The London Backpack

Hey y’all! As you may have heard, I’m going back to college! A couple of weeks ago I was having mixed emotions about it (fear/excitement/doubt/elation) so I needed a fun project to get me in the spirit of things. I needed a backpack pattern.

Luckily Willow and Co is coming out with an awesome backpack pattern, The London Backpack. And they let me be a part of their pattern tour even though I was extremely late signing up. You can see their fabulous Lookbook HERE.

The London Backpack


I knew I wanted to make a real backpack, one that I can actually carry books in, so it had to be made of canvas. Luckily, I had this gorgeous yellow canvas in my stash that I had completely forgotten about. I bought years ago for $3/yd. Score!

I hopped on Pinterest and found an inspiration bag I really liked: Backpack Inspiration

Originally I wanted to do the leather detailing, but as my bag took shape I really loved the simplicity of it, so I left it off. I did add a really fun detail to the back though…

The London Backpack

Is there anything cuter than an exposed lace zipper? I think not. It gave the bag a little something extra, but it still looks clean.

The London Backpack

The lining is Nani Iro cotton sateen, which was given to me by my good friend Jess of The Sewing Rabbit. She has always believed in me and built me up. Now whenever I’m at school I can look inside my bag and imagine her saying “you can do it!”

The London Backpack


  • The finished bag if you cut the pattern as is is about 12″ tall, 5″ deep, 10.5″ wide. I needed it to be bigger so I added 2 inches to the width and length. I adjusted all the rectangular pattern pieces individually and re-drafted the flap and the bag bottom to fit the new size. It wasn’t that hard, it just took some math!
  • I need to take my chromebook to school so I made a pocket for it (I’m not affiliated with Acer, and no they aren’t paying me). I added a large padded pocket on the back of the lining (seen above), as well as two layers of batting to the back of the lining panel. Now my chromebook has a nice, soft home in my backpack!
  • I wanted the bottom of the bag to be really sturdy, so I fortified the bottom with plastic embroidery mesh. It’s nestled between the outer fabric and the lining so no one knows it’s there but me. And now you. Don’t tell anyone 😉

The London Backpack

Here’s a backpack sewing tip:

If you’re going to take the time to cut out the many, many pieces of a backpack pattern, then spend hours of your life sewing the thing, make sure you Scotchgard it. If you’re unsure that you need to, go take a peek at the bottom of any well worn backpack. You’ll probably see a black layer of grime. I took my bag on a trip last weekend and low and behold, I found two dirt stains on it when I got back. I was able to clean them off with a wet rag, but I’m not chancing it again! Scotchgard all the way. Lesson learned!

The London Backpack

In my sewing room I have 3 frames. One says “never”, one says “give” and the last one says “up”. In the background on each it says this:

“Never give up on a dream because of the amount of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

That’s the attitude I’m trying to have about school. When I graduate, I’ll be 38. I’ll almost certainly be the oldest student in my classes. But maybe that’s a good thing? I have a lot of life experience, and unlike most 18-year-olds out there I have a defined purpose. I have big dreams, and I have 4 children who will hopefully learn from this that it’s never to late to chase them!

Thanks for reading, and thank you Willow and Co for letting me be a part of your tour! 


17 thoughts on “The London Backpack

  1. This is a fantastic bag and I love all the special touches you added. You’ll do great in school! Go Alida!!

  2. Beautiful backpack! It will serve you well. You may be 38 when you finish school, but you’ll still have 30 good working years left in you! Good luck on your new adventure!

  3. beautiful!! I love the lace zip… I’ve actually never seen those! where did you buy yours? the color is also divine!!! Such fun patterns.

  4. Hi I have the pattern and am also looking to make a school backpack. How did you do your modifications to make it larger?

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