|A laptop case that can be filled with "all that other stuff" too...|
Eventually, however, he was packing it up for one of his quick trips out of town and asked, "What can I put this in? And this? And this?" I found something temporary for him that day, but decided then and there to craft a custom carrying case for future use.
Did you ever notice that most patterns for DIY laptop cases are designed to hold just the computers themselves? As in, no room for the charger, cord, mouse or anything else that might go along with the unit? (Even when one of my testers upsized my Diva Envelope Clutch to turn it into a laptop case, I wondered how effective it might be for carrying those other important accessories.)
We have a neoprene case that was custom made for our first Acer netbook. The the "slow as molasses" computer that hubby recently ditched could also be stuffed into it, but it's too small for our current model.
Therefore, today's project is my contribution to the pile of sewing patterns and tutorials for DIY-ing a laptop case. This is a vertical case with a sleeve for the laptop and an expandable bellows pocket to accommodate the charger cord and mouse.
|This case accommodates a laptop vertically...|
It's not meant to be a bag, so it doesn't have straps. I envision this thing being tossed inside something, rather than being the sole means to tote around your computer.
The underlying "wrap around" design was inspired by one of my first freebie tutorials, the iPod/mp3 player carrying case. The construction method is really quite simple and can be managed by a beginner.
You will, however, need to measure your particular laptop and do some calculations to arrive at the proper dimensions for your fabric.
|... with a roomy bellows pocket to hold accessories...|
I made two of them as test projects; the one shown thus far is for the recently ditched computer.
Materials RequiredHere is what you'll need for this laptop case:
- Non-directional exterior fabric for Main Body Exterior (amount/size as determined below)
- Fabric for Main Body Lining (preferably non-directional; amount/size as determined below)
- Matching/coordinating fabric for Bellows Pocket Exterior and Lining (both 8.5" long x 10" wide, or 21.6cm long x 25.5cm wide) — note that this pocket is sized so as to fit a case made for even the smallest laptop; you may wish to increase the width by an inch or so if your laptop is 15" or bigger
- Medium weight fusible interfacing for Main Body Lining (cut 1/2" shorter and 1" narrower than Main Body Lining fabric piece)
- Medium weight fusible interfacing for Bellows Pocket Exterior (8" long x 9.5" wide, or about 20.5cm long x 24cm wide) — adjust appropriately if you widened the pocket pieces
- Twist lock set*
- Regular (low loft) fusible fleece for Main Body Exterior (cut 1/2" shorter and 1" narrower than Main Body Exterior fabric piece)
- Thread, bowl and mug for tracing a curve, fading marker, pins & clips, ruler, rotary cutter and mat, iron, etc.
Note that the final fit is meant to be snug with minimal bulk at the seams. Be prepared to sew with seam allowances of about 1/8" (3mm) and 1/4" (6mm).
Determine Fabric Requirements
|Measure around each axis to get total fabric requirements...|
In jotting down my results for one of my test projects, I got all turned around by the words length and width and how they apply to the laptop versus the case. (No need to go into any further details; let's just say it was an "oops" moment.) For clarity, I will simply refer to those measurements by calling them A and B.
As in, the measurement indicated by the red arrow in the above picture — measuring around the longer axis — will be referred to as A. The measurement relating to the shorter axis (the one with the measuring tape) will be referred to as B.
Establishing the Size of the Main Body Exterior & Lining PiecesOnce you have the measurements for A and B, take out your pencil and prepare to do some math. (Unavoidable, since each laptop is different. Note that I'm going to go into a bit of detail here, to provide a working example of how to create a pattern from scratch.)
The Main Body Exterior and Lining pieces are the same size, each needing to accommodate the following: 1) entire wrap-around measurement of the laptop along the A axis, 2) half of the wrap-around measurement of the laptop along the B axis, 3) length of the flap, 4) top and bottom seam allowances, and 5) left and right seam allowances.
I decided that the flap needs to be about 5" in order to look good and close well. The top and bottom seam allowances are 1/4" each. This means that the required length of fabric is A + 5" + 1/4" + 1/4".
The width of the fabric is half of B plus the left and right seam allowances of 1/4". However, in order to create the slip pocket for the laptop, the left and right sides have to be sewn together from the outside, which will further reduce the finished width by about 1/4" on each side again. Therefore, the required width of fabric is (B/2) + 1/4" + 1/4" + 1/4" + 1/4".
Put more simply, each piece of fabric for the Main Body Exterior and Lining is:
(A + 5.5)" long by ((B/2) + 1)" wide
or, in metric terms:
(A + 14)cm long by ((B/2) + 2.5)cm wide
Need an example? Suppose your measuring resulted in an A value of 22.5" and a B value of 16". Your two main pieces of fabric will therefore need to be 22.5 + 5.5 = 28" long by 16 / 2 = 8 + 1 = 9" wide.
TIP: Add up to a half inch or one centimetre to the fabric width for wiggle room if you're worried about straying from the tight seam allowances.
Prepare FabricNote that all interfacing pieces are cut smaller to keep them out of the seam allowances. Center them on your fabric when fusing into place.
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Round off Flap & Bellows PocketGrab yourself a bowl, about 5" (13cm) in diameter. Use it to round off the top corners of both the Main Body Exterior and Main Body Lining pieces. This will be the flap.
|Round off the top corners of the main body pieces; i.e., the flap...|
Note that if your lining fabric is directional, ensure that you round off the top of your fabric and not the bottom.
Next, grab a mug and use it in the same way to round off the bottom corners of both the Bellows Pocket Exterior and Lining pieces.
Make Bellows PocketWe're still not sewing yet, because you need to install the bottom part of the twist lock set first.
Find the middle point of the Bellows Pocket Exterior piece by folding it in half vertically. Then measure and make a mark 2" (5cm) down from the top edge of the fabric. The bottom edge of your twist lock hardware should be situated right above this mark.
|Install the bottom half of your twist lock...|
I'm not going to go into the details of how to install a twist lock, since it should be fairly self evident. The bottom half (the part that turns) consists of a pronged piece and a backing template. In all cases, I would recommend that you add some fabric scraps under the backing template to increase the holding power.
Now take the Bellows Pocket Lining piece and pin it — right sides together — against the Bellows Pocket Exterior. Sew all around using a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance, leaving a 4" (10cm) gap at the bottom for turning.
Trim the corners and notch the curved edges before turning right side out. Press well, particularly around the turning gap. Topstitch around the entire pocket piece just over 1/8" (3mm), closing up the turning gap as you go.
Next, you'll create a couple of pleats to make the pocket expandable.
|Guide lines for creating pleats...|
If your twist lock is properly centered, use the middle of it as a starting point and measure 1.75" (4.25cm) to both the left and right. Fold under and press. Then measure another 0.5" (13mm) out from each of those newly created creases and fold the opposite way to create a pleat.
Use pins or clips to help you hold the pleats in place.
Retrieve the Main Body Exterior piece and put it right side up, with the straight edge in front of you. Measure 1.5" (3.8cm) down and align the top of your pocket piece there, centering it from side to side. Pin in place.
|Pinning the pocket in place...|
Secure the pocket, sewing on top of the previous topstitching line. Reinforce the top corners with extra stitches.
|Completed bellows pocket!|
Okay, you're halfway there!
Create Laptop SleeveTake the two Main Body pieces and pin them right sides together.
Choose a starting point near the middle of one of the long edges and begin sewing with a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance. Work your way around, stopping 4" (10cm) short of your starting point; this will be your turning gap.
Trim the corners and notch the curves as you did with the pocket piece.
|The turning process is always so interesting to photograph...|
Turn right side out, poking out the corners carefully. Press well. Pin (or baste) the turning gap closed for now.
In my test project here, I jumped the gun and topstitched around the entire perimeter right away. For aesthetic reasons, don't do that. Topstitch only along the short straight edge; i.e., the edge right above the pocket.
The next thing is to sew a couple of lines to mark the bottom of the case and the start of the flap. Whatever the "length" (actually the width; i.e., the longest side) of your computer, subtract half an inch (13mm) and use that measurement to mark the location of the bottom line.
|Shown from the lining side, this row of stitching will mark the bottom of the laptop case...|
For example, my little netbook is 10.5" "long"; therefore the line of stitching is 10" away from the edge.
Next, sew another line to mark the fold of the flap. This line is 5.5" (14cm) down from the top of the curved edge.
|This row of stitching will mark the beginning of the flap...|
Once you have these two lines of stitching completed, fold the assembly at those locations.
|Clip or pin the sides together in preparation for sewing...|
Clips are your friends here; use them to secure the sides of the sleeve area. Start your sewing at one of the bottom corners, ensuring that you make multiple stitches to reinforce. If you did not allow yourself an extra half inch of fabric along the width, stay as close as you can to a 1/8" (3mm) seam allowance!
When you get to the top corner of the sleeve, make multiple stitches back and forth again to reinforce. Continue stitching around the flap and all the way back down again, reinforcing at the other corner of the sleeve opening and then also at the bottom.
Finish Installing HardwarePut your laptop inside the sleeve and your accessories inside the bellows pocket.
Bring the flap down on top and feel around with your fingers to decide where best to install the top half of your twist lock. (Did you think there would be some sort of science to this??)
Again, I'm not offering detailed instructions regarding twist lock installation, but it involves cutting a hole (yes, cutting into your nicely finished fabric, so use the template wisely to draw around the opening once you decide where the opening should be) and then trying on the top "ring" for size.
It may take a couple of tries since you don't want to cut the opening too big, but it also needs to be big enough so that your fabric won't show around the inside edge of the hardware.
By the way, an old fashioned "button with button hole" solution can also be used here if you can't find a twist lock set at all.
And there you have it! Hopefully this will be an easy to make project and useful to boot. If you end up making this for you and yours, I'd love to see it.
If you're wondering about my usual PDF download for this, I am planning a release of a paid version of this pattern/tutorial. It will include sizing charts — to save you from doing the math — in both metric & imperial, more photos and extra features for the slipcase itself, so I'm hoping it'll be worth a couple of bucks. ;-)
In the meantime, enjoy the freebie!