DIY: Drawstring Knapsack

In preparation for Coachella, I made a small knapsack backpack for myself – I wanted to be able to carry some stuff with me (camera, sweater, etc.), but didn’t want to have bulging pockets or lug around something heavy and/or bulky with me the entire day. I already have a drawstring knapsack that I got from a volleyball tournament three years back, but it was made out of some kind of synthetic sporty material that wasn’t what I was looking for for an event like Coachella.


1/2 yard of fabric material ($8)
4 eyelets ($6)
4 adjustable cord stops ($6)
~18ft of rope cord ($5)
needle and thread ($1-2)

Total Cost: $28-30, all purchased from J0-Ann Fabric and Crafts
Total Time: 2 hours (but only because I don’t really know how to stitch)


  1. Cut an approximately 1′ x 4′ piece of fabric. I folded the fabric in half, which will give me my 1′ x 2′ knapsack; this helps with the strength of the bag, since you won’t need to stitch the bottom of the bag, which will be bearing most of the weight. You can play with the sizing of the fabric depending on how big or small of a bag you want.
  2. Stitch together the sides of the knapsack. I am admittedly a terrible seamstress. However, with some trial and error, I accidentally landed on a legitimate stitch that is great for raw edges such as the ones I have here – the blanket stitch. Since I was going to be jumping around with the knapsack, I went through each stitch with another piece of thread and just knotted each stitch an extra time (hence the fuzzies at seen at each stitch). The hardest part is keeping your stitching in a straight line so that your finished product doesn’t appear “lumpy”; luckily for me, the pattern on the fabric I chose had lines that I was able to easily follow.
  3. Stitch the tops of the knapsack. Fold the tops down about half an inch and begin stitching. This will leave enough room for the cords to run through. A different stitch is needed for this, since it’s not an edge – I used a simple back stitch. It’s a pretty strong stitch since you are basically going through each stitch twice.
  4. Turn the knapsack inside-out so your stitches are on the inside of the knapsack. If stitched correctly, the edges of your knapsack should look clean from the outside with no visible stitches.
  5. Pull your cords through the tops of the knapsack. The length of the cord depends on how big your bag is. In this case, I cut two 8′ pieces of cord, which gave me an extra foot of slack. Each cord needs to be looped through both sides of the top, with the loop of each cords on opposite sides of the top.
    If this is done correctly, you will have the loop of one cord and two dangling pieces of the other cord on each side of the bag. When pulled, the cords should cinch the bag closed, as show below.
  6. Install the four eyelets on the bottom of the knapsack. These eyelets will allow the excess cord to be hidden inside of the knapsack. Cut small holes about 1/2″ away from each  corner, on each side of the bag. Position half of the eyelet in each hole and hammer in the other half of the eyelet – directions for installing eyelets will likely be found on the packaging for the eyelets.
  7. Run the ends of the cords through the eyelets and slide on the cord stops. I wanted to be able to adjust the length of the cords, which would allow me to carry the knapsack in different ways. For instance, if I had even lengths for all the cords, I would be able to wear the knapsack like a backpack. If I lengthened one side and shortened the other, I would be able to sling the knapsack on one shoulder.
  8. Use and abuse!

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