Completed: Marlin backpack

side, front and back view of a blue Marlin backpack

My oldest daughter wanted a new backpack. I made her one three years ago and while it is still in pretty good condition, she thought it was too small. Since I don’t just make bags whenever someone asks me to (not even if you are my child), I said she had to wait until her birthday. To make my life less complicated I made someone else’s pattern for a change. Figuring out how to sew my own designs usually takes up at least half of the construction time. She requested a bag that opens with a zipper and I liked the look of the Sew Sweetness Marlin Backpack pattern. I made the size small, which is still a relatively small backpack but definitely larger than the one she had.

top view with closed zipper marlin backpack

With the Marlin backpack you have the option to only buy the pattern or to buy the pattern with an online workshop. Since I’ve made several bags before I decided to only get the pattern. When I first looked through the instructions, I was a bit lost and had trouble figuring out how everything was supposed to go together. When I simply started sewing and followed everything step-by-step it all started to make sense though. The one thing I did not like was that the image quality of the photos that illustrate the steps is not great. She also used a busy print for the sample bag which sometimes made it difficult to see certain details. Overall, I think this is a good pattern. Everything fit together well, I learned some new bag making tricks and ended up with a great looking bag.

Top view with opened main compartment zipper of the Marlin backpack

Fabrics and interfacing

My daughter wanted a blue, green and orange backpack. The blue main outer fabric is a waxed canvas. For the bottom I used cork fabric, I love how this holds up over time. The other fabrics are all quilting cottons. I didn’t have enough of a single fabric in my stash to use for everything so I combined several different ones with similar colours.

open zipper backpack front pocket

The lining fabrics are interfaced with Vlieseline G700. The outer fabrics are interfaced with By Annie’s soft and stable. This was my first time using soft and stable and I am now a HUGE fan. This interfacing gives so much structure to your bag while it is still very lightweight.

There are a couple of places where Decovil Heavy is recommended, but since I already had Decovil Light I used that instead. For the strap overlay I used a single layer of Decovil Light. For the front pocket insert I fused the Decovil Light to another sturdy interfacing that I already had. I think both changes worked fine.

nearly finished backpack struggles to fit under sewing machine

With all the interfacing and layers putting the bag together becomes a bit of next-level sewing machine wrestling to fit all through, but I managed. I should buy more wonder clips though… 

Construction changes Marlin backpack

The instructions tell you to interface the outer fabric with a medium weight fusible interfacing. For the pattern pieces that were made from waxed canvas I omitted this step. Waxed canvas is already quite sturdy on its own and doesn’t really need it. Additionally, fusing interfacing requires pressing with an iron. Ironing waxed canvas melts the wax in the canvas which may result in loss of its water and stain repelling qualities.

Backpack webbing straps with single sliders

For the straps I used 1” wide webbing instead of fabric straps. I think webbing is more durable, looks very professional and it’s quicker. I didn’t really understand how I was supposed to guide the straps through the metal rectangles and sliders and used a single slider instead. 

mesh pocket

To the front pocket I added a mesh pocket. This was simply a piece of mesh fabric with bias tape sewn to the top. The mesh was then placed on top of the lining piece and basted in place before using the panel to construct the bag.

child wearing a backpack

My daughter loves her new Marlin backpack and I hope she’ll happily use it for several years to come.

February 20, 2023

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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  1. tierneycreates

    Wow I am very impressed, a backpack is a complex item to make! It looks really professional put with a personal fabric touch! Nice!

    • Emmely

      Thank you! It was fun to pick a fabric combination that I knew my daughter would like.

  2. Kate Chiconi

    Great backpack, and I love how you’ve used those super-chunky zippers as colour accents. I hope this one will be big enough for a long time, it sounded like a real labour of love to make…

    • Emmely

      Thank you! It was satisfying to make. With all the quilting I’ve been doing, it’s also nice to make some 3-D shapes for a change. If it becomes too small at some point, I may just make the larger version.


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