Easy Peasy Drawstring Backpack: free sewing tutorial


Make a lined drawstring backpack! This easy project is perfect for beginners. Quilt weight cotton is what I used. You could also try something heavier for the exterior.

When I first sketched these drawstring backpacks in my little notebook, I wanted to design them entirely out of fabric. Because sometimes I really want to make something without going to the store for special notions. The casings, loops, and drawstrings are all made of fabric. Of course you can substitute ribbon, twill tape, or grommets for the loops. And you could always use bias trim stitched together, ribbon, or rope for the drawstrings. But if you have plenty of fabric in your stash (like me), you will probably appreciate an all-fabric project too.

For more fun projects like this, check out all my free sewing patterns.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Easy Peasy Drawstring Backpack Pattern is included in the blog post below and is free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF pattern for $3 is optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library to access anytime you want? Check it out.

free backpack sewing pattern

And don’t you love a project that you can sew for a boy or a girl? I made my boy’s backpack from Sports Fan by Blend Fabrics. The girly backpack is sewn from The Makers, also from Blend Fabrics. Ask your local quilt shop to carry them, or look for them in the online shops of our sweet site sponsors.

One more great thing about this project is you can sew the backpack from all one fabric, or use 4 or more fabrics like I did.

You will need about 1/2 yard for the exterior, 1/2 yard for the lining, and 1/4 yard for the drawstrings. So let’s start the easy sewing tutorial…


From coordinating fabrics, cut:

  • 2 exterior rectangles 17” x 15”

  • 2 lining rectangles 17” x 15”

  • 2 casing rectangles 3” x 14”

  • 2 loop squares 3” x 3”

  • 3 strips for the drawstrings, each 2” tall x width of fabric (42-44”)


Press a 1/4” hem on both short ends of the drawstring casing rectangles. Stitch.

Set these aside for a few minutes.

Fold and press the 3” squares in half. Fold and press the edges the the center and then press in half again to make strips that are 3” long and 3/4” wide. Topstitch close to both long edges.

Fold one of the casing rectangles in half wrong sides together (press if desired), and center it along the top edge of one of the exterior pieces. Lay a lining rectangle over the exterior rectangle, right sides facing with the casing sandwiched in between. Pin.

Sew all seams with a 1/2” seam allowance.

Stitch along the top edge. Repeat with the other exterior, lining, and casing pieces.

Press the seam towards the lining, and then fold the fabrics with the wrong sides together and press the lining and exterior away from the casing.

Open the pieces again, and lay one on your workspace. Fold the 3” long tab strips in half and pin them 2 1/2” from the bottom edge on either side. Baste to secure within the 1/2” seam allowance.

The tab pieces are pinned and basted to the exterior fabric only, not the lining.

Pin the other exterior/lining piece on top, matching the exteriors and the linings.

Stitch all the way around, leaving a 4” opening in the lining for turning.

Clip the corners and turn right side out.

Press the edges of the opening to the inside, and sew the opening shut. Tuck the lining inside the backpack.

Press around the top of the backpack, and topstitch around the top edge, under the casing.

Make the drawstring.

Remove the selvages from the 3 drawstring strips. Cut one of the strips in half. Sew a shorter strip to each of the longer strips to make 2 strips each about 66” long. Press the seam allowances open.

The drawstrings are pressed the same way as the 3” loops. A 1” bias trim maker tool really helps with this, but you can also do it by hand.

If you are pressing by hand, first press the strip in half lengthwise. Then fold and press the long edges to the center. Then fold in half and press again.

You may also fold and press the short ends to the inside. Since the ends will be tied, I didn’t fuss with that.

Stitch down the length of the ties to secure. On the girly backpack I stitched along both edges of the ties. They look cute that way.

To assemble the backpack, use a bodkin or large safety pin to pull one drawstring through a casing and then back through the opposite casing.


Thread one drawstring end through the loop and then tie both ends together. Trim them with scissors to neaten.

Thread the other drawstring through both casings from the opposite direction. Then you are done!

Happy backpacking!


Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂