Some time ago I found another one of those all cotton made in China knapsacks, the ones that school kids used to use before all these synthetic zip-ups came into use. Only this one was already partly stripped. The lower straps were missing, and so were all the outside pockets and the piece that covers the back of the top straps. In amongst my bits and pieces I also had an all cotton waist belt, so I decided to cut up this belt and use it for the lower straps.
Normally I would use leather, but I am short on leather so I decided that if I used an awl to make the adjustment holes in the cotton straps, I could use standard type brass buckles.
Are cotton straps authentic when used in this manner? I think one would be hard put to not be authentic, given that these days cotton is often used in place of the more common linen, and given the fact that many 18th century knapsacks were home made and people simply used whatever they had. Some packs in period painting look as though they are using rope for straps.
If at some date I find that this arrangement is not suitable to the period I can always change it. Nothing lost. But for now it gives me another knapsack for someone.
This is how it was when I bought it. Devoide of lower carry straps, pockets and flap securing straps and buckles.
Aluminium tabs on the ends of the top carry straps. I cut these off, doubled the ends over and stitched them.
Brass buckles added to the straps I cut from a belt. By using an awl I was able to push the buckle's tongue through the strap without breaking any threads in the weave.
Straps sewn to the bottom of the bag with heavy linen thread.
I did a double row of stitching on the top straps as the securing strip was also missing.
Again I used the awl when adjusting the carry straps.
I made two button holes and whip stitched them with heavy linen thread.
Two pewter buttons used to secure the flap.
The bag cost me a couple of dollars I think, so all up this knapsack cost me no more than $4.00 plus my time. I already had the buckles and the buttons. I could have used wood, horn or bone for the buttons and old saddle buckles are often only a dollar or two from a friendly saddler.