Mini backpacks from shorts - an upcycle tutorial. Day 39 Use What You've Got

I have a pile of shorts in my stash to be upcycled, 
and had the idea of making mini backpacks with them. 
The size is perfect for kids - or for adults when you just want to take a small bag that won't get in your way!

As this is an upcycle tutorial and you won't necessarily have the same type of shorts - I've tried to be as general as I can, and sizes will depend on the size of the shorts you use!

So here's the shorts I started with, together with a little plain fabric for the bag lining:

Cutting the pieces
The hem of the shorts was wide and had a neat finish. So first I carefully cut both hems off to use as the bag straps.

Next I cut the  button and hole fastening from the front of the shorts, so that I could use this for the bag fastening.

Then, the main bag part was cut from one side of the shorts:

Cutting through both layers of the shorts to end up with a folded piece of fabric:

For the flap of the backpack, I cut around the back pocket of the other side of the shorts, so this piece was a little smaller than the folded piece.

Finally I cut pieces of the inner fabric the same size as these two larger pieces from the shorts.
Now here's all the pieces for the mini backpack:

Making the mini backpack
First the flap: Take the buttonhole piece from the shorts

Lay this at the bottom and in the middle of the flap for the bag like this:

Then lay the inner fabric flap piece on top of this, flip the whole thing over and pin around the side and bottom sides (where the button hole piece is)

Then turn the flap right sides out, trim the corners

 and top-stitch around those 3 sides.

Now for the main bag part
Take the button from the shorts and place this about (1") up from the bottom centre of what will be the front of the bag.

Pin then stitch around the button using a zig zag or appliqué stitch on your machine. Remember to only stitch through one layer of the fabric!

Now place the two straps on the same part of the bag with the ends lined up with the bottom of the bag as shown:

Then fold the bag in half - right sides together and pin around the side and bottom edges:
Stitch along both sides.

Boxing out the corners of the bag
Now put your hand inside the bag and 'puff out' one of the corners like this:

Flatten the corner so the side and bottom seams are lined up - and stitch a line across like this:

Then snip off the pointy corner just above your line of stitching

Repeat with the other corner. Then turn the bag right side out.
Place the other ends of the straps on the top end of the bag as shown - making sure the straps aren't twisted!

Then place the bag 'flap' outer fabric side down on top and pin and stitch into place.

The bag lining
Take the last piece of inner fabric you have and fold in half like the outer bag part. 

 Pin along the side and bottom, leaving a gap along the bottom for turning the bag out.

Box out the corners of this piece just as you did with the outer part.

Putting it all together
Now take your outer bag and slide it inside the inner bag so that the right sides of both fabrics are facing each other.

Matching up the open ends, pin then stitch the two parts together.

Using the gap you left in the bottom of the inner part of the bag, turn the bag right sides out.

Stitch the opening closed. You could use a slip-stitch to make the stitching invisible, but since this is the inside of the bag and won't be seen, I just simply machine stitched the opening closed.

And there you have, one mini backpack!

They're a great size for little kids too! 
(This is the closest I had to a little kid for modelling purposes!)
For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

For more upcycle tutorials you can go here

Or for over 100 sewing tutorials for all kinds of things and all levels and abilities of sewing, go here.


  1. These are fabulous, Jill. A great size for when you don't have much to carry.

  2. These are great:) hope you are really pleased with them:)

    1. Thanks Vicky - yes, definitely very happy with them!

  3. This is awesome! Terrific job :) I'm definitely going to try it

    1. Thanks Andrea! Let me know if you do try them, I'd love to see a picture!

  4. That is so clever! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow that links to your tutorial:

  5. cute!! how fun to make them from shorts! thanks for sharing at the Create Link Inspire party. You've been featured today and I've spread the word around ;o)Pinned!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing! I'll be making mine for two little princesses (my granddaughters) and will hopefully get pictures of them to you!

    1. I'd love to see pictures if you make some! Happy sewing!


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