Donnie MacNeil

Much of the construction of technical soft goods is done with specialized techniques and tools that are inaccessible to the average creator.

High performance materials are difficult to source as an individual, with makers often having to pay a premium in order to purchase fabric and notions in manageable quantities.

This extends to educational material. In contrast to the abundance of information for making garments or upholstering furniture, there is little information on designing, pattern drafting, and constructing backpacks, messenger bags, and other soft goods.

Airbags – An Overlooked Textile

Airbags are an invisible and ubiquitous technology in North American Society. Despite this airbags often go unused, being discarded after their expiry date, a manufacturer recall, or when the vehicle is retired from service. In Canada there is currently no widespread system for recycling discarded airbags. While effectively useless for their original purpose of saving lives, discarded airbags still can have an opportunity at a second life.

The fabric in airbags are usually made from durable nylon 6, 6 fibres and coated with silicone to provide heat and water resistance. This allows an airbag to withstand the force caused by the explosive charge that fills

the bag with air. For makers looking to make soft goods the fabric also possesses similar qualities as high performance technical fabrics on the market.

An airbags high performance qualities, along with its standardized shapes and sizes present a unique opportunity for upcycling. The overlooked textile is easy to source, whether that be from salvaging units from a recycling center or through partnerships with auto dealers and repair shops.

Circular Impact

Circular Impact is a DIY kit that provides the tools, materials, and information necessary to start making projects from airbags. The goals of the project are to provide aspiring makers with a starting point in technical soft goods design and to highlight airbag fabric as an accessible and viable alternative to new off-the-roll technical textiles.

Each kit comes with two pre-disassembled driver-side airbags, a curved ruler template, and a guide that provides information on soft goods design along with instructions to build two included projects. The projects themselves serve as base designs that makers can customize as they see fit. They can be completed as per the instructions, or the base designs can be built upon to add more functionality or a desired aesthetic.


A simple open tote bag. Designed to be an approachable project that introduces the fundamentals of pattern drafting and sewn construction


A small daypack, capable of carrying everyday essentials in urban or outdoor environments.

Building off of the concepts introduced in the previous project, users learn how to draft complex curved geometry using the included curved ruler template. Additional processes such as integrating zippers and attaching hardware are also introduced.

Donnie MacNeil

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