Tutorial - Backpack Beach Towel

Here is the tutorial I promissed a year ago. Give it a try and let me know what you think! email me in case you have some trouble with the tutorial. I also have a pdf of the tutorial in case you want it, just email me and I will send it to you asap!

½ yard of fabric
1 towel (I used a towel from IKEA with 28 x 55’’)
44’’ of cotton ribbon (1 and ¼ inch wide)
1 yrd cotton cord
2 Strap slides
1 cotton cord
Scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, safety pin, pins.

Take your fabric and cut 2 of each:
                Back pack main panel: 11 x 12’’
                Cord carrier: 2 x 11’’
                Back pack straps: 5 x 18’’

Fold one of your cord carriers/casings in half, wrong sides together and press to create a crease
Fold one of your cord carriers/casings so that its length is 1/2 inch shorter than your main panel’s smaller side. Press

Fold again in half, with the folded short edges turned inside. Place on the shorter edge of your main panel.

Pin in place making sure the short edges of the cord carrier stay 1/4 inch away from the long edge of the main panel

Cut two 6 ½’’ pieces of ribbon and place each on the long edge of the main panel, opposite to the cord carrier, as the figure shows. Be certain  to place them at an angle and 1/4 - 1/2‘’ away from the short edge.

Put the remaining main panel on top of the first one, with right sides together and pin all around it. Don’t forget to mark where you start and stop, so that you leave an opening when sewing for turning.
At this point you should have a sandwich with the 2 main panels, 1 cord carrier on the top and 2 pieces of cotton ribbon on the long edges near the bottom on the opposite side of the panel from the cord carrier.

At this point you can add a tag wherever you want.

Sew all around the big rectangles remembering to leave an opening. Stitch back and forth on top of the cotton ribbon to strengthen the seams. 

Cut any extra ribbon and the corners.

Turn inside out and smooth the seams. This is how it should look now.

Edge stitch the cord carrier. Now let’s work on the straps.

Fold each strap piece in half with right sides together and sew the long edges. Turn each strap inside out.
Now take the remaining cotton ribbon and cut 1 piece for each starp. The pieces of ribbon should be the length of the starp minus 1/2 inch.

Edge sew each ribbon piece to the starp.

 This is how your straps should look like at this point

Now, let’s attach the strap slides. Do this for each strap.

Insert strap in the strap slide as shown in the picture. Fold the end of the strap that is ribbon free ½ inch and again another ½ inch to enclosure the raw edge.

Sew the strip slide in place with a short zig-zag stitch back and forth a couple of times to give some strength to the seam. 

We now have two straps finished
Now let’s place the main piece on top of the towel. Make sure you place it in a bottom corner and follow the finished edge of the towel. Don’t forget that the attached ribbon goes in the bottom of the towel while the cord carrier goes up.

Take the cotton ribbon and turn it inside. Repeat for both sides.

Pin the main piece to the towel half way up the sides.
Mark the place where the cord carrier attached to the main piece touches the towel. This is very important because it will mark the place to attach the other cord carrier directly on to the towel
Take the last cord carrier (at this point this should the only piece of fabric left) and fold the long edges ¼ inch to the wrong side. Press to create a crease. Fold in half and press.

Now, using the pins as guides, place the above mentioned cord carrier and place it on top of the towel.

Make sure you leave ¼ inch for seam allowance and fold the short edges so they meet the guiding pin.
 When in the right position, pin in place and sew the bottom long edge of the cord carrier to the towel. 

At this point you should consider using a matching thread in your bobbin so that it will not show on the other side of the towel.
Sew a straight line along the crease.
After sewing the straight line, fold the edge to the wrong side of the fabric and press.
Mark the middle of the recently attached cord carrier and place the straps starting from the middle point.
Pin in place and baste stitch

Fold the free long edge along the previously marked ¼ inch crease and fold the cord carrier in half again, making sure the long edges are turned in. (As in the picture)

Pin in place and edge stitch, making a double passage on top of the straps to provide more strength to the seam.
The worst part is over and you can now take a deep breath.

Remember we only pinned the main panel half way? Now let’s place the straps between the main panel and the towel.

Make sure your cord carriers are sewed correctly. They should be falling right on top of each other!
Pin in place all around the rectangle, leaving only the edge with the cord carrier free. Sew all around three edges, leaving the edge with the cord carrier free.

Take the safety pint and attach it to the cord. Pass the cord trough the cord carriers.

Insert the cord stop tie a knot with both cord ends.
And we are almost finished!

Turn your main panel inside out and place the towel inside the space left between the main panel and the towel: that is our backpack!

 Finish the raw edges of the two pieces of ribbon. I finished mine with a zig zag stitch made with contrasting thread. Do as you please at this point. Pass the ribbon trough the strap slides as shown in the picture.

 And there you go, DONE!

 Now it’s time to take it to the pool side, for a ride!

I would like to ask you all not to pin or share pictures of my kids and to please give me credit whenever you use my tutorial, a simple link to the blog is enough. In case you want to make these to sell please let me know. Enjoy! 


  1. gostei muito!
    vou ver se aina consigo fazer umas mochilas destas para a teresa e para a ines antes das ferias começarem.
    muito obrigada!

    1. Windy, faz mochilas à vontade, vais ver que são realmente práticas! Se for necessária ajuda em algum passo mal explicado não hesites em contactar-me! Um beijinho e bom trabalho. Ana

  2. Estão muito giras!! Gostava de fazer uma assim para o meu pequeno..mas não sei se conseguirei.. ;)