How to Make a Tote Backpack

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Learn how to make a tote backpack with this easy step-by-step tutorial! This bag is perfect for your kid’s adventures at the park, the library, and sleepovers at grandma’s house!

Here are a few more craft ideas we think you’ll love – No-Sew Drawstring Bag, My Little Pony Headbands, DIY Tic Tac Toe Board, and Make Your Own Bug Catcher.

tote backpack next to a black and white blanket

DIY Tote Backpack

This quick and easy tutorial will show you how to make a backpack without any special sewing skills. If you can sew a straight stitch on your sewing machine, you can TOTALLY make this tote!

This simple bag can be made in whatever size you need it to be! It’s lightweight, roomy, and perfect for carrying water bottles, toys, sweatshirts, and more! It would be perfect to bring on a class field trip or on a fun family adventure.

Here’s how to make them –

supplies needed to make a tote backpack

How to Make a Tote Backpack


  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • 1 yd of fabric (2 kinds if you want your pocket different)
  • matching thread
  • string or ribbon
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • scissors
  • pencil or chalk
  • safety pin or tape
  • rotary cutter w/ mat (optional, but definitely easier + quicker)
cutting out gray fabric to make a tote bag


STEP 1 – Fold the main fabric in half. Cut with scissors or a rotary cutter so your fabric is 12″ wide. 

cutting out beige fabric for a pocket

STEP 2 – Cut a 6×6″ square for your pocket.

folding over the hem of a pocket

STEP 3 – Fold the edges over 1/2″ and iron flat.

making a pocket for the front of the bag

STEP 4 – Fold your fabric edges over like above, and sew a straight line along one edge. That will be the top of the pocket.

placing a pocket on the center of a bag to make a tote

STEP 5 – Position your pocket onto the main fabric and pin it into place. Sew a straight line along the sides and bottom to attach.

measuring and marking fabric to make a tote

STEP 6 – Fold your fabric so the insides are facing out and draw a straight line 1″ from the bottom and 2″ from the top. 

hemming fabric to make a bag

STEP 7 – Sew a straight line along the sides ONLY in between the 2 lines, NOT to the edge of the fabric.

making a casing in a backpack tote

STEP 8 – Fold the top down into thirds and iron flat. Sew a straight line along the folded edge to make a mini pocket for your string or ribbon.

putting twine on a sewn backpack

STEP 9 – Cut 2 pieces of string or ribbon 54″ long. Using tape or a safety pin, attach it to one end of your string or ribbon. This part can get confusing, so hold on. 😉 Thread through the bottom right, and bring it up through the top.

adding twine to a sewn tote

STEP 10 – Insert into the top right, and thread till it comes out the top left.

weaving string through a bag to make it a backpace

STEP 11 – Insert into the back left, and thread through the bottom right.

adding string to the bottom of a tote

STEP 12 – Insert down through the middle of the bag and pull the end out of the bottom right. Now. Take the second string and repeat it on the other side, but backward. 😉

threading a string through fabric to make a tote

STEP 13 – Trim your ends, then sew a straight line along the sides of the bottom to secure your ribbon or thread. Turn the bag right-side out, and voila! You’ve got a cute little tote bag!

sewn tote laying down flat
handmade backpack tote with pocket on the front
collage of images showing how to make a tote backpack

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