Zippered Laptop Sleeve, Attempt 1

August 29, 2013




“Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.” Sing it, Billy.

Here’s my first attempt at a laptop sleeve, and the culprit who brought my Bernina to her knees flashing the warning “Main Motor Failed” in surrender. I bought this Marimekko oil cloth from The Finnish Place last summer, choosing an oil cloth over cotton so I’d be able to wipe it clean (the bottom of my bag can be a crumb graveyard). I’ve been toying with what style of sleeve to do: envelope clutch, something with a flap that tucks into a band of fabric or elastic, some sort of zippered closure, maybe even a magnetic closure? I settled on zipper because it seemed most secure, however I’d love to do a magnetic closure I just can’t definitely figure out if it’s bad to have close to your laptop. Any tech wizards out there, let me know.

I found this very tricky to sew and I’m not entirely happy with how it turned out, things went from “well this is just fine!” to hot mess quite quickly. I think I likely involved too many layers of fabric, at least for a domestic machine. I went about sewing a zippered clutch with lining in the normal way, see Sew Like My Mom tutorial here, but I added a layer of batting between the oilcloth and lining to give the pouch some padding. It was very hard to keep everything from shifting around as I was sewing, and I was getting some wonky edges which I had to trim near the end. My Mum popped her head in mid-sew to say “Stabilization is key!” but I wasn’t really sure how to achieve stabilization with a handful of paperclips. I also intended to do a french seam on the inside but there was just too much bulk. Then I tried to at least cover the unfinished seams with bias binding and that caused my machine to finally give up.

Below you can see the gist of the process I took, hopefully it’s helpful for some (either in a “Hey that works”, or “that definitely doesn’t work” way).

Attaching the front and lining to the zipper in the normal way, with a layer of batting sewn next to the lining. I did this in two steps (oil cloth first, then lining/batting) and then flipped it over to top stitch.
Once I had both sides attached to the zipper I sewed around the 3 layers using a 1/4″ seam allowance to stabilize everything before joining front to back.
With right sides together, I sewed the front and back together using a 3/8″ seam allowance. There was so much bulk however that the seam allowance was quite uneven and the fabric was pulling in different directions.
Since I couldn’t do a french seam, I thought I’d at least cover the unfinished seams with a red bias binding. That just didn’t happen…
Unfinished seams it is.

In review, I’m happy with:
– General look of the outside (this fabric always makes me smile!)
– The level of padding and the type of lining/outside fabric I used (the lining fabric is sort of a nylon/poly), but maybe that’s what gave me all the problems

I’m not happy with:
– The unfinished seams
– Uneven stitching along the sides and top stitch and places where the fabric sort of pulls
– The zipper opening is a bit snug but the pouch itself isn’t (should be a wrap around zipper)
– Too much bulk!

While I’m not totally happy with it, I know I’ll be using it lots and I’m excited to see how oil cloth wears around the edges and seams. I’ve heard you shouldn’t over sew oil cloth (which is what I definitely just did…) so I guess this will be my trial run.  I’m going to try this again except with a wrap around zipper, and once I get it right I’ll show a proper tutorial!

Pumping Blood by NONONO headphones

  • Kate, that looks great! I recently self-drafted a pattern for an iPad sleeve – also having the same conundrum about whether to go zip, snap or flap. Ended up going envelope with a little velcro closure. Don’t know about you, but those magnetic snaps are hard to find here! As Hubby wanted the sleeve “yesterday” I resorted to velcro! In terms of the batting/stabilisation, check out my post as I used an iron on fleece and it worked a treat. I also sewed mine with a vintage Singer Featherweight 221K and that thing sewed through layers like a hot knife on butter – check out my post at the link below if you’re interested :)

    • katesmalley

      I LOVE your iPad sleeve! So simple and sleek looking – and the fabrics cute! Ahh! Looks professional. I found little rounds magnets in a local hardware store, but I’m trying to find strip magnets thats are less bulky and have more surface area. Craft stores here sell strip magnets you can glue to other things but not magnetic strips that stick together. Anyways try a hardware store for magnets! Also that iron on fleece looks like exactly what you’re supposed to use! I just found this batting in my stash and though, “That’ll do!” even though I know nothing about batting and it’s proper use… whoops.

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