Guess who has two thumbs and just got a new job? This gal!
Fortunately, this job comes with a sweet-ass new laptop. Huzzah! Unfortunately, it’s friggan impossible to find a cute bag for a 17″ non-Mac laptop. (Why does Mac vs PC matter? Because the 17″ MacBook Air is super thin, and this beast is not. It’s a good inch and a half thick at least.)
What’s a stylish girl to do? Make her own messenger bag. I’ve marked this tutorial as “non-steampunk”, because the bag I made is cute and purple and totally not steamy, but I’m sure an intrepid adventurer could steampunk up this style of bag in no time. Maybe a canvas bag, with faux rivets and shiny brass buttons?
First things first: I measured the machine. The screen size is measured diagonally from corner to corner, so I needed both length and width measurements. This machine is 16.5″ long by 11″ wide, and, as mentioned before, about 1.5″ thick.
For inspiration, I took the tutorial found at Crazy Little Projects. With some space for padding and a nice deep pocket I could put notebooks and pens in, I decided to make the front flap 13″ x 20″, with the back flap 24″ x 20″ (to allow for the foldover part) and the side piece 46″ x 4″. I elected not to make a strap, instead stealing one from another bag that I already had.
I bought the following materials:
- 2 yards outer fabric – in my case, a fashionable flower-print denim
- 2 yards inner fabric – I chose a crushed velvet in deep purple
- 2 yards fusible fleece interfacing
- 2 D-rings
- one snap or button or other fastener
2 yards turned out to be excessive; the tutorial said 1 yard, but I like to have extra for when I inevitably mess up. I could have gone with 1.5 yards easily though. I chose my outer fabric to be rugged and protective, while the inner I chose to be soft and cushioning. For a fastener, I considered a magnetic purse closure, but instead decided on a snap closure, mostly because the magnetic one I was looking at seemed awfully powerful and I didn’t want to risk erasing my hard drive. I considered a belt-style fastener too, I think that might be cute later. A button could also work if you feel comfortable stitching buttonholes.
Measuring the fabric turned out to be difficult, even for my engineer husband. I would recommend buying some poster board and making a template, as sturdy paper or cardboard won’t wiggle out from under your pencil and make your measurements wrong. If you regularly freehand patterns, though, by all means go right ahead and trace directly onto the fabric.
I fused the interfacing to the denim, because the velvet is sensitive to heat, then stitched together the two fabrics. Then, I lined up the side panel on the front flap, pinned, and stitched. Remember to leave some space sticking up on either side! I forgot, and had to make do with adding pieces to secure the D-rings instead of folding over the excess.
Stitch the back panel. If you’re like me and have no excess to secure the D-rings, take the stronger fabric (in my case, the denim) and cut out strips an inch wider than your side panel and several inches long. Press half an inch under on each side to make a nice edge, and you should probably do the same to each end too but I didn’t bother. Secure this TIGHTLY, with many stitches, to your side panels, with the D-ring looped securely in place. My first attempt ripped off as soon as I hefted the bag onto my shoulder; I suggest making a box shape with an X in the center to ensure that your threads are going different directions and thus wear easily.
Of course, if you planned ahead, you can just fold over the excess around your D-rings and stitch that in place. Again, err on the side of excess!
I hand-stitched my fastener in place so it wouldn’t show from the outside. It looks pretty awful because despite doing a ton of it in school, I never got good at hand-stitching. Feel free to add iron-on appliques or anything to help jazz up the bag; feel free to make a strap and stitch it to the D-rings, or scavenge one from another bag as I did. Voila!