2024 update: While I originally made this free backpack pattern when my oldest daughter was 3, over the years I’ve realized how great it is for all ages, even adults! Scroll on for my recommended strap adjustments to fit all ages and to see how it fits on my same daughter at 3, 9, and now almost 12 years old!
I had so much fun creating the bunny backpack free pattern last year, and now my girls won’t have to fight over who gets to wear it ;). Of course, they may be fighting over this one instead!
This backpack is fully lined and has adjustable straps, making it perfect for all sorts of shenanigans. And if your little one loves wearing dresses on all her adventures, this list of must-make free girls dress patterns will have you covered!
Want to see how this backpack looks on a tween (spoiler alert, it fits great!)? Lola was 3 when this was first posted, and you can see her in a tie dye version here as a 9 year old!
And why should we stop there? In this most recent update, Lola is almost 12 and with just lengthening the straps, it is still perfect on her. In fact, the 8″ I added to the straps are plenty long enough to fit me as an adult as well! You can read all about this fun Conversation Heart Backpack here, and learn how to make it in the new video tutorial below!
Need more fun Valentine’s Day project ideas? Check these out:
Ready to get started on our DIY backpack? Here we go!
DIY Toddler Backpack
Experience Level: Intermediate
(contains affiliate links below)
Main fabric (44″ wide): 1/2yd woven fabric such as quilting cotton or home décor weight fabric (home décor weight fabrics will increase the stability of the finished backpack) – if you’re using the main fabric for the straps/strap loops/strap cover rather than the lining fabric, 3/4yd is required
Lining/Straps fabric (44″ wide): 1yd 100% quilting cotton
Interfacing: 2yd fusible interfacing (20″ wide Pellon SF101)
Fusible fleece: 3/4yd (45″ wide Pellon)
Strap adjusters – I used 2 1.5″ wide bag strap adjuster sets, but if you prefer, you could use actual backpack strap adjusters or 2 sets of D rings (and adjust the width and length of the straps accordingly)
9″ Non-separating zipper
40″ double fold 1/2″ wide bias tape – pre-made or custom made
Click here to download the Heart Backback Free Pattern pieces. Please remember this pattern is for personal use only. Ensure printer is not set to scale, and check 1″ test square on page 1 for printing accuracy. Tape pages together, matching diamonds. Cut fabric/interfacing/fusible fleece as directed on pattern pieces. Also cut additional pieces as outlined below.
Additional Pieces to Cut (also printed on pattern piece download above):
From Main Fabric:
Zipper Tabs: 2 – 1”x1.75”
From Straps/Lining Fabric:
Straps: 2 – 6”x24” (note: this length works well on my 3.5 year old as pictured – add 6″/8″ for tween/adult length straps)
Strap Loops: 2 – 6”x5”
Strap Cover: 2”x8”
Gusset: 2 – 34.75“x3.5”
Zipper Tabs: 2 – 1”x1.75”
Straps: 2 – 1.5”x24s” (see below for placement instructions) – add 6″/8″ for tween/adult length straps
Strap Loops: 2 – 1.5”x5” (see below for placement instructions)
Strap Cover: 2”x8”
From Fusible Fleece:
Gusset: 1 – 33.75”x2.5”
Straps: 2 – 1.5”x23” (see below for placement instructions) – add 6″/8″ for tween/adult length straps
Strap Loops: 2 – 1.5”x4” (see below for placement instructions)
*Fusible fleece gives the backpack body and stability, while still keeping the backpack soft. For a more rigidly shaped backpack, a substitute such as Annie’s Soft n Stable or Peltex 71F could be used for the front, back, and gusset pieces.
Heart Backpack Video Tutorial
New in 2024: Learn how to make this free heart backpack pattern with the video tutorial below or on our YouTube channel here! Video includes instructions to make it into a Conversation Heart Backpack! You can read more about the bag in the video here, and find the Cricut Design Space project here to add your own Iron-on design (if you have trouble with the link, use the font “Arial Rounded MT Bold” and make it 5″ in width, with letter space -1 and line space -4).
How to Sew a Heart Backpack
All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise noted. RST = Right sides together.
Cut out all pieces as instructed on pattern pieces. On fusible fleece pieces, trim the seam allowance from front, back, and gusset to reduce bulk (do not trim strap or strap loop fusible fleece pieces). Interfacing seam allowance can also be trimmed if desired – I usually trim it roughly for easier application). Apply interfacing to wrong side of corresponding pieces, and fusible fleece to main fabric pieces (see note below), following manufacturer’s instructions. Adhesive side of fusible fleece will be attached to right side of interfacing.
Fold strap and strap loop pieces in half and press. Fold each long raw edge to center and press. Open fold and attach interfacing, then fusible fleece adjacent to the center fold on one side.
With fold opened on one end of each strap, press raw edge 1/2″ toward wrong side. Fold straps and strap loops in half along as was originally pressed, and press. Stitch close to edge along each side, and along short pressed edge (required for strap only – strap loops and handle can be stitched along one short edge as well to avoid needing to backstitch and lift the presser foot between stitching long edges).
Fold each strap loop in half and through adjuster ring. Stitch ends together, 1/4″ from raw edges.
Press each long edge of strap cover piece 1/2″ toward wrong side. Place top of strap cover along line as marked on pattern piece and pin in place. Stitch close to bottom folded edge to attach strap cover to back.
Slide strap loops under top folded edge of strap cover and pin in place as marked on pattern piece. Stitch close to top edge of strap cover, securing strap loops in place.
Thread stitched end of one strap through middle bar of strap adjuster as pictured below. Be sure right side of strap adjuster is facing upward. Overlap end 1.5″ back onto strap and stitch in place with a narrow rectangle or two rows 1/4″ apart. Thread opposite strap end through adjuster loop, and then through each side of adjuster bar as pictured. Stitch end to top of back to secure in place. Repeat with remaining strap.
RST, place pressed edge of one zipper tab just above zipper top stop and pin in place, with raw edge that was pressed toward wrong side toward top of zipper. Stitch along fold line. Repeat with remaining zipper tab and opposite end of zipper.
Sandwich zipper between front top main fabric and lining, with zipper and main fabric RST.
RST, place short edge of main fabric gusset piece together and stitch together, starting and stopping 1/4″ from each end. Press seam allowance open. I was *just* short of the beautiful floral fabric when cutting my gusset, so in the photos you’ll notice an extra seam line where I had to piece it to get the length needed.
RST, pin gusset seam to bottom point of back, and mark made in previous step to center top of back. Continue pinning from the bottom point upward until the upper back curves, where they begin to be more dramatic (remember to ignore the extra seam in my gusset).
Attach lining gusset to lining back using same method as described above.
Wrong sides together, place lining back inside of main fabric back, pinning together along unstitched raw edges of gussets. If lining it sitting too bulky within main fabric, you may want to go back and clip/trim the seams as needed to reduce the bulk. Stitch together along pinned edge, using 3/8″ seam allowance.
Treating the back main fabric/lining pieces as one, attach remaining edge of gusset to front using same method used to attach back and gusset pieces together. It will be bulky to stitch through, but using lots of pins and stitching slowly will keep you stitching smoothly!
Turn backpack right side out to ensure that seams have been clipped enough to lay nicely and form nice curves. Clip/trim seams as needed to reduce bulk. Turn backpack wrong side out again, and, beginning near bottom point on one side sandwich bias tape around exposed raw edges and stitch close to folded edges of bias tape, ensuring stitches are reaching bias tape on both the bottom and top. Stretch bias tape gently around the curves, and continue sewing until top inward curve is reached. Backstitch and cut bias tape, beginning again with new end of bias tape, and continuing until bias tape overlaps first end sewn, forming a mitered corner at bottom point.
Turn backpack right side out once again, and you are done!
Now find your little Valentine and fill the backpack up with goodies for her to enjoy!
Be sure to check out more patterns in our shop!