Creative articles about sewing

School Backpack – free pattern and tutorial (1/2)

Hello Bernina Lovers,

With a few months ahead of us before school starts again, I wanted to share with you this Backpack DIY tutorial, so you have enough time to make the perfect bag for your child.

I decided to make one for my daughter, and what a better idea than to share this pattern and tutorial with you.

The backpack not only is beautiful but also sturdy, for she has been using it for months and it’s still alive (I can’t believe it šŸ˜‚).

I am dividing this tutorial in 2 parts, the first one (the one you are actually reading) where I’ll show you how to make the outside of the backpack. And a second one, next week, where I’ll show you how to make the interior and sew all together to finish this beautiful school backpack.

Ready to start sewing a School Backpack?

Just follow the below steps. You’ll have to trace the pattern that you’ll find below directly in the fabric.

School backpack, materials needed:

Fabric needed: about 1,50 m X 1,50 m for the exterior and interior pocket (the red fabric you see in the picture below) and about 1 m X 1,20 m for the interior

2 zippers: one of 85-90 cm and the other one 45-50 cm


Webbing Buckles and sliding bars  

Pattern pieces

I used oilcloth for this backpack since I love it and it is more rainy weather friendly ;-).

For the interior, I chose a white fabric with stars (I didn’t have enough fabric of the same so I mixed 2 different stars fabric that I had in my fabric stash.)

I decided to go with turquoise zippers and piping.

Let’s begin with the outer pieces of the backpack. Ready? Go!

Outer Pocket

Start with the outer pocket, putting the bias tape on the top edge. Piece 1.

Then, sew together the thinner part of the pocket (outside fabric) and the lining. Pieces 2 and 3.

Place the outer part on top of the new piece, as shown below, and sew the side together, at 5 mm.

Sew the zipper onto piece number 4, wrong side of the fabric to the zipper. Topstitch it.

Add the bottom piece of the pocket. Sewing right sides together. Piece 5.

Now you have the pocket finished. With an outer pocket and a zipped one!

Top stitch the bottom piece on top of the zipper and upper piece, see picture below.

Fold the seam allowance inside (if you are using normal cotton fabric you can iron it to create a crease; if you are using oilcloth, avoid the iron! šŸ˜‰ )

Pin the pocket in place and top stitch it, from the right side, as close to the edges of the pocket as possible.

The main body

Sew the long zipper to the top piece of the backpack. Piece number 6 of the pattern.

Top stitch is from the outside, covering the zipper.

Then, sew it to the main body of the backpack as shown below. If you want to do rounded corners at the top, follow that version of the pattern.

Close the zipper.

Add the batting to the bottom piece. Piece number 7.

Sew the bottom to the main body of the backpack. Once finished, top stitch the sides as you did before on the outer pocket.

Constructing the straps.

Now, let’s make the straps.

Place the straps batting in between 2 pieces of the fabric straps. Piece number 10. Pin them and sew the bias tape all around. Make 2 straps.

Place the webbing inside the sliding bar and top stitch it to the bottom of the backpack.

Sew the other part of the webbing (that you put through the sliding bar) to the strap bottom.

Place the straps against the backpack back, right sides together. Pin them tightly.

Sew the back piece (number 8) of the backpack to the main body, right sides together. Make sure the straps are inside and only the top edges can be slightly seen.

If you want add a handle at the top, now it is the time. Sew a strap on the front and another one of the same size at the back.

The inner backpack is coming in a few days, stay tuned…

Now, you’ll have to sew the lining to the backpack outside. And for that, I’ll continue this series of backpack sewing tutorial next week so that it is easier to follow it.

There are many steps in this project so go ahead with making the outside of the backpack and I’ll see you next week!

Here is what we’ll have then!


Free sewing instructions: School Backpack

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time to Complete: Weekend
Used Products:
Zipper Foot #4
Zipper Foot #4

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  • Judith Ottley EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    The top side piece no 6 is 15 wide although the bottom piece no 7 is 12 wide. Is this correct as they dont line up, and you arent clear in your instructions what to do with the extra width.

  • Cissi L EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Hi,Are the seam allowances included in the patterns? If so how much are they?

    • Amaia Arana EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Hello Louise, You’ll find the pattern pieces and their measurements in the first picture of the article.

      You’ll have to trace those pieces on the fabric directly. Measurements are given in cm.

      Hope this helps! Shoot me if you need any help!

      Cheers, Amaia

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