DIY Mummy & Toddler Backpacks.

I’ve long been wanting to own a Cath Kidston backpack but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay a silly amount of money for a piece of sewn-up cloth that’s going to dangle off my shoulders carrying stuff when I go out! So I decided it’s far better to make one for myself from an old pair of jeans! I’d seen this novel idea on the internet awhile ago and thought I’d give it a try. With that in my mind, I bought the nicest looking pair of jeans I could find at my first ever carboot sale for £2.50 and ended up making not one but two rather good-looking bags! One for baby and one for me! I took inspiration from here and here.

Here’s how I did it!

You need

  • An old pair of jeans (I bought mine from a car boot sale) Go for larger size jeans with flares or bootcut with little or no embroidery and no rips either. Skinny jeans won’t give you a lot of material to work with. I bought a size 14 flared NEXT pair of jeans that provided enough material for two bags.
  • Zippers
  • Iron on interfacing (optional)
  • Appliqué ( optional)
  • Sliding buckles/triglides for making adjustable shoulder straps
  1. Start by laying the jeans flat out and examine it to for holes, rips etc. After you have roughly decided where you want to cut out from, start ripping stitches. I chose to cut my bag panels with the side seam of the leg still intact. I didn’t choose a pattern of any sort either and just winged it.
  2. For two bags you’ll need 4 panels (front & back of the 2 bags), 1 length of material to go all over the side of the bag (this is just for the larger mummy bag and the zipper will go on here too), Shoulder straps, and pockets from any remaining material. I chose to cut out the trousers existing embroidered pockets and sewed it to the fronts of the bags
  3. Next, cut out interfacing and iron it on. This is optional. But I figured if I want a stronger bag that could hold heavy stuff then I need to do this.
  4. Sew zipper for the larger bag as shown in picture on to the side panel. We’ll be sewing the zipper to the smaller bag a bit later
  5. Sew the pocket/applique to the front panels of both the bags. You can also choose to leave it plain and decorate with acrylic colours after finishing all the sewing.
  6. Now for the smaller size bag, we are going to use a clever bit of molding and darting to achieve a nice shape. Start by drawing a line running along the edge of bag shape leaving it quite wide. Using a plate or round container for the curved bit, mould the panel wrong side facing you, so you get a 3 dimensional shape now. Mark where you have to dart/cut off a few bits to neaten up the bag shape. I used this as inspiration for the toddler bag. (Confession:I didn’t intend to make a smaller bag; I actually set out to make two similar sized bags, one for hubby and other for myself. Half way through I realised I ran out of material and had to come up with some ingenious way to use up the panels I had already cut out!! lol. So after a bit of panicking and thinking, I ended up with the idea of sewing both panels together and then shaping them later. I’ve got a new-found respect for darting since then!)
  7. You can see how I’ve used hair pins to hold my darts in place before sewing them up. 
  8. Repeat the moulding, darting bit with the back panel of the bag
  9. Sew the bottom halves of the bag panels, wrong sides together. At this stage you can sew on the straps to the back panel. I had forgotten to sew my straps at this stage and moved on to other bits. I had to rip a few stitches to add the straps in the end!
  10. Sew on the zipper to the top half of the curved bag panels.And sew along the sides of the bag.
  11. You should have a flat looking bag shape now!
  12. Flatten up the bottom of the bag as shown in the picture. This will make the sides stick out in the form of triangles creating a very neat box-like shape! Tah dah!
  13. Sew carefully along the edges to give your bag a more defined/sharp shape
  14. Sew along sides where the triangles form and you may wish to cut it off like I have after sewing.

After this I just sewed on the straps and turned it inside out and Voila! You have a toddler sized cute bag!!

Now for the bigger bag…

15. Straps for both bags. I followed instructions from here for the straps to make it adjustable. You can choose to have fixed length straps by just using the right length of strap sewn on the bag instead. If you do want to make it adjustable, the pictorial should make for easy understanding. The link I’ve provided gives you clearer instructions than I have provided here. Also because it is so much harder to explain something like putting a strap together in words rather than by using pictures or video, I’m going to skip the instructions for pictures 15 to 18. Be assured that these steps are quite easy though!

19. Sew on both ends of shoulder straps to the back panel of the bag.

20. Sew on the side and top (with the zipper on) of the bag to the panel..

21. Followed by the front panel

And there you have it!


Cath Kidston Schmath Kidston! I’ll make my own bags from now on.. 😉


Witty Hoots




2 thoughts on “DIY Mummy & Toddler Backpacks.

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