Back to School – Benji’s Back Pack

When thinking about back to school projects for this blog series, I thought back to my days in elementary school (see picture below) and what was most important to me then. Being a rambunctious and active kid, my back pack was the item that got some of the most abuse, so every July, my mother would take me to pick out a new back pack. Besides the art supplies, that was my favorite item to pick out.

After I spun my yarn for one of our tutorial posts, I immediately wanted to make something big and functional with the finished yarn. As I pondered the pattern, I figured that a bag of some sort would be perfect! I have seen a lot of purses, clutches, small bags, etc. but haven’t seen many large bags or back packs. I love when two ideas come together in this manner. I also knew that I wanted a sturdy bag, so I decided on fulling the bag heavily, nearly felting it.

After weaving 20 squares with my Zoom Loom, I realized that I wanted to weave the rest of the fabric for the bag on my 15″ Cricket Loom to maximize the use of my yardage.

Yarn: I used about  400 yds worth of handspun Merino yarn that approximates out to a worsted weight yarn.
Using a sheep’s wool yarn for this project will make it felt more. Take this into consideration when making the final piece. You may need to adjust measurements to create the right size bag for your purposes

Weaving: Weave 20 squares with the Zoom Loom. Seam them together using a whip stitch in the following configurations:

Make two of these, they will be side panels.
This will be the flap of the bag (Large Zoom Loom Panel)

On the Cricket, warp your loom with 46″ inches of yarn 12″ wide using an 8 dent reed. Weave about 38″-40″. I lashed on the front of my warp so I had much less loom waste. Hemstitch both ends of the fabric, then fold over half an inch on the edge twice and hand sew it down. This will leave you with a piece of fabric just under 12″ wide and 36″ long.

Weave the strap material by measuring a warp 2 yards long and 2 inches wide in an 8 dent reed on the Cricket loom. Weave as much length as possible, as you want the strap to be a custom fit when you sew them on to the bag. Finish the ends of the strap the same way as the body of the bag fabric.

Constructing the Bag: start by hand sewing the large Zoom Loom panel to the end of the Cricket panel. This will create a piece of fabric around 52″ long and about 12″ wide (minus shrinkage).
Then line up the pieces as follows:

Flattened view of all pieces before stitching.

Seam the pieces together as they are positioned in the above diagram, then continue seaming the body of the bag (cricket woven panel) to the sides of the bag.
There will be an extra 4 inches of the body of the bag, seam those to the top edge of the side. This will leave an opening large enough to put items into the bag, but won’t cause the items to fall out when the bag is handled.

Attach the ends of the strap to the bottom edge of the back pack, tack the straps to the top of the bag at a location that is comfortable for you. This should leave just enough strap fabric to create a small hand hold at the top of the bag.

Full, or lightly felt the bag to create a stronger more dense fabric. Add closures of your choice and fill with your books, or in my case yarn and fiber!

I sewed a button on the front to hide the back of a magnetic closure

Other optional choices would be to make pockets out of Zoom Loom squares and sew them on, to add storage to your bag.

20 years between these photos – no change right?

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Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets.) His work can be seen in Handwoven, Spin-Off and the SIP Easy Weaving With Little Looms.