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Denim Roll Top Backpack Tutorial

Denim Roll Top Backpack Tutorial

I’ve been pondering for a good while over this Robert Kaufman Selvedge Denim – ever since it came in late last year.  On the one hand, this denim is thick, sturdy, durable, gorgeous colour, and has that awesome selvedge.  On the other hand, it’s super thick and sturdy, and has that awesome selvedge that you definitely want to keep – and it’s quite narrow.  What on earth could I make with it?

And finally, yesterday, it came to me.  I was doing the finishing touches on my Hidden Panda Rucksack (more to come on that one later) and was trying to figure out how to do the straps.  And as I thought further, I wondered whether you could make a feature of the straps with different coloured webbing, and whether you could bring this across to the front of the bag.  And if you were to do that, then the main fabric should be fairly plain.. something like a denim… I think you see where I was going with it.

This backpack is completely unlined – the canvas is so thick it’s entirely unnecessary, and it has simple flat pockets on the inside.

Shopping List:
Selvedge Denim or other type of thick canvas – 80cm x 80cm
Webbing: Red – 40mm/1.5″ x 1.5m, 25mm/1″ x 40cm
Navy – 40mm/1.5″ x 1m, 25mm/1″ x 60cm
Metal Sliders: 25mm x 2, 40mm x 4 (I actually used 50mm, which worked just fine too)
Denim sewing machine needles 
We’ve put together a kit of supplies for this backpack – you can find it here.

Divide your 80cm of denim into two pieces measuring 40cm x 80cm – with the selvedge on the narrow edge.  Cut 25cm off the bottom of each piece.

On one of these big pieces you need to place the straps.  I decided to use my denim with the right side on one side and the wrong on the other.  I placed the straps on the wrong side piece.

From your red 40mm webbing cut one 30cm piece, and cut the remainder in half.  This 30cm piece will help keep all your straps secure in a band across the top.  Divide your navy 40mm piece in half, and cut 15cm from your 25mm navy webbing.

Place your webbing in the following formation on the bag piece:

Measure 20cm down from the selvedge top of your piece, and underneath this line, centrally place your 30cm red webbing piece, folding under the raw edges, pinning to secure.

In the centre of this piece, tuck the 40cm of 25mm red underneath, facing up.  Pin.

Over the top of this, fold your 15cm piece of 25mm navy into a loop, and tuck both ends either side of the red 25mm piece.  Pin into place.

Take each half of your navy 40mm piece, fold in half, thread on 2 of the large metal sliders, and pin under the red band approximately 1cm from the edge.  Do this for both sides.

Sew around the edges of the red band, making sure to catch all the pieces you’ve tucked in.  You may want to do extra stitching to help secure it all for strength.

At the bottom of this bag piece, fold your 25mm navy webbing in half, thread on the two small sliders, and pin in the centre bottom.

Take your two remaining 40mm red webbing pieces,and pin into place 10cm from each edge along the bottom at an approximate 45 degree angle.  Tuck the long edges of these pieces in towards the centre, so when you stitch around the edge you won’t catch any of the pieces on it.

Lay one of your small bag pieces in front of you, with the selvedge at the top, and then the panel with all your webbing pieces face up on top of it, lining up the bottom edges.  Lay your other bag piece over the top facing down, and then lay your other small pocket piece along the bottom edge again.  Align the bottom and side edges of all your pieces.

Using your denim machine needle, as this will be super thick work, sew around the sides and bottom of your bag, making sure to catch the bottom edge pieces of webbing but not any around the sides.  You may want to sew around this twice, for extra stability.

Next, we’ll make the gusset.  Cut a 5cm square from the bottom corners.  You may have a struggle with cutting through so many layers of thick fabric – I actually ended up cutting through one layer at a time – poking through each layer with a sharp pair of embroidery scissors.  Discard your cut off pieces.

With one corner, take the cut corner, and pull open until it lays flat the other way – with the sewn seams meeting in the middle.  Sew along this line carefully – making sure all the layers are flat and the seams are matched.  Sew back and forth a couple of times, to aid the strength.

Neaten all your seams the best you can, then turn your bag the right way out, poking the corners to push them out properly.

Next take all your raw edges of webbing and fold over 5mm and stitch for a seam to neaten.  Sew along the webbing with your sliders on, as close as possible to your sliders to hold them into place.

And you’re all done!  Fill it with your picnic, get on your bike, and go have a jolly day out with lashings and lashings of ginger beer.  Or something like that…

Anna x

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