The annual backpack. It started when The Peanut began preschool at the tiny age of two and half, I wanted to send her with something reminiscent of my favorite school bag ever, a yellow, Snoopy-adorned satchel. I couldn't find anything like it, so I decided to sew one. It was supposed to get her through the preschool years, but she had trouble opening it herself. So the next year I sewed a more traditional, if little-kid sized backpack. And that one was supposed to get her to kindergarten. But then she started a second program the following year which required a tote bag. And that is how the school bag accidentally became an annual tradition. One which I now plan to continue for as long as she'll let me.
|She chose the chevron all by herself from the entire wall of Outdoor Fabrics at Joann Fabrics. I chose the yellow.|
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The school supply list for kindergarten specifies a "backpack big enough for a large library book." The pattern I used two years ago is not that big. But I like the details and the construction. So I took The Peanut to LL Bean and Pottery Barn kids where we tried on backpacks until we found a good size for her back and for large library books: 12 x 5 x 15. Then I snapped a pic of the label to note the size and we left empty-handed. We do a lot of this kind of "window shopping" these days.
|Those straps are contoured and foam-padded, thankyouverymuch.|
The old, smaller backpack never really opened wide enough for The Peanut to master getting her things in and out on her own. Therefore when I extended the height on the pattern, I kept the old height of the side panels and added three inches to the top and two inches to the width (and one inch to the depth), and I also re-drafted the top to be less round. This meant carefully measuring and calculating the new top/zipper portion of the backpack. I used a flexible, curve drafting ruler [Amazon affiliate link] to measure the original pattern and when I understood how the zipper portion was calculated, I repeated the measuring and calculating on my new pattern. Happily it worked on the first attempt.
I also kept the height of the front pockets from the original pattern and ...I sort of regret that. I think the proportions aren't as nice now (makes a mental note to adjust that piece taller for next year). I may yet add a patch with her initial above the pockets to balance the look of the bag.
|I love the front two pockets, but they were never used on the previous backpack. I'll be curious if these see any use.|
But! I had grand success with the straps. The pattern calls for batting but I had foam on hand (from a robot costume), however the foam sticks to itself so it becomes impossible to turn. On the older backpack I opted to simply make a fabric/foam/fabric sandwich, cut off the seam-allowance and bias bind the sides. This year I figured out that basting a piece of quilting cotton on top of the foam meant the foam couldn't stick to itself and the quilting cotton slid easily, okay not easily, but slid and I was able to turn the straps.
But by far the best part of making this fourth school bag was using Clover Wonder Clips [Amazon affiliate link] for the first time instead of pins. Where have these things been all my (sewing) life?! Seriously rocked my world. And I highly recommend them for anyone doing any kind of heavy duty/thick sewing. Also, I only broke one needle this year -- I tend to push the thick stuff through, instead of letting the machine do the work -- and that's a record for me. Probably because for the first time I completed it over a week in advance (instead of 12 hours before the school bell).
|I love the all-yellow interior, bright and hopefully easy to find things.|
LoveThe double pockets on the front (one with a zip, and behind that another one with velcro) and the name window inside the bag. And the pops of yellow. Also those foam padded straps!
NotesI still prefer the way the pockets hit higher on the front of the bag in the original pattern. Paired with the rounder top, it's a sweeter look.
|A certain kindergartner thought the backpack would look better for my pics if it had some things in it. "I'm testing it out," she declared. You can see her blurry hand in the upper right as she adds more.|
Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.
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