an autumnal desmond roll top backpack

when Taylor from announced he was looking for testers, i immediately jumped at the chance without thinking about it too much really. i knew his blog and thus had seen first versions of the backpack that he planned to release. have you noticed there aren’t any back pack patterns out there or at least, there are no patterns with a simple yet sophisticated design? i’ve never sewn a back pack before and as far as anything ‘bag’ is concerned.. there is one i’ve made two years ago, which happens to be a free pattern by Novita from (coincidently also one of the testers for the desmond pack, see her superb version here!). That being said, I’m a total bag making amateur, but i was confident i could make it work. and i could – the instructions were thorough and helpful!

luckily, the testing period fit in with my calendar, otherwise i would have felt intimidated to sew with a deadline. my result of pattern testing the desmond roll top is a seriously quirky pack due to my ‘choice’ of fabric. choice is relative, since i didn’t want to spent more than neccessary on supplies and this is what i had on hand. my boyfriend bought this fabric in tehran last winter. maybe because it’s orange? i guess the color was the critical factor. i seriously do not know what’s the content of this fabric… pretty sure it has nothing to do with natural fibres! at first i was afraid it would melt under the iron. fortunately, it didn’t. so, that and it’s weight meant it qualified for being used! and the orange is really quite nice, isn’t it? now that the leaves turn into all the colors and – first and foremost: orange! – i get really excited about its vibrant color.



for the lining i used slippery but rather sturdy lining fabric made from black polyester. i got a bag full of fabric from my boyfriend’s mom when she found out about my sewing. there was a lot of poly lining fabric in there. so i’m glad some of that is processed and doesn’t take up space anymore. (my approach here was pragmatic!) i have to admit though, black fabric is not a thought-out choice to use as a lining. there’s this black hole-syndrome when searching for something. it doesn’t bother me too much, it does match the webbing and the black thread in the weave of my main fabric, a good thing.


apart from the fabric, which cost me nothing, i spent some money on the other notions. these included the metal hardware you can see in the front (zip, hooks, sliders, D-rings) and the plastic thingies that help fastening and adjusting the length of the shoulder straps (are they called buckles?). somehow, i could not find O-rings, which the pattern suggests. there are some online shops but i didn’t want to order online. honestly, living in berlin you can basically get everything around some corner. the plastic surrogate you can see below works in the same manner and is also attached the same way. easy as pie. all these things are relatively cheap to buy, especially if you buy larger quantities (if you are a passionate bag maker you might do that, i didn’t!). here are some detail shots of the installed hardware:

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all in all, the backpack is comfortable to wear (as long as i don’t carry around bricks, that is!) in everyday life. the straps are great for support and have a nice width so they do not ‘cut’ into the shoulders, if you carry something heavier. what i really like about it is the size, it doesn’t look to huge and is not too small for a broad back either. there are four inside pockets and three on the outside, which gives plenty of room for small things that would be lost on the bottom otherwise. which is crucial with roll top bags i think, in standard backpacks you have a zip going all around to the bottom.

desmond-ribbon-detaillast but not least, i added something special to my bag with a beautiful vintage zig zag ribbon (from the 60s or 70s), which i got as a birthday present from a good friend of mine. she bought it at a flea market in mainz/germany. isn’t it just great when friends, who do not sew themselves, gift you sewing related things? i’m really happy to have found such a good place and project to finally use it!


more info about the pattern:

the pattern comes as a two-file-pdf with 28 pages (actual pattern), plus 12 pages (illustrated instructions)

the desmond roll top backpack by

the sewalong  has just started out!

…and i also really liked the color combination in Allie’s testers’ version!

  • Nique Etienne

    The ribbon is such a nice touch.

    • christiane

      Thanks Nique! I almost forgot I had it and then was pleasantly surprised it was such a good match colorwise..

  • Alli

    Your bag came out great! I like the color — it’s very autumnal! :)

    • christiane

      Guess I’ll carry that autumnal vibe throughout the seasons! Thanks Alli.