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

  1. JC says:

    I would appreciate if you would offer a pdf of the entire pattern pieces. I have a printer that does 24″x 36″ paper and I do not want to tape them together.. The cost of printers have come down so much that many pattern makers are offering a separate pdf of patterns.
    I like your little back pack !!!!


    Is there an easier way to download your directions? I get multiple pages with many blank spots. I tried it on the mini backpack and the same thing happened.

  3. Gwénaëlle says:

    First, sorry for my english …! (I am French!)
    Thank you very much for this very complete tutorial: I can not wait to get started!
    Only, can I not find information: are seam margins included in the pattern? How much are they exactly?
    Thank you in advance!
    Gwénaëlle (from Saint-Malo!)

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Bon Jour!Gwénaëlle, le marge de couture change et dépend de la pièce que vous cousez. Mais la plupart c’est 1cm. Je n’ai pas parlé français depuis 10 ans donc que mon français n’est plus aussi bon, désolé!

  4. Cathi says:

    Hi Mayra – I think you need to add 1 more zipper to your materials list. Unless Im mistaken, there are 3 zippers for the outside and then 1 optional zipper for the interior pocket for a total of 4. 🙂

    • cheril2008 says:

      You are right Cathi, above. I made it with the main zipper to open up the backpack, the one on the outside front pocket, the one on the back side, and finally the one on the inside zipper pocket for the iPhone. That is a total of 4 zippers. Also I wanted to mention that I made this, but didn’t cut an extra piece of lining fabric to go behind the inside zipper pocket and actually makes a pocket for the outside zipper pocket. lol My little backpack was super cute also, I just didn’t add that lining piece and so my hand goes all the way through under the zipper pocket from the back side zip pocket.

  5. Amélie says:

    Thanks for the free pattern! I made it at 70% of its size to make a kind of small purse. It turned out super cute!

  6. Cathi says:

    I am so excited to make this for my toddler out of an old shirt and jeans of Daddy’s 🙂 I’ll send you the outcome when it’s ready.

  7. Mari says:

    What are the dimensions for the backpack? Its is lovely.

  8. Janet Tweedy says:

    This is a lovely pattern but you say not the easiest. what would you suggest I try first not having made backpacks before ?

  9. kiko says:

    Do i fuse the interfacing to the fashion fabric before starting anything? or should i do it as i go? also I’m a beginner so I’m still learning what to do for the parts not in the video

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kiko this is a sew along lease click on the different parts of the posts. I like to fuse the fabric first and then cut.

  10. Kimberly Zastawny says:

    Am I dumb? I see amounts for interfacing and li int but how much of the actual outside fabric is needed???

  11. Alexis says:

    this looks amazing! but I can’t figure out where to click to download it or the ipad backpack… help?

  12. Taryn says:

    Should there be two side gusset pieces? I thought there would be one for each side. I’m also a little confused why the side pocket piece indicates the curved side goes towards the back. It actually says “back” twice but doesn’t say front anywhere. Should the curve go towards the front or the back panel? Thank you for an awesome free pattern!

  13. Katrina says:

    What are the dimensions of the finished product?

  14. Kay says:

    Absolutely love your nail polish! Keeping my eyes open hoping I’ll come across one like it? Do you remember the name/brand by any chance?
    Love the tutorial too! Quite clear intructions and pretty! Will be starting mine soon.

  15. Kay says:

    I want to make this back pack bigger for my college age daughter in the fabric she chooses. With extra pocket strap side for lap top.
    Thank you for your tutorial! It helps ver much!

  16. Leasuz says:

    I made some adjustments so I could use it for my toddler for preschool. Thank you for the pattern.

  17. Maggie says:

    I just made this bag. I loved it for the size and have seen many adults wearing these smaller bags. There were several issues I found between 1) the pattern and what needed to be cut and 2) the video. I literally spent 3 days on this when it really should have taken me only a day to do so. I really appreciate that you did that and that it’s FREE !!!! There are pockets you sewed but didn’t have any pattern pieces for and then, when looking at the bag at different places, one bag has the “D-rings” above the back zipper and one has them below …. I will be making me another one and making my own modifications for some things I want to add to it that aren’t on the original. Thanks again for a cute pattern….. I’ve been sewing for @ 50 years, and to be honest, I thought it bounced around too much from one thing to another, then back to the previous, then back to something else. I think for future try to do something like all pockets together if possible, all zippers together, etc. etc. Also, it would be great for picture purposes to photograph any white items not on white or the same if you’re making something darker. THANKS again !!!

  18. Florence says:

    thank you for getting back to me. I tried adobe reader to print out the
    small back pack pattern. My test square does not equal 2″x2″ it is
    1 9/16″ x 1 9/16″. So my back pack will be a little smaller but it should be
    Thank you again for helping. Have a nice day

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Florence, that is odd and worth working out why your pattern is a bit smaller. That would really be a pain in a clothing pattern. Make sure it is on an “Actual Size” print setting. Good luck with the project. Kind Regards,

  19. Florence says:

    I can download the pattern. However the pattern hangs over the copy paper
    and so the whole pattern is not available for print. Tried actual size
    tried 70% and still nothing. The side pocket, side gusset and front gusset do not fit on the 81/2 x 11 sheet of copy paper and nor do the print out on another sheet that can be matched up. What am I missing?
    Pattern small back pack

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Florence seems to me you are not using Adobe Reader to download the pattern. Am I correct?

      • Melissa Fimreite says:

        The same thing happened to me. It’s because the printing goes all the way to the page edge, and my printer will not print all the way to the edge of the paper. I tried it several different ways as well and ended up just eyeballing it so the circles and lines matched up. I haven’t sewn the project together yet, so wish me luck!

        P.S. I did download it and save as a .pdf file, which I opened with the latest version of Acrobat Reader, so that’s not the issue.

  20. Elaine says:

    This pattern calls for fusible interfacing but the instructions do not show where it is used.

    The cutting instructions generally call for cutting one piece of the fusible fleece per pattern piece — so does that mean it is only applied to the fashion fabric? and the fashion fabric used for the side and front outer pockets will not have the fusible interfacing attached?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Elaine, please read all the three-parts before attempting this pattern. Depends on the fabric you use. Canvas or upholstery fabric do not need fusible interfacing if you are using cotton quilting (some people have) you need to fuse both fashion fabric and lining. However, make sure your machine can handle all the layers.

  21. sophie:( says:

    why i cant download pattern?

  22. Andrea says:

    Is the interfacing ironed on to all the main fashion fabric pieces? I noticed this step was skipped it seemed and I was kinda confused.

  23. debby says:

    cant download the pattern, hellpppp!

  24. Jane says:

    Pls I can’t find the measurements used

  25. Serene says:

    Hi, what type of fusible interfacing to use on a very light weight cotton fabric for this backpack?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Medium weight fusible interfacing. I would line both lining and fabric to give the backpack somebody. Or you can use a stiff fusible interfacing and just apply it to the fabric.

  26. Serene says:

    Thanks for the sewing pattern and tutorials. Questions about the fusible interfacing.
    What type of fusible interfacing should I use on a 100% light weight cotton fabric for this backpack?

  27. Vivian says:

    Hi again I just want to show the back of the bag – It is obviously a denim refashion and I didn’t do a pocket to the front as shown in the other picture
    Its very comfortable over the shoulders too

  28. Vivian says:

    Hi There
    I tried to leave a comment before but I think it did not work so sorry if this is up twice
    I just want to say that joining the pattern was difficult – The thinner Zipper gusset didnt match the length of the wider zipper gusset – I dont know if I just had extra trouble matching the A4 papers and joining the pieces and left something out or what the problem was , but this is not the first bag Ive made – Anyway after some adjustment I altered the pattern adding bits I felt were missing. In the end I made the bag but pattern connection was not easy – Has anyone fed this back to you before?
    The video tutorial was excellent !
    I like the outcome very much its a great size backpack – Thankyou for having this free online : )

  29. Darlene Boyll says:

    Hello Mayra. I was wondering if this pattern could be made about an inch smaller? My granddaughter loves it but wants even smaller.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes, darling, it can be done. Be mindful of the bottom if you change the size the rest will not fit. I would suggest pinching the pattern in the middle, do it to all the pieces and adjust the zipper length to the new requirement. I have been meaning to make a smaller one in leather with some studs. Not sure how popular leather will be though, the sewing will need to be by hand.

  30. Awoniyi busayo janet says:

    I really love the way the backpack was sew.thank u very much

  31. Nivedita says:

    I really want to make this backpack ASAP as my best friend’s birthday is arriving, but I am unable to download the patterns even after clicking on the yellow box which says “pattern download” it takes me to which only gives me the option to buy the backup, and there onwards I cannot find any pattern download option. Please help me out. ?

  32. This is so amazing! It looks so professional, and I totally agree about doing what you can against pickpockets! Love this! Pinning and featuring in my next newsletter! 🙂 Lisa

  33. Robin says:

    I have a question about the side gussets. The pattern only has one but the video shows sewing two (one on each side).

  34. Annie says:

    I want to make this. But I can’t read the templates.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Annie, you need to download the pattern the picture of the layout is only to show you how is laid out. Click on the link with the orange button.

  35. blue says:

    i am so excited to make this backpack.i am going to use the back pack to hold fabric and anything related to sewing in it as cali pay to use there bags and i always forget to bring mine. and also make another for my son to use for school once he is 5

  36. I’m wondering if I really need to use interfacing? I’m using a cotton canvas for the exterior, and the lining is hempcel. Both fabrics are quite sturdy, so I don’t see that interfacing would be necessary, but I wanted to ask before I begin constructing the backpack.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Lainee, you do not given the combination of textiles you got going, very nice! I must say I think you will have a very beautiful item. Do share a photo with me. Thank you in advance 🙂

  37. Missy says:

    Hi Mayra — Great bag! But there seems to be a couple steps missing for the exterior pocket.

    In your pattern pieces it says to cut one of lining and with it, we make the interior pocket. But it looks like you actually used two of these (without the zipper cut in the middle) for the exterior pocket as well. Is this a correct assumption?

    I attached all the D-rings and then the exterior pocket video tutorial seems to miss telling us what lining to use and how. It looks like the interior pocket (minus that cut for the zipper; it’s one big piece instead). And it looks like right sides are together to create the exterior zipper “hole”, correct? The written instructions do not seem to have the exterior pocket in its instructions.

    Thank you!

  38. liz duenas says:

    can this be enlarged? would it make sense to add a couple of inches to each pattern piece both ways length and width from the center point?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Liz, you can but you need to understand pattern construction or the pieces will not fit especially the rounded corners. Keep track of every millimeter you add to the front and back and add it to the gusset as well.

  39. Kayla says:

    Such a great bag! But when sewing on the side gussets, does the side with the curved corner go to the front or the back of the bag? Thanks!

  40. Tracy says:

    What are the dimensions of this backpack? Length, width, height? Thanks!

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