Wearing a backpack on one shoulder was an immensely popular trend back in the 80s and 90s, and nowadays it’s coming back in full force. More and more people are throwing their old backpacks and bags away and rush to the market in search of the best sling bags and backpacks, and rightly so – sling bags are not only stylish, but they’re also more compact and substantially lighter than their bulky counterparts.
If you’re for whatever reason too attached to your old backpack and at the same time interested in sling bags, you don’t have to worry too much – you can have both in one. Today we are going to talk about the means and methods of converting a backpack into a sling bag.
How to turn a backpack into a sling bag?
Basically, you’ll need a couple of basic tools, some handyman skills, and a couple of accessories before you start cutting and sewing the parts together.
The first and most obvious mistake you could make is removing one strap and hoping that it would instantly morph your backpack into a sling bag. It will not, even if you patch up the cutaways, you will simply have a one-strap backpack, which is not what a sling bag is.
You will need to cut one strap off, but you’ll also need to tweak with and modify the remaining one with swivel hooks. While you’re at it, you can also replace your old strap if you didn’t like it too much. Let’s talk about the steps you’ll need to take.
Step 1 – Getting the right tools
You will need a pair of scissors, a sewing kit, two 1-inch swivel hooks, and two sliders. Your scissors will need to be durable and sharp enough to cut through the fabric of the strap; depending on the material of the strap, you might even need a pair of heavy-duty scissors. For example, if you have a sturdy leather backpack, ordinary scissors might not be able to cut through.
The sewing kit should be used to patch up the holes where you cut the strap. Now, finding the right color might be a bit hard, especially if your backpack features complex graphics and multiple colors, but if you’re not too confident in your sewing skills (or if you simply can’t find the right thread color), you can use stickers to patch up the cutaways.
Step 2 – Taking measurements
One of the most important steps is taking the measurements. Measure the strap as accurately as possible so that you know exactly how to cut the second one. Note that the straps on most backpacks are generally long enough to reach the diagonal ends.
If the strap on your backpack can’t reach the diagonal end, you will simply need to leave a bigger portion of the second strap.
Step 3 – Cutting the strap
Before you decide which strap you want to cut away, you should try carrying your backpack on each shoulder to determine which carrying position suits you more. Try wearing the backpack on each shoulder while it is empty and after that gradually start packing light items until it’s full. This is the easiest way to figure out which carrying position suits you more.
Once you’ve decided which strap should go, use the scissors to cut through the fabric. Try to get as close to the margins where the strap connects to the backpack. You only need to cut out the top end and shorten the bottom end.
Cutting the strap out entirely might prove to be challenging, so you might end up having to cut out a portion of the backpack where the seams connect as well. Use the sewing kit (or stickers) to patch up the hole afterward.
Step 4 – Modifying the strap
Both straps on your backpack are already connected to the backpack, so you will also need to cut away one end of the second strap as well. Make sure that the cut is clean. If your backpack features hook straps, there’s no need to modify the second strap at all, as you will simply need to redirect it towards the other end (diagonally).
If your backpack doesn’t feature hook straps, you will need to install one in it. The hook strap will need to connect to the cut-out strap on the bottom end, which means that if your backpack doesn’t have an O-ring, you will need to install it as well.
Alternative method – cutting out both straps
If you want to carry your new sling bag loose, you might want to consider cutting out both straps and re-stitching one of them in the middle between the locations where the two straps used to be. The process is exactly the same as with cutting out only one strap, although you’ll need to repeat certain steps.
You might want to use this method if your backpack features a complex design where cutting out a single strap might prove to be pointless. Backpacks made of rugged materials and backpack models that feature short straps are best approached this way.
Frequently asked questions
Why would I convert a backpack into a sling bag?
Essentially, sling bags can be carried in multiple positions, and this versatility allows you to find the position that feels more comfortable to you. Apart from that, you’ll definitely look cooler and more stylish by having a sling bag than by having an average backpack.
Do I need any special skills to convert a backpack into a sling bag?
Basic sewing skills are the only ones necessary, other than that, every single step down the road is plain and straightforward.
Can I simply cut out one strap and use the other one for my new sling bag?
You could, but this will put a lot of pressure and stress on your shoulder and neck, so you definitely shouldn’t approach your new sling bag this way if you want to avoid back and neck pain.