How can I reuse, recycle or revamp a rucksack/back pack?

We’ve kinda covered this already but Janette has such a specific question that I thought it was worth looking at it again:

I have a backpack I would like to recycle and reuse. I have the straps and the part that goes against our back but would like to change the rest of it with reused fabric. Only the zipper doesn’t work right now but would like to change the whole outside pocket to add style. I have some random fabrics including jean material from old jeans. Could [use] the jean material for durability?

Does anyone have any simple but fashionable patterns that fit what I have? It would be fun to do a quilted backpack (but I don’t have any quilted fabric yet). I don’t want to do a purse backpack just a normal one that can hold books and such. I’m trying to avoid buying anything so buying a zipper is out of the question. I have some other craft supplies but not extra zippers.

Because I’m a bit lazy, I’d probably try to do the least possible sewing and start with something already roughly the right shape or with pockets. Very simply, I’ve seen the bottom of old jeans turned into backpacks (like in this video tutorial) but depending on the size of the jeans, it may be more of a mini backpack (like in the video), which isn’t the sort of thing Janette wants. (Mine would be big enough to hold a few books, and even a folder if I didn’t make a closing flap at the top. Finally an advantage to having a bigger bum!) If you only have small jeans available, you could make them bigger by cutting up the fly, and using a different fabric for the back of the pack, and opening up the legs (as if you were making a skirt from jeans) to make it longer.

Another video makes a backpack from an old suit jacket – a lot of the jacket is cut away so you wouldn’t necessarily know it was from a jacket, but the useful pockets do remain. I’ve also seen skirts made into backpacks (although I can’t find any links now) and there are lots of tutorials on how to make a drawstring backpack from an old t-shirt out there.

I don’t think any of those ideas will completely satisfy Janette’s requirements but they’ve certainly given me some ideas for non-zip closures: how about a velcro-ed flap like the suit jacket one? or buckles on straps (like old army packs), buttoned down flaps or a drawstring, possibly under a flap? I usually shy away from wikihow posts but there seems to be a decent tutorial on making a pack with the latter on there.

Anyone got any advice, suggestions or tutorials for Janette?

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One Response to “How can I reuse, recycle or revamp a rucksack/back pack?”

  1. wong wear says:

    This might sound crazy but many charity shops sell bags.

    I even find that they sell as new bags/backpacks with the logo of a conference that handed bag out to participants. (I think some participants give them to charity as do event organsiers when they have left over bags to spare.
    By checking out what the charity shops are selling off cheap you might find something that inspires you. I have found it easy to glue or sew braid or fabric over a brand name to cover up the original source of a bag.

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