How To Make a Canvas Backpack

Backpacks, otherwise known as knapsacks, packsacks, rucksacks or simply packs, are popular means of carrying or transporting just about anything. Depending on their size, material and design, they can carry the lightest of papers and the heaviest of equipment. As such, they are considered a popular and practical choice for students and travelers alike. In the simplest form, it is described as a sack made of cloth with two straps attached and carried on a person’s back.

Canvas is a firm closely woven cloth made of hemp, linen or cotton. Since it is durable and washable, it is an ideal material for making backpacks. Drawstrings on the other hand are the preferred type of bag closure since they easily adjusted to suit different body sizes as well as pack sizes. They are also relatively more sturdy and hassle-free compared to zippers.

Before proceeding to make your personalized canvas drawstring backpack, make sure you have the following items or equipment ready:

  • 1/2-yard canvas material
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Grommet pliers
  • Grommets
  • 2 yards cord

Ready? Just follow these easy steps:

  • Lay the fabric flat on the table. Fold the canvas fabric in half making sure the selvages of your fabric are lined up. Smooth towards the fold. Orient yourself such that the printed side is in, folded side at the bottom, and the open end at the top.
  • Measure about 15 inches from the fold (or more if you want your backpack larger); and measure about 12.5 inches across; add 1 inch seam allowance on all sides.
  • Using a sharp fabric shear and then cut the fabric according to the measurements.
  • Sew the left and right sides of the pack. Leave the top part open.
  • To create a pocket for the drawstring cord, fold the top of the canvas fabric and sew it. Make sure the pocket size is adequate enough for you to insert and move the cord, such that you can tighten or loosen your pack.
  • Now turn the bag inside out, with the printed side finally facing you.
  • Iron the seams.
  • Cut the cord into half. To prevent fraying of loose fiber ends, melt the ends of the cut end of the nylon cord on a stove burner set on medium heat.
  • Carefully thread each half of the cord into the pocket you have created. Tip: To make it easier for you to thread the cord, you may opt to attach a large safety pin in a knot near the end of the cord that will allow you to push it through the pocket.
  • With the help of grommet pliers, punch ¾ inch holes in each of the corners of your bag then subsequently install the grommets.
  • On each side of the bag, string the cord from top to bottom.
  • Wear your backpack on your shoulders to find the right length for you. Then cut the cord to your desired size and sew it.

There you have it – your do-it-yourself canvas drawstring pack! Personalize it further by sewing on your favorite patches or adding more pockets. Hope you enjoy using it!


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