It's back-to-school shopping time! Your child may have a perfectly good backpack from last year, and you may cringe at the thought of buying a new one.
But with a little creativity and some hot glue, you can give a backpack a makeover that will bring it up to date. Besides, recycling is oh-so-eco-chic these days. Your kid might be the coolest one in school for it.
Trying to save a little money but wanting to make a backpack for a neighbor boy, I purchased this Army-green and red backpack at a thrift store. It was permanently marked with another little boy's name, "Nehemiah." Apparently Nehemiah got too cool for Kermit, as the bag was in great shape but featured the Sesame Street character.
Instead of putting the well-made, slightly used satchel out to pasture, I decided to give it a new look with salvaged items that were super cheap but, in the end, very cool.
Step 1: The materials
First, choose a new theme. It's fun to look around the thrift store for elements to embellish the bag, but focus on your bag's basics first. Since this one has a lot of green and red, I looked for accents in those color families. It doesn't matter what is on the face of the bag you start with because you can change that, but be sure to choose one that has a good, solid color on the sides and back, and stick to these colors.
Nehemiah's bag really lent itself to a military theme. I knew that items for it could be readily and inexpensively found at a thrift store. Also, I liked that the look was more mature for the 12-year-old boy for whom I was making the bag. It had some great details I wanted to keep, like the Boy Scout numbers, the peace-sign patch and the zippers with little red rope pulls. However, Kermit, sadly, had to go.
Next, choose your embellishments. I found a cheap pair of olive and brown camouflage pants, gold police uniform buttons, some military patches and green suspenders that looked quasi-military. All of this cost me less than $15. (When I told the clerk about this redo, he looked perplexed and just shook his head and laughed. I'll have to go back and show him the bag to prove I'm not crazy.)
If you're redoing a more feminine backpack, look at secondhand clothing shops for sweaters with cool flower accents and other embellishments that you can cut off and use for decoration.
Step 2: The conversion
I cut off a great cargo-style pocket from the pants to cover Kermit's image. I folded the edges down and secured them using a hot-glue gun. You also could stitch the pocket down to make it even more secure for heavy wear and tear, but using plenty of hot glue will hold a long time.
I covered some of the old theme with buttons, cut segments of the suspenders with hardware and used the patches to layer everything nicely. Put some patches at an angle for interest. I left the peace sign and Boy Scout numbers showing.
The bag became a wonderful collage with a lot of texture, and it fit the "salvaged" military look that is so stylish now.
Besides saving money, I recycled something headed for the dump. And while I took adorable Kermit out of the equation for now, I know that the innocence of childhood is not too far away, as he's just hiding underneath the new look.