Making A Very Secure Travel Backpack Alteration

I haven’t been in Europe the whole time since my last post, although I easily could have spent more time there, but I did finish altering my backpack to make it more secure before leaving and now I’m here to show you how I did it.

Me with backpack

First, I looked at how my favorite leather bag was constructed and the proportions used for the zipper along the back. Then, I googled. I found this tutorial…well, no surprise I can’t find the tutorial months later…but there are many online.

I used an Eagle Creek Daypack . (This is a newer version of the one I used.) It’s very lightweight and easy to smash flat into the top of a suitcase, or more complicatedly, stuff it into its own front pocket.

First I laid out where I wanted the zipper to go. I wanted enough room to pull a sweater out of the pack, so I got pretty close to the top and bottom. Here’s my 14″x1/2″ rectangle, which is marked on the right side of the pack:

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I also drew the cutting the line for the zipper down the center of my rectangle, and the “Y” cutting lines on each end. Place a piece of silk organza or other sheer but strong fabric on top of the zipper opening, cut a little bit larger than the 14″x1/2″ opening. Sew around the outer edge of your opening.

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Then, the scary part. Cut down the middle of the opening and snip to the corners where the “Y” is marked on both ends, then push the silk inside the pack through the opening and press.

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Pin the zipper to the opening and sew near the edge of the opening, moving the zipper pull as needed to accommodate the zipper foot of your machine. I used a water resistant zipper, just in case.

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Now, what about the front pocket? I closed the top zipper using a black wire tie and snipped off the tail. Worked beautifully.

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That’s it! I thought it would be harder than it was. This worked marvelously for my entire trip. I felt very secure the whole time. The backpack itself held up well except that after about two weeks of use, the seam at the top of one of the straps started to come open. I was dreading having to repair it over and over but I only sewed it up once and it held up for the rest of the trip.

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Travel Bag Mod

Most everything I’m making right now is meant to be used on our 6 week trip to Europe. Because we are only traveling with carry-on bags, each piece’s attributes and and detriments seem exponentially greater.

Obsessions:  What if it shrinks in a laundromat with super hot driers (and then can’t be used as a top over leggings, for example)? What if it starts to pill and becomes scratchy? (I get welts from these types of things.) Should it be hand-washable? If it is, will it dry overnight in a damp hotel bathroom? Do I want to be doing laundry on my trip? If I do, then I need to bring scent-free detergent, and gloves to protect my hands, and a clothesline.

It’s different wearing larger sizes, too.  Need a pair of replacement leggings that got torn?  If you’re a small size, you could probably get a pair almost anywhere, but not so for larger sized people!  They might only be available in specialty stores, of which there might only be 1 or 2, even in a big city.  Even department stores that have larger sizes may not stock basics (foolishly, yes).  Forget finding anything like a technical jacket or underwear.

I could go on. I have, however, found the perfect purse, and I’m so afraid it’s going to wear out. I’ve had it over 10 years and it’s still good. I cycle through periods of using it, and then feeling silly for wearing a backpack, and then back to it again. It’s just too practical. I even lost it once and it came back to me, returned with its contents inside. It’s made by a company called Libaire. And it turns out they still make it!  It’s called the San Francisco. Yummy leather that you’d want to hug and rub.

Backpack LeatherThat diagonal zipper across the back, the side that sits on your body, is the best idea ever.  It feels very secure, I never feel like anyone could reach into my bag and take something.  I plan on doing the same thing to this pack:

Backpack Nylon

This one is a bit bigger and should be able to hold my jacket that I’m still working on. I should be able to mark a rectangle with the Y shape at each end and insert a zipper, right?

I finally figured out how to make the hood on my jacket with a drawstring casing that can be waterproofed.  Still obsessing on the zipper facing.