Meet Backpackenstein – a Simplicity 0736 hack

Check out my new backpack!   It’s been put together with a collection of bits and pieces from my son’s old school bags that were worn out and recycled.

I had been searching for a good pattern for quite some time but none seemed to have all the details I needed. Luckily, there are a large number of great tutorials out there. So I compromised by purchasing a base pattern. One that was close to what I needed and that could be easily modified. For me the most suitable pattern was the Simplicity 0736.

This pattern gave me a great start! The instructions are clear and simple to follow.    While it looks like an overwhelming project, it’s quite simple if you follow one step at a time. I had a few changes to make so I searched and found some great tutorials online, which I’ll share with you below.  Before cutting all the pieces and putting them together, consider how you want the final look to be and what utilities you need it to have.

I recommend reading through the entire instructions or watching a video tutorial to give a better understanding of how backpacks are constructed.   Here are a couple of great videos to start:

So Sew Easy:

And now, here are the changes I’ve made to transform this into my perfect bag, with links to the tutorials that have helped me greatly:

After cutting the fabric for the main pattern pieces: in this case, view D – front, back, bottom and top flap pieces,  transfer all the markings for the pocket positions.
I left out the front and side pocket flaps, as I was going to make changes to the pockets themselves.

#1:    Turned the side pockets into water bottle pockets

  • I measured the height of my water bottle;
  • Using the pattern piece for the side pockets (pattern piece 16), I extended its length to suit the height of my bottle. About 2/3 of the bottle height plus seam allowance;
  • Cut 2 fabric pieces with the adjusted pattern piece – one for each side of the backpack;

#2:    Front pocket flap changed into zippered pouch – because noone likes the feeling that their belongings might fall out of your bag

  • cut 1 fabric for pattern piece 14
  • make another pattern piece out of piece 14 and reduce its length by a few inches; this makes the top part of the pocket where you’ll be adding the zipper. — This video shows how to do this, skip to 5:55m
  • Then, go to 18:06m for how to prepare the pocket and add the zipper

#3:      Easy key finder – which became handier than I anticipated!

This clip has many utilities but I use it for quickly finding my keys and for keeping my sunglasses from sinking into the bottom of the bag.



#4:   Added a hidden zippered pocket in the back of the bag – perfect spot for keeping phone and passports safe from pickpockets, and easy to access


#5:    Shoulder straps into a much more comfortable and functional one – for the long walks
I constructed the straps entirely before sewing them onto the backpack.  I followed the instructions from this site for the shoulder straps making adjustments for change #6, —


#6:    Added a mini pocket to my shoulder strap, which I have alternated between storing lip balm, hand sanitizer or even a mini flashlight



There are still lots of improvements I can make to this bag but… not bad for my first backpack!


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