Rachel Measham-Pywell from Four Wise Monkeys designed these fun Let’s Go! Backpacks for our Back to School series. There’s a basic backpack tutorial, and a PDF pattern with instructions for the cute robot backpack variation too. You might remember Rachel from her recent introduction and pattern review (Maya in her cute versions of the Maya pattern!). Enjoy Rachel’s Let’s Go! Backpack Tutorial today, and be sure to check out Four Wise Monkeys for more tutorials, patterns and fun from Rachel.

What You Need:

  • 2 x 38mm Looploc or D rings
  • 2 x 38mm Slide Adjusters
  • 1 Fat Quarter White Fabric
  • 45 cm Fabric A (Green)
  • 15 cm Fabric B (Pink)
  • 45 cm Fabric C for Lining
  • 60 cm of woven medium weight iron on interfacing
  • 25 cm x 25 cm piece of heavy pellon such as Peltex 71f for bag base
  • 90 cm of cord or binding to make a drawstring

* A quarter inch seam allowances has been used unless otherwise stated. Iron all your fabric before starting.

Getting Started:

    From the White Fabric cut:

  • 1 x 19½”x 12” rectangle – bag front
    From Fabric A (Green) cut:

  • 2 x 7” squares – bag flap
  • 10” x 12” rectangle – bag back
  • 8½” x 12” rectangle – pocket
  • 2” x 29” rectangle – casing
  • 2 x 6½” x 3½” rectangles- short straps
  • 2 x 25” x 3½” rectangles – long straps
    From Fabric B (Pink) cut:

  • 1 x 10” x 4½” rectangle – bag back base
  • 1 x 19½” x 4½” rectangle – bag base front
  • 1 x 1½” x 7½” rectangle – bag loop
    From the Lining Fabric cut:

  • 1 x 19½”x 16” rectangle – bag front
  • 1 x 10”” x 16” rectangle – bag back
    From the Pellon cut:

  • 1 x 10” x 16” rectangle
  • 1 x 19½” x 16½” rectangle
    From the Medium Interfacing cut:

  • 1 x 19”x 11½” rectangle – bag front
  • 1 x 6½”square – bag flap
  • 9½”” x 11½” rectangle – bag back
  • 8” x 11½” rectangle – pocket
  • 2 x 24½” x 3” rectangles – long straps
  • 1 x 9½” x 4” rectangle – bag back base
  • 1 x 19” x 4” rectangle – bag base
    From the Peltex cut:

  • 2 x 4½” x 9” strips

Step 1 – Fusing the Interfacing

Match the interfacing with the corresponding piece of fabric. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric leaving a quarter inch seam allowance around each piece.

Step 2 – Make your Bag Flap and Pocket

Fold the pocket piece in half with the right sides together to make a rectangle that measures 6” x 8½” and pin into place. Sew along both short edges, leaving the bottom open.

Place the two bag flap pieces right sides together and pin into place. Sew around three sides, leaving to top open.

Clip corners and turn. Use a pointy ended chop stick or paintbrush to gently ease the corners out.

Top stitch along the top of the pocket, and around the sides and bottom of the bag flap.

Step 3 – Strap Construction

Fold the long, short and loop straps in half lengthwise with the right sides together and stitch along the long edges with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Turn the straps right sides out and press with the seam along one side.

Topstitch the long and short straps along both long sides.

Sew three rows of topstitching evenly spaced along the centre of the straps to create a decorative finish.

Using the short straps and the picture as a guide, thread the fabric through the end of the looploc or D ring so that the ends meet. Pin into place. Sew two rows of stitching as close to the looploc or D ring as possible to secure the double thickness of fabric. (I forgot to topstitch the straps on this photo.)

Construct your large straps by threading the fabric through the slide adjuster as shown.

Using the pictures as reference, fold the edge of the strap under, covering the raw edge and pin into place.

Top stitch across the raw edge, then up the side for ½ inch, back across the top, and then down ½ inch to form a stitched rectangle that will secure the fabric into place.

Step 4 – Bag Construction
Find the centre of your bag front panel and the pocket. Match this point and pin the pocket to the front of the bag panel.

Sew the two sides of the pocket to the front bag panel leaving the top open.

Sew the bag front base to the bag front panel with right sides together and open out as shown. Press the seam toward the bottom of the bag.

Place the short straps 1” from each long edge and pin into place.

Sew the back bag base to the back panel right sides together, sandwiching the straps between the layers as you sew. Open out as shown. Press the seam toward the bottom of the bag. Pin the short straps out of the way of the seam allowance.

Matching the seams, sew the bag front panel to the back panel along one side. Press. Open the bag up and top stitch along the edge of the bag base (pink spot fabric). This will help anchor the straps into place. Sew the remaining side edge of the bag together to form a tube shape.

Find the centre of the bag, by folding it in half and matching the seams. Using the picture as a guide, refold the bag, and pin the centres together. Sew along the base of the bag.

To form the bottom of the bag, fold the side seam across the bottom so it forms a triangle.

Mark, then sew across the triangle where the edge measures 4½” across. Repeat on the other side. Trim the corners. This will create a box shaped base to the bag.

Step 5 – Lining

Construct the bag lining using the same method as the bag, leaving a 4” gap in one side for turning.

Step 6 – Add a Base

Sew the two strips of your bag base together by stitching around the outside.

Turn the bag inside out, and attach the base by hand stitching the bag base to the seam allowance so the base will sit in the box shaped base of the bag.

Step 7 – Attach the Straps

Using the pictures as a guide, thread your straps. With the wrong side of the slide adjuster facing upwards, thread the long end of the strap under the looploc or D ring.

Take it over the looploc then up and under the slide adjuster, finishing with the raw ends of the straps at the top of the bag.

Find the centre of the bag back and pin the straps to either side of this point. Ensure that there are no twists in the straps before you pin.

Pin the ends of the bag loop to either side of the bag straps. Baste the straps to the bag by stitching them into place with a â…› seam allowance

Step 8 – Finish the Bag

Find the centre of the bag flap and match this point with the centre of the bag back. Pin, then baste to the bag by stitching it into place with a â…› seam allowance.

Make your casing by turning the ends over ¼ inch and pressing. Turn over another ¼ inch and press. Sew across the ends. Fold the casing in half lengthwise with the wrong side facing the inside of the casing.

Find the centre of the bag flap and the middle of the casing. Pin together.

Keep pinning the casing around the bag until the casing reaches the centre front. Baste into place.

Place the bag inside the bag lining with the right sides facing and the top edges and seams aligned. As the bag has several layers, I change to a walking foot. Stitch around the top of the bag.

Turn the bag right way out though the gap in the lining. Push the lining into the bag and press. Top stitch around the outside of the bag, keeping the straps and flap pushed forward and out of the way.

Make or buy a drawstring. I made a strip of binding measuring 90 cm, folded in half. Sew along the long edge. Knot the ends. Thread the drawstring through the casing, and secure it with a few stitches by sewing across the casing at the back of the bag. This is will stop the drawstring from pulling out and getting lost.

Give your bag a good press and slip stitch the opening closed. Ready for school ~ Let’s Go!

Let’s Go! Robot Variation

Extras you will need:

  • Small amount of Visofix or Wonder Under and scraps of fabric and thread for the appliqué
  • Buttons for eyes and decoration
  • Appliqué pattern
    From Fabric A (Green):

  • 4 x 2” squares – ears
    From the Medium Interfacing:

  • 2 x 1½” squares – ears

Getting Started:
Print your pattern and print out your appliqué template.

Onto Visofix or Wonder Under, trace the appliqué pieces leaving a gap between each shape for cutting out. Following the manufacturer’s directions fuse the Visofix or Wonder Under to the wrong side of the fabric scraps. Cut around the shapes.

Step 1 – Adding the Appliqué Shapes

Fold pocket piece in half as shown. Using the photo as a guide, iron the appliqués into place using a warm dry iron. Don’t forget to leave a seam allowance.

Appliqué the shapes using your favourite method. I used 2 strands of matching thread and the button hole stitch technique. Sew some buttons on to decorate your face and pocket.

Step 2 – Making the Bag Flap and Pocket
Make your robot some ears by sewing together two pairs of green 2” squares, each with a piece with interfacing.

Leave the bottom open for turning and clip the corners before turning.

Press your ears and top stitch around the outside. I have added another row of stitching a quarter of an inch inside the first row.

Pin each ear 2” down from the top of the robot head and pin into place. Align the edges of the second bag flap piece and pin into place. Sew around three sides, leaving the top open.

Clip corners and turn. Use a pointy ended chop stick or paintbrush to gently ease the corners out.

Top stitch along the top of the pocket, and around the sides and bottom of the robot head bag flap.

Follow the instructions in “Let’s Go!” above to complete your robot backpack.

Visit and comment every day in August to win a new, Back to School sewing pattern!