Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Personalize a Backpack

How to personalize your store bought backpack with a name.

how to personalize a backpack

How to achieve that machine embroidered look with a simple needle and thread.

Yes you can do this yourself without a fancy embroidery machine.

hand sewn letters onto backpack

monogrammed backpage with sequined pouch

So go ahead, buy the backpacks your kids fell in love with in the store and personalize them yourself.

retail backpack beforebackpack after diy personalization

Here's how to personalize your store bought backpack:

1. Decide the best spot with open space - we went above the logo:

where to put name on backpack

2. Using a seam ripper remove stitches at outer edge (zipper and binding) to free the exterior printed fabric from the grey lining:
(*You could skip this step and sew straight through all layers however your stitches will be visible on the interior - see Step 8.)

seam ripper to open lining

3. Print name to fit (I used Ariel font 75 point).

printed letters on lightbox

4. Using a light box place printout behind exterior fabric exactly where the name will go and trace outline:

trace letters with pencil

Here you can see the letters in blue on the exterior of the backpack.
This will be your guide when adhering the fabric cutout letters to the backpack.

traced letters on backpack

5. Apply heat-n-bond double sided fusible to wrong side of black cotton fabric.
Using same printout, place right side down on light box then fabric right side down and trace outline of letters onto paper backing of fusible:

trace letters onto black fabric

6. Carefully cut out letters, keep the paper backing in place:

cut out fabric letters

7. Iron letters in place using the guide made earlier in Step 4:

iron letters onto backpack

8. Using Coats Dual Duty general purpose black thread doubled on the needle begin a tight satin stitch over the letters.  Keep stitches as close to each other as possible mimicking a tight zigzag machine stitch:

use satin stitch to stitch over letters

Below the 'E' is complete:

use satin stitch to stitch over letters

All letters sewn:

sew over all letters

And a view of the back:
  I prefer to hide this mess between the fabric and lining but you could skip Step 2 and sew straight through to the interior.

backpack interior

9. Sew zipper and binding back in place following the existing stitching lines:

sew lining back in place

Now all you see is lining and no messy threads:

interior of lining

Personalized and ready for a new school year:

diy personalized backpack


  1. My kids totally got the short end of the stick when they were in school! I didn't do anything like this for them. And you make it look so easy, too!

  2. Cuteness, Jaime! Thank you for always being first to my party. :) xo Jami

  3. It's very cute, but a long time ago, parents were advised to not personalize any of their kids' things because strangers can use that to call their names and lure them away.