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:

Opt In Image
Download the Free Pattern

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

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

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Frank says:

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

  5. Dottie says:

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

  6. Renee says:

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

What do you think?