How to Sew a DIY Backpack Part Four – The Pockets

This is going to be a long DIY Backpack post, with lots of pictures. If you are a person on dial-up, I’m sorry. Also I said in the last post that I was going to do pockets and straps, but that will be too long so just pockets.

Let’s jump right in.

Pockets are also pretty subjective. Some people don’t like external pockets. If you are one of those people just skip to the strap post. I have 8 external pockets on this pack, mainly so that I can store stuff on the outside where I can get at it fast, and stuff on the inside stays there until I make camp.

Just so you know what to expect, here is the finished item. DIY BackpackDIY BackpackDIY Backpack

The pockets are laid out like this:

  • 2 water bottle pockets on the straps, with built-in secondary pockets for snacks and my phone.
  • A main back pocket with drawstring and mesh bottom.
  • An Under Pocket on the bottom of the pack.
  • One tall side pocket, and one short one.

This is what I wanted, you do you. I like pockets, you may not.

Making the Pockets.

Water Bottle pockets can be dependent on size and I’m going to use this pocket in a general manner for others, as the technique really isn’t that different, and in the ones that are different I’ll highlight the differences.

After you cut out the parts of your strap (I am assuming you cut out the parts after making your templates) take the top layer of fabric and set it aside.DIY Backpack

Next cut out a couple of 4 inch strips from the 1/2″ grosgrain.

On the outer fabric, take your chalk pencil and draw what you are going to do. On the bottom of the strap is the drawing for the pull strap attachment and the other two lines are the borders for the pocket.

Sew on the grosgrain like I have, the slanted one is for your sternum strap, and the other is for any other attachments. All you need to do is bar tack the ends, but if you want a daisy chain bar tack them about 1/2″-1″ apart.

Next measure the bottle that this is supposed to hold.DIY Backpack

This is the smaller Smartwater bottle, about 8 3/4″ around and 7″ tall if I remember correctly.

Get the pocket material out and cut out a section about an inch wider and half an inch longer than you need, and hem the top. This is where you would put in the draw cord if you wanted a way to cinch down the top of the pocket.  If you want a simple pocket you can skip to the pack’s side pockets how-to and just make them to this size. It’s the same principle.

I have a smaller Pixel, so I got a piece of scrap that is big enough and folded a section over so that I had 1/4″ spare on the side and the same on the bottom. I like to do these types of pockets sew first and then cut out, so that if I mess up the dimensions I can just rip the seam and reuse the same cloth.  Mark out the seam on the inside of the cloth, this is going to be 4″ wide by 7″ tall. This will be built into the bottle pocket as a structural piece so it’s doubled over and inside out. I’m going to sew on the inside, and then flip it right side out so that the seams are hidden.

All sewn up and ready for the prom.

From here we cut out the pocket and sew one side to the strap. I recommend the inside of the pocket so you don’t have to reach around the water bottle to get to it.

I also have the mesh remainder of the pocket sewn in. it’s sewn to the bottom and is 3″ longer than the rest so it can serve as the bottom as well.  I like a mesh bottom, it allows any water to drain out.

You’ll need to cut the mesh out in a kind of L pattern, so you can have a front and two sides.

Next sew the mesh to the strap, first the bottom and then up the other side of the strap. Then sew the front panel of the mesh to the phone pocket, and to the bottom of the pocket. It’s easier to turn the pocket inside out for this step.When it’s finished, it should look like this one. Ready for a water bottle.


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