Introducing: The Pembina Backpack

Pembina Erin Grass

I am thrilled to share the next TBS pattern with you - the Pembina Backpack

(Or affectionately known in my house as the Pembina PackPack!)

You can find the PDF pattern here and the paper pattern here!

Pembina Backpack PDF Pattern

Yes, another quilted bag! Designing, making and writing the Emerson Crossbody pattern was one of my most fulfilling and rewarding business experiences to date. So, why stop at just one?!

Now, to let you in on a little secret. I actually made the first Pembina Backpack sample waaaaay back in March. That's right, before Emerson was even released! I was on a bag making roll and I couldn't stop! 

Pembina Erin Two Bags

Of course, small tweaks have been made to the construction and pattern over the last six months, but the overall design has stayed the same. 

The Pembina Backpack is perfect for all your everyday expeditions, providing a stylish and functional design! This backpack offers two pockets for either interior or exterior storage, allowing you to customize your organization! 

It features a zipper-free, drawstring and grommet closure to keep your stuff secure, while still allowing convenient access. Plus, there’s a heavy-duty snap for extra strength and durability! Not just adorable - it works, too!

Finished Bag Size: 11"W x 13.5"H x 5.5"D

The Pembina Backpack is a quilted bag that will not only take your sewing/quilting skills to the next level, but will also meet all your adventuring needs! 

This pattern includes grommets, snaps and binding, but don't worry… I've got you! I’ve FILLED the pattern with every tip and trick I've learned over the last 30+ years behind a sewing machine. Plus, it’s written with a beginner in mind. Seriously, it includes over 70 diagrams! 

Pembina Patchwork Tools

Pembina Patchwork Tools

So why is it named Pembina, and what the heck is a Pembina anyway? Great question! 

First, it's important to note that all TBS Patterns are named after places in Manitoba (where I live). 

Second, remember how I mentioned the Emerson Crossbody bag? Well, their names are actually related! You can read all about Emerson here, but in short - Emerson is a small town on the Manitoba border CROSSING (get it?!) between Canada and the USA. 

And Pembina is a small town at the border crossing, but on the US side in North Dakota – where we come BACK into Canada. 

So we CROSS(body) through Emerson and come BACK(pack) through Pembina. 

Cheesy and I am here for it. 

Pembina ND RainbowPic from a road trip just after passing through Pembina, ND!

A little more about the word and meaning…

Many sources attribute the origin of the word “pembina” to the Cree nepeminan, meaning high bush-cranberry; such cranberries are plentiful throughout the prairie provinces, usually growing in wooded areas.

Growing up and living in Winnipeg, my home is located within Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinabe (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene and Dakota, and is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation and the Heart of the Métis Nation Homeland.

Additionally, my childhood home was just off Pembina Highway and I attended schools in the Pembina Trails School division. 

Pembina Patchwork Tree

All TBS patterns are meticulously written, tested and fully tech-edited ensuring quality, comprehensive and beginner-friendly instructions. The Pembina Backpack pattern is LOADED with detailed diagrams and illustrations to eliminate any guesswork.

To make things even easier, the shop is stocked with a curated selection of hardware and kits, as well notions and tools to complete your bag!

Here are the Fabric & Supply Requirements for the Pembina Backpack:

Pembina Backpack Supply Requirements

Now, let’s take a look at all the bags! 

As I mentioned above, the very first Pembina Backpack I made was back in early 2023. When it comes to quilts, I love to embrace the rainbow! However with fashion, not quite as much – although, that’s starting to change!

I chose to make this bag monochromatic for two reasons. One, I knew it would simplify the designing and making of the bag, which felt helpful for my first attempt. And two, fashion. It’s really easy to pair a one colour bag with an outfit! 

I went with one of my all-time favourite Kona Cotton colours – Sienna! I used it for the interior, exterior and the binding, which delivered a clean, simple and sharp look!

Pembina OG Chris

This was the bag where I worked out a lot of the pattern kinks. Notice this little spot of visible mending? That’s where I made an incorrect cut, but a little zigzag stitching to reinforce it and away I went! 

Pembina OG Mend

I also decided to cover the nylon straps in matching fabric to really lean into the monochromatic look. I used this Dritz Tube Turner to simplify the process!

I finished the bag with Antique Brass Hardware and a TBS tag… and I’d say she’s pretty cute! 

Pretty much immediately after finishing this bag, my bestie was having a birthday and she wanted an almost identical bag! Of course I said yes, with some small tweaks!

The bag is Kona Sienna on the exterior, Rifle Paper’s Tapestry Lace in Blush on the interior, Kona Peach for the binding and Antique Brass Hardware!

Pembina Lisa Tree

Pembina Lisa WIP2

Pembina Lisa WIP1

Now, the third bag I made might be my favourite! I wouldn’t have ever called myself a “matchy-matchy” person, but maybe I’m becoming one? 

It might just be because of how much I adore these colours, but I knew that I needed a matching backpack to my original Emerson Crossbody 

Pembina Erin Two Bag Cropped

I used the same fabrics on the exterior and tried to place them in what felt like the corresponding locations. Here are the Kona Cotton colours that I used:

Or check out the FQ or 1/2 yard bundle available in the shop!

I also repeated the quilting using a 60° diamond grid to mimic X-Pac fabric - which was originally designed for sailing, but has since been adopted by many outdoorsy companies and bag companies!

Pembina Erin Grass

Pembina Erin

Pembina Erin Tree

Pembina Erin Tree

I did branch out when it came to the interior fabric, however. I wanted to maintain the classic ‘90s vibes and Grid in Crossword by Kimberly Kight for Ruby Star Society perfectly fit the bill

 Pembina Multicolour Closeup

Pembina Multicolour Closeup

I finished the bag with Black Nylon Webbing and black plastic d-rings/tri-slides to lean into that 90s feel. I tried out these cool looking matte-black grommets I found at a local shop, but they turned out to be a bit of a disaster. 

As I was trying to install them, the matte coating was very quickly being stripped away. So, I swapped them for some gunmetal grommets I had on hand. 

Lastly, I used a black cotton drawcord (similar to a shoelace) and a black plastic cordlock. This was a great option because I love the final look… plus it cuts down on time!

Pembina Multicolour Closeup

Pembina Multicolour Closeup

Pembina Multicolour Closeup

Next up, we have this patchwork beauty! Back in 2019, I released the Riding Mountain Quilt and this was one of the samples I made. I used fabrics from one of my all-time favourite fabric designers: Erin Dollar of Cotton and Flax. I hand quilted the entire quilt and then for no reason at all, I never added binding!

Riding Mountain Quilt Grey No Binding

It’s been sitting on a shelf, taunting me for years. Perhaps the problem was that it was a baby size quilt and my baby making days are well behind me… but I loved the fabric too much to give it away! So, I didn’t know what to do with it. 

UNTIL NOW! I knew the fabric and patchwork piecing would make an adorable Pembina that I would want to wear on the daily. Plus, the hand quilting… YUM!

Pembina Patchwork Tree Crop

Pembina Patchwork Tree

Pembina Patchwork Tree

Pembina Patchwork Tree

I took a bit of extra time to plan out how to cut each panel to achieve the look I wanted and maximize the patchwork! You can see me cutting it up here is Part 1

You can watch me sew it together into a finished bag here in Part 2 and Part 3!

Pembina Patchwork Tree

Pembina Patchwork Closeup

The interior of the bag is Crossed Fingers from Lucky Charms by Figo FabricsThe binding is one of my favourite parts… I used Essex Linen Yarn Dyed Classic Woven stripes in Licorice (available in the shop here)! 

I finished the bag with Gunmetal Hardware and black cotton webbing... and I’m keeping her forever.  

Pembina Patchwork Closeup

Pembina Patchwork Closeup

Pembina Patchwork Closeup

Pembina Patchwork Closeup

When making the Emerson Crossbody, both my husband and son wanted one of their own. My 13 year old basically told me she wouldn't be caught dead wearing one… however, she did IMMEDIATELY ask for a backpack when she saw my first Pembina!

I gave her full reign on design choices and she delivered! She chose Kona Cotton in Ivy for the exterior and quilting in a simple, yet sophisticated 1” grid. The interior is Lindon’s Orchard from Her & History designed by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics. The binding is Tapestry Dot in Blush by Rifle Paper Co for Cotton + Steel. 

Pembina Aubrey Green Closeup

Pembina Aubrey Green Closeup

We finished it with Natural Cotton Webbing and Antique Brass Hardware. I tried something unique with this bag and I must say, I was impressed. Instead of creating a drawstring from matching fabric (as instructed in the pattern), I used ¾” cotton twill tape! I folded it in half and stitched down the length of the tape and hemmed the short ends. It worked well and I love how it matches the cotton webbing! 

Pembina Aubrey Green Close

Pembina Aubrey Green Close

Okay, last but not least! This bag was actually dual purpose. I had only tried free-motion quilting once in the past and I was looking for a chance to try it again to practice my skills. It felt doable to work on a smaller panel of fabric rather than a whole quilt.

While shopping at a local quilt shop, I came across Abstract Collage by Ampersand for PBS Fabrics. As a longtime follower of Ampersand Studio on Instagram, I had to have it! 

Pembina Free Motion Bag

Pembina Free Motion Closeup

Being a free-motion beginner, I opted for organic shapes. I traced the design on the fabric, trying my best to stay in the white space. I love how it really enhances the fabric design and adds such a unique texture. Note: I have a long way to go with the FMQ skills, but it was still fun! 

Watch me in action here!

Pembina Free Motion Quilting

The interior of the bag is Kona Cotton Pansy and the binding is Kona Cotton Violet. I finished the bag with Black Nylon Webbing and Black Metal Hardware.  

Pembina Free Motion Closeup

Pembina Free Motion Closeup

Pembina Free Motion Closeup

Pembina Free Motion Closeup



I wanted to do everything I could to ensure you have the same rewarding experience as I’ve had making this bag. The shop is stocked with everything you need to complete your own Pembina Backpack!

You will find a curated selection of hardware and kits, all in a variety of colours and materials to suit your personal style – as well as multiple price points. Not to mention, individual labels and notions – so, you'll have everything you need! 

Sarah Hearts Labels

If you make your own Pembina Backpack, I’d absolutely love to see! Make sure to use the hashtags #PembinaBackpack and #BlanketStatementPatterns.

Have questions about this pattern or any other ones in the shop? Please reach out to and we’ll help you out!  

Back to blog