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Sew Your Best Backpack

You can make the ultimate bag for your next adventure
Threads #225, Spring 2024

A few years ago, my son brought home a well-designed duffel bag he had found at an army/navy surplus store in Britain. The bag looked compact at first glance. On further examination, I discovered it had a huge-capacity pocket folded and zipped so that it could be expanded when necessary and tucked away again when the load was lightened. I had to figure out how to make one for myself.

I didn’t, however, want to make a carbon copy. I wanted to make it smaller, add pockets for my phone and sunglasses, and wear it backpack style. As long as I was making it up myself, I figured I could have exactly what I wanted. Thus began my obsession with cleverly designed, useful bags.

Research and Development

My initial attempt to get the perfect backpack was rough. As I toted it about, I realized there were things that could be improved so it better met my needs.

The author’s multipocket backpack (below) is low-key chic and functional. It has space for every item she needs when traveling, and it converts to a shoulder bag (above). Photo: Mike Yamin.

So, as I refined my preferences for design features, I made new versions. With each iteration, I incorporated what I was learning about my perfect backpack bag. As I created my prototypes, I consulted other bag designs to understand the best construction methods for a tidy and durable finish.

I enjoyed the pursuit of the perfect backpack so much that I made peace with my bag lady persona: I kept tweaking and fussing over the smallest details, loving each new bag for what it had taught me and diving with abandon into the next one.

A Focus on Function

In the world of fashion, bags are chosen for their…

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  1. ca58p | | #1

    I would have liked measurements and a pattern for the bag.

  2. DominiqueQ | | #2

    This looks fantastic! Is it possible to get a step by step guide ?

  3. phanatic | | #3

    I too would love measurements and a pattern for this bag! It's great!

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