Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted! – My non-sewing world has demanded the limelight recently, capturing my full attention (that story’s for another day!) One story for today is that after the recent ‘sell-out success!!’ of my Rainbow Sewing Machine Pins on Etsy* (more on the way!) I’ve decided to up my side hustle by joining AmazonAssociates, whereby if you purchase a product through a link that I have recommended, I (may eventually!) receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It took a long time for me to decide to join up; I reconcile myself from the gross capitalism of it all by vowing to only recommend products that I have personally used and genuinely believe in. For clarity, adverts and Associate links will be marked with a * I hope you find it useful and not a distraction.
Now that’s out of the way, I’ve been back at the machine and I’m here to tell you about my favourite new bag!
If you’ve been following you may remember me saying a while ago that I bought my first laptop? It was a total ‘buy cheap – buy twice’ scenario… (but I knew that from the start) I just picked up a cheap, reconditioned unit online. I thought it would be good enough to get me started, and at least it would mean I wasn’t writing all my blogs on my tiny phone screen!… Truth be told: it took so long to turn on that after about three goes, I gave up and went straight back to my phone.
What I really needed from the get-go was a MacBook (other laptops are available!) It’s what I wanted, what I dreamed of and what I was waiting for. The only thing standing between it & me was… the price. Seriously, I really begrudge money spent on what I consider are essentials (… healthcare, toilet-roll … a really good steam iron…) so, fortified by an overblown-council-charge rebate and a lunchtime-wine (or two) I took MrA off to the apple shop…
What astounds me is the terrific imbalance between the amount of time I spent obsessing about it against the amount of time it took to physically purchase it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m over the moon with my new MacBook, I’d feel violated.
With one look at my shiny modern gadget, I knew immediately what it needed – a nice home-ec’y quilted bag to keep it safe. Now, I’m not a fool: the first thing I did was add it to the ‘gadget insurance’ that comes with my bank account (they make it sound free… I’ve been paying for it for years and never even registered a calculator) and the second thing I did was make a bag for it!
I had this lovely bit of fabric that a good friend had given me: It was a vintage pillowcase where one side was totally threadbare and the other side was totally gorgeous. And, there’s always a bit of denim in my stash!
I sketched a simple design; a bag-within-a-bag, rounded corners and a zip at the top, with handles. I measured around my (insert your gadget here) and added just 2cm ease, so it would be nice and snug. Over the top of that I drafted the outer bag, adding 1cm (because of the quilting). I rounded the top corners after quilting and actually sewed the bottom corners up square before changing my mind at the last minute. I added seam allowance and measured the lengths for zip, straps and bands from the pattern pieces.
For the inner bag I cut out 2 pieces each from main fabric, plain navy cotton lining and some lightweight wadding I had tucked away from another project. The outer bag just needed 2 pieces cut from the denim. 2 handles, 2 bands and 1 zip.
So, to recap:
- Measure your gadget, length and width.
- Add ease (approx double the depth) to both measurements and draw a box.
- Round off the corners (not too deep, I went 3cm in)
- Lay tracing paper over the top and draft the outer bag; 1/3 shorter than the main bag and wider by (approx) the depth of your gadget.
- Round off the corners of the outer bag too, and add seam allowance.
- Inner bag – cut 2 x main fabric. 2 x lining. 2 x wadding.
- Outer bag – cut 2 x main fabric.
- Bands – cut 2 strips of (I used 2.5cm) webbing, same length as the top opening of the outer bag.
- Cut 2 handles to your desired length (You want them to extend the top of the bag by a few cm’s at least, and wide enough to fit your hand through (or put it over your shoulder, or on your arm… wrist….depending on what you’re making it for?))
That’s all the bits you need. And a zip… lay the pattern pieces over each other to determine the length of zip you need. If you want it to fit snug, you’ll have to be really accurate. I just made sure I had a zip long enough, fitted the start and cut the end off inside the lining.
Before I could start assembling, I had to quilt the inner bag. They were only (relatively) small pieces so I just used a few pins*, the waking foot and a couple of ‘starter-lines’ in Frixion* pen. I used the edge of the foot as my guide, and had the needle shifted as far to the other side as it would go. Head down, music on, and it’s done in no time.
Then I marked up the start and stop points for the zip. I marked the stop point on the zip tape too, to make sure it lined up at the tail end. I clipped the zip tape to help pin it around the curves, and sewed it with a zip foot, just a few cm’s from the teeth.
Next I sewed the linings over the top (I had a separating zipper, luckily, as this made it all a bit easier) Just up-to the start and stop marks, then turned it through…
For the outer bag, I folded the top seam allowance over to the right side and basted the handles in place. Lay the bands over the top and carefully stitch in place. I sewed the top and bottom and an extra row, beneath the top row, catching the straps again… you can just about see it in the picture below…
Next up, my favourite part of making a bag like this… the sandwich – sometimes it is necessary to break out the quilting clips*! Lay one inner bag piece face up, position an outer bag piece, right side up again on top of it. Put the second outer bag piece face down on top of that and the last inner bag piece, also face down, on top of that. Check the zip and the band match up. Then, still keeping the lining out of the way, sew the two pieces together (right sides facing – you might need to clip your seam allowances or use a zip foot to get right up into the join where the zip and the band meet). Trim the seams around the curves.
Then shift all that out of the way and sew together the lining. Leave a decent gap at the bottom of the lining open so it can be turned through. I used my zip foot again to make sure I could get at the bulky seams around the zip.
Turn it through, stitch up the gap in the lining (you could do this by hand… I didn’t; it’ll never be seen, and I quite like the look of a neat row of machine stitching sealing up a lining… just me…?!)
And, what do you know… I’ve got myself a new Macbook case! The cables fit nicely in the ‘pockets’ and a notebook and pen, if you like. And although I wouldn’t be happy if it fell off my bike, I know it’s safe from scratches as I trundle over the pot holes of the West End!
Of course, now I have a ton of peripherals for it and need to make another bag for those! MrA says ‘Make in haste – repent at leisure’ – I just say Make!
Notes to self:
- You buy cheap – you buy twice.
- Necessity is the mother of invention.
- Make in haste – repent at leisure.
- Don’t drop your Macbook.
- Clean up your cutting mat.