the lining to make this little pocket.  This pocket is small enough for a small wallet but you can adapt it to a bigger size if you wish.

On the wrong side of the fabric, pin the zipper right side down and sew using your zipper foot. small backpack patternTurn the fabric to the right side and topstitch the zipper at 1/8″.small backpack patternPlace your zipper horizontally with the piece you just sewed up.small backpack patternPlace the other part of the pocket right side down on the lower side of the zipper.small backpack patternSew the zipper using the zipper foot turn and topstitch at 1/8″.

Open the zipper half way.small backpack patternSew, zigzag and trim both sides but not the top.
small backpack patternIron your work. small backpack patternPin the pocket to the back lining of the small backpack.


As I have mentioned above, there is no pattern for the internal pocket that is big enough for your phone.  However, this is very easy to add.  Depending on your phone size.  Trace the bottom part of the front pattern side, add 1/2″ for seam allowance on the top fold and stitch as you did on the lateral small pockets.


And you're done with this part of the project.  We'll be releasing the subsequent parts of the sew along shortly that take you through the making the handles as well as attaching of the external pocket in the third and final part.  We'll also have a video which will help explain some of the more complicated steps in the process.

I really hope you enjoyed this project so far.  As a further refinement of this design, I am going to make one in leather which should be fantastic.  When I am done will share it with you on Pinterest.

Proceed to Part 2

small backpack pattern

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201 Responses to Small Backpack Pattern, for Small Budgets: Part 1

  1. Mel says:

    Hi, What size should the D rings and lobster claws be?

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Mel, Check the list of materials, please.

      • Sarah says:

        Your list of supplies does not specify the size of D-rings required, merely the amount. Ditto to the lobster claws. You say 1″ rectangular buckles, so is it safe to assume that 1 inch D rings are also required? And what size of lobster claw 8s best ?

        ” …. (4) D Rings
        Two (2) Lobsters Claw
        Two (2) 1″ Rectangular buckles for tensioning the straps

  2. allison says:

    hey! just starting this project 🙂 i can’t tell which zipper is used first – i have both the 10in and the 18in but the length of the back gusset is about 17in when measured? i assumed the shorter zipper was for this part but in the video the zipper used goes the entire length of the gusset..

  3. Rachel Loper says:

    I’m so sorry if this has already been addressed, but how do you convert it from a backpack to a crossbody? do you just attach the lobster clips to each other? i can’t wait to sew this up, thank you so much!

  4. Fran Leiter says:

    I would love to make this but I can’t even get past the pattern! Pieces are not labeled as to what pieces are joined together, many even without the name of the pattern piece to help find the joining section, or whether or not to cut on the fold or how many pieces to cut although the pattern does seem to designate lining pieces from fashion fabric. I’d also love to know the finished size – it looks fairly large when modeled on person but in the video it appears to be smaller! I’m looking for a smaller backpack and hope this one is it. I’m confident if I could get the pattern cut out I could sew it without further problems, especially with the help of the video. I’m really discouraged just by the pattern – glad it is by donation and not some set price!

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hello Fran, I will be returning your money, my philosophy is that if you are not happy with my work don’t make your life more difficult than the current global situation makes it to be. If this pattern was for sale it would have all the labels that required as it is for free I encourage people to spend some time on the site which is how I make the big companies pay for the 5K a months that it costs to run a site as large as this one. Sending the weekly email alone is 1200 USD. This is an old pattern, made by many people around the world and not for beginners at all since it is a long project. There is a sew-along and all the videos are on YouTube. The instructions to this pattern and all the free ones (OVER 200) are here on this site for free and for as long as the site can stay open. Kind Regards and thank you for your time and feedback.

  5. Lorraine says:

    Bag came out cute. The only problem I had was adding the binding. I couldn’t figure out how to add the binding around the bottom with out distorting the sides. I ended up just zigzagging all the raw edges

  6. Brynn says:

    Hi! I haven’t started this project yet, I’m still buying the d rings and zippers and such. I’m wondering about the ‘optional pocket?’ In the video there was one that didn’t use a zipper, the large one on the inside, but I’m confused as to which optional pocket uses the zipper? Is it the one that has access through the back, or the one that hangs down from the top on the inside?

  7. Louise Carriere says:

    can you tell me the finished size?

  8. Diya says:

    Helo such a cute backpack. Finished size please. Thanks for sharing

  9. Annie says:

    These instructions and pictures are really hard to follow, it doesn’t mention what pattern piece you are using

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Yes this is not for beginners, this is for people who want to push their skills to a higher level. Have you watch the video for this project?

    • Stacey says:

      You should watch the video in full before starting this project and you will find it makes the pieces so much easier to understand and flow follow. I made this at the end of May, and it came out adorable…my girlfriend loves it. Take your time and follow the video when assembling as it is very helpful.

  10. Linda says:

    Is the seam allowance included in the pattern or do I add seam allowance?

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      It is included and it varies, please read all the instructions before stating this project. What the video so you can have an idea of the sequence.

  11. Sharon Hoyle says:

    I truly appreciate all the time and work you have commented to doing this for free. On behalf of all your audience Thank You!

    Sharon Hoyle

  12. Hylke says:

    Hi! Just starting out with this backpack. I was wondering if the pattern has the seam allowance included or not?
    Thank you!

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      yes, it varies, please watch the video, and all the instructions before you start. Also, I forgot to ask you to buy bias tape.

  13. Stacey says:

    I am just getting started on making this. I’ve decided to watch the video first before doing anything. As I was watching you got to the part where you are adding bias tape, I was like uh oh I didn’t get any so I rechecked the materials list and it wasn’t listed as an item. I think you should probably add that, now I’m hoping I have enough fabric to make my own.

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Thanks for the feedback, three years this pattern has been available and you are the only one that has pointed out. Thanks!

      • Stacey Lee says:

        I finished my backpack. I used all the same fabric and quilted my outside pieces. I’m not sure I would call this a small budget project tho. My supplies were just over $40 and then the time it took for all the pattern cutting & sewing time…this could probably be an $80 plus item. I will say I think it turned out very cute and it is a good size. I made this for my best friend’s 50th birthday, I can’t wait to give it to her. I wish there was a place for me to post some pics…..

        • Mayra Cecilia says:

          Please use Instagram, use this #soseweasy and everyone will see your picture. It is small in size, certainly, the materials you use is up to you. The Time it takes is what it takes to make something of good quality such as the one you describe. It took me almost a month of my time, electricity, supplies, website hosting expense, to put this sew-along together all free for you to enjoy…so yes good things take time so personally I am very happy that you made it all the way and to give it to a friend? I hope your friend knows what a wonderful person you are.

          • Stacey says:

            I would love to post a picture of my project but I don’t use Instagram…. My girlfriend absolutely loves her backpack and has gotten lots of compliments on it. Is there some where else I could post photos so others can see the project?

          • Mayra Cecilia says:

            You can try our Facebook group chat, or if you like you can send me the picture and I add it to My Instagram account or at the bottom of these post with your name. Let me know which you prefer.

          • Stacey Lee says:

            I was unaware there was a facebook group chat, could you send me the link and I’ll try to post it there…Thank You

  14. Julie says:

    I’m confused about the lining fabric to make the inside pocket and the backside pocket. Should I cut two of the same pattern?

  15. Pat Murdoch says:

    Lovely design – however, could you not give an option for printing on A1 or A0 – I generally get my patterns printed professionally on large format printers, meaning I don’t need to patch and stick the pieces together. Lazy, me! Many thanks and keep the inspiration going. Pat

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      I could do it, this is true, but my time is so limited I truly can not satisfy everyone. But thank you for your suggestions. I will keep in mind.

      • Noemi says:

        If you allow an idea. Considering you do have the pattern layout and I suppose you to have it in full size as well. (Since I imagine it’s your starting point to make it printable on A4.) You could for example release the pattern layout in a better resolution than on the image provided here for people wanting to print on larger formats. This one for example would fit nicely on an A0.

        If limited to max 4×4 A4 it fits an A0 perfectly.

  16. Janet Tweedy says:

    Is there a graphic for the section that says “Sew the straps making a large X. Alternatively, you can use rivets or screws with a hole puncher as in this picture.” I cannot find the photo for the hole puncher bit Thank you

  17. Frank says:

    The Side Gusset – surely there’s two of them? One for each side…

  18. Dottie says:

    Where can find part 2 & 3, for small back pack?

  19. Renee says:

    Is there any way to print the instructions for the tutorial?

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