Fish Backpack


Well, I’m finally getting around to putting up some sort of tutorial for the Fish Backpack I made for So You Think You’re Crafty. It only took six months. Hey, it could be worse! I should, however, make a disclaimer first about the quality of this tutorial. Or lack there of… (hangs head in shame)

Since I was on a bit of a time crunch to whip out this backpack before the weekly deadline of SYTYC, I wasn’t really concerned with taking measurements or saving patterns for a future tutorial. Bummer, I know. So instead I have just a few photographs that will hopefully help an experienced sewer figure out how the heck I made this backpack. It really is just your basic drawstring bag, in the shape of a fish. So if you’ve made one of those, this project will be a breeze!

If anyone has question, please feel free to comment and I’ll try to clarify or find more pictures.

Fish Backpack Tutorial

– cardboard (to make patterns)
– thick fabric (duck, denim, etc)
– interfacing
– quilter’s weight fabric
– extra wide double fold bias tape
– large fabric covered button
– felt



1. Ok, let’s just disregard the netting in that picture (how’s that for starting off on a good foot?). I wanted to include this picture so you could see what the fish body pattern looked like. Unfortunately, it also included an element to the bag (netting)  that didn’t quite work out. So, just look at the pattern(which is approximately 14″ at the widest point by 12″ long) and make something similar.

2. Use your new pattern to cut out fabric pieces (o
nce again ignoring the stupid netting in the picture):
– 2 body pieces (duck cloth)
– 2 body pieces (interfacing)
– 2 mouth panels (quilter’s weight fabric, 6″ height and straight across top, use the pattern piece upside down to make appropriate curve)
– 2 tail pieces (duck cloth, free-hand pattern, approx. 5″ wide at base and accounting for a .25″ seam allowance)
– 2 lining pieces (quilter’s weight, pattern piece plus the mouth piece)

3. Freehand draw scales on the front of one of the pieces of duck cloth. Using a small zigzag stitch through both the duck and interfacing, follow drawn lines with sewing machine until your scales are complete.

4. Right sides facing, sew tail pieces together, leaving top open. Clip edges, turn right sides out and press.

5. Oops! Forgot to include fins in step 1! Wow, this tutorial just keeps getting better and better, huh? Ok, cut out two fin shaped pieces from your “mouth” material (mine is approx. 5″ wide at top). Sew right side facing around edge (leaving top open), turn right side out and press. Add two decorative stitches around edges if you so desire.

6. Sew fin to top of body, approx. 2″ inward. (Are you tired of the word “approx” yet?!)

7. Fold top corners (approx. 2″) of mouth panel inward. Fold again, enveloping the raw edge, and press. Repeat with other mouth panel.

8. Fold top edge down 1″ and sew in place. Repeat with other mouth panel.

9. Cut four pieces of your extra wide double fold bias tape (long enough so that you can tie them together to make semi-adjustable straps, mine were about 15″ long). Pin two of them 2″ in from top of body and the other two .5″ in from bottom of body. Sew in place. Sew mouth panels to both body pieces (.25″ seam). Pin tail in place.

10. Sew eye in place (two felt circles and one fabric covered button).

11. Pin body pieces right sides facing and sew around all the edges, taking care not to sew into bias straps or tail. Turn right side out and press.

12. Sew around the edges of the lining (right side facing), leaving the top open. Fold top over approx. 2″. You want the lining to come to about 1″ from the top of the bag. Fold over more if necessary. Press with iron.

13. Insert the lining into your bag, pin top of lining and bag in place and sew as close to the lining edge as possible.

Thread string

14. Thread string through top of mouth panel. Add decorative beads to the strings if you’ve got them. If not, just make a knot. Your kids probably won’t notice anyway!

This was my son wearing his fish backpack at around 20 months. As you can see, the backpack is just a bit to large for him but there’s plenty of room to grow into it! Seeing these pictures makes me long for Spring.

Hope the tutorial helped. As always, feel free to comment if you have any other questions. With such crappy directions, answering your comments is the least I can do!


About Vanessa Brady

Vanessa Brady is a craft blogger, mother of two boys, and a hot sauce junkie. She's been running Tried & True for over 7 years and her tutorials have been featured in numerous craft books and publications.


  1. OMG! How cute! I really want to make this in adult sized! My last name just happens to be Fish, so I love anything that has to do with fish!

  2. Amei o tutorial! Só tenho dificudades com as medidas em polegadas, pois só uso em centimetros. Parabéns e muito sucesso sempre! Deus lhe abençoe, proteja e ilumine em todos os momentos!
    Abraços com muito carinho.


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