Backpack Pattern Preview

rolltop backpack sketchI’m so excited to share this “sketch” of my first pattern that I plan to release later this fall! There might be a few slight changes from what is pictured as I am still testing and tweaking the design. I took what I learned from my first three backpacks  (waxed canvas, rolltop v.1, rolltop v.2) and tried to incorporate the best elements of each into this pattern.

There is lots of debate elsewhere online about pdf vs. traditional print patterns, but I’m curious to hear from anyone who might be interested in this pattern if they have a preference. There are pros and cons to both. While there is the immediate satisfaction and instant delivery from a pdf download, they can be a pain to print and assemble at home. On the flip side though, the cost to print and package physical copies of the pattern can be high, which makes the price of the pattern more expensive for y’all.

I also worry a little bit about pdf copies of the pattern being so easy to distribute online. Not that any of you would give the pattern away of course :), but once a pdf hits the internet, there really is no way to stop people from giving it away for free. I would love your thoughts on this issue as well.

With the exception of all-purpose thread, I plan to stock all of the supplies you would need to actually make the backpack. Initially I will offer a simple canvas fabric option, as well as all of the hardware, zippers, and webbing necessary to make the pack. Obviously people can source their own supplies, but I thought I would offer the basics through my shop. Does this sound like something in which you would be interested?

As soon as the pattern is released (I don’t have an official date yet) I will be doing a comprehensive, multi-step sew-along for the backpack.

If this release goes well, my goal over time is to develop a whole line of bag and pack patterns, from zipper top backpacks, to messenger style bags, as well as duffel and smaller toiletry bags.

Your thoughts on the above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

46 Responses to “Backpack Pattern Preview”

  1. Jana — September 12, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    Oooooh, I want it!
    I very much prefer PDF patterns. Most paper patterns aren’t available over here and the shipping from elsewhere is usually prohibitively expensive. Also, I really like that I can just print my pattern a second time if I misplace, rip or, in the case of garments, make bad adjustments to my pattern pieces.
    A lot of PDF patterns seem to include some kind of “watermark”, e.g. a line on each page saying “this PDF was generated for XY (” or similar. That way, if it gets passed around, you know whose copy it is.
    Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in supplies or a kit or anything like that, for the same reason that I would most probably not be able to buy a paper pattern. I do, however, think that they’re a good idea for people who live closer to you.
    Looking forward to seeing your finished pattern! Please make a PDF! (:

  2. renee — September 12, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

    I hope you do a PDF. And, I think if you make it a copy shop PDF that will slow people down from randomly forwarding it. I despise taping. But, don’t mind paying the $3 or so to print at Kinkos. I’m very excited! I’m saving a piece of fabric for it.

  3. Amy — September 12, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

    I prefer PDF patterns, especially for something like a bag—the pattern wouldn’t be as huge and annoying to assemble as a pattern for say, a long dress. Instant gratification is also a big plus! I also like being able to reprint if I need to and don’t like tracing off pattern pieces to preserve the tissue of printed patterns.

    In my experience, people in the online sewing community tend to be very respectful about PDF patterns. People love to support indie pattern designers and I’ve never seen anyone passing around a paid PDF pattern for free.

  4. Clio — September 12, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    De-lurking to say, I’m not a big fan of pdf’s and usually willing to pay a premium for a paper pattern. However, that doesn’t stop me from buying pdf’s when I really want a pattern. One thing that I really like when it’s offered is a large print format (24×36) option since I can then have the pattern printed at Staples – best of both worlds IMHO!

  5. Maike — September 12, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

    I prefer PDF patterns for the same reason as Jana, it usually costs too much to import. But if there are local retailers who stock the patterns I would also buy them there if the pdf pattern has to0 many pages.
    Supplies are awesome, but again too expensive to ship to Europe unfortunately. :/

  6. KaoruMarie — September 12, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

    I prefer paper patterns if I’m in the same country as the designer or can easily buy the pattern at a local sewing store. I don’t mind PDF patterns as long as there aren’t too many pieces. Having a large print format is also helpful.

    I understand the concern of having your PDF pattern distributed easily. It seems like it could easily be done, but I have doubts that it happens often. Have you talked or heard from any other pattern designers on this issue?

    I think a kit with all the supplies is a great idea, especially for consumers who aren’t too familiar with the “correct” supplies to use or don’t know where to get them.

  7. Lindsay — September 12, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    I don’t like assembling PDF patterns. Copy shop is ok, at least a little better.
    I think it would be cool to provide kits, at leas for the hardware.

  8. Tammy — September 12, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

    I much prefer a paper copy because I detest taping PDF patterns together. It would be great if the pattern, fabric and supplies came in a kit as an initial offering, as this is close to instant gratification for me!! I don’t mind paying for the postage to another country, as I like to support independent designers who offer more sizes, more modifications and other options as a part of their package, as opposed to the major pattern companies who usually have narrow parameters for their patterns. Keep up the good work.

  9. Kiki — September 12, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

    PDF Please… not sure about the supplies I like to hunt for bargains or re-use supplies from older no longer usable bags.

  10. David — September 13, 2014 @ 3:00 am

    I would definitely consider both options! If you have a look on Tilly’s website, you’ll see that she sells her sewing patterns in both formats at a different price point which is cheaper for pdfs and more expensive for paper, which I assume is down to production costs. The reason is that simple: pdf or paper pattern, it will always be down to geographical location and personal preference and this will be more or less a 50/50 divide. You have a very interesting and, I believe, completely unique product in the sewing blogosphere that should appeal to both men and women, you’ll probably benefit immensely from using both formats. My thoughts anyway! Personally, being in the UK, and always travelling with a backpack, I can’t wait to buy your pdf format but am prepared to even go for the paper format if I have to. I’m that excited about it 🙂

  11. Mary — September 13, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    I prefer pdf’s. I don’t live in a city though, so making something a shop copy only is problematic for people that live in a rural area. I love the idea of you stocking some of the supplies as well. I am the type that really appreciates knowing where to source things. I hate wasting my time surfing websites etc…I agree that your product is pretty unique and would likely do well to do both.

  12. Kelly — September 13, 2014 @ 10:00 am

    Exciting!! I almost always buy the paper version of a pattern if the option is available- I much prefer that over a PDF. Less time taping and tracing, and much easier to keep my patterns organized. I would love if you sold hardware kits, it’s so much easier to buy it all at once. I’ve made a couple projects with a lot of hardware and it is always time consuming tracking everything down and making sure it all matches. Looking forward to the pattern!

  13. MaLora — September 13, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

    I regularly sew from PDFs, everything from pants to dresses. It takes lots and lots of patience taping and pinning. But you know what else it does? It gives me patterns I can afford, that I can print again if I make a mistake, and I feel like I don’t have to trace them unless I really want too. I think PDFs are the way to go. I don’t know how all companies do it, but sometimes they have limited downloads too. I don’t know how agreeable they would be, but if you can talk to Swoon Patterns. They do purses and bags and they have a secure system for downloading and storing bags and somehow they limit the pdf for emailing and such. I don’t know the details, I just know they seem like they have a secure system.

    Also, I love and really want this roll top bag. I loved you white and grey one, your last one, so much. I prefer to source my own supplies, but kits are also super fun and many people would buy a kit as well. Please get this out in time for the holidays! I want to make a few for gifts!

  14. Hillary — September 13, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    Absolutely cannot wait for this release. PDF’s are a pain, but at least that don’t take up premium geography. I happily use both. Supplies/kits would be awesome for the time-crunched, plus a sew-along. There-get ready for a big positive response;)

  15. Krentu — September 13, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

    This is great news! I am constantly looking for good backpack pattern. I love yours!
    I prefer PDF pattern because I am too impatient to wait 2 weeks to the pattern arrive. I like paper patterns too, especially when they are beautifully designed. But if there is an option whether to buy cheaper pdf or expencive paper pattern, I would prefer pdf. The taping isn’t so hard at all.
    About the notions – I personally would not be interested as it is very expensive to order them from overseas.
    I wouldn’t worry about the copyright infringements because people who buy indie pattern to make something with their own hands are not the ones who don’t appreciate indie designers work. I have never seen that kind of violation. And I feel when a seller starts to be very strict about how many times I can download and makes some kind of weird watermarks – I would be offended that I am not trusted. I sell pdf knitting patterns and I don’t bother myself with this question. I trust my buyers.
    I am really looking forward to your patterns as I love your blog and your work!

  16. Megan — September 13, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

    Very happy to see this pattern sketch and can’t wait to make a pack from your future pattern.

    Having worked at a small sewing shop until recently, I can say that those who want a free copy of a pattern will get it, whether or not it’s offered as a PDF. Many girls at that shop would trace paper pattern copies freely from each others’ purchased ones (paper and/or PDF). I’m cheering for you to make that decision based on how you’d think your paying customers would prefer. Those who respect you, your design/sewing efforts, and quest to translate such into patterns for others will pay for the pattern no matter the format and will encourage free-seekers to do the same.

  17. Naomi — September 14, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    Oh wow, the sketch is beautiful! I can’t wait!
    I also very much prefer PDF patterns. Often, the additional cost for shipping outside of the US makes me rethink a pattern purchase.And I don’t mind the cutting and taping and all: perfect for a boring night shift 🙂

  18. Ginger — September 14, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

    Wow, this is great! I’m so excited!!! I generally prefer PDF patterns as they’re a little cheaper and I don’t have to worry about the pattern tissue tearing or wearing out- worst case scenario, I can print out a new one! I’ve never used a copy shop, though, as it usually costs about $7-10 at Staples and I just don’t want to pay that extra cash. But if you offered only paper patterns, I would still buy it. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a big problem with people sharing patterns, although I understand your concern. I’ve never really seen that before.

  19. Katie — September 14, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

    I love this bag!! I typically buy paper patterns when they are available. But when I like a pattern, I’ll buy it in whatever format is available. For bags I don’t mind PDFs as much since I don’t have to worry about preserving the pattern piece for different sizes — I just cut my pieces out rather than tracing. I don’t think that sharing PDFs is as much of a problem as you might think. Like an earlier commenter said, I get the impression that most people in this community want to support independent designers and appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating a pattern. Congrats and I’ll look forward to getting the pattern this fall!

  20. Katrina — September 16, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

    This is a gorgeous design, very well done.
    Like some of your commenters above, the cost of paper patterns seems very high (to import) unless they are exceptionally high quality or a design-item in themselves (Thread Theory being a good example, I have both PDF and paper patterns).

    I am in favour of PDF, specifically for bag patterns as it would be more efficient for paper usage, smaller pieces (less taping together) and slightly easier for people to customise if they want to add to the pattern.

  21. Andrea — September 18, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

    I’m a bit rushed so I’m sorry if someone else has already said this–but print patterns can also be copied and distributed. it just takes a pen or pencil and sheets of tracing pattern paper. Anyone who’s determined to distribute illegal copies of your pattern can do so, regardless of format.

  22. Beverly — September 19, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    I am so excited to get this pattern and I think the option to buy the supplies is wonderful! I’ve always been a fan of your work.

    I agree with everyone else that we like to support new designers and so pdf’s would be a great way to start. Printed patterns can always come later.

  23. Leigh Ann — September 19, 2014 @ 11:08 pm

    I don’t like pdf patterns at all; I think they’re a gigantic nuisance and a huge pain in the backside. Who wants to do all that printing and taping? Not me. But having said that, I can see from the pattern creator’s point of view that it is much more cost efficient to do it in pdf. If you decide that is the only way you feel you want to offer it, I’d still buy it, just because I really like your designs. They’re unique. I like the idea of your making the hardware kits available as well. Good luck with all this in the future. I think it will be great.

  24. Cheryl — September 22, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    How exciting! I can’t wait for this pattern release! My husband and I have been wanting to make a bag like this for a long time, and I know you’ll meticulously craft an excellent product.

  25. Ben — September 23, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

    PDF man, but please mention whether or not to add seam allowances/already have them on the pattern.
    I for one am eagerly looking forward to duffel and toiletry bags, and with the backpack pattern would adapt it for a luggage rack pack on my Vespa.
    Bring on the patterns, if you charge I will pay. But if its free, even better.
    Stock the kits.

  26. Drew — September 26, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

    I think this is fantastic! Looking forward to this!

  27. Christoph — September 28, 2014 @ 5:49 pm

    PDF is the way to go! International shipping is just not convenient and way too expensive. Additionally, don’t impose any “secure” system, that will just make it inconvenient for your honest customers (Think Mac/PC/iPad/Copyshop). People in the sewing community are generally so honest, many will strongly support Indie pattern designers.
    The All-in-One package from your shop is a nice idea, but won’t be interesting internationally.

  28. Rebecca Slatter — September 29, 2014 @ 12:09 am

    Oldskool printed patterns please…I know it costs more, but I’m a fan of being able to fold the pattern up in it’s own branded pocket…the pocket/envelope is your opportunity to impart more of your branding- important to me because its part of the style of the finished product…for some reason, I feel that a backpack made with a McCalls 1970s pattern would turn out differently than an artisan pattern.

    I second Ben’s suggestion:- stock kits to make the bag and offer international shipping.

    Can I pattern test please???

  29. Toni — October 4, 2014 @ 12:36 am

    Very excited for this–I just started up school after several years off, and I’m holding off on getting a bookbag so I can make this one 🙂 I’m happy to take either paper or PDF patterns, though given the choice I’d probably opt for the PDF, since I can start using it right away. I’d most likely buy the supplies locally. Love your website!

  30. M R — October 15, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

    I’ve never used or bought a pattern before but I think I would very much like to buy a paper one. I’m not sure if I would know what to do if I were to print it out myself from a PDF. Would also very much like to buy a kit that has everything I need to make said backpack, including the fabric if possible. I’m pretty new to sewing (have only made curtains and pillowcases) so the easier/all-in-one, the better.

    Thanks so much, the backpack looks really cool.

  31. Peggy — October 23, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

    I love your backpack and look forward to the pattern. I’m old school so like a paper pattern and only get pdfs if that’s my only choice or I need it immediately. That said, if there is a choice, I would only get a pdf if the price is much less – because my time is worth something, and pdfs take a lot of time to put together. The kit is a great idea.

  32. nan — October 28, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

    I can’t wait for the release of your pattern. I love it. I would love to be a pattern tester for you.

  33. Will — November 12, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    I greatly prefer paper patterns to pdf. Although the accessibility of pdfs is very handy, printer paper is not what a sewing pattern should be, and if I’m going to a copy shop any way I might as just wait for it to come in the mail. I really appreciate you asking your community about this. It’s quite thoughtful, and I feel a bit bad that you don’t really have a consensus. I’m sure I will buy the pattern either way, and I would be very willing to beta test it for you!

  34. from Germany — January 23, 2015 @ 10:48 am

    Please do a downloadable pdf pattern, it’s a lot more inviting because it’s instant. Also, people who sew don’t cheat, you shouldn’t worry too much about piracy. Lovely pattern, by the way. Looking forward to the launch.

  35. Shmulik — January 29, 2015 @ 6:23 am

    I’m in. Save a paper pattern for me, with a kit that contains all the notions, plus the fabric…

    I hope you ship to Israel

  36. Kate — February 4, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

    Any updates on when this pattern will be released? I’m in need of a backpack but keep holding off on sewing one in the hope that you will release your pattern.

  37. Briauna — February 20, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

    A pdf would be great, as well as a supply kit.

  38. Adam — February 21, 2015 @ 11:28 am

    PDF would be my preference.

  39. Sarah Turnbull — March 15, 2015 @ 5:40 pm

    I don’t have an opinion either way on hard-copy vs pdf, but if you do release a hard-copy version, my request is for a decent thickness of paper, like the older KwikSew patterns had, not the horrid flimsy tissue in Big 4 patterns. However, knowing your attention to detail in your sewing, I am sure you will release something that is a pleasure to use!

  40. Jess Robinson — March 16, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

    I am really looking forward to this release. I have been waiting to make a back pack since I stumbled across this a year ago. What is the status? We are hungry for your guidance, oh wise backpack wizard!

    Many thanks!

  41. Taylor — March 16, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

    Sorry for the delay Jess! I didn’t realize it would take me this long to get the pattern released. The pattern and instructions are finished, I am just waiting on graphics and illustrations (which are taking forever!)

    As soon as I have a more firm release date I will be posting it here.

  42. Reanna — March 30, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

    I too am awaiting your delicious pattern. I love the look of it.

  43. Harry — June 21, 2015 @ 7:11 pm

    I think you can make your patterns travel further and reach a wider audience if you make them avaliable in pfd format. I live in the middle of Argentina and I can get hold of patterns from other parts of the world without the hassle of postage. And sometimes shipping to here is just not avaliable. One thing that’s maybe worth mentioning is that some of the pdf patterns I’ve used don’t come with all the pieces printable. For all the basic rectanglar shape you just get provided with the measurements and you have to make the pattern yourself. Maybe sounds like a bit of a cheat, but I think it actually ends up saving paper, and takes about as long to make your own pieces as sticking tons of pages together does. The other thing that I’d recommend is making your pdf avaliable in 2 different paper sizes. Depending on where you are in the world the common paper size changes between Letter (216×279) and A4 (210x297mm). I use A4 all the time, but had to go out and buy a pack of Letter to be able to print out patterns from people in the US. Really nice design by the way! I like your practical approach. There are very few backpack patterns avaliable over the internet and I’m sure this one will do well. If you need pattern testers give me a shout.

  44. shay — July 28, 2015 @ 6:58 am

    When is the pattern coming..? Can’t wait

  45. Nancy — August 4, 2015 @ 9:39 am

    When will you have the pattern available? I’m ready to make a bag and want to wait for your pattern!

  46. Julie Craven — August 7, 2015 @ 7:39 am

    I really need this pattern. Today…………… please, it is the best I have seen around the “NET”. 
    I have made three samples myself, and like none of them. Not very creative.
    I am leaving September 4th for a month long vacation hiking different trails through out the US. I am not paying 200 dollars for one that is way too big for my needs.”one change of clothes plus sleeping. Dried food, small stove, extra shoes/boots.
    Sleeping bag, small tent, tarp are separate.
    Please, please,please tell me you have this.
    Thank you SEW much.

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