Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Printer-friendly version Share:  Share this page on FacebookShare this page on TwitterShare this page by emailShare this page with other services

REPURPOSE | Trash into Treasures

Blazer Backpack

Text and photos by Wendy Becktold

Lori Eanes

Refashion that ill-fitting dress jacket stuffed in the back of your closet into a one-of-a-kind backpack.

Before starting this project, I hadn't used a sewing machine since a seventh-grade home ec class, where I'd stitched together a stolid, beige shopping bag (an odd choice for a 13-year-old), which I still use. This early success wasn't enough to get me over my phobia of that sharp-toothed, fast-moving machine. But hey, people swim in the ocean even though it has sharks, right? I got my own machine for Christmas two years ago, but only recently decided to bust it out.

What You'll Need:
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape and/or ruler
  • Cutting mat
  • Chalk
  • Pins
  • Men's dress jacket (large or extra large)
  • Snaps and/or buttons
  • Iron and ironing board

If you're an experienced sewer, this project will be a cinch. If you're a novice like me, find an alpha sewer to guide you. Don't be shy—these people love to initiate others. The alpha sewer in my life was a bit like a therapist, coaxing me and my machine past our initial missteps. The evenings we spent together transforming a blazer into a compact backpack—cutting the fabric, chalking and pinning hemlines, stitching the seams—got me thinking about how I most often spend time with friends in some consumer-oriented way, like eating out or going to a movie. There's a unique pleasure in making something with someone, in finding camaraderie while building fresh neural pathways. Now I have a cool backpack and a good friend. Who knows what we'll make next?

Difficulty Level: 3/10 if you sew, 9/10 if you don't sew

Based on a project by Rob Czar at

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2024 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.