Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Almost (Not Quite) $1 Backpack

"Back to School" season is on the horizon! I thought this would be the perfect time to share the backpack I made recently, trying to use entirely thrifted materials or things that I had on hand.

I found this fabric in a thrift store several months ago, and I kind of fell in love with the colours and kitschy print. Plus, it was a dollar. How could I go wrong with that?

Okay, so it's a little busy. It's going to be good though, I promise!
The whole big piece was pretty overwhelming, so I'd been sitting on it for a while, trying to figure out what to do with it. When I started taking transit to work and realized a backpack would come in handy, I knew this would be perfect. It's a nice, medium-weight canvas so I knew it would be sturdy enough to cart my things back and forth every day. 

I was even more excited when I realized I had the perfect accent fabrics in my stash. I have a pretty big swath of heavy, cream coloured canvas from helping my sister-in-law make a costume a while back. She'd also given me some green cotton that I knew would make the perfect lining. I even had the perfect zippers on hand, and a big, ornate, gold button for the flap closure that I found at the Reuse Centre.

How perfect is this?
I was well on track to making my $1 backpack!

Then I got ideas.

I thought the canvas was too light. I wanted a darker accent. I remembered that I had a box of brown fabric dye, also found at a thrift store. The dyed canvas came out perfectly. Still on track...

Nope, it's not dinner.
...except for the part where the fabric refused to stop leaching dye. I tried every trick I knew (salt bath, vinegar soak, endless rinsing). Nothing in my arsenal seemed to set the dye properly, so I reluctantly had to set this fabric aside. I didn't want to take the chance of it staining my clothes. I ended up purchasing some new brown canvas to use.

This was the first setback in my plan to only use thrifted materials or things I had on hand. My original intent was to make the backpack found in this tutorial from Aggelicat. If I'd continued with that plan, I could have finished with the supplies on hand.

Ideas struck again.

I really wanted my bag to have adjustable straps. I also loved the look of the grommets in this tutorial from Both of those things required hardware: a set of grommets, two D-rings, and two sliders. If I'd had the time or the determination I could have thrifted those things, or repurposed hardware from worn-out bags. I caved, and bought them new (for shame!) I also bought some interfacing to give the bag a little more stiffness and structure. 

The finished project!
In the end, I pulled elements from both tutorials, and added some of my own. My bag turned out to be about 50-60% used or on-hand materials, and it's been a great help on my commute!

- Sarah (Volunteer)

All images provided by Sarah