So I’m sure you all have heard of this blog called Made by Rae (ha!), who hasn’t! And also, Rae’s Toddler Backpack pattern?! How boring of me to post something so common you say? True maybe, but I have a few ideas to share and a flapped pocket tutorial & pattern for you that could work on any purse or bag, but was originally sized for the Toddler Backpack.

Made by Rae – Toddler Backpack

I started the journey to this backpack by trying to find something “quick” to make for a newly-turned-1-year-old’s birthday. I did not like any of my ideas until I was searching through my patterns and found my well-loved copy of the Toddler Backpack pattern.  I started out making one for my oldest when she was just under two, and have since made one for each of my nephews and a larger one for my youngest as well.

The pattern turns out so well, and is super-cute. My kids love filling it up too, and it is perfect for day-care or dropping them off at Grandma & Grandpa’s for the day. I was a bit hesitant to use it for this project because the original pattern did not come with a lining, and there was only “so much time” to make it, never mind hand-stitch the lining to the zipper. (Yes, it is true, it wouldn’t have taken that long – but I really don’t like handstitching!)

Rae has since included a section on lining the pack – and on how to make it a bit taller to fit most school-size folders. Still, I didn’t want to create an extra lining because it would involve sewing twice as many seams. (Yes, I really was that lazy in a hurry!) For the sake of my not photographing the process, I will run down the steps I took to line the inside.

  1. Cut lining pieces for everything as indicated in the instructions.
  2. Stitch the zipper panels together as indicated with one each of the lining and outer, right sides together, zipper tape sandwiched between. Stitch on both sides of the zipper panel. Press and top-stitch.
  3. Attach the side panels to the zipper panels as indicated, but sandwich the zipper panels in-between your lining and outer pieces again and stitch. Press and top-stitch.
  4. Attach the bottom panel by sandwiching it, one short side at a time, between each side’s outer and lining side panels. The second one will be a tad tricky to line up, but pin it and you will be fine.
  5. Turn it all around and you will have a fully lined side loop with raw edges on both sides.
  6. Attach it to the front and back panels as indicated.
  7. Bias tape bind the raw edges.

I also always have added two things to the pattern. First, I always cover the bottom panel in a layer of medium weight clear plastic before quilting it. It makes it a bit sturdier and also keeps it cleaner. I discovered a great way to stitch over plastic on the weekend as well – hurray – as I won’t be needing to spend the $15 on a Teflon foot for my machine anytime soon. I’ll be posting how I did it later in the week.

Bottom Quilted with Plastic

I also always add a pocket on the front. It’s a simple one, with an elastic loop sewn into the front-centre of the pocket flap. I love how it looks and it’s useful for all kinds of things. You can use a dollar store coloured hair-tie for the elastic, so it always matches!

You can download the pocket pattern pieces HERE. (Make sure to print them at 100% – do not choose Fit to Page. Check the 1″ test square once the pattern pieces are printed.) Here is a quick run-down on how to stitch them together:

(1) Cut one Outer, Lining and Interfacing piece for each flap and pocket pattern piece. (2) Fuse the Interfacing to the Outer pieces. (3) Mark as per the pattern pieces. (4) Pin right sides together between stitching marks. (5) Pin the elastic in place where indicated. The part of the elastic that will hold the button should be INSIDE the pocket flap.

(6) Stitch flap and pocket with a 1/4″ seam allowance, right sides together, beginning and ending at the indicated marks. (7) Clip the square corners and trim the curved corners with pinking shears (or clip). (8) Iron the seam allowances open for each pocket or flap opening (this trick). (9) Turn the pocket and flap right side out and press.

(10) Top-stitch the sides and bottom curved edge of the pocket flap – back-stitch over the elastic several times to secure. (11) Top-stitch the top edge (without the opening) of the pocket. (12) Align the pocket on the front of your back-pack. I like to leave an even space around the bottom and sides. Pin & stitch the sides and bottom of the pocket closing the opening as you go. (13) Align the pocket flap 1/2″ to 1″ above the top of the pocket. Stitch the top of the flap, again, closing your opening.

(14) Mark the centre-bottom of the elastic where it lays on your pocket. (15) Stitch your button on. Done!

And, talking about quick, I also omitted the piping. I was sad about that one because it looks so good, my husband even remembered that I usually put it on and asked about it! I just didn’t have any on hand and didn’t have the time to go out and buy some. I also didn’t have any D-rings, so the adjustble straps (which my daughters never adjusted anyhow) were taken out too. With a lined pack (minus sewing double the seams) and the piping and extra strap omitted it was even faster. Thankfully I’m happy with the results, due in part to the Michael Miller Zoology (from my trip to Hamilton) and Spa Scallop fabric! Love that their collections are colour coordinated! Hooray for a quick(er) gift idea!

I’m off to get started on my Project Run and Play idea for this week. Candy inspired here we come! Check out the great ideas already posted for the sew-along.