Skip this part if you don't like backstory:
I've never been a fan of backpacks. Nothing against them as a species or anything, but I feel uncomfortable when I'm wearing them and live in constant fear of resembling a turtle. I'm jet-setting over to South-East Asia, namely Cambodia, in a few weeks and will need a bag to carry with me on day trips. Although I've heard the locals are very friendly, it is admittedly an extremely poor country and I don't want to risk my valuables falling into the hands of pickpockets. The obvious solution? A utility belt! No, not a bum bag. These are the cool younger sibling of the bum bag. You won't feel ashamed wearing one, but you will reap the benefits of convenient accessibility and safety which utility belts provide. The set-back? They're fucking expensive. I went up to a market stall and found an amazing utility belt for only $35. I eagerly held out a $50 note to the owner, who laughed at my face and pointed out the 2 in front of the "$35" which I had missed. So when I stumbled across this wonderful suede backpack at a clothes swap, I saw its potential for a facelift!Tutorial Time!
You will need:
A handsome backpack willing to undergo experimentation
Adornments to personalise your creation
Spend some time exploring your backpack's individual traits. Does it have some cool sneaky pockets? Interesting straps? Envision your utility belt.
Now start cutting!
Scalpel out the body parts of your backpack with the meticulous attention to detail of a serial killer. Label them and splay them out neatly over your table, admiring your handy work with a knife. Don't toss the scraps, you may decide you want to turn them into extra pockets or detailing later.
Take the longest strip of material - mine was the side/bottom panel - and wrap it around your hips. Does it fit? Congratulations! Does it look funny? Adjust as necessary.
I chose to hem the edges of mine for a nice, finished look. Of course, if you're time poor or just lazy, this is entirely optional.
Take your straps and buckles and position them where you want your belt to do up. Pin them in place.
Now sew away!
Play around with where you want your pockets to sit. I've gone for two on each side and a hidden pocket at the front. You may want to add more later, after all the more utilities the better the belt! For the purpose of this tutorial I'm keeping it pretty simple, but will experiment later.
Pin those pockets in place and sew them in nice and tight. The last thing you want in the bustling streets of wherever-the-hell-you're-going is a lost pocket!
Cut that hidden pocket to size, preferably just big enough to tuck away a passport and some money. I've positioned mine at the front to make it very awkward for potential thieves who may be mistaken for lady-fondlers.
Sewing time! For extra security I've gone for zigzag stitch here. I left the top open and just sewed the sides and bottom, creating another pocket. I love pockets.
If you want to add more, accessorise, etc, now is the time. Otherwise, you're done!
Step back and admire your handywork. You have now turned a backpack into a utility belt! Kudos you.
My backpack was very happy with its transformation and looks forward to a well-travelled future!