I have been wanting to share how to draft a custom bag pattern for awhile, but knew it would take just the right project to do it. I think this is it. I made this laptop bag tutorial for Jessica’s Pattern Remix Event with the idea that you could customize it for any size laptop. But really, this concept can be used for anything from an ipod case on up to a laundry bag (kids going to college?).
I first learned the technique from Carrie at Gracie Lou’s Quilt Shoppe in Salem, UT. The gray and yellow bag you see there is the very first purse I ever made! I made it for Aubrey to use as a diaper bag, and I called her to if she could snatch a picture for it, hoping she still had it. She has washed it several times and it still looks pretty good :). The second is a bag that I made for a friend as a carryall. It is about twice as big as the first bag. I added a large flap that just tucked inside, to keep everything protected.
I also used the same technique for my hanging fabric baskets. I just added the sleeve to the mix :). Same for the smaller version. The concept is so customizable! You can quite literally make anything by way of bag, pouch, or basket – just change the measurements to what you need. I have made larger bags with a big flap, smaller with just a magnet closure, button, ties….endless possibilities. Let’s get started!
It’s a long one, so I will share it after the jump!
First I will show how to make the laptop bag, this will show you the process of assembling the bag, and the basic technique.
Custom Laptop Bag Tutorial
I am going to show you the basic process for making a bag, and tell you where you can adjust to customize the bag to your needs. In my case, I needed a bag for my laptop. I will provide you with my measurements, just in case you need a bag for your laptop too. The finished bag should fit most standard laptops, but you should measure just to make sure.
- all your sewing stuff
- 3 coordinating fabric ( not necessary, but fun)
- fusible fleece
- d-ring – or plain old ring
This will always vary depending on how big you want the final product, but this is what I used. You can look at the pictures to see where I used a different fabric for fun:
- ½ yard for the inner lining (I used an already quilted with batting, it was on sale!)
- ½ yard for the outer sides, and strap
- ¼ yard for the outer bottom and scrap
- ½ yard fusible fleece (iron on, you will need more if you need to add some to your lining)
If you are not using this bag for a laptop, you could go with just a lightweight fusible lining. I adjust the lining to the project. This one needs to be soft. If your laptop is bigger, you made need to adjust these measurements :).
These cuts were based on my Dell laptop. For a MacBook Pro, add an inch where I tell you.
One 16 x 26 inch piece for the inner lining (cut 17 x 26 for a MacBook Pro)
One 9 x 16 inch piece for outer bottom (cut 9 x 17 for MacBook)
Two 9½ x 16 inch pieces for outer sides (cut 9½ x 17 for MacBook)
One 40 x 2¾ piece for the strap.
Two 2½ x 5 inch pieces for rings
Sewing and Assembly:
We will be starting with the three outer pieces.
Sew the outer sides to the bottom with the right sides together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. When you are done, you have a piece the same size as the lining.
Now cut a size of fusible fleece the same size as the pieced panel. If you don’t have an already quilted lining, you will want to go ahead and cut out fleece for it as well.
Press the seams on out on the panel.
Now iron the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the panel, and also your lining if needed.
Top stitch on the right side of the panel just along the side edge of the top panels, it will give you a nice finish :). I like to use a little longer stitch length, then press with steam.
Now fold the piece in half, right sides and short ends together, and sew up each side. Repeat on the inner lining. My piece was double-sided, but I did sew it with the right sides together. You should now have two pockets, that are the same size. Press the seams out, I forgot to do this :), dang it.
Now we are going to sew the corners. Keep in mind when you are customizing this project, how big you make your corner, is how wide the finished product will be. In this instance, I only sewed a one-inch stitch across the corner, because I didn’t need it to be too wide for a laptop.
Repeat on all corners for the lining and outer piece, making sure they are the same.
Cut off the corners on the lining.
Next, the strap. Cut a piece of fleece the same size, iron on. Then fold in half with the right sides together to make one long tube. To turn out, attach a large safety pin to one end and pull through the inside. Then press in half with the seam down the center. You can top stitch both sides if you like.
Now the little pieces for the rings. Iron the sides over 1/4 inch, then in half, sew up the sides, then top stitch the other side. You will have two little straps.
Now let’s assemble the bag. Turn the outer panel right side out. Leaving the lining right side in, tuck inside the outer pouch. Now fold the top of the outer panel in a full inch and the top of the lining out about an inch and half. Just make it so that the two overlap a half inch to sew together, and pin all the way around. I like to start at the sides, then work toward the center. I also offset the seams at the ends just a bit to reduce bulk.
Take the little pieces with the rings on, folded in half, and tuck them in-between the two layers on the ends like shown. At this point you could pin in whatever you want to customize the bag. A little strap for a button latch, a flap to pull over…just have fun with it!
Now just sew it all together! I have never had a problem with this, and I use a Kenmore…so don’t be scared :). Just easy does it, start in the center, and sew right along the top outer edge making sure to include all layers. I also like to use a little longer stitch length here, and don’t forget to back stitch!
When you get to the strap, make sure to back stitch a few times.
And there you have it! Easy! I like to press the top to make it nice and crisp.
Now to finish off the strap. Take your clasps…
Insert one end…
And sew a zigzag stitch right along the raw edge, back stitching a few times to really secure.
All done! Just hook ‘em up 🙂
Now you have a bag!
You could even use this as a satchel for notebooks, back-to-school isn’t that far off ;). Add a flap, and a little deeper pockets at the bottom and it would hold books…getting the idea?
Now to customize it. First, if you visit the other links I provided, they will also have some measurements, and give you an idea of how you can switch things up. Here is the basic technique:
You need two pieces the same size. In your measurements account for the front, the sides, and the base of the bag. You need to add a 1/2 inch to the sides for seam allowance and one inch to the top for folding down. If you want a pieced outer panel, sometimes it is just easier to make that panel first, then cut the inside panel to match the finished first panel.
For interfacing, you need to determine how you are using the bag to decide on what to use. For my hanging fabric baskets, I used a heavy craft bond, because I needed them stiff. For the laptop bag, I used a batting, I needed it padded. For the purses, I just used a medium weight.
Then just decide how you need the top to function. You may need just one large flap that stretches the length of the bag, or just a magnet clasp on the inside. Do you want two straps, or just one? Need a little tab to pull over the button? Just include any of these items in the top fold before you sew.
Oh and pockets! You can just sew them onto the inside panel before you form it into a bag.
Really, the possibilities are endless. You can make anything! If you do, let me know, I would love to see :).
I hope this is clearer than mud! If you have any questions leave them in the comments!