Jan 262014

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!



Isn’t that denim pretty? You can just see a bit of the velvet


The outer flap


Closeup so you can see how I stitched on the D-ring


me with bag

It matches my coat 🙂



Jun 092013

Because sometimes I do things that aren’t steampunk. (…yet.) Lara Croft, from the 2013 reboot of her franchise, now wears pants! Canonically! Again! This seemed like a cause for celebration, and as I examined her character model I didn’t see much about it I couldn’t emulate easily with my body type.

The new canonical look

Seriously, a trip to the outlet mall pretty much has this covered 😀 Since I didn’t want a bra to show under the thin-strapped tank tops, I opted to spend more on the bottom tank in order to get one with a bra built-in from my favorite bra retailer, Just My Size:

Valmont Lace Trim Bra Camisole, promotional shot.

Then I took a quick trip to the local thrift shop — and I do mean quick, as it turns out they closed a half hour earlier than I thought they did so we only had fifteen minutes to shop. There’s two thrift shops on the same street near my apartment: one is the local Goodwill, which I prefer to patronize, and the other is a place called Village Discount Outlet, which has the distinction of being three times the size of the Goodwill. Their selection is usually pretty crap; they run sales regularly on their already-marked-down products, meaning they have a lot of turnover and anything particularly nice gets snatched up pretty fast, but if I’m looking for something basic enough they’ll often have it. In this case I got lucky and found three tank tops that might work. With minutes to spare before they closed, and since they have no changing room whatsoever, I decided to purchase all three, figuring I can always donate anything that doesn’t fit to the Goodwill.


One of the shirts vanished…. >.>

Side note on colors: The tank top in the model in the game is clearly, CLEARLY, grey. Maybe a faint hint of blue to it, but pretty much grey. What color is the tank top listed as on every fansite I’ve ever seen? Blue. WTF? Finally I realized why: her older model had a blue tank top. So other cosplayers are doing bright blue tank tops, disregarding the in-game model. Whatever.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any cargo pants whatsoever. Another of my favorite spots for cheap clothes is Amazon; I found the perfect pair, but balked at the price. Over $50 with shipping wasn’t cheap, but at the same time… PERFECT. I bookmarked them, deciding I’d at least try Walmart first. Thankfully, Walmart had cargo pants! Downside, they were the wrong color. Upside, they were $19 instead of fifty.

Promotional picture of the pants

Promotional picture of the pants

We thought about dying them, but we didn’t want to damage or stain our washing machine using washing-machine dyes and didn’t have a dye vat. What we did have was a stockpot, water, vinegar, and the ability to purchase coffee. So, natural dye job it was~!


Pants, cooking in a mixture of coffee, vinegar, and water


Pants, drying, after dying

Notice how absolutely perfect the color is in this shot? Now see what happened after we washed them:

Pants, after washing and drying

Pants, after washing and drying

Bleeech. In person they’re even lighter than the picture seems to show, this was taken with a cellphone camera. Oh well. The final costume is below: