Looking for something crafty to make during a rainy weekend? Why not rev up an old stuffed animal into your very own Backpack Buddy!
For this sewable build, we’ll need:
- Medium to large stuffed animal (make sure it’s got some room)
- Some fabric scraps for the inside pocket
- zipper/or other fastener (optional)
- fabric glue or needle, thread and pins
- Recycled backpack straps or Ribbon
When picking out your stuffed animal, try and choose something a little bigger than you’d think: to keep it soft, we can’t make the pocket very big. Don’t pick too small, but not too big, either! Something just the right size to fit on your back, and that has room for both a useful pocket, and places to attach straps. Take a look at your stuffed animal. What we’ll be doing is making a single cut, sewing in a pocket of fabric, then adding straps. Good places for the opening would be on the back, or the front for a more concealed pocket. It all depends on what your plushie has going for it. Be creative!
Once you’re sure of where to put the opening, it’s time to start cutting! Carefully snip the fabric open, then cut along the full width you plan to make the pocket. Once you’ve got your incision, reach in there and pull out some stuffed animal guts!! Not too much through, just enough to offset the pocket when full.
Now to make the pocket liner: Approximately measure the width and depth of the area, then take a doubled up piece of fabric, and cut out a rounded pocket shape from the two pieces. Now to sew this closed, and then sew the finished pocket to the animal.. but how do you sew?
People have been sewing things together for as long as we could thread a needle. It’s simple, cheap, and one of the infinitely useful bits of knowledge that every maker should know how to do well.
First, take your thread and measure out a single arms length. Having more than this is a pain, and can tangle easily. Cut just this piece, thread onto your needle, then tie a knot or two connecting the two thread ends, making it hard for the thread to slip through the hole that the needle makes.
Of all the stitches, possibly the most useful and versatile for beginners is the backstitch.
To begin stitching, take your needle and poke up from the bottom of the fabric, and pull all the way to the knot. Next, as the name implies, we move back, to the right of where we came up, and push in. Then use the needle like a crowbar and tilt it down past the fabric, push forward about three quarters of the needle’s length, then poke up back through the fabric and pull your thread up all the way through.
Then continue: Go back from where you came up, go in, push to the other side, pull through, and repeat! It’s slower, but lots stronger than the more basic running stitch.
Get to know this strong, flexible stitch, and maybe one day it will save your life.
For our pocket, start sewing from the top of one corner, and move your way around the edge to the other corner, tying off the thread when needed. Take the finished pocket and carefully slide it through the incision and nestle it into the stuffing, making sure there’s padding both behind and in front of the pocket. If you’ve got a zipper, go ahead and sandwich the flap between the pocket and the outside, pin into the fabric where you want it to be (use as many as you need to to keep it in one spot!), and sew each side in. This is really a lot of work, but totally worth it for a fully close-able pocket. For snaps or buttons, finish sewing the pocket in first, then add them on after.
Now for straps! Try adding them to your Buddy’s arms for a piggy-back style, or mount them reverse for everyone to see your backpack’s happy face. Make sure to put lots and lots of extra stitches in for the straps to keep them strong and secure, especially if you plan on carrying anything heavy.
That’s all we’ve got for this episode, remember to be nice to your buddy, keep sewing, and get out there and MAKE something!