Kate is off to school this fall. Preschool is still school, right?
In keeping with tradition, I made her a backpack.
Emily very generously offered Kate her old one, which she'd outgrown, but I thought Kate needed her own. After all, this is a big step for a feisty little three-year-old who's been waiting and waiting to go to her big sisters' preschool. Whenever we were visitors in Jenna's classroom, Kate would park herself at the craft table, grab the scissors, glue and markers, and get lost in her own projects. When the big kids were out playing at the playground or in The Big Room, she'd whisper to me, "Can I play, too, Mama?" She knows the class pet, the teachers, the toys, the books, the songs. Oh, our little Katydid has been ready for preschool for months. So while most people would throw their proverbial caps in the air at the end of their school career, Kate is almost certain to punch her fist skyward, on the very first day of hers, thinking, "YES! I made it! The Day has come at last! It's finally My Turn!"
I'm excited for her, of course. But I'd be lying if I didn't also confess that I'm a little sad that she isn't a baby anymore. She's marching purposefully into another teacher's classroom, her entire being ready to devour every experience that was her sisters' before her. With a mission like that, someone needs her own coming-of-age bag, don't you think?
So that was how I talked myself into cutting out yet another of those time-consuming, multi-pieced, crazy-fiddly backpacks. Each time I make one, I tell myself, "Next time, just go buy one, for goodness' sake." But when the time comes for the next little girl to take that big step, I dissolve into a lump of defenceless sentiment and I sew them their backpacks.
Last year I didn't give you the grand tour because I rushed Jenna's off the sewing machine months before the fall so she could take it on the plane to Singapore. So lots of photos in this post to make up for that.
All the fabric is home-dec weight or canvas/duckcloth. Under that, I added sew-in interfacing and some pieces I cut out of an old, lightly padded bassinet mattress protector.
I threw together random (i.e. not by the same designer; in fact, not even from the same store) prints and solids. You might recognize this combination from Emily's sunhat.
The back has a big stripey pocket and ergonomically curved straps.
There are stretchy mesh side pockets for a water bottle and small stuffed animals/leaves/acorns,
a reinforced base,
and a handle.
There are also chunky zippers everywhere.
What makes this backpack fiddly and time-consuming is the lining. I like the raw edges tucked away where no one can see them
and that slowed me down some, because I had to skip around the various pieces to get them assembled in the right sequence.
But I'd always enjoyed that part of sewing bags, anyway. I'm forever trying to discover new ways to get the insides to look increasingly neater, especially where there are zippers. I started sewing bags long before I owned a serger and even though I now do, I don't intend to ever use it with my bags.
Kate screamed when she saw her backpack. She immediately put it on, then realized she had nothing (yet) to put into it, so took it off and resumed play-cooking as if nothing had happened.
Jenna, 2010 (first day of school; backpack not in photo)
Kate, 2011 (two weeks from The Big Day)
in three years.
Didn't someone once say good things came in threes?
P.S. Updated to add, in response to the questions in the comments: the pattern for the backpacks was something I drew up myself. I'm sorry it isn't a commercial one that I could direct you to buy. I'm also not planning to make mine available as a pattern for sale, because it's not a design that most people would enjoy sewing. It's a lot of work, and you'd have to have quite a bit of bag-making experience to make it worth your time working on it (5 days working on a dress is perfectly OK, but 5 days working on a bag isn't for everyone). And, also unfortunately, I'm not selling these in my shop ready-made. Sorry there are so many nays, folks. I didn't even think to mention all this in the main post when I wrote it.