Personalized Backpack Monograms
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Personalized Backpack with Machine Embroidery

Create a Personalized Backpack


Send the kids back to school with a personalized backpack that shows off their individuality. Choose an appliqué alphabet or a built-in font or monogram. A personalized backpack is a great way to stand out on the first day of school and prevents your kiddos from accidentally taking home someone else’s belongings throughout the school year.


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When searching for suitable backpacks for embroidery, make sure there is no existing motif or logo prominently displayed on the backpack front that will ultimately compete with the added embellishment. If you plan to personalize the front pocket, which is a great placement choice, unzip the pocket to ensure no other elements will interfere with the stitching. Also unzip the backpack fully wherever the embroidery is planned (the upper front or outer pocket) to see if it opens enough to accommodate “hoopless” embroidery (more on this later).

Most backpacks have a lining. Either plan to embroider through it or check to see if you can easily undo some of the stitching and re-attach it rather easily after embroidery is complete. For the featured backpacks, the embroidery was added through the lining with a protective stabilizer backing added to slightly conceal the embroidery wrong side and maintain the water-resistant properties of the backpack.


Depending on the size of the backpack, you’ll want to choose a design that’s ideally no larger than 4″ tall. Measure the area you want to personalize to determine the best monogram or letter size to choose. The featured Mehndi Background Letter fits within a 4″ square along the backpack upper front. For the featured Sleek and Modern Alphabet, each letter is 3″ tall. If spelling an entire name or if the monogram is longer/larger, you’ll have to adjust the sizing of each letter and/or element to fit the embroidery area.

Once you’ve determined the chosen design(s) and the desired embellishment area for personalizing the backpack, mark the horizontal and vertical design placement on the backpack right side using a removable fabric marker or chalk.

marking backpack for embroidery


“Hoopless” embroidery means we’re not hooping the project itself, but rather the stabilizer only. Then, the project is adhered to the stabilizer for the stitchout. Something like a backpack, with existing lining, zippers and not-so-easily-accessible interior, simply cannot fit in the hoop for embroidery.

Instead, hoop a piece of Sulky Sticky+ Stabilizer. This is an adhesive, paper-backed stabilizer that tears away cleanly after the embroidery is complete.

Add a “perimeter basting” function to the stitchout so the design will stitch a basting line around the design.

backpack monograms on-screen editing

Place the hoop onto the machine.

beginning basting stitch on Sticky+ Stabilizer

Then, stitch the basting line directly onto the stabilizer.

stitching basting stitch onto Sticky+ Stabilizer

Remove the hoops from the machine. Using the Sticky+ Slitting Pen, score the paper along the needle perforations on the basting stitch lines. If you accidentally slice through the stitching, that’s ok. It’s only used as a placement tool and you actually don’t even need to have thread in the needle for the basting stitch!

scoring paper with Sticky+ Slitting Pen

Carefully lift up the paper within the scored area to expose the sticky stabilizer underneath.

Sticky+ paper removed in hoop

Place the backpack onto the sticky stabilizer, centering the design cross marks as needed inside the inner hoop ring. Note: The inner hoop ring has notches to indicate the design center. These notches are most often NOT in the exact center of the hoop. Pay attention to those notches to ensure the design is placed where desired. In the featured images, a magnetic hoop is used that does NOT have markings; your magnetic hoop comes with stickers that have these markings so it’s recommended to add those after purchasing a magnetic hoop, following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also draw the hoop center cross marks onto the stabilizer surface, extending them to the hoop edge so they’re easier to see when placing the backpack. (A magnetic hoop is NOT required for this project.)

hooping backpack for personalization


Wind a bobbin with neutral Bobbin Thread. Install a new size 80/12 Top Stitch Needle and thread it with either Rayon or Poly Deco Thread, depending on your preference. Both threads are 40 wt. and shiny. Rayon looks almost like silk; Poly Deco is colorfast. They both perform expertly during the stitchout process.

Place the hoop onto the machine. Double check to ensure the backpack is placed in the hoop correctly. If desired, run the basting stitch again to further secure the backpack to the stabilizer.

backpack stuck to hoop on embroidery machine

Begin the stitchout. If using an appliqué design, fuse Sulky Perfect Appliqué to the wrong side of the chosen appliqué fabric prior to placing it over the placement stitches in the design. This reduces the chance of fraying fabric edges, and eliminates show-through on lighter colored fabrics. Be sure to use appliqué scissors when trimming the fabric in the hoop. This way you can get very close to the tacking stitch line without slicing through it.

trimming applique fabric on personalized backpack

Finish embroidering the design, following the color chart or your own color combination. Be sure to stay with the project during the entire stitchout to make sure no part of the backpack moves and/or interferes with the embroidery arm, needle or hoop edges.

last embroidery stitch on backpack monogram

When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine.

finished embroidered monogram with backpack still on hoop

E monogram on personalized backpack


Remove any fabric marker or chalk.

Carefully tear away the stabilizer beyond the design perimeter.

tearing away Sulky Sticky+ Stabilizer

When all or most of the stabilizer is removed, cut a piece of Sulky Stitch ‘n Seal Stabilizer slightly larger than the design perimeter.

Use wavy blade scissors or pinking shears to cut the stabilizer. This ensures a better, more permanent bond over time.

Place the stabilizer shiny side down over the embroidery wrong side.

Stitch n Seal before fusing

Using a press cloth, fuse the stabilizer to permanently adhere it to the backpack. (It will look prettier if you trim the bobbin stitches after embroidery is complete (wink, wink).

Sulky Stitch n Seal on back of embroidery

Stitch ‘n Seal not only protects the embroidery wrong side, but it also helps retain the water-resistant property that most backpacks have. The more stabilizer you remove, the more inconspicuous the embroidery back will be (and the Stitch ‘n Seal will adhere more evenly and with a better permanent bond.)

Alternatively, or additionally, you can create a fabric appliqué over the back of the embroidery. Just keep in mind that if you stitch the fabric appliqué down, you’ll likely see that stitching on the backpack front.

After fusing is complete, so is the personalized backpack!

finished E backpack

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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!