Aug 16, 2010
Jeans are a staple in my closet. It's pretty much what I wear every day. This summer I replaced my white jeans with a newer pair, and I decided to salvage the old denim. I went back and forth on project ideas, including a picnic blanket. Ultimately I decided on a laptop bag, and here's how I did it.
First, I chose a complementary material for the bag's lining. I just happened to have a nightie made from vintage linens that I was going to deconstruct. I proceeded to cut out two 13"x 16" blocks of fabric. (The bag is designed to fit a Macbook or any other laptop equivalent in size.) I then created two 13" x 16" blocks of denim by piecing together scraps.
To protect the computer, I added two layers of batting. With the right side up, I pinned one of the denim blocks to the double batting. Repeat with the other denim block.
Wait to trim the batting until after you have stitched the layers together. Using a non-permanent marking pen, draw a design on the denim. (I digitally enhanced the blue marks in the photo so that you can see the chevron design better.) This design will hold the three layers together.
Stitch over your marked lines, but leave 1/2 inch allowance at the top (you will be folding the top edge under).
Before sewing the lining fabric together, I added a little pocket feature. You can see it best in the first set of photos above.
To sew the lining of the bag, pin the two lining fabrics right sides together. Sew all sides together except the top. Notice that I used finished edges for the top.
To create a wider base on the bag, sew a 3" line perpendicular to the bottom seam. The new seam should be about 1.5" from the corner.
Now, for the most challenging part of the project. You're essentially going to repeat the above steps with the two denim/batting blocks. Your machine will be put through the ultimate sewing test as it sews together two layers of denim and four layers of batting at once! Remember to leave the top edge open and to sew the additional seams in the corners.
If you made it through this part, congratulations! You're almost there.
Turn the denim and batting so that it is right side out. Fold, press, and pin the top edge down about 3/4 inch. Carefully cut the excess batting so that it is 1/8 inch shorter than the denim edge.
It's ideal to have the straps cut from one long piece of fabric, but I had to piece mine together with denim scraps. The width should start out at 3.5 inches to 4 inches and the length depends on your preference (no more than 24 inches for each strap). Just iron each outer edge to the center of the fabric, and then fold the fabric in half. Press and sew along both edges. Attach the strap ends about 3 inches from the side of the bag. (Another idea I had for a strap is the waist of the jeans!)
Once all the strap ends are pinned, sew along the top, about 1/2 inch from the edge. Secure the ends of the straps by sewing an "x". (See the very first photo.)
Take the lining and place inside the bag. Make sure that the side seams are aligned. (I took in my lining seams a tad at this step.)
Pin and sew about 1/8 inch from the top edge. Your new (well, recycled) laptop bag is now complete!