Personalizing Backpacks

Back-to -School is always bittersweet in my family.  We’ve enjoyed the looser summer schedule, more free time to spend outdoors, a (mostly) relaxing family vacation, and the opportunity for the kids to follow their extracurricular passions in camp. But when the end of summer rolls around, we are all ready for the return to structure, and the children are excited to reconnect with friends and meet their new teachers.  We get our list of school supplies and shop the week before, buy some new clothes and if backpacks need replacing, we buy new ones, and label EVERYTHING.  That got me thinking about making their bookbags unique and recognizable, how they love personalizing their things, and fitting it all in one last summer afternoon craft session.

I invited friends of my son and daughter to come to the Trim Queen studio for an afternoon of backpack decorating. I bought a few plain ones and they brought ones they wanted to embellish.  As happens when kids create, there is no hesitation to digging right in.


 Reese and Roger draw their button designs.

Roger masters the button-making machine and Reese is ready to pin her backpack!

Roger masters the button-making machine and Reese is ready to pin her backpack!

The little kids went right for the button-making machine. I borrowed it from Wilton’s teacher Holly as I’d seen the success of her “button table” at local craft fairs. It’s so easy! First you make your drawing in the paper circle, then you layer the metal circular mold, artwork and mylar, and press the machine and it sucks up into the shaft of the button press.  Then you rotate to the second shaft and add in the pin mold, press again, and voila! it’s a real, professional button!  They wanted to do it again and again. Wilton said, “It’s like seeing my name in lights!” (He just finished his first theater workshop and has the drama bug).


We made a ribbon “R” for Roger and ironed on a “W” for Wilton. Reese proudly models her colorful new creation.

The older girls stood at my work table with their backpacks as canvases, layering trimmings, pompoms, ribbons, buttons, tassels, and consulted with one another like real pros. They used hot glue to affix the embellishments, and stitched down the corners to secure the edges.  I was so preoccupied with the little ones that the girls didn’t get much help from me, but turns out they didn’t need it.  I love how these turned out!  Each one unique and apropos to their personality.  My daughter Giovanna gets “annoyed” with my trim-centric sensibility but this afternoon her sophisticated design really made me a #proudmomma.


Giovanna and Zia work away!

What you will need:

  • Backpack
  • Trimmings: ribbons, tassels, pompoms etc.
  • Scissors
  • Needle & Thread
  • Iron
  • Hot Glue
  • Badges or Iron on letters
  • Button Making Machine (buy or borrow)
  • Paper
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Stickers (optional)

Of course you can decorate with whatever is on hand, using your backpack as a blank canvas.  Please share photos if your children enjoy this craft, I’d love to see how they express their creativity. Tag it #TrimQueen #BackPackArt.

I hope your summer has been enriching and relaxed, and getting back-to-school is an easy, joyful transition.

Happy crafting!