Design It: Sew a Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag

I have decided to take on a challenge to sew my very own laptop bag.This post outlines the process I went through when designing my Barbour inspired laptop bag.

The Initial Sketches:

Once I had my inspiration (see ) I started to do some sketches (which you can see below). I wanted to design a messenger style bag as it is very versatile and practical. Additionally I wanted to use antique brass hardware and the combination of a tweed fabric with a leather trim . As you can see I investigated using different shapes and whether to have a contrasting wax cotton flap.

Barbour inspired laptop bag initial sketches

Finding Fabrics:

Tweed Outer Fabric:

Once I had pulled a few sketches together I began to look at different fabrics, at which point I ordered two potential Donegal tweeds from Truro Fabrics.  I liked the houndstooth (left) as the pink and purple colouring gave it a feminine look, however, I thought it may be a bit too busy for a bag. As a result, I decided upon the red and orange checked tweed (right) as the simplicity meant that it would work well with the contrasting leather trim and wax cotton elements.

Barbour inspired laptop bag tweed outer fabric
Left) Pure Wool Donegal Tweed Fabric – Green & Red Houndstooth Check, Truro Fabrics
Right) Pure Wool Donegal Tweed Fabric – Orange & Red Check, Truro Fabrics

Contrast Wax Cotton:

Once I had decided upon the fabric for the body of the bag I started to order swatches of wax cottons in an array of different colours to see which would be the best match. I also purchased from 2 different suppliers, FabricsUK and QuickFabrics, to see if there was difference in the look. I personally preferred the fabric from FabricsUK because it looked more like what you would find in Barbour, whereas that from Quick fabrics just looked like a standard cotton but felt a bit greasy.  It was clear that the olive green wax cotton matched the colouring of the tweed best.

Barbour inspired laptop bag contrast fabric
1) Olive, FabricsUK 2) Beaver brown, FabricsUK 3) Copper Chestnut, FabricsUK
Barbour inspired laptop bag contrast fabric
4) Emerald, QuickFabrics 5) Red, QuickFabrics

Lining Fabric

Finally, I had to make a decision on which lining fabric to use. I knew I wanted to use red as it would be a contrast to the outside of the bag and it matches the check pattern. Additionally, I knew that I wanted to use a cotton twill as it would be durable. Therefore, I requested samples of 4 different shades of red twill from a seller on ebay (which is a suprisingly good place to look for fabric).  Ultimately, I opted to go with the red denim as I felt like the texture complemented the tweed.

Barbour inspired laptop bag lining fabric
1) Cardinal red, Craft_Source, Ebay 2) Red, Craft_Source, Ebay
Barbour inspired laptop bag lining fabric
3) Bright red, Craft_Source, Ebay 4) Red Denim, Craft_Source, Ebay

The Final Design for my Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag:

Here is my final design!!! I have opted for a messenger bag style that will be 40x30x15 cm in size.

  • The main body will be in the red and orange check tweed with a contrasting olive green wax cotton flap.
  • The underside of the flap will be made from the tweed.
  • All of the edges of the bag, flap and front pocket will be finished with a brown faux leather piping.
  • It will have an adjustable bag strap made using a brown cotton webbing and will use antique brass hardwear.
  • The flap will be secured with 2 brown leather magnetic clasp buckles and the the front pocket will be secured with a tuck lock clasp.
  • The bag will be fully lined with the red denim.
  • Inside the bag there will be a padded laptop compartment as well as a zip pocket at the bag and a slip pocket at the front.

Barbour inspired laptop bag sketches

My next post will show you the photos of the finished product and how I made it!