How to Sew a Beach Towel Backpack – the best free sewing pattern

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Get ready for summer with a fun and easy to sew beach towel backpack! This cute knapsack is made from one beach towel (any size) plus a yard of cotton fabric. It’s medium size makes it great for kids and grown-ups. The beach towel easily folds up into the backpack, which can hold other items too like a water bottle, goggles, or snacks.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Beach Towel 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 download 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?20210413-IMG_7789.jpg

The top of the beach towel backpack has a cotton fabric flap with a velcro closure to keep your items safe. You can even add an inside zippered pocket to keep keys or cash secure (not shown, but I’ll tell you when you could do that using my welt zipper pocket tutorial).


The great size of this beach bag (approximately 17’’ tall x 15’’ wide) makes it easy for kids to carry – but still comfortable for teenagers or adults. There’s also a handy loop for hanging on a peg while you’re waiting for beach day.

It’s the perfect gift for anyone on your list!

Note: This design works best if you like the way the towel looks on both sides, because the back (wrong side) of the towel is what shows on the outside of the backpack.

Back of the towel.

Back of the towel.

That’s because the cotton backpack piece is sewn to the back of the towel.

Front of the towel.

Front of the towel.

From the front of the towel, you can barely tell that there is a fabric backpack sewn to the other side. Of course, if you prefer that only the front (right side) of the towel is showing when the backpack is worn, then you can sew the cotton fabric backpack piece to the front (right side) of the towel instead.

Are you ready to sew it?

How to Sew A Beach Towel Backpack

You will need:



1. From the cotton fabric, cut:

  • 2 strips 4’’ x 26’’

  • 2 rectangles 18’’ x 16’’

  • 2 rectangles 8’’ x 16’’

  • 1 strip 3’’ x 8’’


2. Use the 3’’ side of the Creative Grids Curved Corner Ruler or the 3’’ radius curve template to round 2 corners of each 8’’ x 16’’ rectangle.


Sewing the Straps

1. Fold the two 4’’ x 26’’ strips and the one 3’’ x 8’’ strip in half lengthwise and pin.


2. Sew the long edges of each strip with a 1/2’’ seam allowance.


3. Gently press each seam allowance open.


Use the safety pin to turn each strip right side out.


Then press eash strap flat with the seam down the middle of the back side.


4. Topstitch along the long straps 1/4’’ away from the long edges. Topstitch along the short strap 1/8’’ away from the long edges.


Assemble the Cotton Part of the Backpack

1. Pin the long wide straps to the right side of one of the 18’’ tall x 16’’ wide rectangles as follows:

  • Pin the top ends of the strap to the top edge, 3’’ away from each top corner

  • Pin the bottom ends of the strap to the bottom edge, 1’’ away from each bottom corner.

  • The seam on the back of the straps should face down against the rectangle of fabric.


2. Sew the ends of both straps to the fabric rectangle 3/8’’ away from the raw edges.


3. Pin the shorter strap to the middle top edge of the rectangle, right side up with each end 1’’ away from one of the larger straps as seen above. Sew the ends 3/8’’ away from the raw edges as before.


4. Place one of the flap pieces on top, right side down as seen above. Pin. This is the backpack exterior.

Pin the remaining 18’’ x 16’’ rectangle and flap piece together also. This is the backpack lining.

Tip: If you would like a hidden zippered pocket inside the backpack, sew a welt zipper pocket to the backpack lining piece now using my welt zipper pocket tutorial.


Stitch the flap pieces to the backpack exterior and lining with a 1/2’’ seam allowance. Press the seams open.


5. Place the backpack exterior and lining pieces right sides together with the straps and hanging loop sandwiched in between. Pin all the way around, making sure that the straps are tucked inside and don’t get caught in the pins. The seams between the rectangles and flaps should be lined up.


6. Sew all the way around with a 1/2’’ seam allowance. Leave an opening about 5’’ long at the bottom edge for turning the piece right side out.


7. Clip the bottom corners. Cut notches in the curved upper corners.


8. Turn the backpack piece right side out and press it flat. Turn the edges at the opening to the inside and press.

Pin the layers together along the seam between the flap and the backpack exterior.


9. Stitch in the ditch in the seam between the flap and the knapsack exterior to reinforce it where the straps will be pulling.


Before removing this piece from the sewing machine, topstitch around the flap 1/4’’ from the edge.


Attach the Hook and Loop Tape (Velcro)

1. Place the cotton backpack piece on your work area with the lining side up (the side without the straps). Pin one side of the 4’’ length of hook and loop tape to the center of the curved edge on the flap, 1/2’’ away from the topstitched edge.


2. Sew around the edges of the hook and loop tape to secure it. Make sure that your bobbin thread matches the fabric on the front of the flap.


3. Place the beach towel on your work space with the back (wrong side) facing up. find the center of one short end. It doesn’t matter which end.

Pin the second half of the hook and loop tape to the back side of the beach towel, centered and 4 1/2’’ below the top edge of the towel.


4. Sew around the edges of the hook and loop tape to secure it.

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Sew Together the Backpack Piece and the Towel

1. Place the towel on your workspace with the back side (and velcro piece) facing up. Center the fabric backpack piece on top as follows:

  • The exterior of the backpack piece should be face down with the straps against the back of the towel.

  • The velcro piece on the towel is facing up against the straps on the backpack.

  • Center the backpack on the towel so that there is an equal amount of towel showing on either side.

  • The seam between the backpack and the flap should be lined up with the top edge of the towel.

2. Pin around the 3 sides of the backpack piece – not including the flap. Use lots of pins!


3. Sew around the three sides of the backpack, sewing slowly and removing the pins as you go.

Tip: Using a walking foot (or even feed foot) may help sewing through these thick layers. Make sure to backstitch at the top edges of the towel.


Watch the short video on this page showing how to fold up the towel inside the backpack. If it doesn’t play automatically, you can watch it on my YouTube channel here.


After you make beach towel backpacks for all the kids you know, make Pool Chair Covers with Pockets for yourself and a friend.


They fold up into a bag too!

Happy Sewing!

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. 🙂