My first homemade backpack takes on the Rockies…

Desmond roll-top backpack (2)

Have you ever been to a place that has, quite literally, made your jaw drop? Have you then wandered around said place making strange aaaahing noises because there are simply no words, yet you somehow have to express your awe, wonder and joy? If you’ve answered yes to either or both of the above questions, you’ve probably been to the Rockies.

It’s not often that I am without words (understatement) but upon arrival at our cabin in Golden, BC, I was slack-jawed aahing like the best of ’em. It wasn’t just the astonishing mountain ranges that occupied the horizon in every direction, it was also the extraordinary nature of our accommodation. We spent two nights at a proper log cabin, complete with animal skins, antlers everywhere, a big stone fireplace, a swallows’ nest, a campfire and a local (but elusive) black bear. I could (and did) pretend to be Calamity Jane. It was remote, surreal, and utterly, utterly magical.


The start of the day looked like this:


The close of the day, like this:



As I said – no words.

What I do of course have words for is my me-made backpack. The Desmond roll-top is the brainchild of blogger Taylor Tailor, and is a thing of ease and (a practical kind of) beauty. I’d ogled the pattern for some time but being a free tote kinda gal, didn’t have much need for a proper backpack in my life. Then Canada-gotta-be-rugged-time loomed, and I knew that no number of free totes were going to see me through this one.

Desmond roll-top backpack

Desmond pdf consequently purchased, I was a bit concerned about the size – it didn’t sound that big from the given dimensions (16.5′ high) but versions I’d scouted out on Instagram (#thedesmondpack) seemed huge. Being not huge myself, I wanted something for the key walking essentials (camera, phone, tissues, water) that wouldn’t overwhelm me, or leave my items rattling around inside if half full. I was about to print out my pattern pieces with the intention of grading each one when I (thank goodness) had a genius idea – and printed them at 80% scale! This gave me a finished bag just over a foot in height, still large enough to hold all of the above-mentioned essentials and stuff a scarf and a banana in on top. (I say a banana; it was quite usually something less healthy.) The only thing I’d say is if I were to do this again (the scaling), I’d lengthen the roll-top section as this became a little too short.

Let’s talk fabric. The Desmond calls for medium to heavy weight wovens. Because I wanted the bag to be pretty, and to perk up what I feared would be otherwise very dull outfits, I was struggling – I’d found some gorgeous furnishing fabrics but nothing was quite right for ‘my bag’. I was at my wits end in Fabrics Galore when I spotted the Liberty art fabrics – the FG website states these are 80% cotton and 20% wool, which gives them both a gorgeous hand and weight. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you’ll appreciate that the chance to make my backpack in Liberty print was simply too good to resist. And it just so happened that the art fabric I particularly liked was a classic Liberty design I already had in my stash in a different colourway – perfect lining alert!

Desmond roll-top backpack (3)

A bit of interfacing was all that was needed to bring the fabrics up to the desired weight. Then everything was unbelievably straightforward – all aspects of construction are thoroughly explained and illustrated in Taylor’s Desmond sew-along, which is really helpful if you’re new to the whole bag-making business. I purchased my ‘hardware’ (o-rings, d-rings, plus ‘webbing’/strap stuff) from Kleins, Soho. However, you may have noticed that my backpack doesn’t look exactly like the original Desmond – this is because booboo brain here had some problems with basic numeracy and didn’t buy enough o-rings or the right kind of snap hooks. There was no way I was leaving my fabulous little rucksack at home because of a few strap issues however, so I simply tied things tight and hoped for the best. And the best is almost what I got. My little rucksack was so sturdy and strong – my constant companion on three weeks of adventuring and more!


Next time – I prance about on a lake jetty in my Seamwork Weston shorts! x


7 thoughts on “My first homemade backpack takes on the Rockies…

    1. Thanks, Fiona! We found the cabin by searching for accommodation in and around Golden, a small town about an hour’s drive from Banff, Lake Louise etc, because those areas were already pretty booked up and expensive – there’s a whole website for cabins and lodges in Golden (called something like Travel Golden) but we actually just came across ours in the Google search results. I’ve put a link in the blog post if you want to check out the site. One of the things we most enjoyed about our visit was staying in some weird and wonderful places, so not only would I highly recommend Canada but I’d highly recommend going off the beaten track accommodation-wise! x


  1. Amazing photos! And your backpack is beautiful! What a stroke of genius to print at 80% (but good tip about the roll top section)! I’m going to make this at some point, and will probably have similar issues choosing the right fabric; I’m very particular. Also, sewing bags are a great occasional departure from dressmaking as there’s no fitting required!


  2. Pingback: 2017! |

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