DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag Perfect For Dorm Dwellers

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag Perfect For Dorm Dwellers.

If you’re headed to college or know someone who is, you know that laundry is a huge topic of discussion. Will I have enough quarters? How far are the facilities? Do I really need to separate lights and darks?

DIY: Backpack Laundry BagAs you’re gathering supplies for the dorm, think about space-saving items that do double-duty as decor. A great gift for an incoming freshman is a laundry bag. I’m not talking about an oversized pillowcase or plastic bin–none of that please. I’m talking about a sturdy tote that can be worn as a backpack when hauling large loads down the hallway or elevator. The bonus of making it yourself is not only adding functionality, but also personalizing the fabric. Choose a licensed college print or sophisticated toile. Pick an animal print or tie-dye canvas. The possibilities to match print to personality are endless.

It’s super important to choose a sturdy fabric that will withstand abuse. This bag will likely hang on a hook in or near a closet, stuffed to the max and ultimately dragged on the floor at some point in time. A cotton duck or canvas fabric is a great choice. When cutting this fabric, it’s best to use a rotary cutter for precision and maneuverability.

Be sure to pair the heavyweight fabric with a heavy-duty zipper. It should  say “heavy duty” on the package.

Best part about this project? It takes only 1 hour to complete!

Laundry Day

by Ellen March


1 yard of 60″-wide heavyweight home-decor or canvas fabric

12″x36″ rectangle of coordinating heavyweight fabric, such as canvas

1 1/2 yards of cording

36″-long heavy duty sipper

Matching all-purpose thread

Rotary cutter, mat & ruler


Using the rotary cutting system, cut four 4″x36″ strips from the canvas.

From the heavyweight fabric, cut one 32″x40″ rectangle and one 16″-diameter circle.


Fold each strip long edge 1/2″ toward the wrong side; press.

With right sides together and folded edges aligned, place two strips on a flat work surface. Insert one zipper long edge between the strips along one long edge; pin generously.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag


Stitch close to the zipper teeth using a zipper foot. Move the zipper pull as needed during stitching to navigate around it.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

With right sides together and folded edges aligned, position the remaining strips on a flat work surface. Insert the opposite zipper tape long edge between the strip folds; pin generously. Stitch close to the zipper teeth using a zipper foot.

Stitch the remaining strap edges 1/8″ from the fold.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Stitch across the strap raw ends to secure.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise with right sides facing. Stitch the long raw edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Zigzag-finish the seams; press open.

Trim 3″ from the rectangle raw upper edge for the casing. Align the upper strap end with the bag upper edge, centering the zipper teeth on the bag seam with both right sides facing up; pin. Position the trimmed fabric strip around the bag upper edge with right sides facing and seams aligned; pin. Stitch the strip to the bag, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Stitch a 3/4″=wide buttonhole 3/8″ above the casing seam opposite the zipper-teeth center.

Fold the casing upper edge 1/4″ toward the wrong side; press. Fold the upper edge another 2 1/2″ toward the wrong side, concealing the seam allowances; press. Stitch close to the first fold.

LaundryFig6 copy

Position the free strap end along the rectangle lower edge, centering the zipper teeth along the seamline. Make sure the strap isn’t twisted; pin.


Zigzag-finish the rectangle lower edge, catching the strap end in the stitching.

Sew a row of gathering stitches 1/2″ from the zigzag stitches along the circle perimeter. Leave long thread tails.

Gently pull the gathering bobbin thread tail to ease the circle to fit along the bag lower edge. Evenly distribute the gathers; tie the thread tails in a knot once the circle fits. With right sides together, pin the circle perimeter to the bag lower edge.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Stitch the circle to the rectangle lower edge just inside the gathering stitches.

Turn the laundry bag right side out.

Knot each cording end. Insert a safety pin through one knot. Thread the pinned end through the buttonhole, using the safety pin to ease the cording through the casing. Pull both cording ends trough the buttonhole when they meet.

Remove the safety pin. Cinch the cording ends and tie into a bow or loose knot.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Wear the bag as a backpack by unzipping the zipper to create two straps. Or wear it across your body by zipping up the zipper.

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

The bag fits TONS of dirty clothes!

DIY: Backpack Laundry Bag

Now you just need to find some quarters…

DIY: Backpack Laundry BagThis originally was published on the web Aug 4, 2017.

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