Saturday, 21 January 2012

Dora the Explorer Backpack and Map Tutorial

Here's the second part of the Go Diego Go rescue pack tutorial: for my soon to be 2-year-old, a Dora the Explorer backpack.

This project also relies on the excellent Indietutes tutorial for a toddler size backpack. Because the Dora backpack is much closer to this pattern, it only required a few additions to make it work and is a much easier project than the Diego rescue pack. Probably do-able in a nap, especially if you don't bother with the iron-on interfacing (I didn't).

You will need:

- 1/2 metre of purple cotton
- yellow, black, white, and pink felt
- small pieces of fabric to use for the map: I used two 7" squares of unbleached cotton but really anything would work.
- small piece of velcro (optional)
- fabric pens (optional)
- thread to match the above
- this template for the map's face
- bondaweb (optional)

** Before you start: read through the tutorial instructions. I won't replicate them here: just use these two tutorials side by side.

Step 1: Cutting out

Cut out the pattern from the Indietutes tutorial, plus two additional 3"x7" pieces.

Step 2: Assembling the face

Using the template above as a guide, cut out pieces from the felt to make the backpack's face. I didn't use bondaweb, but you could if you wanted. Sew them onto the backpack: eyebrows onto the top flap, eyes and mouth on the bottom section. Attach velcro if you are using it.

Step 3: Attaching the sides

Dora's backpack needs a side pocket to hold the map, so make sure you add one before you attach the sides. I put one on each side. Take each 3"x7" piece and press down and sew across the top. Now turn it over so that it's wrong side up, position it on the strip of fabric that will be the sides, and sew across the bottom.
Pocket, attached at the bottom.
Fold over and press. You should now have the makings of a pocket, with both sides left unsewn. Do the same on the other side, then attach the side piece following the original tutorial instructions.

Both pockets attached

Step 4: Sew the backpack together

Assemble the rest of the backpack!

Step 5: Make the Map

The Map is vital to Dora's backpack, and a chance to let your creativity go! I used these fabric pens to make mine, although I thought about applique-ing, or doing a combination of both.

Cut two equal size squares of fabric. On the top corner of one, trace the Map's face (or applique it on). On the other, draw a map.

Put the right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a gap to turn the map right way out. Clip the corners, turn right side out, press, and top-stitch (catching the gap that you left). Roll up the map and tuck it in the side pocket.

And you're done! I stuffed mine with a little Boots sidekick and some binoculars (every explorer needs them). Can't wait to see the pair in action!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Go Diego Go Rescue Pack Tutorial

My son's latest obsession is Go Diego Go, and he has been asking for a rescue pack. Although I can't deliver his original request - a pack that actually turns into a hang-glider/kayak/snowmobile/etc - I did my best for his upcoming 4th birthday. And I'm actually quite pleased with the result! This is a few naps worth of work, but can be divided nicely into two stages: nap 1 for making the face, and nap 2 for putting the bag together.

I went back to this wonderful toddler backpack tutorial for the basic shapes and measurements but because the rescue pack has a front pocket, zipper, and one strap instead of two, it needed a little modification.

I still haven't figured out how to make downloadable patterns, so this will take a bit of piecing together and figuring out, but here's how I did it.

You will need:

- about 60cm of orange cotton
- one 12 inch orange zipper
- a small piece of velcro
- black, white, yellow, red, and pink fabrics (felt is easiest)
- a small piece of elastic (about 5 inches)
- thread
- bondaweb (optional)
- a printer to print out this template for the face as well as the backpack patter linked above

Step 1: cutting out

From the backpack pattern above, cut out TWO backs. You could make the backpack just as it is in the pattern but my son is a stickler for detail and definitely wanted a front pocket and zip. So, cut two of the back pieces. Then cut a 6" x approx 20" strip for the shoulder strap (you will want to surreptitiously measure your child to make sure the strap will fit over his head and body, and then make it a bit bigger!). Instead of cutting one 3" by 34" piece for the sides, cut one 3"x approx. 24" piece, and one 4" by approx. 14" inch piece. I also cut a small strip to make a loop at the top of the rescue pack, to hang it up, and a slightly rounded square for the front pocket.

Now using the face template as a guide, cut out pieces from your felt for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

Step 2: assembling the front

Applique the pupils onto the eyes, and the tongue onto the mouth. Fold the top of your pocket piece down and sew across, then sew on to the top centre one piece of the velcro. Clip along the edge of the pocket to make it easier to turn under, and then press the edges underneath.

Depending on where your Rescue Pack face is going to sit, you might want to sew some of it onto the pocket before you attach the pocket to the bag. On mine, the eyes sit on the pocket, the eyebrows just above, and the mouth below. So, in whatever order you need to do it, sew the face and pocket on, and the second piece of velcro to keep the pocket closed.

(The real rescue pack has a top flap over the pocket, but given the dimensions of this backpack and the need to get the face on, I couldn't make the flap fit as well. However, if you were making a bigger version of this and wanted to be really authentic, then you'd want to add a top half to the pocket too.)

Face on, pocket and velcro attached

Step 3: attaching the side

Cut your 4" wide strip into two 2" wide strips, and attach one to each side of the zipper. Then sew one of your 3" pieces to each end and press flat. You should now have one solid piece of fabric followed by a piece with the zip and then another solid piece. You may need to do a bit of trimming to make sure they are all approximately the same width.
Side strip, before trimming to a consistent 3 inches width

Follow the tutorial instructions for attaching the sides and topstitching.

Step 4: making the shoulder strap

Sew your shoulder strap pieces together to make a tube. Turn right way out and press flat. Because I like my things to have a bit of give but fit closely, I added a bit of elastic to the bottom of the strap. This is entirely optional! To do it, cut a piece of elastic about 5 or 6 inches long and feed it into the bottom of the strap so that it sits about 10" up. Sew the elastic in place. Then pull the end of the elastic down and sew it in place at the opening of the strap. Your strap should now be a bit bunchy at the bottom, and have a bit of stretch.

Step 5: final assembly

If you are making a little loop to hang your bag, do it now. Follow the instructions from the tutorial to sew the back of the bag in place, remembering to pin your strap and the loop in place so that they are on the inside of the bag (which is turned inside out) as you sew. It also helps to leave the zipper a little bit open so that you can turn the bag right way out when finished - I say this from experience...

And, you're finished! I stuffed my Diego bag with a note pad for his animal journal, this book for his Click the camera, and a little Baby Jaguar stuffed toy. I hope he likes it, and isn't too upset that it doesn't turn into a helicopter or jeep...

Click here for the Dora the Explorer backpack tutorial!