Repurpose A Men’s Dress Shirt Into Drawstring Backpack – Fun Sewing Project

Turn a Dress Shirt into a Trendy Drawstring Backpack

Transform a Dress Shirt into a Chic Drawstring Backpack: Sewing Magic!

Ever thought about giving an old men’s dress shirt a second life? Let’s transform it into a stylish DIY drawstring backpack! This makeover is not only quick, taking just about 30 minutes, but also simple enough for sewing newbies to tackle.

Why Upcycle Old Dress Shirts?

My hubby has this knack for retiring his dress shirts quicker than most. Take the recent mishap: a cheesy accident during lunch. Oops! Rather than letting it gather dust, I opted to turn his shirt into a backpack.

Repurposing clothing is a fabulous way to source fabric, hone your sewing skills, and test new patterns. Plus, it’s eco-friendly! I was initially experimenting with a backpack design for my daughter’s ballet essentials, and the result was too adorable not to share!

Essentials for Your Drawstring Backpack:

  • Old dress shirt (cleaned & ironed)
  • Sewing machine & matching thread
  • Sharp scissors
  • Measuring instruments
  • Rope for straps (I chose yarn) – 2 lengths, approximately 65″ each (adjust as needed)
  • Grommets & fitting tools
  • Either pins or Wonder Clips

Steps to Revamp a Dress Shirt into a Drawstring Backpack:

1. Prep the Shirt

Spread the shirt out and cut two fabric rectangles, each 16″ wide x 18″ tall. Aim for a flat, rectangular shape, so trim away the curved bottom. Check the button placement to avoid tricky sewing later.

Tip: You can finish your fabric edges in various ways, like zigzag stitching, overcasting, or even pinking shears. Choose what works for you!

2. Joining the Fabric Rectangles

Begin by sewing down the buttoned section of the shirt to prevent gaping holes. The objective is to keep your backpack contents secure. I opted for white thread on a white shirt – the result is seamless!

3. Crafting the Drawstring Channel

Place the fabric pieces with right sides facing down. Fold a 1″ section of each top edge inward. I’m a huge fan of Wonder Clips for holding fabric – they’re safer around my kiddos than pins. Stitch close to the folded edge on both pieces. This creates the channel for your drawstring. Remember to remove the clips afterward.

4. Assembling the Backpack

Align the fabric pieces right sides together, ensuring the channels match. Stitch the two sides and the base using a 1/4″ seam allowance. A key tip: Don’t stitch beyond the channel base, or you’ll block the drawstring entrance.

5. Setting up the Drawstring

For attaching ropes at the backpack’s base, grommets or eyelets work wonders. Ensure you place them with the backpack’s right side out. Pick grommet sizes based on your drawstring – it should comfortably fit through. Inserting the drawstring might sound tricky, but with a safety pin to guide, it’s a breeze! Once threaded, secure the ends with a knot.

Voila! A Stylish Drawstring Backpack Awaits

Your old dress shirt has now blossomed into a chic backpack! Think of the fashion statement you’ll make. I’m now thinking of crafting more refined versions, maybe without yarn and tiny eyelets. If you enjoy breathing new life into old attire, you’ll love this DIY envelope pillow cover crafted from another shirt. And hey, if you’ve got creative ways to upcycle dress shirts, spill the beans! My man seems to have an endless supply.

Quick Reference Table:

Project Material Time Level
DIY Drawstring Backpack Men’s Dress Shirt ~30 minutes Beginner


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Hello! I'm Monica, the creative mind behind On my blog, I delve into the world of sewing, sharing my passion and knowledge with a community of both novice and seasoned sewers. From foundational techniques and comprehensive tutorials to innovative projects and expert tips, I cover a wide array of topics to assist you on your sewing journey.

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