A Laptop Backpack

Jay and I have been pretty busy around here. I showed you the decorative hangers he made for his mom. I promised to show you the project that I’d been working on for about a month. When Jay received his new position at work it meant he would also be issued a laptop. He mentioned that he would need a bag for it so I offered to make him one. He wanted a backpack, so I showed him his options. Then he picked out the color of fabric, webbing, and zippers. Are you ready to see it?

Laptop Bag

The pictures aren’t great because it was dark and I had to get them before he took the bag to work and it got filthy. No matter how hard you try, you can’t keep anything clean in a foundry.

This is the Demi Big Backpack by iThinkSew patterns. If you remember, I used their Dillan Lunch bag pattern to make the 20 lunch bags last fall. I knew I wanted to use waterproof canvas for the main fabric so I let Jay pick his color. Then he picked the strapping, and that’s when the rest of the fabric was decided upon. I used 1.25″ canvas strapping that I found on Amazon. It’s actually used for woven belts, but Jay liked the camo print so I decided I could work with it. If I were to do it again, I would stick with a poly webbing for these straps.

Laptop Bag Side

For the lining material, and as an accent for the gussett pockets, I found this digital desert camo print. It doesn’t really match the camo print on the canvas webbing, but it works.

Laptop Bag Back

The pattern doesn’t actually call for any padding to be added to the back straps. Jay wanted padded straps so I bought some Soft and Stable from ByAnnie’s because I knew it would be a great foam for this application. The problem was that Soft and Stable is not a fusible foam and these straps were made with right sides together and then turned inside out. How was I going to pad them and keep the foam in place as the straps were turned? I could have gone out and bought some of the fusing that you use to fuse two layers together, and then I remembered that I had something else that might work.

Laptop Bag Straps

I had two rolls of this fusible strip stuff that is usually used for hems. I fused a piece of foam to each piece of back strap material and then sewed it together. I made sure to cut the foam smaller to keep it out of the seam allowances. It did bunch up a little bit when I was turning them right sides out, but for the most part it worked.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the sign you can kind of see in the background, I found it on Amazon.

Sewing Room Sign

Despite the fact that the cat is sewing from the wrong side of the machine (obviously whoever came up with this design has never used a sewing machine), I thought it really went well in my sewing room. I still have to hang it up so that it’s not sitting on my cutting table.

Since the Demi Backpack is not actually a laptop bag I had to modify it a bit. I looked at other patterns that were made to be laptop bags and used the basic concepts of how they added laptop sleeves to their bags. I then used the same foam that I used for the lunch bags as the padding in the laptop sleeve. After all, I still have quite a bit of it left (I’m using the box as an end table in my living room… I just threw a table cloth over it).

Laptop Bag Foam

Here you can see more of the interior fabric and the flap that I made to secure the laptop in the sleeve.

Laptop Bag Inside

Here is a view of the inside of the large compartment after I was finished. This pattern uses binding for the seams, which would have been fine except mine were already so thick I ended up using some of the leftover ripstop that I used in the lunch bags. I was afraid that if I tried to use waterproof canvas I would either break a billion needles or else just not be able to sew it at all.

Another modification that I made to the pattern was topstitching the main zipper. In the picture above you can kind of see how it tacked down the seam created by sewing the zipper onto the front panel. I was afraid that if I didn’t do this it would continually either get caught in the zipper or just generally be in the way.

Jay's Laptop Bag

I think it helps give the front of the bag a more “finished” look.

You’re probably wondering about the zipper pulls. Let me give you a closer look.

Laptop Bag Zipper Pulls

Again, I let Jay pick out his hardware. I had seen some fun zipper pulls and purchased them without any projects in mind. When it came time for Jay to decide what zipper pulls he wanted he picked these ones. Since they are double zippers I would have thought he would have picked the same one, but apparently he needed all of them.

MF Zipper Pull

Yes, you are correct. All of the zipper pulls are Star Wars themed, except Calvin and Hobbes.

Gary Zipper Pull

Jay wanted them next to the Stormtrooper so that it would look like they were laughing at him. If you are familiar with the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes then you will be able to understand it a little more when I tell you that Calvin and Jay are VERY similar.

There is a front zipper pocket, a larger front pocket and then the main compartment. I think the Demi Backpack pattern has the front zipper opening up into the larger zipper pocket, which didn’t make any sense to me. I tried making it a separate liner that would separate it from the other pocket, but I didn’t quite calculate correctly so Jay is looking at a blank wall when he opens it up.

Laptop Bag Front Zipper Pocket

If you are thinking about making this bag, I would caution against using the cotton webbing and the waterproof canvas unless you have an industrial machine. I used my Singer 403 and was able to get through most of it. The worst part was trying to sew the back panel on because I not only had the waterproof canvas and lining for the back, but the strap connectors (two layers of waterproof canvas) and the laptop sleeve (two layers of linin fabric). Plus, since I used the closed-cell foam for the padding it did not give a millimeter. It would push my sewing machine foot off the material, especially when I was trying to sew on the binding. And I manually turned the handwheel of the machine ALL THE WAY AROUND the back panel so that I wouldn’t break a needle or ruin my machine. Again, it’s my own fault for choosing those materials, but I managed to get it done. Just don’t look closely at the binding.

Laptop Bag 2

It’s quite a large bag. Oh, and as I’m looking at this picture, I should tell you that I used pieces of peltex at the top under the areas where I sewed the strap to the bag for some added reinforcement. I also cut a piece of peltex to fit on the bottom of the gusset to give that a bit of reinforcement. I knew a laptop would be resting on it, so I wanted a bit more structure.

The last thing I wanted to show you is that I don’t have a fancy set up or a lot of room in my sewing room. A lot of the time when I’m cutting out lots of fabric, or large pieces of fabric, I bring it all out to my family room and make a mess in there. If you don’t like to see messy things please look away now.

Fabric Cutting Area

As you can see, I’m using my fancy pattern weights (cans of kidney beans, tomato paste and tomato sauce). I don’t often use a rotary cutter because it’s difficult to manipulate it correctly in this setup. I usually trace the patterns onto the fabric using chalk and then cut it out with my fabric scissors.

I have just finished cutting the pieces out for four purses, so once I have those finished I will post them here. They are going to be absolutely adorable!

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