The Retreat Backpack by The UJAMAA GRANDMAS

6/11/2018 10:49:00 AM

There is a FANTASTIC new pattern out by a wonderful group in Calgary, Alberta, - the UJAMAA GRANDMAS. We, at Emmaline, have been lucky enough to have some our bag hardware used this new pattern too! It's called "The Retreat Backpack" as it does use our retreat bag frames to have that handy frame opening at the top that is so similar to our free Retreat Bag pattern. It has sooo much more though, and I'm sure it's going to be a new favorite. I'm pleased to have Patty, one of the bagineers from the foundation, share all of the information about her group and the pattern today! - Janelle

UJAMAA GRANDMAS, a group of over 500 Calgary women, is part of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Foundation works to address the consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic upon families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa.  Since 2004, UJAMAA GRANDMAS has donated over $1.25 million in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, by raising funds through a variety of activities, both handcrafts-related and other. You can learn more about UJAMAA GRANDMAS and the Campaign at

In 2017 a small group was formed within UJAMAA GRANDMAS, Bag-ettes, that focused on building bag making skills and making bags for the fall sale, BAGS, BABIES & BEYOND. In 2018, Bag-ettes ventured into the world of bag design and pattern drafting.  The first pattern - a wine tote - was launched in February 2018, and since then the group has released patterns for a set of zippered cases, a shoulder bag, a convertible handbag, a guitar strap and a tutorial for pockets. The early proceeds from the sale of patterns were used to offset costs of supplies for the group’s products but for the rest of 2018, proceeds from pattern sales will go to the Foundation in the form of donation.

The latest pattern release is the Retreat Backpack, named after its cousin the Retreat Bag by Emmaline Bags. The backpack uses the internal B-Frame and the finished size is 12”L x 13.5”H x 6”W (30.5 cm L x 34.3 cm H x 15.2 cm W).  This backpack is great for everyday stuff but also has potential as a Diaper Bag, a Gym Bag or a Camera Bag.  Change the fabric and you change the purpose.

The front of the backpack has a large, secure, zippered pouch pocket that can be finished in either of two ways, folded or bound.

The top of the backpack closes by means of a zipper and the B frame keeps the top wide open for easy access.

Straps and handles are made with webbing. The ends are covered with raw edge vinyl, leather or cork, making the construction much less bulky to sew compared to using multiple layers of fabric. Rivets can be used to add extra embellishment. The back of the backpack has a wide zippered pocket that lies securely against the wearer’s back.

Inside, there is a second zippered pocket and a divided slip pocket that has a pen slot and room for a phone and other smaller items. Inside finishing is neat and tidy by means of a clever two-step method so the lining closure is clean and nearly invisible.

The base of the pack is reinforced with stabilizer and features six bag feet.

The pattern is written with enough detail for the beginning bag maker and can be made successfully with quilting cotton. The pattern will also appeal to the experienced bag maker as it is easily taken up a notch with fabric choices; consider, linen, denim, plain or waxed canvas.

Retreat Backpack has been extensively tested and is a quick and easy sew especially given the tips and tricks along the way. 

See the other patterns by Bag-ettes on their CRAFTSY page

Bag-ettes extends their thanks to Emmaline Bags for their support in many ways. - Patty Cucman, of the UJAMAA GRANDMAS.

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A Note

The contents of this blog, including text, original photos and ideas are the sole property of the author. If you intend to use my text or images, please link back to this blog and give credit to Emmaline Bags & Patterns. A notification email would be greatly appreciated too! Please do not ever republish an entire post, any tutorials, or post photos of my family. Thank you, Janelle