Thursday, February 24, 2011

TUTORIAL: Monster Backpack

Rar!  This monster backpack will keep any fiend away from your crayons and coloring books.  Lincoln needed a new backpack for his birthday, and as luck would have it, MADE featured a fantastic boy-themed etsy roundup, including a Monsterpak from this fun etsy shop.  Inspiration was born!

For this project, grab your stash of scrap fabric...

and a backpack with a fairly plain front.  Lincoln's favorite color is green, so this pack was an easy choice.

If you're adding horns to your monster, you'll also need batting/stuffing.

Remove any labels.

Now you're ready to embellish your monster's face however you wish.

I started with teeth.  I found white vinyl upholstery fabric at my local JoAnns.  I'm not sure why anyone would want vinyl upholstery, but the fabric is sturdy, doesn't fray, and seems perfect for making monster teeth.  A bought a six-inch cut, which probably makes for a lifetime supply of crafty critter projects.

Be sure to steer clear of the zipper.

Stitch in place.

Chomp, chomp.

Continue embellishing however you wish.  To help me decide what size and shape I wanted my tongue and eyes, I set a piece of scratch paper on top of the backpack and doodled until I got a shape and size I liked.  My sketch then became my pattern for cutting each piece.

I sewed the tongue in place.  Fortunately the front pocket on Lincoln's backpack is big and my machine is extremely maneuverable, so I could applique the tongue using my Bernina.  I don't think my old Singer could have handled this however, so don't be surprised if you have to applique some parts by hand.

TIP: When you're working with layered pieces, such as eyes, sew from the top layer down.  For example...

sew the black pupil to the white eyeball...

then sew the white fabric to the blue fabric...

then sew the blue fabric onto the backpack.  See how I never had to sew through more than two layers of fabric?  That's much easier than sewing each layer onto the backpack.

TIP: If you're adding eyebrows, faux fur has nap, meaning that if you look at the fabric, the fur points in a certain direction. Make sure you line up your pattern pieces such that when you cut your right eyebrow, the fur points to the right. Then flip over the pattern so that when you cut your left eyebrow, the fur points left.  Warning: When you cut faux fur, be prepared for a flurry of scrap fur to cover your workspace. Try to only cut the fabric backing, not the fur itself. Still, arm yourself with a Swiffer or a vacuum cleaner. You'll need it.

Stitch in place.  Push the fur aside so that you're only stitching the fabric backing.

To make the horns, I wrapped my fabric around a styrofoam cone and pinned the fabric in place.  I'm sure there are cone patterns online you could use, but since I happened to have a cone, it was faster to use it rather than hunt for a template.  It also helped that my cone was still in its plastic wrapper, so I didn't get styrofoam bits on my fabric.  TIP: If you use a cone to shape your fabric, remember to pin your fabric with right sides together.  The right side of your fabric will face the cone; the wrong side of the fabric will face towards the outside.

Stitch your cone, turn, and stuff with batting/stuffing.

The styrofoam cone was taller than I wanted my horn, so I left the bottom few inches of my fabric cone unfilled.  I gathered the extra fabric and tied the threads to form the bottom of my horn.

Pin the horn to your backpack and hand stitch in place.

You're done!  Congratulations on making your own monster backpack!


  1. Are you kidding me!? Can I adopt you? Like as in adopt you to make amazing stuff for my kids?! You rock! You are the coolest Mom I know.

  2. So cute! And the cute factor goes up a few levels in the last picture with L actually wearing it.

  3. very cute! i am sharing this post with my friend that loves monsters!

  4. So cute! I would love it if you would share this upcycle over at The T-Shirt Diaries (

  5. So awesome. I'm sure he loved it.

  6. Your idea is now stolen. Totally going to do this. Thank you so much!

  7. My teenage daughter made one too

  8. I made this for backpack! I did the eyes and the teeth, i decided not to do the horns and the tongue! Love the idea though! Thanks!