Tutorial ~ How To Make A Custom Laptop Bag

by Destri on June 20, 2011

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 carry all.  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.

Supplies:

  • all your sewing stuff
  • 3 coordinating fabric ( not necessary, but fun)
  • fusible fleece
  • d-ring – or plain old ring
  • clasps

Fabric Requirements:

This will always very 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 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 :).

Fabric Cuts:

These cuts were based on my Dell lap top.  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!

Print Friendly
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica at Me Sew Crazy June 20, 2011 at 5:13 am

Thank you again so much for sharing this in the Series! It is an amazing bag, and I know a lot of people are going to get a lot of use out of it! I have been thinking of trying my hand with some leather lately, with this bag in mind. I have never worked with leather, but am interested to try it. Need to make it to a thrift store soon :)

Reply

Kim June 20, 2011 at 5:36 am

This is great. I think I am going to modify the shape to accomodate lenses for my dslr. I want to be able to protect then better and I just don’t like the black ones they sell. Thanks again for the inspiration!!

Reply

Angie June 20, 2011 at 9:50 am

Thank you for such a detailed, fabulous bag tutorial!! I’m bag-challenged, but I think I might actually be able to make one by your tutorial. :)

Reply

Pam Pike June 21, 2011 at 5:39 am

Thanks for this great tutorial. I will be putting it to good uses.

Reply

kate June 21, 2011 at 7:02 am

I am a happy owner of one of Destri’s bags. It is just over a year old and like most of us mum’s out there it carries LOTS. purse, make-up, note pads, pencils, toy cars, tissues, small diary, tape measure, cleaning wipes, extra contact stuff…I could go on but I think you get the picture.

There is no sign of wear or tear on the straps and the only thing I have lost is the button….well didn’t lose the button rather an energetic toddler pulled the button!! it still functions just fine thanks to it’s awesome creator – Destri I promise i will sew on the button soon…and the button on Alexander’s shirt, and hubby’s and re thread my PJ draw cord…and and and…
hugsx

Reply

Theresa June 21, 2011 at 7:42 am

Thank you sooo much for this tutorial, it was perfect timing! My daughter is going off to college in 2 months and just received a new laptop & we were looking at cases, bags, etc to carry it in. :)

Reply

Deb July 11, 2011 at 4:34 am

Lovely bag, thanks for the tutorial. I have to know what fabric you used… it is gorgeous!

Reply

sally July 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm

This was such a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much.
Here is what I came up with…
http://i.imgur.com/CyRD8.jpg

Reply

Destri July 21, 2011 at 6:37 am

Sally, I love it! The fabrics you used are great too. Do you mind if I include it in a round-up?

Reply

sally July 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

sure! that would be wonderful!
I made the fabric from cutting small circles of various fabric then securing them onto muslin with a zigzag stitch :)

Reply

Sarah August 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

I saw this tutorial on craftgawker. I am definitely not a seamstress or sewer of any kind, but following this tutorial gave me awesome results. I made mine for a 17″ laptop for kind of an extra padding sleeve for walking around campus with it in my backpack and it looks great. Thanks so much. I can’t stop looking at it and marveling at how wonderful it turned out!!!

Reply

Tori September 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Love this! Can I ask what the fabrics are?

Reply

Destri September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thank you! it is Bella from Top Drawer from Hancock Fabrics. Last time I was there they still had it!

Reply

Mariann September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

I have a question about the step where you fold the outer layer in 1″ and the inner layer out 1.5 inches. Are you folding the lining out over the outside of the bag. Looking at the picture, I’m not getting where the lining is showing around the top of the bag. Sorry but I just can’t visualize what is happening here. Thanks. I really want to make this bag for my laptop. It looks perfect.

Reply

Destri September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

Hi Mariann,
I hope I can explain this better! So you fold the lining out, and then the outer fabric in. When you put the two together the lining shows slightly above the outer fabric. You don’t have to be exact on how much you fold over, just make sure that the two folds overlap enough to sew together. I so hope that helps, let me know!

Reply

Mariann September 23, 2011 at 5:56 am

Thanks for your reply. The way I was reading and visualizing it, the inner lining was being folded more so how could the lining show above the outer fabric. When I put that mental picture aside and just folded it to come up with what you pictured in the illustration, it was easy to do. I made the bag and love it. FYI, I used a layer of headliner fabric for my padding. It worked great and I added a gathered pocket on front to hold my mouse. Thanks for the pattern.

Reply

Esther September 26, 2011 at 2:12 am

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I love it. Thanx for the explenation on how the inner fabric should be a bit bigger than the outerfabric so it can ‘peep’ above it ;-)
Esther.

Reply

Sonya January 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for this tutorial! I can’t wait to get started. I may have missed it somewhere but what are the dimensions of the finished bag?

Reply

Destri January 30, 2012 at 5:49 am

Sorry for the delayed reply Sonya, I gave it to my Sis in law and was hoping to get the measurements from her. Can’t believe I didn’t include them. You can ultimately make the bag any size you need. If you need any help with dimensions for a specific project let me know!

Reply

Karina January 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Hi! I’m just getting ready to make this bag and I’m wondering if I should go off of the macbook pro measurements you listed if my laptop is a 13″ macbook pro. Just wanted to clarify what you referred to as the standard laptop size.
Thanks!
-Karina

Reply

Destri January 30, 2012 at 5:00 am

Hi Karina,
Glad you asked! My MacBook Pro is 14 x 9 1/2 inches, I will have to add that to the post. No worries though, that is the beauty of this bag – super customizable. Just measure your laptop, and make sure that you add a little wiggle room for the seam allowance. If you need help coming up with the numbers, let me know what it measures!

Reply

Karina January 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Thank you for your quick reply! My laptop is 13″ X 9 .25″ X 1″. What do you think my pattern pieces should measure for just a slight amount of wiggle room on the inside of the bag? Thank you!

Reply

Kaitlyn February 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thank you soooo much! I have found so many somewhat helpful picture tutorials that helped, but yours is FANTASTIC! I think I’m going to do it right now! But since I am kind of a newbee to sewing materials, I don’t know what the fusible fleece looks like. I think I have some, but it is only about 18″x12″, and I don’t know if it’s fusible. Could I just use some patterned fleece instead(like normal fleece you use to make stuff), and just sew it to the lining and the exterior? Sorry but I won’t be near a sewing store soon to get the fusible fleece. Let me know it if that would work. Thanks for the great instructions! (BTW I have the MacBook Pro that you’re using, so I don’t have to go nuts with the measurements!)

Reply

Destri February 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Hi Kaitlyn,
You’re welcome! So, first I would say you can make just about anything work – I’m all about using what you have. I would say sew it to your lining. Do you have any interfacing? you iron it on and you need it for structure for the outside. You can still sew it without that, but you will have not quite the structured look that you see on my bag. you can order it on amazon too.
For the measurements you can make the width a tad smaller if you want a snug fit – I gave some wiggle room. Let me know if you have any questions!

Reply

Kaitlyn February 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Thank you! Yeah I actually bought some interfacing the other day. Okay! I’ll think I’ll start now!

Reply

Caitlin April 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

This was a really great DIY project. I really like how for every step you include not only the description but also the picture along with it! This idea is also very fresh and innovative. Laptop bags can cost you a decent amount of money, this is affordable and can be completely unique since you are designing it yourself. You really give extensive detail!
Thanks so much

Reply

Destri April 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

Thanks so much Caitlin, I hope you have a chance to give it a try!

Reply

Karen May 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I am really looking forward to starting this project. I had a question about the clasps. Are they larger? The ones I have found are meant for a 7/8″ strap and if I measured right this bag’s strap would be over an inch wide. If that is the case, any idea where I can find that size? Can’t find it locally so probably online. Thanks!

Reply

Destri May 29, 2012 at 5:58 am

Hi Karen,

The clasps I used I believe were 1 inch and yes, the measurements I used made the strap slightly larger than 1 inch. But I wouldn’t fret, just adjust the strap size to fit your clasp. It will work just as nicely!

Reply

Donna Harris May 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I love that it looks as if it has bias around the top, but doesn’t! Bias binding is the bain of my sewing existance! I think I am going to use this technique a LOT!

Reply

Samantha August 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I was wondering what size of laptop you had. I am looking to make one for a 19.5 in laptop.

Reply

Destri August 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Samantha, I don’t know if you still need the answer (just found your comment!) but I can’t recall the size of the dell! And I think they changed the size of the macbook pro? That’s what’s great about this tutorial, just follow the directions to make your own cuts and you should be fine.

Reply

Victoria August 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Great tutorial! I have a few questions: First, if I use denim, will I still have to use the fusible fleece? Second, what do you think my measurements would have to be if I were carrying, say, two 1 inch binders and a textbook? (including the measurements for a flap)

Reply

Destri August 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Hi Victoria,

Sorry for the delayed reply, I have been moving. It’s hard to say exact measurements without knowing the size of the text books and the dimensions of the binders – but really what I would do is take the intended books and binders, stack them together and then take a scrap piece of fabric to use as a “pattern”. Wrap it around the books (like a big book cover) and leave enough room at where the top of the bag would be for the folding over, and of course on the sides. Trim the fabric around the edges and you have a piece that should work for both inside and out.
I only added the fusible fleece for padding that is ideal for a laptop, if you’re not using it for this purpose, just forgo it!

If I get a chance I will do a tutorial for you on a bigger size :).
Hope this helps!

Destri

Reply

Taryn @ from Pixels to Patchwork August 31, 2012 at 5:46 am

Thanks for the great tutorial! I found it from SewCanShe.com and I made one almost immediately after. It is really easy to follow, I was happy with how professional it looks!

Reply

Destri September 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Oh great, so glad you liked it :). Thank you so much for letting me know!

Reply

Maria October 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

Hi! I just found your blog and this project and the baskets one are going to be my next sewing project. I loved them!!
You are awesome! I’m so glad to found you!

Reply

Rachel Scott December 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Hi! I’m new to sewing and LOVE this tutorial! I’m going to try to make this bag for my mother in law, but I’m a little confused about the finished size. Her laptop is 12 1/2 inches by 16 1/2 inches…. is there anyway you could help with what sizes the fabric should be cut? Thanks!!!

Reply

Cindy February 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

I like to use upholstery fabric for tote bags. Do you have any recommendations on reducing bulk for self -fabric straps that are sewn into the seams of the bags?

Thanks

Reply

Destri February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Do you skip the lining? That would help. And also, I like to press the area I will be sewing really well before sewing to help in the process. Hope this helps!

Reply

Julie August 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Hi,
I’m really enjoying following your instructions and illustrations for making the laptop bag, but I am having difficulty with the handle. I am struggling to turn it right side out using the safety pin. It’s just a big ball of fleece and fabric. Any suggestions?
Thanks

Reply

Destri August 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hi Julie,
For me it was just an easy-does-it approach. You could try just making the strip, folding and pressing both sides in then press down the middle with wrong sides together and stitch. Does that make sense?

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: