How to Sew a Backpack for an 18-inch Doll (Free Pattern)

Learn how to make a backpack for a doll!

Creating a backpack for a doll can be a delightful sewing project.  Not only is it fun and creative, but it also allows for personalization and customization to suit the child's preference.

This doll backpack fits popular 18-inch dolls and is fully lined with a drawstring closure. It can hold all the essentials your doll needs for school or even carry personal items to a slumber party. Put Alt Text Here

To make the doll backpack, you'll need a few supplies, including scrap fabric, ribbon or shoelace and basic sewing equipment. This would also be a good project to use two fat quarters.  One fat quarter would be needed for the main fabric and the other for the lining fabric.

Fabric can also be chosen to match the child's backpack. How fun to match it with their doll! See the back-to-school page with backpack patterns for kids and adults.

When it comes to filling the backpack, you can be creative with your ideas.  I suggest thinking about typical back-to-school supplies like pencils, crayons, notebooks, scissors and so on.

This free sewing pattern is perfect for 18-inch dolls as it will fit dolls like American Girl Doll, Our Generation, Journey, Playtime by Emmie, My Life As, and New Adventures Styles dolls. In addition to dolls, this backpack will also fit 15-inch baby dolls and standard 15-inch teddy bears.

Learn more about making a backpack for an 18" doll by watching our video tutorial or keep reading the directions below for a step-by-step photo tutorial.

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link How to Sew a Backpack for an 18-inch Doll (Free Pattern) to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

Doll Backpack Finished

WHAT YOU NEED to make an 18" doll backpack

  • Main piece of fabric 6 1/2" x 12" long
  • Lining fabric 6 1/2" x 12" long
  • 2 Fabrics 1 1/2" x 9" long for straps
  • Ribbon or shoelace 24" long
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Small safety pin
  • Fabric marking pen

Doll Backpack 1 Fabrics

INSTRUCTIONS for making a doll backpack

STEP 1: Mark the main fabric

For this drawstring backpack, although it has straps, it is kept closed with a drawstring. In this tutorial, to prevent raw edges, buttonholes are made for the drawstring.  You could cut little slits for the drawstring but the fabric could fray and rip during use.

First, the main fabric must be marked for the buttonhole and the strap placement.

Let's begin by marking the buttonhole placements for the drawstring. The backpack requires two buttonholes for the drawstring.

Fold the main fabric in half, with the wrong sides together, so the piece measures 6 1/2" x 6".  With a ruler, measure from the top (the unfolded edge) left corner, 3" across and 3/8" down.  Mark this spot with a fabric marker. Doll Backpack 2 Measure for Buttonholes Similarly, mark the spot measuring from the top right side of the fabric, 3" in and 3/8" down.  These marks are where the buttonholes will be made.

Turn the main piece of the fabric over, keeping the fold at the bottom, and prepare to mark for the strap placements. Measure 1 1/2" up from the bottom fold and 2 1/2" in from the side, and mark where these two measurements meet.

Do the same at the other bottom corner and make a mark. This is where the straps will be attached.

After finished marking, make the two small buttonholes and cut them open.  Follow the directions on the sewing machine or check out the instructions for making a buttonhole.

step 2: make the straps

The next step is to make the straps for the doll backpack. Take the two strips to the ironing board—iron one strip in half lengthwise. Open the fabric.Doll Backpack 7 Iron Strap In Half

Next, fold the raw edges along each length to the center and iron.Doll Backpack 8 Fold Edges In To Fold and Iron

Finally, iron the strip in half again so all raw edges are enclosed inside. Do the same for the other strip.Doll Backpack 9 Sides folded to center

Take the fabric pieces to the sewing machine. Edgestitch close to the folded edges.Doll Backpack 11 Sitch Strap Edge

Be sure to edgestitch on both sides of the strap. This makes for a neat finished edge.Doll Backpack 12 Stitch Other Edge

Do the same for both straps.Doll Backpack 13 Straps Complete

step 3: Sew the main piece of the backpack together

Next, take the main body piece of the backpack fabric and fold it in half with the right sides together.Doll Backpack 14 Fold Main Fabric Right Sides Together

The sides will be sewn, so if desired, pin along the edges. Sew a 1/4" seam allowance down both sides. Backstitch at the beginning and end. Doll Backpack 15 Stitch Sides

This backpack features a boxed bottom.  To make the boxed bottom, begin by hand pressing a crease along the fold near the corner.

Open the edge of the corner into a triangle by lining up the seam and the crease.Doll Backpack 17 Fold for Boxed Corner

Measure one inch from the pointed end of the triangleDoll Backpack 18 Mark Boxed Corner and mark a line across that one-inch mark.Doll Backpack 19 Corner Marked

Take the backpack to the sewing machine, stitch along the drawn line to box the first corner, and cut off the excess fabric.

Do the same process on the other bottom corner of the backpack. 

The main fabric piece now has boxed corners.Doll Backpack 21 Boxed Corners Finished

step 4: sew the lining for the doll backpack

The lining will be made just like the main fabric in Step 3, except a 2 1/2 to 3" gap must be left unsewn on one side to later turn the doll backpack right side out.Doll Backpack 22 Lining Fabric Leave Opening for Turning

Fold the lining fabric with the right sides together. Sew using a 1/4" guide along one edge, leaving a 2 1/2 to 3" gap open. Be sure to backtack.

Sew the entire length of the other side and box the corners as in the main piece of fabric in step 3.

step 5: attach the lining to the main backpack piece

Turn the main fabric right side out and place it inside the lining.  The two pieces should have their right sides together.  Align the two side seams and pin the pieces together around the top. Stitch around the top using a 1/4" seam allowance.Doll Backpack 26 Sew along top edge

Be sure not to stitch across the pins, and remember to back tack when sewing.

Turn the project right side out through the unstitched opening. Hand sew that opening closed so the lining is complete.Doll Backpack 27 Turn Right Side Out

Once the gap is stitched, push the lining inside the backpack's main piece. Take to the iron and press the top edge of the backpack so that the seam has a nice crease.Doll Backpack 30 Showing Inside

Take the project back to the sewing machine and top stitch close to the edge of the backpack opening.Doll Backpack 31 Topstitch along top edge

step 6: Sew the casing for the drawstring

A casing will need to be sewn to have the drawstring close the backpack.Doll Backpack 28 Sew Opening Closed

To make the casing, sew 5/8" from the top edge of the backpack.  This will hold the ribbon or shoelace later.

step 7: attach the backpack straps

The marks that were made in step one will be used for the strap placement. Place the end of one of the straps on the mark at the bottom of the backpack. 

The raw edge will face the top of the backpack, and the straps will hang off the bottom.Doll Backpack 33 Sew Straps

Sew across the strap to tack it on. Be careful that none of the backpack's other fabric is being sewn or caught under the needle.

Do the same for the other strap.

Before removing the backpack from the sewing machine, lift the straps up and across the raw edge.  This will cover the raw ends of the strap.  Sew across the strap again just past the raw edge underneath.  

The bottom part of the backpack straps are attached and the straps should be facing towards the top of the backpack.Doll Backpack 34 Straps Sewn

Next, the other end of the backpack straps will be sewn to the top of the backpack. Make sure the straps are not twisted. 

Fold the top edge of the backpack in half to find the center.  Mark the center with a pin. 

Pin the two straps on each side of the center pin with the raw edges along the top of the backpack.  Sew across the straps to tack them in place.Doll Backpack 38 Pin Straps To Top of Bag

Fold the straps up towards the top edge of the backpack. This will cover the raw edge.Doll Backpack 40 Sew Straps

Stitch across the strap again to tack it in place and to cover the raw edge.Doll Backpack 39 Sew Straps

step 8: insert ribbon or SHOELACE

Next, if a ribbon is used to close the backpack, attach a small safety pin to one end of the ribbon and insert it into the left buttonhole and start pushing it through the casing.

The shoelace has a hard end and should not need a little safety pin for this step.

Push it through the casing all the way around until it reaches and exits the second buttonhole, then pull it to even up the ribbon ends. Doll Backpack 42 Thread Drawstring Through Casing

The drawstring can be pulled open or closed to put things into the backpack. Tie a bow to keep the backpack closed.

The doll backpack is complete! Place a notebook or other items in the backpack and tie the ribbon or shoelace with a bow.

Enjoy taking your 18" doll on adventures with her very own backpack!Doll Backpack Finished Closeup 1

We hope you enjoyed learning how to make a little backpack for an 18" doll. Isn't it so cute?!

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If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.

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