Sunday, August 24, 2008

it's a cinch! easy bags for back to school

Technically back-to-school week ended Friday, but we've decided to give you some extra-credit homework! So here's one more chance to link us to your blog and leave us a comment for a chance to win something from every post this week. We'll post our winner on Tuesday!

We couldn't resist creating a tutorial for seriously simple drawstring backpacks. I made one for myself to take instead of my purse on major outings with the kids (then I have my hands free to catch them when they take off running, which they frequently do). The coolest part? Both of these easy bags are made from a pillowcase! Yes, this is our third post regarding pillowcases. I cannot explain our obsession. Maybe it's that half the sewing is done for you, and we're into quick and easy. Or maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me I need more sleep!

It can be hard to find cute pillowcases sold separately from sheet sets. But I discovered something this summer. Target sells a "college" line each year that includes single pillowcases in fun prints! Plus, they are two-sided. Not reversible, but each side has a different print, which means the inside of your backpack will have a different but coordinating lining! Just another reason I heart Target.

Pillowcase Backpack Tutorial

What you'll need:
*Rotary cutter & mat or scissors
*About 3 yards coordinating ribbon or single-fold bias tape, cut into two 1.5 yard pieces
*Two large eyelets or fabric gromets and something to set them
*Sewing machine and matching thread

Let the fun begin!

1. Iron your pillowcase so there are no fold lines.

2. Fold your pillowcase in half width-wise.

3. Trim off about 1/4" of folded edge so you have two separate pieces.

4. Iron a 1/4" hem on each of the two cut sides.
5. Sew down the outside of both hems.

6. Iron a hem on the top of each piece wide enough to hold your ribbon or bias tape plus a little. Mine was about 1.5" to accomodate my 1" wide ribbon. Sew along outside edge of hems to create drawstring space.
(Please try not to notice my crooked sewing! I fixed it but forgot to take a new picture!)

7. I used a Crop-A-Dile to punch holes and set the large eyelets about 1.5" from the bottom and 1.5" from the side. This is where your drawstring (ribbon or bias tape) will connect to make the straps. You could also use a fabric grommet kit.

8. Set your eyelet as tight as possible. Make sure the "cute" side of the eyelet is on the outside of the bag.This is what it looks like from the inside.

9. Pin the two pieces right-sides together. Sew down the sides and across the bottom to make the bag.
Don't sew over the openings for your drawstring ribbon!

10. Turn your bag right-side out. Now it's starting to look like a backpack!

11. If using bias tape for your straps instead of ribbon, sew a zig-zag stitch down the entire length of the tape to keep it folded. Now, secure a safety pin on the end of your ribbon or bias tape.

12. Thread the ribbon with the safety pin through the opening, starting with one side then going through the both openings on the opposite side, and making your way back to the other opening on the first side. In other words, your first piece of ribbon should make a full circle.

13. Repeat with other piece of ribbon or tape starting with the opposite side.
When you're finished, you should have two tails coming from each side, and if pulled, they should "cinch" the sack.

14. Cut the ribbon or tape on a angle and pass both ends through the eyelet from the outside of the bag to the inside. Repeat for other strap. Cinch the sack and carefully try the bag on to make sure the straps are long enough. Adjust if necessary.

15. Turn the bag inside out and pull the ribbon through far enough to tie a knot. Repeat on other side.

16. Turn your bag right-side out again and ta-da! You have a darling drawstring backpack! Now wasn't that easy? That's what I thought.
I used the single-fold bias tape for this bag. Bias tape comes in so many colors that it's perfect for this project.

Want an even easier and cheaper pillowcase bag? Check out this "sleeper of a bag" tutorial we found on It's basically a pillowcase cut in half diagonally and then sewn together. The straps are just tied in a knot at the top. If you use one of the Target two-sided cases, your bag will have two different prints on each side.

These are fun for school, and also great to have on hand for sleepovers and field trips!

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17 Responses to “it's a cinch! easy bags for back to school”

Anonymous said...

Wow.. You work so hard!!!!! I just make cards!!!!! hehe..

Michelle said...

Been loving your tutorials! Thanks so much!

I posted a link on my blog: said...

What an elegant project and a WELL DONE tutorial. I love it! I'll be linking to this in the Daily DIY today.

Anonymous said...

Love this and have linked from my blog. Might make these with the children once we're back at Montessori school in Advanced Practical Life :)

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Loving your site (just came over from craftzine) and your straightforward and adorable tutorials!! Thanks for sharing your craftiness. I hope to get to try several of your ideas sometime soon!

Eternal Sunshine said...

What a cute idea! I live this!!

Lisita said...

Really adorable bags!

jacquie said...

love this idea. i think it would be cute from some vintage pillow cases that i've been saving. thanks!

Heidi Boos said...

So cute and beautiful choice of pillowcase. I heart Target, too!

Anonymous said...

My girls will love these, Thanks for the great idea!

Casey said...

good idea to use a pillowcase! I have a couple laying around that I could use for this

AbundNaishaMaliq said...

Great and lovely blog.I really like so much and very informative... your tutorial inspired me .. I LOVE so much

Lesli and Rebecca said...

I linked to your pillowcase backpack project on my blog at project is day 4 of our Purse Week.

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

Simon Smith said...

If you give what can be taken, you are not really giving. Take what you are given, not what you want to be given. Give what cannot be taken. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2010

Anonymous said...

Nice blog having informative and useful information for users, very nice, keep the chin up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story you got here. It would be great to read something more concerning this topic.
BTW look at the design I've made myself High class escort

Unknown said...

So cute I think I am ging to try making it out of a pillow case that has a lace around the opening to see how it turns out

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