Tutorial - DIY Kid's Backpack - Great for Pool, Toys, Overnight Outings or Day Trips

Check out how to make a DIY Mesh Bag for a little one (or big one!) in your life!!

These make great swim bags!!! I like using nylon material because it's strong, great for fabric painting/embroidery and great if you want to use the bag as a swim bag (dries in no time)!!!  If you are going to be using the bag for little toys like Lego’s, you might want to line the inside of the bag with nylon or some other material.  The below tutorial does not include a lining.  To do that, just buy and cut a piece of material 18” x 42” for column and sew together and 11” circle for bottom and sew column to bottom and top before adding drawstring step.  It’s that easy to alter!!! Possibilities are endless!!!  Wouldn’t your kid/grandkid love a gift in one of these bags or simply love the bag as a gift itself!!! 

I've also designed these bag options that include that all important cup holder and zippered pocket option if you prefer something different!!!


Sewing Machine
Thread (Black& color to coordinate with Nylon fabric)
Straight Pins
Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
Ruler/Measuring Tape
Safety Pin (1)
Small Twist Cord for Drawstring – 1 yard  
Cord Stop (1) for Drawstring Closure
1” Black Webbing for Back Straps – 4’ for 4-year-old - maybe more for older kid
Nylon RipStop Fabric  – 6” x 59" wide of 2 different colors 
Black Pet Screen mesh material – 12” x 35" wide 
Black Cargo Netting mesh material – 18” x 50" wide
Favorite Print Material – 6” x 44" wide
Scrap Material for back of pocket – 8” x 10” piece
Embroidery Hoop or Fabric Markers Pens for Personalization
Fabric Glue (optional)
Fabric Paint (this was the brand we ALWAYS use!) (optional) 

Decide how big you want your bag.  The one I made, and these instructions are for a bag that’s approximately 11” diameter bottom and 16” high.  Note:  This looks like a lot of instructions, but it’s easy. I’m just a detailed person and wanted to provide instructions for a beginning sewer!!!  If you are a beginning sewer and think this is too hard for you, you can always omit the pocket which would make it easier.  It’s just that the pocket and hidden treasures is kind of our trademark and kids love hidden treasures – who doesn’t!!!

Cutting Instructions:
RipStop Nylon material – Cut 2 3” x 42" pieces of one color for the middle band.  The other color will be used for the drawstring and personalized pocket.  Cut 1 3" x 42" piece and a 3" x 10" piece from this color.

Favorite Print Material – Cut 1 3” x 42" piece. Cut 4 3" x 10" pieces. Take 2 of your  3" x 10” pieces and cut them to form a flap for top of pocket.  

Black Cargo Netting material – Cut 1 18” x 42" piece.
Scrap Material – Cut 8” x 10” piece for backing of pocket.
Pet Screen mesh material – Cut a circle 11” in diameter.  Note:  I used my Sew Steady Deluxe/Wish Table and Circle Sewing Tool to get my perfect circle diameter.  I just love my table and circle tool!!!

1” Wide Black Webbing - Cut 2 2’ lengths for back straps. 

Small Twist Cord -Cut 36” and tightly wrap the ends in tape so you can get them thru cord stop later.  Attach a safety pin thru one of the taped ends to use as a gathering mechanism for later.

Personalization Instructions
Take the 10” x 3” strip of nylon you cut for middle of pocket, pick your favorite font and embroidery kids name, a quote or whatever you want.  If you don’t have an embroidery machine, just use some Fabric Paint https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=sewwithsparkles-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01FE1JTDI or Fabric Markers Penshttps://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=sewwithsparkles-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01JM2QPL4 to personalize your bag.  Remember you will have ¼” seam on each side of fabric.  If your kid is old enough, it might be nice to have them paint their own name or picture on the nylon strip!!!  

Sewing Instructions
Middle Band -  Sew a nylon piece (3" x 42") to right side of printed material (3" x 42"). Iron, but make sure iron is on lowest setting – nylon doesn’t like to be ironed, but I always like to iron my seams to 1 side!   Sew other nylon piece (3" x 42") to other right side of printed material and iron.  This forms your middle band.  

Mesh Bag 1st Steps– Center your Middle Band on the 18” x 42" mesh cargo material with right side of Middle Band fabric facing up and pin.  You should have approximately 5” of mesh below and above the band.  

Top stitch the Middle Band to the cargo mesh.  I typically top stitch really close to the end of the nylon approx. 1/8”.  Top stitch around the outside of the nylon and around the inside part of the nylon closest to the printed fabric as well.  

Pocket Flap - Place pocket flap material right sides of fabric together and sew ¼” seams around 3 sides of pocket flap leaving the 10” top open. Clip corners.   

Turn inside out and iron.  

Pin pocket flap with flap facing up to center top of Middle Band (21” from side).   

Sew the open top of flap to the top of the nylon using ¼” seam.  I also zig zag stitched it for extra strength and to keep printed material from fraying later.  

You then turn flap down and sew 1/8” top stich across the top of the flap securing it to the Middle Band.  I also top stitched flap part.    


Pocket Pouch - Sew 10” strips of printed material to the top and bottom of 10” strip of nylon with personalization on it. Iron – lowest setting.  This forms the pocket front.  

Take 8” x 10” piece of scrap material and pocket front and put right sides of fabric together, pin in place and sew ¼” seam all the way around the outside leaving a small opening (maybe 4”) in the top so you can turn inside out later. Clip corners.  

Turn inside out.  Fold down 4” opening to inside and iron – lowest setting. Top stitch 1/8” seam along entire top of pocket closing up opening in the process.   This makes the pocket pouch.   

Pin pocket pouch to mesh bag middle band just under the pocket flap seam.  Fold or pin pocket flap up out of the way.     

Top stitch 1/8” seams around the sides and bottom pocket.  For extra strength, I also top stitched ¼” seams around the sides and bottom of the pocket.  Note:  My top stitching isn’t perfect so don’t look too close, but then nothing I do is perfect!  This should finish your pocket unless you want to add a button or Velcro or something to the flap to keep it closed.  I chose not to add a fastener, but you could easily add a fastener.  

Mesh Bag 2nd step – Take your 18” high x 42” wide mesh bag that you’ve previously assembled and fold it so right sides of fabric are facing each other and pin and sew the 18” high ends together using a 1/4” seam allowance.  I also zig zagged the seam to strengthen it!  This should form a column which is the base for your bag. 

Drawstring - Take your 3” x 42" piece of nylon and turn both ends under ¼” and lightly iron on low setting to get a crease.  Top stitch ends 1/8”.   

Fold nylon in ½ lengthwise and lightly iron on low setting to get a crease.  Take folded nylon strip and pin it to top of mesh column.  Mesh material should go all the way to top of inside nylon.  You will need to leave the ends of the nylon open so you can put cord thru it later for drawstring.  Nylon opening should be in back at mesh column seam.   

Sew bottom of nylon to mesh close to bottom of nylon.  I also zig zagged for extra strength.  Note:  Mesh stretches so don’t be too hard on yourself when pinning nylon to mesh.  It might not match perfectly.  You might have a few puckers, but who cares since you will be gathering anyway!   Just do your best.  Start pinning at opening on back and work your way around and make it fit. 

Take small twist cord end with safety pin and gather it through the nylon opening until you get all the way around back to the opening.  

Remove safety pin and take both taped cord ends and put them thru cord stop.   Note:  Getting cord thru cord stop was definitely the hardest part of this project for me!!!  Once cording is through the cord stop take cord ends and knot them together above taped ends and below cord stop.  Sew just below knot with zig zag stitch to keep ends from fraying and dap some fabric glue on them as well.  

Attach bottom base to Mesh Bag -  Take your 11” pet screen mesh circle and pin it to your mesh bag column with right sides of fabric to the inside of the column.  Your pet screen mesh will be on bottom and you will be pinning cargo mesh to top of it.  You will have extra cargo material that you will need to gather/pleat for it to fit the pet screen.  The cargo mesh material has so much stretch and give it’s difficult to get things lined up to sew and get spacing correct.  I’m just going to go ahead and say it, “Allow yourself to not be perfect and just go with the flow.  So what if there are some puckers – just make it work.”  Sew ¼” seam around the circle and then come back and zig zag the seam a couple times for strength!     

Attach Back Straps – Pin 1” x 24” black webbing straps to back of nylon drawstring material – 2” from each side of back seam and sew securely by zig zagging several times.  Make sure to sew at bottom of nylon to ensure you are not sewing your drawstring.  Pin 1” x 24” black webbing straps to bottom of Middle Band – 3” from each side of back seam and sew securely by zig zagging several times.   Note:  My straps were only 18” long because the bags I made were for a 2 and 4 year old.  You will need to adjust strap length depending on the child’s size. 

Your bag is complete.  Marvel at your creation and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!!!  The secret to being happy with your quilt applies here too!

 If you love making for kids - you'd love our Weighted Blanket tutorial as well!  Great as another gift option or our Cushy Career Doctor Pillow.

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