Scrap Lab Backpack Progress

Some weeks ago, I saw a backpack in the Scrap Lab article in an issue of Quilts & More. The pattern is also on the web on It captured my attention in a “hhmmmm interesting” kind of way. After meeting a young friend at one of DH’s events, I decided to sew it for her. I wanted to make it, but I didn’t want to keep it, so this was a great solution. The Fat Quarter Shop, at that time, had a fabric kit (no hardware), which I bought.

Scrap Lab Backpack Bag Body
Scrap Lab Backpack Bag Body

Last weekend I started on the project. It has a lot of steps and the directions were not always completely clear *to me*. I know magazines have limited space.

The pattern calls for fat quarters to create the bag body. That is what came in the kit. The pattern also said that I should cut 2″x21″ strips from the FQs. The problem turned out to be that the FQs were not 21″ wide even before I squared them up. It made no sense to me since that is what I understood the whole point of the Scrap Lab is – to use a small amount of fabric. I worked at adjusting all the measurements to accommodate this problem.

Sewing Strips
Sewing Strips

The backpack requires two panels, like the one made from strips (shown above). In order to keep the strips in order, I laid them out on my design wall and sewed them in order. I found that, in order to keep them in the same order, I had to sew them in the same order, but upside down. For example, I always placed the strip I wanted to end up lower on the panel on top to sew it.

I was further disappointed when I also found that the half yard of background was not enough for all the pieces that needed to be cut. I am not sure if I cut wrong. I didn’t see a cutting layout (like they have in garment sewing), so I cut the largest pieces first, but still did not have enough. Shifting gears deftly, as I did not what a ‘lack’ of fabric to derail the project completely, I chose a different fabric for the pocket, which will look nice and will solve that problem. All in all these fabric problems were unexpected and, as I said, disappointing.

I worked on it on Sunday this past weekend. It has a 1/2″ seam allowance, so I couldn’t really make progress on my various leaders and enders projects without the 1/4″ foot on the machine. That was a little frustrating.

I did make good progress on the backpack, though. I have the straps and drawstring done. I have the bag outside and the lining done. I wasn’t able to finish it, because I didn’t have a slider buckle/triglides. I also didn’t really understand what they were even after searching out a photo on the web.

The slider buckle/triglides turned out to be pretty hard to find. I found some nice ones in the UK and Australia. Amazon has packs of 50. My local Joann and Beverly’s had none. ERGH! Monday, after work, I went to Britex and they had them there. They usually have weird stuff like this. With bags being so popular, I was surprised that these were so hard to find.

It was good that I went to Britex, though, as the people there actually know something about what they sell. We looked at our own bags and the pieces I was thinking of buying and kind of talked through where the parts went on the bag. It was a good experience.

I think I have said before that I prefer to make all the fiddly pieces first – straps, pockets, etc. This pattern is not written that way, so it was a little hard to backtrack and make the straps and drawstring when I was on a roll with getting the larger pieces of the bag done.

There were some directions on the pattern that were confusing or poorly explained. I was able to figure out making the pocket, even though I wasn’t familiar with the type of pocket. Once I figured out that it was a 3D pocket, I thought the method was clever. The pattern leaves the inside edges raw. The method could have been improved somewhat by finishing the inside edges, which I  did even though the directions didn’t say to do it. The location of a 3D pocket is a little odd, I thought, as whatever you put in it will pull the whole bag down from the shoulders.

I had some trouble applying the pocket to the bag. The directions just say to topstitch the pocket on to the body of the bag. They do not take into account the corners which are multiple layers thick. Since the pocket is 3D, I could have used some more detailed directions and additional photos on going around the corner.

I also thought the pattern on the web did not use the web to maximum effect. I would have had the PDF, as they do, since it is easy to print. I would have also linked out to videos showing how to apply the pocket, how to add the grommets and other handy hints. These videos could be used over and over for many different patterns and would drive traffic to their site.

It could be that this pattern was perfectly written and the problems were all user error. I am a visual person and learn better with lots of pictures and when people show me how to do something.

Stay tuned for the finishing.