Dear Diary, Week 2 of playing with the machine embroidery functions on the Janome Skyline S9 has been so fun! I’ve written a brand new beginner friendly tutorial for a simple lined Drawstring Backpack today. (Plus have one very happy girl who gets to use it!) This bag makes a quick gift and you don’t need an embroidery machine to sew one up.

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada

Ever since Janome asked me to be one of their Artisans I’ve had the amazing chance to try out their Skyline series machines. I’d love so much to be able to let you try them too – but I’ll have to settle with telling you about them instead. Through today’s free Backpack tutorial I’ll be showing you the Skyline S9 – just released a few months ago! Here are a few exciting features I’ll be highlighting:

  • Tapering – automatic settings to create unique designs with decorative stitching
  • AcuSetter app – Amazing super-simple to use Apple app designed to allow for crazy-exact embroidery design placement. Check out the machine embroidery section of the tutorial for more details.  (Trust me, I was grinning like crazy when I used it!)

The Sewing Diaries: Embroidery Edition started last week with an introduction to how machine embroidery works with videos and lots of photos.

On with the tutorial…

Why a Drawstring Backpack? My 4th grader needs a change of clothes for gym class and asked for a bag to put them in – the perfect project for some machine embroidery and embellishment! She chose the design and the colours. (Still enamoured with pink!) I would have loved to use another Anna Maria Horner butterfly design in blue, pink and teal…. but you don’t argue with the 9-year-old. I’ve learned that she loves things she designs. When I don’t ask and make the decisions, handmade items tend to sit around unused.

Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

This lined backpack is easy to make and wear. It lends itself to all kinds of fabrics and embellishments – machine embroidery, hand stitching or applique! Of course you could use that gorgeous fabric you’ve been saving and skip the extras too. Using only 1 yard of fabric in total, the finished size is about 17″ x 14″. The straps are fully adjustable to fit anyone from a child to an adult.

This tutorial will assume you are machine embroidering your backpack. You can also add your own embellishments, omiting the parts of the tutorial that you do not need.

As usual, please feel free to use my patterns/tutorials for your personal projects and gifts and for charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything sewn with this pattern. If you are interested in making this item for sale, please contact me and I will set up a license for it in the shop. Thank you!



  • 1/2 yard/metre outer fabric
  • 1/2 yard/metre lining fabric (I used outdoor slicker fabric I had on hand)
  • 160″ total (about 4 1/2 yards) 1/2″ ribbon, clothesline or double-fold bias tape
  • Two 1″ grommets
  • machine embroidery supplies such as stabilizer, appropriate needles, and thread

Prep and Cutting:

  1. If you will be washing this bag, prewash and press it before beginning to avoid shrinking the fabric later on.
  2. Cut the outer and lining. You will need one piece cut to 30″ wide by 18″ high.
  3. Prepare the straps by cutting your bias tape/ribbon or clothesline rope into two equal pieces 80″ long each.
  4. Mark the outer fabric as indicated below: 
  1. Stitch a 3/4″ buttonhole in the area indicated on the diagram above. This will be where the straps feed through the casing.

Decorative Stitching (with the tapering feature!):

My girl loves frills and so I decided to add some stitching near the top to simulate frills and lace. Just to make it prettier!

  1. Choose your stitches. I wanted to play with the tapering feature on the S9. You can choose from any of the purple marked stitches on the machine and it will automatically taper the stitching for you using several angles. This would be great for the ends of collars or a tapered space like the angle on a sash.
  2. Mark a line on the bag outer that is parallel to the top of the bag – you will use this to keep your stitching straight. Add a line of stabilizer behind your stitching line. This will not show, so you can use any type you’d like.
  3. Set up your stitches. I chose an heirloom stitch with a 30 degree angle on each end to make the stitching look lacy and “ruffled”.
  4. Begin stitching and the S9 will automatically taper the beginning of the stitch. When you wish to start the ending taper, press the auto-lock button.
  5. The machine will memorize the stitched length and ask you if you’d like to repeat it. I used this repeat function to stitch to the other side of the bag.
  6. I added a few other stitches. It was really handy to attach and use the guide bar to keep everything straight.
  7. Here are the finished stitches, along with a few practice ones I made.
Machine Embroidery (using the AcuSetter app):
  1. Choose and set up the design you would like on the machine.
  2. Mark the center of your design on the fabric and hoop it. I did not center the hoop on purpose to show you the AcuSetter app. This app is free for Apple users – and Janome loaned me an iPad mini so I could use it. It’s absolutely amazing!
  3. “Recieve” the design from the machine – it will show up right on your screen!
  4. Take a photo of the hooped fabric within the app. Match up the small black lines using the magnifying circle in the center.
  5. The design from your sewing machine shows up on the photograph for reference. You can move things around and resize it if you want! I tilted the heart and lined it up the center markings I made earlier.
  6. Send the design back to the machine. It is automatically precicly placed exactly where you want it!
  7. Run the machine to embroider your design. This heart took about 19 minutes + threading time and has 7 different colours!
  8. Adding a Monogram exactly where you want is easy with the same steps. Program the monogram, hoop the fabric, receive the design, line it up and send the design back to the machine. Now, embroider it in the exact place you put it!

Sew the Backpack:

  1.  Change the machine from Embroidery mode to Sewing mode. Press the toggle button on the LCD screen and close the embroidery arm.
  2. Match the top edge of the outer and lining with right sides together. Pin and stitch with a 1/4″ seam. Finish the raw edge if desired with serging, zig-zag stitch or pinking shears.
  3. Open flat and press the seam allowance towards the lining. I used low heat because the slicker fabric melts easily.
  4. Fold the lining and outer right sides together matching the sides and the seam you just sewed. The outer and lining sides will match up with themselves. Stitch with a 1/2″ seam and finish the raw edges if desired.
  5. Fold the lining into the outer with wrong sides together, creating a tube. Press and pin along the finished seamline and match the bottom raw edges.
  6. Edgestitch along the pinned edge about 1/8″ away from the fold. Also stitch along the pre-marked line (aprox. 1 1/4″ down from the top edge) to create the casing.
  7. The buttonholes should be centered from top to bottom within the casing.
  8. Turn the bag wrong side out and align all 4 raw edges. Flatten and pin the bag bottom with the back seam centered on the back of the bag. Stitch through all 4 layers with a 1/2″ seam. Trim to 1/4″ and finish the raw edges if desired.
  9. Turn the bag right side out again. Push out the bottom edge and the corners and press well. Mark 2″ out from each corner and connect the lines to create a triangle in each corner. Also mark a stitching line 1/2″ up from the bottom fold. Stitch on the marked lines to enclose the raw edge and create a sturdy corner for the grommets.
  10. Attach the grommets in the center of each stitched triangle as per the manufacturer’s directions.
  11. Insert one strap through the right buttonhole, around the entire casing and out the same buttonhole. Match the right side strap ends and bring them through the grommet from the back. Knot to hold in place.
  12. Insert the other strap through the left buttonhole, around the entire casing and out the same buttonhole. Match the left side strap ends and bring them through the grommet from the back. Knot to hold in place.
  13. Fray-check or finish strap ends if desired. They can be re-knotted at any length appropriate to the wearer. Remove all markings and press well.

Enjoy your new Drawstring Backpack!


I’d love to see your project! You can share your project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!