Back to School Idea ~ Satchel Nature Kit

on August 31 | in Sewing Inspiration | by | with 16 Comments

Kelly from joins us today to talk about her Back to School Nature Kit idea. Kelly created a satchel with some special added features, and equipped her daughter with the tools she’d need for outdoor exploration. Learn more about Kelly in her introduction. Below you’ll also find links to some of our favorite related tutorials so you can take Kelly’s idea and make it your own!

From Kelly: Since my daughter was very wee she’s had a gentle interest in the natural world– and when it comes to local flora and fauna, flowers, insects, and small wild creatures still capture her attention. Some of the most lovely blooms and busiest bugs are out this time of year, so for our “back to school” Sew,Mama,Sew! project (we are homeschoolers) I thought to make her a custom-satchel with exactly what she might want on a nature walk, complete with custom pockets and carrying versatility.

Pressing plants and flowers is actually quite easy; what one needs are the tools to bring home intact, non-bruised samples and (if you like) resources to help identify your findings. Included in what I began calling the “Naturalist’s Satchel” are the following:

As for the construction of the bag, I was inspired by a Kwik Sew pattern (# 3687). Originally designed as a flat-satchel backpack with simple tie-loops (rather than all those black plastic rings and fittings), my children have sometimes tied the straps together to wear it cross-body, and sometimes worn it in “backpack” configuration. I decided to adopt a similar set-up.

Once I stacked up the assembled supplies to get an idea of the volume of the satchel, it was easy to sketch a box-style construction (adding a 1/2″ seam allowance to all edges, since there are no fancy hem allowances, etc.) and design specialized pockets. I created a large flat pocket for the notebook and workbooks, and elastic holders to secure the bulkier water bottle and sample jar:

My favorite details are the strap stitching and loop ties:

When I gave my daughter her present she immediately grasped the import of this and called a friend for a “nature walk.” I walked partway with her to snap a few photos.

Phoenix observes a spider “preparing for a feast”:

Off on a secluded path she found herself (that I didn’t know about until now):

Specimens of note on today’s walk are the beautiful purple and gold flowers of the European bittersweet, a lovely and common enough bloom to be found in these parts (sometimes tangentially referred to as deadly nightshade) which is listed by Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast as “moderately poisonous to humans and livestock.”

Remember: Make sure you have permission if you want something from someone’s private property!

Want to make your own satchel for exploration? Here are a few of our favorite tutorials for messenger bags, easy backpacks and more. Incorporate some of Kelly’s ideas and you’ll be set!:

Today’s the LAST DAY to enter to WIN A SERGER. Enter our contest TODAY for your chance to win a Husqvarna Viking s21 Serger (retail value $1199)!

Pin It

Related Posts

16 Responses to Back to School Idea ~ Satchel Nature Kit

  1. Kelly says:

    My daughter picked it herself! I gave her a different name when she was born but she changed it. Go girl!

  2. Shelly says:

    Love this idea!
    The boys will have a great time
    with their own personal nature bags!
    Thanks Kelly!

  3. Andrea says:

    My son’s name is Phoenix – love that name!

  4. Kelly says:

    Hello – original poster here! Thank you for your compliments. We have our first set of samples being pressed on my kitchen counter. 🙂

    The kimono top pattern my daughter is wearing is Little Woo by Patterns by Figgy’s. You can buy it here at Sew Mama Sew or at the PBF site. I love their patterns and I personally know and have met and love the PBF business owners. Wonderful people!

  5. jes says:


  6. Marcia W. says:

    Great idea for a gift

  7. Colleen Butler says:

    Thank you for the great tutorial. Its a wonderful idea for my nieces and nephews!

  8. Stacey says:

    What a wonderful gift this will be for me to put together for the explorers I know and love!

  9. Sarah Z. says:

    Lovely customized project. Phoenix is a sweetie. Being in the Pacific Northwest, don’t forget to get a little ‘Rite in the Rain’ brand notebook- they come in several sizes. They are wonderful for sketching and notetaking with pencil and not worrying about soggy paper.
    I, too, would love to know what pattern that adorable top came from!

  10. angelina says:

    thanks guys.
    i love the links.
    ps. i love the girls kimono top too! xo

  11. Linda says:

    What a great idea! My grandson lives in a rural area of Missouri and one of these kits would be perfect for him. Thanks for the great tips.

  12. larissa says:

    hey, y’all! thanks for the shout out for the messenger bag tute and as always thanks for the continually inspiring content!

  13. Alyssa says:

    Thank you soo much, I am needing to make my son his backpack for preschool.

  14. Sima says:

    Kelly! How awesome to see you featured here! You have so much to share 🙂

  15. kate says:

    Such an incredibly cute idea! I want a Nature Satchel for myself! 🙂

  16. Wendy says:

    What a great project! Thanks for sharing!

« »

Subscribe to the newsletter

Sewing inspiration, projects, events and offers delivered conveniently to your email.


Get the latest news via