Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A Backpack For M

M is about 2 1/2 years younger than Goose and she is not the typical middle child.  She's sweet and affectionate, a bit shy, and thinks her older sister is the coolest thing in the world. Everything Goose does, M has to try as well.  That includes wearing a backpack when we drop off and pick up Goose from preschool.  M started playing with Goose's old backpack, and it was so heartbreaking to watch her beam with pride while marching around the house because she was wearing a backpack. A backpack with a broken zipper.  A broken zipper that allowed every stuffed animal and sippy cup to fall out every 5 steps.  So I decided to take matter's into my own hands.

M needed her own functionig) backpack.

I would be lying if I said that the idea of a bunny backpack was my original idea.  I've had this post from Sew Much Ado on my Pinterest saved for a while and I decided to give the idea a whirl.  I didn't follow the pattern from Sew Much Ado, I used Gooses' broken backpack as my template, but the idea for the bunny ears and tail is strait from Sew Much Ado.

This is Goose's old backpack (I guess you can guess her real name!) Since she's in preschool, she didn't need a solid backpack because she's only toting around a change of cloths and some finger paintings.  I found this cutie in the dollar section at Target (with matching lunch box!)  About halfway through school this year, the zipper broke so we upgraded to a more durable model.  When we did that, M refused to allow the old backpack to be thrown away.  I put it in the trash and later that night I found M wearing it! (It has been washed, FYI)

If you're interested in copying how I made a bunny backpack, grab these supplies and follow along!  

  • an old backpack
  • seam ripper
  • outer fabric
  • tail & ear fabric
  • stuffing or scrap batting
  • paper
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • a heavy duty sewing machine needle
  • lots of strait pins!

A few points about construction:  I used the fabric of the old backpack as the lining of the bunny backpack.  The amount of fabric needed for the outer layer of your backpack depends on the old backpack you're using or the template you create yourself, I only needed about 1/5 of a yard, but I used a small template.  Also, the batting that I used was fusible, so even when I say to pin the batting, there are no pins in the pictures, sorry about that.


STEP 1: Disassemble 

Grab that seam ripper and start ripping!  deconstruct your backpack into (almost) all of it's individual components, excepting the zippers.  These pieces are now the lining of your bunny backpack, and I'll refer to these pieces a lining from here on out.

{ NOT PICTURED - If you want your backpack to hold it's shape, trace the pieces onto paper. Remember to subtract 1/4" from every side of the shape you've traced to allow for seam allowance.  Use the paper templates to cut out the batting, use a basting stitch to line up the batting with your fabric.}

Take the lining pieces for the front, back, and sides of your backpack and pin them wrong side down to the wrong side of your outer fabric.  Sew them together, using a 1/4" seam.  (Maybe it's just the quilter in me that uses a 1/4" seam, if this isn't necessary then ignore me or let me know!) You'll finish the seams later on once the backpack is pieced together.

Here's the batting basted to fabric (I'm terrible at basting so I used the widest strait stitch I could), with a 1/4" seam allowance

 

STEP 2: Zippers

My upside down zipper!

My upside down zipper!

One of the great things about some zippers is that the pull tab can be turned over and the teeth still work properly, and that's what I did with this project.  As you can see in the "before" picture at the top of this post, the old backpack had a little front pocket with a zipper.  To make the bunny backpack work, I removed the pull tab from the little pocket zipper, and put it on upside down on the large zipper.  This was awesome because that meant I didn't have to completely deconstruct the zipper.

To add the outer fabric to the zipper, cut an over sized rectangle of fabric and pressed a strait seam along the length of the fabric.  Pin the fabric right side up along the zipper and sew.  If you have a zipper foot, awesome, use it!  If not, just do as I do and use the outer rim of the foot of your sewing machine as a guide, adjust your stitching as far left as possible, and sew, removing the pins as you go.  

Take 2 small rectangles of outer fabric and press a hem along the length of the rectangles.  Sew the rectangles over each end of the zipper panel, and trim to match the width of the zipper panel when the zipper is closed. 

 

STEP 3: Accessorize

Time to make those bunny ears and a cotton tail! 

To make the ears, fold over quilt batting and cut out an ear shape so that you have two matching ears.  

Layer the outer fabric on the fabric you chose for the ears and tail, right side to right side, and pin the ear shaped batting on top.  Sew all three layers together along the sides and bottom of the ear, leaving room at the top.

Cut the fabric about 1/4" away from the edge of the batting.  Snip the seam allowance around the curve of the bottom of the ear, being careful not to cut your stitches.  Turn the ear inside out, and trim away any extra fabric at the top to about 1/2".

To make the tail, take your tail fabric and cut out a large circle.  Stitch around the edge of the circle, just like you would to make a yoyo, and pull the tread through enough to gather the fabric but still leaving a small whole.  Stuff the little pocket with either stuffing or scrap batting so that the tail is firm.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this step!

Set the tail and ears aside for a little bit.

 

STEP 4: Strapping

Take the back panel of your backpack and the straps that you removed when you disassembled the old backpack in Step 1.  Straiten the straps, extend them to their fullest length, and pin the ends of the straps to the the bottom of the panel an even distance from the outer edges.  Sew the ends of the straps to the panel.  

Sorry for the potato quality!

Sorry for the potato quality!

I placed the stitches just under 1/4" so that when the backpack is assembled, the stitches don't accidentally become visible along the seam.  I also sewed over the straps three times just to make sure they can stand up to the demands of a two year old.

Once the bottom of the straps have been attached, find the middle of the strap and stitch a loop at the top of the back panel.  To make the loop, line up two sides of the strap an even distance from the very middle of the length of the strap, and stitch across.  I placed the stitches about 1 1/2" below the seam allowance at the top of the panel.  I also stitched over the straps 3 times.

The back panel is done.

To make the front panel, grab those bunny ears!  Pin the ears an even distance away from the sides of the front panel, and stitch them into place along the seam allowance.  Trim any extra fabric from the ears flush with the seam allowance of the front panel.

Also keep in mind, that depending on how long you made your bunny ears, there should be enough space between your ears for the bunny tail to fit.  You might want to lay out the tail when pinning the ears in place you know how everything will fit before you start stitching.  Don't sew on the tail just yet though, it will get in the way of your sewing machine when you start assemble the panels of the backpack.

 
Bunny Backpack 15.png

STEP 5: ASSEMBLE!

(in captain america's voice)

This is the fun part!  Take the zipper panel and mark the middle with a pin.  Then take the front panel, fold it in half, and mark the fold with a pin.  Line up the pins of the zipper panel and front panel, and pin the two panels together.  Knowing where the centers of the two panels are is important to know so that you don't end up with a lop sided zipper.

Pin the zipper panel around the edge of the front panel.  About 2" from the end of the zipper panel, start sew the panels together, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  

Leave about 5" total unsewn at the ends of the zipper panel.  Lay the two ends flat over each other to get an idea of where they will fit against one another, and pin together.  If you need to adjust the length, fold down the outer and lining fabrics before sewing the two ends of the zipper panel together.  

Then re-lay the zipper panel flat and finish sewing onto the front panel.  Remember to use a couple of lock stitches to ensure the stitches keep.

The top of M's backpack has rounded corners, and if you did the same, don't skimp on the pinning around those curves!  At the bottom where the corners are square, I used the same techniques for mitered corners on quilt bindings.

To assemble the back panel, adjust the straps to their shortest length and pin out of the way if necessary.  Since the front panel and back panel are the same size, there should be no problem sizing the zipper panel to the back panel.  

Turn the assembled zipper and front panels inside out and open the zipper.  Pin the inside out panel to the back panel, making sure that the strap are "inside" the backpack.  Stitch all around the back panel using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the backpack right side out for a quality check and adjust any mistakes you might have made (but you haven't because you're awesome!)

Turn the backpack inside out again and finish off the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. Then turn the backpack right side out again.

Viola! You are the proud owner of a new bunny backpack!

___

I had attempted to take some nice pictures of the bunny backpack in action when I took the girls and my sister on a hike to Red Rocks.  M wouldn't hold still, so most of the pictures ended up way too blurry to be used on the blog.  But I decided to add some shots of the girls so you can tell me how cute my children are!

Bunny Backpack 16 (1).png
Bunny Backpack 19.png

M had to have her own phone, keys, a water bottle, and her granola bars in her backpack while we hiked.  I'm actually pretty impressed with how far she walked before getting too tired with it. 

The water bottle pulled the backpack down, so you can't see it perfectly in this picture, and M's pants are the same color pink as the tail.

I just failed at this whole staging-your-pictures thing.

Bunny Backpack 18 (1).png
Bunny Backpack 17 (1).png

 

Happy Quilting!

- Rita