Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Go Diego Go Rescue Pack Tutorial

My son's latest obsession is Go Diego Go, and he has been asking for a rescue pack. Although I can't deliver his original request - a pack that actually turns into a hang-glider/kayak/snowmobile/etc - I did my best for his upcoming 4th birthday. And I'm actually quite pleased with the result! This is a few naps worth of work, but can be divided nicely into two stages: nap 1 for making the face, and nap 2 for putting the bag together.

I went back to this wonderful toddler backpack tutorial for the basic shapes and measurements but because the rescue pack has a front pocket, zipper, and one strap instead of two, it needed a little modification.

I still haven't figured out how to make downloadable patterns, so this will take a bit of piecing together and figuring out, but here's how I did it.

You will need:

- about 60cm of orange cotton
- one 12 inch orange zipper
- a small piece of velcro
- black, white, yellow, red, and pink fabrics (felt is easiest)
- a small piece of elastic (about 5 inches)
- thread
- bondaweb (optional)
- a printer to print out this template for the face as well as the backpack patter linked above

Step 1: cutting out

From the backpack pattern above, cut out TWO backs. You could make the backpack just as it is in the pattern but my son is a stickler for detail and definitely wanted a front pocket and zip. So, cut two of the back pieces. Then cut a 6" x approx 20" strip for the shoulder strap (you will want to surreptitiously measure your child to make sure the strap will fit over his head and body, and then make it a bit bigger!). Instead of cutting one 3" by 34" piece for the sides, cut one 3"x approx. 24" piece, and one 4" by approx. 14" inch piece. I also cut a small strip to make a loop at the top of the rescue pack, to hang it up, and a slightly rounded square for the front pocket.

Now using the face template as a guide, cut out pieces from your felt for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

Step 2: assembling the front

Applique the pupils onto the eyes, and the tongue onto the mouth. Fold the top of your pocket piece down and sew across, then sew on to the top centre one piece of the velcro. Clip along the edge of the pocket to make it easier to turn under, and then press the edges underneath.

Depending on where your Rescue Pack face is going to sit, you might want to sew some of it onto the pocket before you attach the pocket to the bag. On mine, the eyes sit on the pocket, the eyebrows just above, and the mouth below. So, in whatever order you need to do it, sew the face and pocket on, and the second piece of velcro to keep the pocket closed.

(The real rescue pack has a top flap over the pocket, but given the dimensions of this backpack and the need to get the face on, I couldn't make the flap fit as well. However, if you were making a bigger version of this and wanted to be really authentic, then you'd want to add a top half to the pocket too.)

Face on, pocket and velcro attached

Step 3: attaching the side

Cut your 4" wide strip into two 2" wide strips, and attach one to each side of the zipper. Then sew one of your 3" pieces to each end and press flat. You should now have one solid piece of fabric followed by a piece with the zip and then another solid piece. You may need to do a bit of trimming to make sure they are all approximately the same width.
Side strip, before trimming to a consistent 3 inches width

Follow the tutorial instructions for attaching the sides and topstitching.

Step 4: making the shoulder strap

Sew your shoulder strap pieces together to make a tube. Turn right way out and press flat. Because I like my things to have a bit of give but fit closely, I added a bit of elastic to the bottom of the strap. This is entirely optional! To do it, cut a piece of elastic about 5 or 6 inches long and feed it into the bottom of the strap so that it sits about 10" up. Sew the elastic in place. Then pull the end of the elastic down and sew it in place at the opening of the strap. Your strap should now be a bit bunchy at the bottom, and have a bit of stretch.

Step 5: final assembly

If you are making a little loop to hang your bag, do it now. Follow the instructions from the tutorial to sew the back of the bag in place, remembering to pin your strap and the loop in place so that they are on the inside of the bag (which is turned inside out) as you sew. It also helps to leave the zipper a little bit open so that you can turn the bag right way out when finished - I say this from experience...

And, you're finished! I stuffed my Diego bag with a note pad for his animal journal, this book for his Click the camera, and a little Baby Jaguar stuffed toy. I hope he likes it, and isn't too upset that it doesn't turn into a helicopter or jeep...

Click here for the Dora the Explorer backpack tutorial!


  1. This is so cute! My two little boys LOVE Go Diego Go, and I really wanted to make a rescue pack for them. I am so glad I found this. :)

  2. Aw, thank you! Good luck with it!

  3. Hi, I, too, am making a rescue pack for my son's upcoming 4th birthday and happily found this tutorial. Thanks! I have a question though, about the 2 different side pieces and sizes...? How do they work together to make the bag? I re-read above and didn't see an explanation, did I miss something?! Thanks again for posting this wonderful pack, it made my day!

  4. Hi Karrie, do you mean the widths of the zipped piece and the other bits of the side? If so, basically I didn't measure properly as you can see in the photos so my pieces were of different widths and I had to trim them down. The length of that piece - I held it up around the front piece of the bag and measured it that way to get the length. But I don't think that's what you mean! If you want to let me know which step it is that's confusing I'll try and help you out. Thanks!!!