4 surefire ways to decorate a backpack to make it look like new

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Summer flies by and once again a new school year is almost here. And with it comes the familiar rush to your favorite retailer for back to school supplies so that your child is prepared for the year.

If you are concerned about inflation, a backpack might be low on your list of back-to-school items that need replacing, especially if your old one is still in good shape. But your child doesn’t have to be tied to an old backpack. In fact, with a few simple steps, a little patience, and maybe a trip to Michaels, you or a young child under your supervision can create a brand new, one-of-a-kind backpack.

I’ll walk you through four ways to decorate a backpack, from the simplest to the most elaborate. And while you’re here, be sure to check out our lists of the best backpacks and lunchboxes for back to school and back to school gifts for your teacher.

1. Use iron plates

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Using iron-on patches or fabric stickers is arguably the easiest and most affordable way to transform a backpack. What you need for this are the iron-on patches of your choice, a fabric backpack, parchment paper (which may or may not come with the iron-on patches), and an iron.

First, sit your backpack on a sturdy table or ironing board. Then plug in your iron and heat it up. From there you can remove the adhesive from your iron plates and place them on the area where you want it to stick. Then you place the parchment over the patch to protect it from the heat of the iron. Finally, run the iron over the patch until it sticks.

The time it takes for the iron patch to stick depends on the height of the heat as well as the fabric of the backpack.

2. Try embroidery

Multicolored embroidery thread on a green background

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You’ve probably seen embroidered backpacks with cool designs on them. And, if you have a knack for embroidery, you can get a cute design on a backpack in no time.

For this method, you need at a fundamental level a pattern that you will follow. Then, using a fabric pen, you will draw your design. Then you will gather your materials – needle, embroidery floss and scissors.

When working on your backpack, hold it taut so everything stays stable. Otherwise, your design may not come out as expected. Using the desired thread weight and color, you will begin stitching your design. Typically you start from the center of the design as you can adjust it as you go, and once you’re done just tie off your design and trim the loose ends with scissors.

3. Get creative with paint

Multicolored acrylic paint on a pink background

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For people looking for an easy way to turn a plain backpack into an abstract or graphic masterpiece, painting is the way to go. All you need is acrylic or fabric paint, primer (optional), colored pencil (color depends on color of backpack), brushes, water and your design.

Using the colored pencil, you will sketch out the design of your choice, then follow with a primer. Doing this before applying your paint will make the paint stick to the surface and also give it a clean look when everything dries.

From there, you basically paint by numbers. Whatever color you need, just paint it and let it dry. If you have a lot of creativity, this method will give you the most variety, especially because you can paint over old patterns.

If using spray paint, be sure to use a drop cloth to protect surrounding surfaces. And you can use spray fabric paint (if you want) because it’s easier for your kids to manage. Once your drawing is finished, all you have to do is let it dry.

4. Keep it simple with fabric markers

Multicolored fabric markers on blue background

michaels

Just as you would if you were painting your backpack, with this method you will want to sketch out your design. But, there are far fewer steps with using fabric markers. All you need is a clean cloth backpack (preferably light colored) and cloth markers.

Depending on your skill level, you might want to draw your backpack design with a pencil before you dive in and start drawing with a marker. But if you already know what you’re doing, you can just draw your design with the fabric markers and fill it in however you like.

Although this method is simpler, it will not look as elegant as painting. But it will still be unique, and young children can handle the design and decoration themselves.

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