Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Old Backpack Make Over

Backpack make over front and back

Does your child want the latest and greatest themed backpack? If you are like me you will look at the licensed backpacks and think they won’t hold up for a full year of use. They just aren’t made to last. This makeover is part of my son’s request to have a Clone Wars backpack to go along with his lunch bag and thermos. This has turned into a make over of an old backpack because my sister sent him a brand new dinosaur backpack. Which he also loves. I already had what I needed for this make over so I forged ahead. This will be a fun backpack for any other time.

1 fabric for the straps

1. I ran into a snag with this project. They don’t make Clone Wars Fabric or at least I couldn’t find any around here or on line. You can get vintage Star Wars Fabric but not Clone Wars. I found this space fabric to cover the straps with. You don’t need a lot of fabric for this. A fat quarter will be more than enough.

2. Measure the width of your straps. For my Jansport backpack I cut two 5 inch wide strips of fabric. I doubled the measurement of the front side of the strap, added 1/2 inch for the thickness and another 1/2 inch for seam allowance.

3. Fold down one edge of the short side and sew.

4. Fold down the opposite side and sew. You will want the finished size to be 12 inches end to end or however long your need it to cover your strap. I am leaving a space up at the top of the strap uncovered to make it easier to sew the tube to the strap.

5. Fold wrong sides together and sew down the length of the fabric to create a tube. Turn right side out.

2 Sew tube onto strap

6. Slip the tube over the strap. Position the seam on the tube with the underside of the strap where the center stitch runs down the strap.

7. Position the bottom of the tube at the point where the strap starts to taper. Sew along the stitching you made when you sewed the end of the fabric.

3 sew top of tube to strap

8. Sew the top of the tube just as you did the bottom.

4 sew down the middle of strap

9. The original strap to the backpack already had a seam sewn down the center of the strap. Follow the same line to stitch up the center of the strap.

5 before and after strap cover

I love how simple this is and how it turns a plain backpack into something so much more. With all the fun fabrics out there, you could really have fun making over your child’s backpack. Oh, if I had a girl I would be getting those fun dot patterned fabrics. You know the ones where it is circles inside of circles in fun bright colors. I could seriously go to town. Boys on the other hand are more subdued and are more likely to like it if it has their favorite Character on it.

6 two new straps

This concludes the strap make over


On to the front side.

I looked high and low for Clone Wars fabric and could not find anything other than sheet sets. Even the pattern on the sheet sets were too large for what I had in mind. Since I was not to be swayed from my end goal, I purchased some printable fabric. You can get this at a fabric or craft store.

1 print out image on printable fabric sheets

1. Go on line and do a Google search “Clone Wars pictures.” Save several images. Some of them won’t be high enough resolution for this. Use your photo editing software to crop and resize the pictures. Test out the resolution by printing them out on plain paper. I printed out 3 options and let my son choose which one he liked the best.

2. Follow the instructions for printing on the fabric. You will be amazed at how well it turns out. You have to let it dry for 24 hours and then peel the backing off and rinse any excess ink off the fabric.

2 iron on Heat n Bond

3. Once the fabric is dry cut a piece of Heat N Bond sew or no sew webbing to fit the back of your picture.

4. Iron on to the back of your picture according to the package directions.

3 trim edges

5. Once it has had time to cool use a straight edge and rolling cutter to trim the excess fabric off.

4 iron picture onto backpack

6. Unzip the main compartment of the back pack and slip it over your ironing board. I then slipped a cutting board into the pocket behind my image to eliminate bumps from pocket dividers inside the backpack.

5 stitch around the edge for extra measure

7. Confession time….. Originally I wanted to sew around the edge of the picture but realized I wouldn’t be able to sew the bottom edge with my machine. I decided to use the no-sew Heat-N-Bond thinking it might be enough to hold the image on the back pack. My gut told me that I needed to sew the image on after ironing it on. The printable fabric and the backpack fabric are very different. The bottom edge of my image started to come up right away. The bottom line here is that you will still need to sew around the edge. The Heat-N-Bond made the picture fabric stiff and didn’t seem to go into the backpack fabric at all. The lesson here is…..Don’t let it win! :)

8. Hand stitch in an “X” pattern all the way around the image to hold it in place. Because there is no way you will get this far and not have it work!!!!

6 Backpack makeover complete

All in all, 1/2 yard of material was about $2.50 and, with a 40% off coupon, the printable fabric was something like $6.50 for 10-8.5 x 11 inch sheets. I cut off the bottom portion of the sheet I printed on and will use it for a smaller project down the road. I had the Shrinky Dink sheets from a previous project. Go see my "Clone Wars Backpack and Lunch Name Tags" post to see how I made the tag on the upper zipper. All in all I spent less than I would have if I had bought the cheap licensed backpack and recycled an old one that is still in GREAT condition. Many backpacks out there will run close to $30. I spent less AND I have left over printable fabric sheets for lots more projects down the road. Because I bought 1/2 a yard of fabric I have some left over for something else………….a book cover or a reusable snack bag or something.

It wouldn’t be hard to restyle it again in the future. I would just remove the picture on the front and recover the straps again. The one thing I LOVE about suede bottom backpacks is that they last FOREVER!!



erika said...

Cute idea!

Regina said...

Awesome makeover - and what a great idea on printing your own image.

twinkle teaches said...

So cool and so easy! You girls are so smart! :) tina

Anonymous said...

This is sheer brilliance! I've been trying to decide on a backpack for my daughter, I may go with customizing one. Thanks for the tutorial!

Lillian J. Banks said...

So Awesome- thanks for sharing ;)

Tiffany said...

Brilliant! Can I feature it on my blog? Please let me know if this is a problem, or if you have specific requirements I need to follow. I would just post a photo and quick description (like what's used on Totally Tutorials), and link straight here. Thanks!

CRUMBS said...

I love this! I did a similar project for my son, using my old backpack from college. You can check it out on my blog

Jessica said...

Hi girls! I just came across your blog and was wondering if you'd be interested in guest posting over at Or So She Says...( We think our readers would love what you have to share! If interested, email Jessica at and I will send you the info- we'd love to have you!
We've been looking for some great back to school ideas- you guys have tons!

Jaimee @ Havenwood House of Boys said...

I saw a few of your posts on Tip Junkie today in back-to-school stuff. LOVE your ideas!! I shared this backpack makeover and your shrinky dink tags on my crafty facebook page : )
Jaimee @

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