| Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: A Handmade Holiday: The Retro Rucksack + Giveaway!

A Handmade Holiday: The Retro Rucksack + Giveaway!

By Allie

Allie is the co-founder of Indiesew and creator of all things pretty on the site. Follow Allie and receive other Indiesew updates by subscribing to the blog.


We know how good it feels to give and receive handmade gifts. So much sentimental value is wrapped up in something you made especially for someone you love. So much so, that both the gift giver and receiver can’t help but feel like they just won the damn lottery. It's true. So we’re starting a new series today, folks. With 23 days until Christmas, we’re launching A Handmade Holiday right here on the Indiesew blog.

What is A Handmade Holiday? Well, if you're striving to give only handmade gifts this year, we’re showing you how to get started with great sewing patterns that suit nearly everyone. If you haven’t even thought about sewing up your Christmas gifts, we’re giving you some inspiration to get your butt in gear. You have 23 days, you can totally do this.

Not to mention, giveaways are happening! Every Handmade Holiday blog post will include a giveaway for one copy of the sewing pattern we've featured to one lucky reader! Let’s get started with our first pattern feature, The Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio.

Pattern Overview

The Retro Rucksack is a vintage style bag with adjustable straps that can be worn as a backpack or shoulder bag. The pattern is intended for intermediate or advanced sewists, and preferably individuals who have experience with zippers and using handbag hardware. The intermediate sewist should budget a few afternoons for this project (about six hours, give or take).

Retro Rucksack Pattern Overview | Blog

There’s nothing quite like a vintage-inspired pattern to make me completely giddy. But in my opinion, what makes this pattern awesome, is the excitement that comes with putting together all of your fabric and hardware choices. The options are limitless! Here’s what I did:


The Retro Rucksack is intended for use with heavy weight fabrics like canvas, duckcloth or denim. Because the pattern only calls for two yards of fabric (a little more if you’re using a contrast exterior fabric), I was able to source fabric entirely from my current stash. There's nothing better than a good stash-busting sewing project!

Fabric for the Retro Rucksack | Indiesew Handmade Holiday

So let’s break down the fabric I chose, in case you’re unsure of where to start.

  • Contrast Exterior: I used the scraps I had left from this dog bed project for the contrast exterior piece. This is a heavy duty (made in the USA!) home dec fabric was designed by Premiere Prints, and purchased from Fancy Tiger Crafts nearly a year ago. Hence it’s likely out of stock now, but I found the same print in a different colorway here.

  • Main Exterior: For the rucksack’s main exterior fabric, I used a mid-weight denim that I originally used for the Make Me Up Before You Go-Go pouch. It has a bit of stretch, which initially worried me, but with the non-stretch contrast fabric sewn on the bottom of the bag, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

  • Straps & Accents: I sewed my straps and the exterior band from some super heavy weight duckcloth that was destined for a reupholstery project that never happened. This natural canvas color is the perfect complement to the contrast fabric and holds up well after heavy use.

  • Lining: Ah, this lining...I just love how well it matches with the color theme. This Cotton & Steel quilting cotton (also used to sew the Washi Dress) was the perfect weight for the bag lining, and the cheerful color makes me happy every time I open the bag.


Sara, the designer at Radiant Home Studio, notes that brand-new bag hardware can be hard to source, and she wasn't kidding. At first, I was scouring the internet looking for 1.5” wide d-rings and strap slides, until I read Sara’s instructions more closely. Repurpose old hardware. Not only is this a much less expensive option, you’ll likely find totally unique hardware that you could never get from a sewing supply store. My hardware was sourced from a thrifted (admittedly hideous) purse, and three men’s belts. I love the look of the worn metal with the vintage style of the bag.

Retro Rucksack Hardware | Repurposed from Bags and Belts

Retro Rucksack Gift Ideas

The Retro Rucksack is the perfect gift for nearly anyone, boy or girl, man or woman. We think it’d be especially useful for frequent flyers who like to bring a small carryon on board with them. There’s room for a tablet, several books, wallet, snacks and a water bottle. We’ve also seen a few versions sewn up for middle-school aged children as their school backpack. But beware! You may want to keep one for yourself.

Retro Rucksack Pattern Giveaway!

Now, to the good part! We’re giving away one copy of the Retro Rucksack pattern to one lucky reader! Simply enter below by Friday, December 5th at 10pm MST. The lucky winner will be emailed and also announced on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so make sure you follow us to find out if you've won! Check back every week for more Handmade Holiday goodness!

Want to check out our other Handmade Holiday gifting guides?
Scarves and Cowls + Giveaway! (contest closed, winner announced)
Envelope Clutch + Giveaway! (contest closed, winner announced)
Senna Tote + Giveaway! (contest closed, winner announced)

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