My Sew Sturdy Essential Backpack!

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Last Fall, I made this Sew Sturdy Essential Backpack, but I never had a chance to capture any photos of it. Until today! The cherry trees are blooming, the weather was warm, and I had the perfect excuse to go frolic in my new sundress and enlist Jorge to be my photo assistant.


I’ve been carrying this bag around for months and it’s held up beautifully. I get tons of compliments on it, and love telling people that I made it. 😎



I discovered this super cute Japanese fabric (by Cosmo Textile) at QuiltCon a few years ago. I had actually picked it up for my friend Kara. I think of her every time I see panda fabrics because of her amazing hand-appliqué panda quilts.


After I gave the fabric to Kara, I totally regretted not getting any for myself, and figured my window of opportunity was closed. But then, my dad & stepmom went on a trip to Japan, and I sent them a photo on the off chance they could track it down in Tokyo’s fabric district. And they actually did! They came back with yardage for me and I was beyond thrilled. I stashed it for a long time, waiting for the perfect project. And this backpack was IT!!


The construction was challenging (mostly toward the end when lots of layers were going through the machine) but manageable thanks to Annie‘s fabulous techniques and teaching skills. And of course, her Soft & Stable interfacing! This was my 2nd time working with it and I love the structure it provides. She also has a very cool method for making the straps.

Here’s some behind-the-scenes from the construction process. This backpack serves up a generous helping of card compartments, slip pockets, and zipper sections. I made a slight adjustment to the magnetic snap style (so I could use the kind I already had), but aside from that I followed Annie’s instructions to the letter.

The mesh was cut and repurposed from a delicates laundry bag — I was quite pleased with myself for that little bit of upcycling. I used three different scales of black and white polka dots for the lining/accent fabrics. Because when you can’t choose which polka dot to use, just use them all!

My absolute FAVORITE thing about this bag (aside from its size and how lightweight it is) is the large zipper compartment in the back. I spend a lot of time on the subway and like most native New Yorkers, I keep a close eye on my belongings; it can be unnerving to carry things behind you. With the rear pocket, I can keep my valuables close and secure. My wallet – a medium size Pocket Party Pouch – fits perfectly flat, and is easy to grab when I need it. The interior slip pocket is also just the right size for a snappy coin purse (I keep my headphones in one).


The Sew Sturdy Essential Backpack Class by Annie Unrein is available on Craftsy. Having carried this around for an entire winter… I can certainly say, “essential” was the right word to describe it. And I have a hunch that won’t change this summer! 🌳🌼🌸🌷🌻🍃




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