A Traveling Toddler Backpack

You know Lladybird, right? If you’re reading my blog in my tiny corner of the internet then you probably know about the hilarious sewing extraordinaire that is Lauren. She was one of the first sewing bloggers I got into and I basically credit her for my realization that sewing is cool and people who sew are cool too. Last year she posted about a backpack she made for her trip to Egypt and I decided that I needed to have a perfect mini backpack too. Of course, it wasn’t until over a year later when I was planning my own big trip to Oaxaca and Peru that I actually got down to making it.

Like Lauren, I started out with the Made by Rae Toddler Backpack pattern. And like Lauren, I sized up for the “school-aged child”. And like Lauren (see a theme here?), I added some extra pockets for more convenient stuff-carrying. Mine doesn’t have as many pockets as hers, but I absolutely had to copy the little secret passport pocket in the back.

I’m so pleased with this print placement and secret pocket!

I agonized over the fabric and notions choices for way longer than it took to make the backpack. Actually, I knew pretty quickly what outer fabric I wanted—Wonder World linen/cotton canvas by Nani Iro. But what lining? What piping? What color straps and webbing? And what zippers?

I initially wanted yellow zippers for the whole thing. But I also wanted metal zippers for sturdiness, and finding yellow metal zippers is really difficult. I had heard that it was possible to dye nylon with acid dyes, so I bought white zippers and decided to give it a go. And it was…pretty disappointing. Instead of turning yellow, the zipper tape took hardly any dye at all and just turned an unpleasant greige. I was annoyed, but I knew it was an experiment so I wasn’t too upset. I figured I could just overdye them with black and have grey zippers that match the main fabric. Which is what I ended up with and I’m actually very happy with them! But lemme tell you—those zippers sat in a bucket of highly concentrated black acid dye for about 6 hours and they’re only light/medium grey. So don’t try to accurately dye zippers, y’all.

Love that lil donut zip pull!

I went with one of my favorite Kona colors, Pickle, for the main lining and the pocket linings, and did yellow accents with the back zipper and webbing. It was coming together!

And then there was the piping. I found this great grey denim-like piping at Stonemountain, but it was just short of the three yards I needed. And it would take about 4 weeks for a new order to arrive, of course. I didn’t want to mess around with trying to make my own since I was on a deadline, so I turned to the internet. Do you know how hard it is to find grey piping? I finally found an Etsy store that did custom Kona piping and I ordered the charcoal. It arrived…and it sucked! Super loose, uneven stitching with non-matching thread and the piping cord they used was weird, squishy batting-like stuff. But I was out of time and I had to work with it.

So in the end, everything but the metal zippers and piping came from Stonemountain. Zippers are from Zipit Zippers and piping is from Craft Supplies and Kits (but purchase at your own risk!).

Constructing this was pretty straight forward since my pocket additions were really simple. Probably a quarter of the time was spent fussy cutting the pieces! It was a BEAST to sew, though. My machine was not happy with all those layers and I was really wrestling with it around the bottom panel. Because of that, the stitching around the bottom edges is not the best, but it will hold together (hopefully!).

I finished it a few days before our trip and it was my go-to day bag throughout our travels. Though it’s little, it can hold a lot! I easily fit my iPad, my boyfriend’s Kindle, two water bottles, snacks, a scarf, and all the other random stuff I carry around. It even made it to the top of Montana Machu Picchu with me! And now that we’re back it’s become my go-to bag for work and weekend adventures.

Machu Picchu looks so tiny when you’re 2,000 feet above it!

It’s funny, but I think this is the only thing that I’ve made that gets regularly commented on by men! They’re always super impressed when I say I made it and then of course they’re like, “You should sell them!” And then I try to explain that it would be a $200 mini backpack and they get a confused/incredulous look on their face. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure!

Anyway, this backpack makes me super happy and I love that I’ve made something so dang useful!