Back to School ~ Laptop Bag
Joy from How Joyful brings us this handy and really pretty Laptop Bag tutorial today. Laptop bags are often so boring and utilitarian… Joy’s bag brings some style and color and fun into the mix! Learn more about Joy in her introduction, and check out her HowJoyful Design Studio, where she offers custom website, blogs and logo design, in addition to her blog predesign shop.
To get started you will need:
- Main/outer fabric – I used home décor weight fabric in two different designs by Jessica Jones
- Liner fabric – I used 5 fat quarters for all pieces and had leftovers
- Contrasting solid color fabric – I used a home décor weight fabric in yellow
- 1 set of magnetic snaps
- 1 piece of 1½ inches of Velcro
- Lightweight interfacing – I used Pellon 808
- ½ inch thick foam for the bottom of the bag and the sides of the laptop pocket
- 2 big buttons
This bag was designed to fit a 13 inch MackbookPro but it has a lot of room so it can fit a 13 inch PC laptop too. If you have a 15 inch laptop the pocket will have to be altered, but there is room for it in the bag just like it is; you just have to make sure the pocket fits on the sides. The whole bag will have to be enlarged for a 17 inch laptop.
Note: Seam allowance is ¼ inch and it’s included in all measurements; also be sure to secure all ends and beginnings of sewing lines.
- 2 pieces of 22×17½ inches of outside fabric. (bag body outside) – I used 2 different fabrics just for the fun of it!
- 2 pieces of 22×17½ inches of liner fabric (bag body inside)
- 1 piece of 60×4 inches of contrast solid color (handles)
- 1 piece of 60×3 inches of fleece or batting for the inside of the handles
- 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches of contrast solid color (closure strap)
- 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches of outside fabric (closure strap)
- 1 piece of 14½x12½ inches folded in half to be 14½x6¼ inches of liner (laptop pocket)
- 2 pieces of 22×14½ inches of liner fabric for laptop pocket
- 1 piece of 2½ x10 inches folded to be 2½ x5 of liner fabric for the laptop pocket strap
- 2 pieces of 22×17½ or bigger of interfacing to apply to liner fabric (bag body inside)
- 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches bigger of interfacing to apply to outside fabric (closure strap)
- 1 piece of 14x 13¼ inches of foam for the back side of the bag
- 1 piece of 14×10 inches of foam for the inside of laptop pocket
- 1 piece of 14×5¼ inches for the bottom of the bag
First you will need to add the interfacing to the back of your outside fabric. Once that’s done, pin it with the contrasting solid color fabric and round both ends of the strap; I like to make a paper pattern first so I can fold it in half and get the same curve in both sides.
After that apply one of the magnetic snap pieces to the outside fabric. I centered it 1 ½ inches from the top. Place both pieces with the right sides facing each other and sew around it leaving a 3 inch gap in the center of a side so we can turn it inside out.
After sewing, carefully cut on the round ends as shown in the picture above, so when we turn it it’s a perfect round edge. Turn it inside, press and out and sew around to secure it.
First you will need to press ½ an inch towards the inside, all the way through your contrasting color fabric to easily make the sandwich with the fleece or batting.
Once you have the piece ready, place fleece 1 inch from the bottom and fold the bottom in. Then fold the pressed side in and pin it in place to sew.
Sew the handles. I sewed them 1/8“ from the fold. You will have a 60”long strap that you will need to fold and cut at 30”. If I were to make the bag again I would make two separate handles so they could be longer and place them lower in the side of the bag– about 10” longer.
To place the handles in the outside fabric, I measured 5” from the top to the lowest point of intersection, on the side 6” from the edge to the most right or left point of intersection. I pinned them in place and sewed o the bottom of the strap to 1 ½” from the top. I also added a piece of leftover interfacing to the front piece of the outside fabric right where the other magnetic snap will go to make it more stable. I measured 6 inches from the top. (Don’t worry the image above already has the handle cut on the outside fabric, we will do that next.) Repeat the process for both main bag body pieces.
Now to cut the handle space in the outside fabric and foam… I also like to make paper templates first. To make your template you will need to cut a 8×2½” piece of paper, fold it in half so it will be 4×2½” and draw a round line from the top center to the bottom corner. Cut it, and there you have your template. Center your template on the fabric, mark and cut. Also center it in your biggest foam piece.
Now you will need to center the closure strap on the other piece of your outside fabric. Remember that the side with the magnetic snap has to be the opposite the one we will be sewing to the outside piece. Measure 4 inches on your closure strap from the center on the round edge in and place the strap centered. Pin 1 ½” from the bottom, sew and secure the strap. Hand sew the buttons to both ends; I placed one button right where I sewed the strap to the outside fabric and the other right behind the magnetic snap.
Now place both outside pieces with the wrong sides looking out, like in the pictures, and pin them together, especially in the handles area. Sew all the way around leaving the top part open. Press the seams and cut the excess of material in the handles.
Before you start with the pocket, press the interfacing to the back of the liner pieces. Now for the pocket you will need to sew around leaving a gap at the bottom so we can turn it inside out, but before you turn in inside out cut the excess in the corner.
Turn it inside out, and press it.
Center the pocket 4 ½ inches from the top. I measured 6 inches for one of the pockets and sew two lines of top stitch.
For the laptop pocket, place one of the Velcro pieces and sew it centered and 1½ inches from the top of one of the pieces. After that, place both pieces with the wrong side facing out– Sew only the top. Turn inside out and center the foam in between. Sew ¼ inch inside the edge of the foam, on top of the sandwich made out of both pieces of fabric and foam in the center. After that place the laptop pocket on top of the other main body liner piece aligning in the bottom.
To make the laptop strap, do the same as for the closure strap with your 2½ x10 inches piece folded to be 2½ x5. Sew all the way around leaving a 2 inch gap to turn inside out. After you turn inside out, sew the other piece of Velcro at the end of one side and topstitch to secure all the way around. Align it with the piece other piece of Velcro in the laptop pocket and sew it to the main body liner. Make sure that the sewed portion does not go above the laptop pocket line.
Sew the laptop pocket to the other main body liner piece ½ an inch from the foam following the same line you just used to secure the foam to the laptop pocket pieces.
After that place both main body liner pieces with the wrong sides facing out and sew sides and bottom, leaving a 6 inch gap at the bottom so we can turn the bag inside out later on. Once you finish sewing, press seams out.
This step actually applies to both main body parts, the outside and the liner. After you press, pin through the sewing line in the bottom corners. I like to align my ruler in the sewing line, and I measured 2¾” from the center out and drew a line. Mark all 4 sides and sew in the lines. Once you have them all sewed cut the excess like shown above.
Place the outside main body inside the liner with both wrong sides facing out and pin the edges. I cut the inside curve of the handles in the liner after I sew them together, just in case. It makes it easier to align. Once everything is pinned, with a few hand stiches, secure the foam to the liner side that had the laptop pocket attached. I did three different stitches, one at the top, at the bottom, and center sides.
Sew the top of the bag all the way around and after that cut the liner bottom handles areas; make little cuts so when you turn it you get a clean edge. After that turn the bag inside out very carefully, especially with the outside foam that is attached with just a few hand stitches.
Top stitch all the way around and reinforce, going more than once over the areas where the handles are. Press and hand sew and insert the bottom piece of foam, hand stitch the area where the gap to turn inside out was in the liner and make a few stitches to secure the foam in the bottom. Press and you are all done!
I just wanted to mention that I am no bag-maker or professional sewer… So I might have not used the right term, or the best process, but this worked for me so I wanted to share. You can always let me know if you have a better way as I am always learning!
So there you go! I hope you all enjoy!
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