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Sew a Simple Backpack for the Beach

Updated on January 12, 2017

Take this DIY backpack to the beach, the gym, or on a hike!

On this tutorial page you'll find the details to make my version of the simple drawstring backpack.

I wanted a backpack that was very lightweight (this one weighs mere ounces) and would also travel easily in my suitcase. It needed to be a no-fuss style that could carry a wet beach towel without bringing the sand home too.

I've made beach bags with window screening material with great success, so why not a small backpack to take on my trips? Like my beach bag design, this backpack has a space for my keys so I don't have to fumble around for them. It's affordable to make.

If I want to change the look of my next backpack, I only have to switch to another color and/or print of bias tape. (Yes, I make my own. You can too.) This DIY sewing project is very simple and quick to complete. Let's get started!

All photos on this page were taken by me.

Time required: One Hour

Difficulty: easy

Cost: $5 to $10


  • window screening material
  • thread
  • 5 yards 1/2" double fold bias tape


  • scissors
  • chalk
  • ruler
  • cardboard cutting grid
  • grommet kit
  • hammer
  • iron
  • safety pin


1. Cut a rectangular piece of window screen measuring 36" long x 20" tall.

2. With the chalk and ruler, draw three lines on the screen from top to bottom. Draw the first line directly down the center at the 18" mark. Draw the second line two inches before the center and draw the third line two inches after the center mark.

3. Fold the screen exactly in half and use innovative clips (I use Wonder Clips by Clover) or straight pins to hold. Then using your hand push the center marking UP 1 inch inwards towards the outer chalk markings (so it looks like Step 4).

Note: The scissors are pointing to the chalk markings as they are a little difficult to see on camera though very visible in person.

4. Pin or clip the bottom one inch pleat in place (as shown).

5. Baste across bottom pleat on both sides.

6. This is how the bottom of the backpack will look after completing Step 5.

7. With chalk mark one inch down from the top of the backpack on both sides. These markings serve as your guideline for the bias tape which will be sewn encasing the raw edges of the material together.

8. Cut two pieces of double fold bias tape equal to the length of each side from bottom to top. (Note: This measurement WILL INCLUDE the one inch chalk marking from top).

Clip or pin tape to sides encasing raw edges of both sides of backpack. Do NOT go past the one inch chalk marking at top.

See Step 9 for closeup showing how to neatly prepare top and bottom of bias tape before sewing.

9. Fold raw end up 1/2 inch and fold edges inwards towards center. PRESS with iron. Do this for both ends. (These folded edges make up for the one inch space shown in Step 7.)

10. Sew close to edge of bias tape, sewing raw edges together. Repeat for other side.

11. Using grommet cutter, make a hole in center of bottom pleat approximately one inch in from the bias tape edge.

12. Tip: When hammering grommets in place I sometimes use wax paper in between layers to help loosen the grommet from the tool.

13. Completed grommet. Repeat the process for opposite side of the backpack.

14. At top of bias tape, cut the corner of the screen at an angle as shown. Do both corners.

Got Window Screen?

ADFORS Standard Window Screen, 36 " x 84", Charcoal
ADFORS Standard Window Screen, 36 " x 84", Charcoal

You'll definitely need some of this. :)


15. Roll screen material inwards twice and sew in a very narrow stitch to secure.

16. To form casing for the top of the backpack, fold material down one inch and crease with fingers by pressing firmly. Secure with pins or clips allowing a 1/4" hem at bottom edge.

17. Sew casing seam close to edge on both front and back sides of the backpack.

18. Cut two lengths of bias tape at 76" long. (I'm 5'10" and this was a comfortable length for me.) You can always cut the tape shorter and adjust as needed to suit the wearer.

19. To thread the casing, first adhere a safety pin to one end of one length of bias tape. Begin threading first through one casing tube and then continuing through the other tube.

Repeat this process with the remaining length of tape, except REVERSE the direction of the threading.

20. Once both tapes are threaded through the casings and on opposite sides, thread one end through the bottom grommet, knot each end individually and also knot ends together. (Zoom in on pic for a close up look at how it's done.)

This drawstring backpack for the beach is literally a CINCH! ;)

21. Ready? Let's go to the beach! :)

Got Grommets?

Lord & Hodge 1073A-4 Grommet Kit
Lord & Hodge 1073A-4 Grommet Kit

I have several Lord & Hodge kits at home. They come with different sizes and finishes to finish a variety of DIY projects.


Handy Clover Wonder Clips

I'm using Clover Wonder Clips now when sewing window screen. They are terrific!
I'm using Clover Wonder Clips now when sewing window screen. They are terrific! | Source

Do you know anyone who could use a simple backpack like this?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful idea for a simple and inexpensive beach bag.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      What a great idea for carrying stuff home from the beach. The way it sifts sand alone makes this genius!!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Veryirie, you are amazing! I can't imagine making something like this. I'd be totally confused before I even got to step 3. Wonderful tutorial for building a beach bag...for that matter it could be used as a gym bag, a shopping bag for light notions, an overnight bag for a child's sleepover, etc. Good work my friend!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 3 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Very cute and clever! I wish my sewing abilities were up to the task.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      What a creative use of screen. I love it! You are always making something cool. I would enjoy taking this backpack to the beach. So practical and lightweight. Ingenious!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Wow what a great back bag tutorial. I picked up some beautiful heavy linen from the thrift stores a couple weeks ago that I am going to make into shopping bags. I appreciate all the tips on bag preparation I am finding on Squidoo.