Apparently working on all those masks inspired me to keep sewing. Also apparently, making 35+ masks wasn’t ambitious or challenging enough, I had to find a project even more difficult and time consuming.
I had been thinking about getting a bag for the new laptop (which finally came!!) when I ordered it. My old computer was too big for any standard laptop bag and I didn’t bother trying to find one that would fit because it was rare I took it anywhere. Bigger does not always mean better and my old one was heavy and way too big for comfort even if the larger screen was awesome. My new one is smaller and so much more versatile, I knew I’d want to take it with me, especially for those times I’m having to sit at dance, so I needed something to carry it in.
I considered making something when one of my items showed up with some foam padding around it, but it turns out that was too small to work. The idea of doing one myself stuck with me though and I spent the rest of the time until it finally arrived working on trying to figure out how to make something that was also padded enough to give it some protection.
Something clicked and I remembered an old insulated bag I used to use when the kids were playing baseball years ago. It was one of those “potentially useful” things that I couldn’t force myself to get rid of even though I probably would never use it again. I’m glad I held on to it, because it was perfect!
I had fun ripping this apart to get to all the pieces I needed. It also made it easier to wash everything before I used it because baseball grime was not the aesthetic I was aiming for in this project.
At first, I thought I’d use almost all of what came out of the bag except the outer printed fabric. I ended up using the black fabric that had been the outer base of the bag, most of the foam insulating pieces, one of the strap webbing pieces and the zipper. The rest didn’t work for this project or was more than I needed.
I didn’t have a pattern, so I looked at some bags online that I liked and made a few modifications, then traced my laptop on craft paper. After adding room for the seam, a little extra and then tossing in another inch or so “just in case” (SO glad I did because things fit with just a tiny bit of extra room, so any less may have been too much less), I used that for the starting point and made a pattern of my own with the plan for the finished piece.
All of the fabric I used is fabric I had on hand. There wasn’t a single piece of this project that I had to buy. I even did the edging material on my own instead of going and getting bias tape.
All of the main layers are padded. The main outer pieces have the foam from the insulated bag, including the narrow sides. The main outside pockets (one on each side) and the inner divider have a layer of blanket batting. The only pockets that don’t have any padding at all are the two smaller outside pockets.
I have room in this for almost everything that I’d drag with me to sit at dance with the exception of my camera. I can easily fit my laptop, my tablet, my phone and any number of other things in here. Pockets are amazing! And I made sure to have plenty.
I have never done a project that was this complex. It really pushed my problem solving abilities to the max trying to figure out how to get all the pieces together and keep clean, finished seams on the inside in all places. Turns out, it is absolutely impossible to do that in its entirety on a sewing machine.
I had to do the last main seam by hand and it ran the outer edge from the zipper, along the base and sides and up to the other side of the zipper. By hand. I absolutely despise sewing by hand. There would be way more nudist colonies if we were still forced to sew our own clothes by hand. I’m absolutely certain of that fact.
Getting that zipper to curve over the corner and down the side was a massive challenge as well. So was trying to get ALL those layers sewn together and not have any slip and get missed. I think I pushed the max sewing depth on my machine with this project.
Even though this was a massive challenge and a pain… literally, my fingers feel beaten up and bruised today!! … I’m insanely pleased with how well this turned out. I’m kind of shocked at how well I managed to not only create a pattern that would work, but pulled off some of the kinds of details I did, like those “pleats” that give the small outer pockets extra depth. Not only did I figure out how to make it work, but I manage to actually get it to work. It is so rare that what is in my head comes out the way I expect or hope!
It took about two days start to finish. This is so not perfect and there are quite a few little goofs, but they are all so minor. Even my horrid hand stitching doesn’t look too horrid. I am so happy with this. I won’t EVER do one again, but… I’m so happy with this!
I learned a few things from this and the mask making project. One was a well needed reminder of how much I love sewing and I really miss doing it. I also learned that I have a decent handle on creating and/or modifying patterns, though this was really more of another reminder because it is rare that I do a sewing project and not modify the pattern at least a little.
Another? I WAY over buy fabric when I’m working on a sewing project. I have so much extra scrap fabric, and bigger pieces too, that it is ridiculous. I have one massive storage container full of extra fabric and a couple of smaller ones that have fabric in them as well.
Lastly? I still really, really HATE hand sewing. It hurts to type right now because the tips of the fingers I was using, or stabbed with a needle… there were lots of stabs… hurt to put even that much pressure on. Ow!
But hey! I have a cool new bag to haul all my goodies around in!