Gymsack Drawstring Backpack DIY

gymsack backpack diy
I recently saw this Alexander Wang gymsack leather backpack and was inspired to make my own.
It’s very similar to the leather drawstring bag I made last year. My new bag has the exact same construction as the one from last year (so check it out if you want to make the backpack!) with the exception of this one being an actual backpack. Attaching the straps to get a backpack is not hard though, actually, the most complicated thing for me was to figure out how long the straps had to be to sit comfortably on my shoulders. Lots of trial and error was needed, but I got them right in the end.

gymsack diy bag

drawstring suede bag
I only had little scrap pieces of the blue suede I wanted to use.

suede patches
I patched them together on these two 40×50 cm brown cotton fabric rectangles.


patchwork 2
I sewed together the two patchwork pieces and made the tubing at the top of the bag.

top of bag tubing

My initial plan was to sew on the lining with my machine as well (like I did with the lining on my drawstring bag last year). Despite using a leather needle my machine was unable to get trough the multiple layers of suede and fabric. I had to hand stitch the lining onto the bag, but it’s OK, It’s not noticeable.

I took the bag to a shoemaker to make the eyelets. I have one of those eyelet punchers (in plastic- worst thing ever!), but I’ve never had a good result with it. Much better to let someone with professional tools do it!

For the drawstring/backpack straps I used some brown leather.

straps 1
As you can see I had to patch these together too.

straps 2
I pulled the straps through the tubing.

straps 3
And then I attached the ends to the eyelets.
As I said earlier in the post, it’s a bit tricky to get the straps the right length. One thing to have in mind is that this bag is quite different whether or not it’s empty or full of stuff. My tip is to get some stuff in it and then see how long the straps need to be. Don’t try it on and determine the strap length when it’s empty, because once you put something in there the straps will tighten up!

straps in eyelets
I’ve been using the drawstring bag I made last year constantly and I will probably do the same with this one. It’s really comfortable to wear and you can carry a lot of stuff in it.

drawstring backpack
So, there it is. An easy, fun and surprisingly stylish bag made almost entirely out of re-purposed materials (the eyelets and thread were new)!

blue suede backpack with brown leather straps

open backpack

A Skirt to Go with the Top

remake outfit top and skirt diy

I used this dress to make the skirt for the top I made in my last post. It has these little ribbons underneath the bottom of the dress that you can tie up and get a bubble effect at the hemline (compare with the top photo).


I cut off the top seam and shoulder straps.

top seam and shoulder straps

Added a belt.

belt 2

belt 3

And a zipper (not my best zipper work, very hard to get it right!). I will also have to add some type of other closure here. Probably a hook.


Hey, guess where I got the fabric for the belt?

1998 witch hat

It’s from the witch hat I’m wearing in this photo from 1998. I’m the weirdo with the Adidas jacket… RECYCLING!!!

Lace and Tassel Top

lace and tassel top diy

I made a new blouse this week. I used an already existing top as a template and drew up a pattern on a piece of fabric (old Christmas table cloth!).

top pattern

I cut out the back and front of the blouse using the same pattern. I’m not 100% sure what kind of fabric I used, it looks kind of like polyester gabardine. It’s a very easy fabric to work with!

top pieces

The top looked a bit plain when I finished it.

undecorated top

I decided that some decoration was needed. I rummaged through my craft supplies and found some bits and pieces of lace and a fringe trim that I could use.


The fringe trim was made into tassels using some super glue (that I hope will hold when I wash the top), an old polyester necklace cord and some little bits of fabric.

tassel 1

I cut up the fringe trim in four pieces. I glued the trims and rolled them into tassels.

tassel 2

tassel 3

tassel 4

I glued on some fabric to the tassels to hide the purple fringe seam.

tassel 5

Next week I will make a skirt to go with this top. See you then!

DIY Kimono Style Dress With Drawstring

kimono sleeve dress diy

kimono sleeve dress diy full

Ok, so this might be one of those tutorials where I just end up confusing myself, but I’m going to try and explain it to you as simple as possible. This is a really great dress, it’s easy to make and afterwards you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something. The less details you add to this dress, the more casual, loose and comfortable it is. On the other hand, you can also make it elaborate and add almost as many details as you’d like.

The Pieces

First you need a fabric that is tearable – in BOTH directions. This is really important as this dress relies on straight lines and there’s a lot of tearing involved. It’s also good if the fabric drapes well and is on the thin side. My fabric is a thin cotton deadstock find. Not sure where to place it in time, it was mixed up with some other fabrics that was very late 60′s early 70′s-era in style, so maybe that’s it. The important thing is that it was perfect for this dress and surprisingly easy to work with despite being thin.

I started out with a piece of fabric measuring 150 cm x 155 cm (basically, all that was left of it in the store). This dress uses every inch of fabric- so nothing of it goes to waste! Yay!
These are the measurements for all pieces taken from this fabric sheet. This fits me (euro size 36/38), and I’m pretty sure It would fit a lot of different shapes and sizes, otherwise, just adjust the size of the two dress pieces and it should work.

dress pattern measurements

The dress consist of:

  • 2 Dress pieces – 110 x 75 cm
  • 2 Drawstring tubing – 29 x 5 cm
  • 2 Sleeves – 70 x 29 cm (basically what’s left when all other pieces have been taken out)
  • 1 Front – 150 x 9 cm
  • 1 Drawstring – 150 x 7 cm

There is one more piece though that I had to add when I made my dress. I was able to take that piece from the front. I will get back to that later in the tutorial.

This is how the smaller pieces should look like after they’ve been taken out from the fabric sheet.

dress detail pieces

The Dress

Start out by sewing together the two dress pieces. Leave the areas where you want the collar and sleeves unsewn. How much you leave unsewn depends on how wide you want the neckline and sleeves to be. I left maybe 15 -20 cm unsewn at the neck and about 25 cm unsewn at the sleeve opening. The only thing to think about here is to make the sleeve opening smaller or as big as the sleeves.

dress pattern 2

Cut up a round neckline.

cutting neckline 1

cutting neckline 2

cutting neckline 3

Cut up the front.

cut up front

Fold down the neckline. This can be a little tricky, and the result can look a little weird. I found that pressing down the fold after I sewed it flattened it.

neckline 1

neckline 2


Just realised I didn’t take enough photos of this step. Crap!

Anyway, you fold the sleeves in half like this:


(This is the part I forgot to take photos of) You sew the two ends together and then you attach the sleeve to the armholes on the dress. I attached the sleeves like this in a top last year, so check out that tutorial for a more in depth description of this step.

If the sleeves are too wide for the hole, don’t worry. Just gather them at the top until they fit the armhole.

After attaching the sleeves you could easily just stop and leave it like it is, sew the hems at the sleeves and skirt and fix the collar and it’s finished! Use the drawstring as a belt and you get this cool looking hippie-esque tunic.

sleeves attached

hippie dress

Front and buttons

One side of the cut up front is folded twice and sewed with two seams.

The other side has the front piece attached to it. It’s sewed on and folded twice and it also has two seams.
front 1

front 2

So, then you have one side that looks like this, this is where the buttonholes will be made:

front 2

This is how it’s folded:

front 5

And the other side looks like this (folded just the same as the above except it didn’t have any extra piece attached to it). This is where the buttons will be attached.

front 2

I can’t do buttonholes on my sewing machine. Actually, it’s supposed to be able to make that stitch, but every time I try it out it ends up a complete disaster. So, I prefer to sew all my buttonholes by hand. Here’s a great tutorial with the technique I always use to make mine.

I used 11 buttons in my dress.

buttons 1

buttons 2

buttons 3


I didn’t want this dress to be too much hippie. I was going for a more 1940′s look, so I decided to gather the fabric in folds on the shoulders. Each fold is about 1.5 cm wide. How many folds you need here depends on how wide your shoulders are. The idea is to get the sleeve seam to sit on the shoulder like a normal sleeve would, not slouching off the shoulder like a kimono sleeve.

shoulder gather 1

shoulder gather 2

shoulder gather 3

See the difference? 40′s on the left, kimono slouch on the right.

shoulder gather 5

I pressed the folds with my iron and sewed two seams on each fold to keep them in place. However, remember how I mentioned at the start of this tutorial an additional piece that wasn’t included in my pattern? This is where I had to add it.

shoulder gather 4

Even though I easily could have just left the seams like this, the area looked unfinished and I wanted to cover it up. The front piece of the dress where the buttonholes were made didn’t need to be that long. I took off two pieces from it and added those to the shoulders. I just sewed them on like two patches.

shoulder gather 6

The drawstring and tubing

You could easily just make the drawstring and tie it around your waist, or skip the drawstring entirely and use a belt instead and be done. I felt like complicating things though and wanted to make the drawstring and some tubing to put it in.

The drawstring is extremely easy to make. It’s folded three times and has 2 seams.

drawstring 1

drawstring 2

drawstring 3

The two tubing pieces are placed on the sides of the dress. Measure where your waist is and put the tubing a a centimetre or two down from it (you want the top of the dress to slouch a little over the waist).

tubing 1

Sew one seam at the top, like this:

tubing 2

Fold the tubing twice at the bottom and fold in the seam allowance from the upper seam under it. You will get a tube.

tubing 3

tubing 4

Sew two seams to finish it.

tubing 5

Insert the drawstring.

This is the back of the dress. The tubing on each side and the exposed drawstring in the middle makes a great little detail!

tubing 6

Finish the dress by sewing the hemline and adjust the length of the sleeves to your liking.

Yep, that’s it, I hope you liked this tutorial. I think it’s longest I’ve written so far… Phew.