Saturday, September 29, 2012

DIY Explorer Backpack Tutorial

Saying my daughter loves Dora the Explorer is the understatement of the century. I have been searching for months for the perfect Dora Backpack and have come up with nothing. I found a few tutorials, but none of them were the right one. So I decided I should make one!

Turned out pretty cute!

I kind of winged it, meaning I didn't have a pattern and I just figured it out as I went along. I bought a couple yards of no-pill fleece in the perfect purple color and went to work.

First thing, I had to cut up the fleece. I needed to make the shape for the backpack, so I got creative and used one of my big dinner plates to trace the outline. After cutting out a front & back piece to the backback, I had to cut out a strip to connect the two pieces (I took measuring tape and measured the perimeter of the front piece). I made it about 4 inches wide. I decided to use a different fabric to line the backpack, so I cut out the previous 3 pieces again but on the lining fabric. Next, I needed to make straps. So I cut 2 pieces of fabric wide enough to fold each in half to make a strap. I needed to make a flap for the backpack, so I used my handy dandy dinner plate again.

First, I made the straps because this is the most annoying part. I folded the strap parts in half then sewed a 1/4 inch hem. This is the part I hate: turning the straps right-side out. Check out this easy video to help:

After turning the straps right-side out, I did a 1/4 inch hem on both sides.

To make the face, I cut out pieces of felt and used my Heat N Bond to adhere them to the backpack. Then I sewed it all down using a zig-zag stitch.

Next I attached the 4 inch wide strip to the right side of the front of the backpack (lets just call this the "smiley" side!).

Next I attached the final piece of the backpack body to the rest of the backpack, right sides facing.

Turn it right side out, then repeat the previous steps with the lining fabric.

Next put the lining fabric inside the fleece backpack. I folded the lining fabric 1/4 inch, then folded it over the fleece portion on the outside.

Before sewing, attach the flap AND the straps underneath the outside fold of the lining fabric.

Setting the flap underneath the outside fold of the lining fabric

Setting the straps underneath the flap AND the outside fold of the lining fabric

Sewing on the outside fold of the lining fabric.
After sewing on the outside fold of the lining fabric, fold this top part down into the backpack. At this point, you should not be able to see the lining fabric from the outside of the backpack. Now sew around the top of the backpack ensuring the lining fabric stays inside and is not peaking out.

For the final part, attach the other end of the strap to the backpack. To make sure the straps were the right length, I used my daughter and had her put on the backpack. After sewing down the straps, I cut off the excess material. 

Now add in an anxious toddler and what do you get...


A very happy Dora the Explorer fan :)

This project took about 2 hours with interruptions. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I hope my instructions aren't too confusing, this is my first attempt at making something from scratch using just the ideas in my head. Happy Sewing!


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