Make It: Sew a Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag
The Finished Product: My Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag
This post contains the instructions of how to sew my Barbour Inspired laptop bag, I am hoping that you enjoy what I have written and feel motivated to go and make your own version. I am still learning how to do the photography and write instructions clearly so if something doesn’t make sense let me know and I will try to help!
Have a read of my previous blog posts to see where I got my inspiration from See It: Sew a Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag and the design process I went through Design It: Sew a Barbour Inspired Laptop Bag
I have made a messenger bag that is 40x30x15 cm in size. The bag outer is made from a red and orange check tweed with a contrasting olive green wax cotton flap. The bag is fully lined with a red denim and it has an adjustable cotton webbing strap. On the outside of the bag there is a pouch pocket and on the inside of the bag there is a padded laptop compartment as well as a zip pocket and a slip pocket.The edges of the bag, flap and front pocket are finished with a brown faux leather piping. The flap is secured with 2 brown leather magnetic clasp buckles and the the front pocket is secured with a tuck lock clasp.
I am really proud of what I have made, I think it looks really professional due to the fact that everything is lined and all the checks match up nicely. Surprisingly it wasn’t too time consuming a project as it only took about one months’ worth of weekends. Unfortunately, I don’t think it worked out any cheaper than buying something off the shelf, but it is tailored to my needs and is completely unique.
What you need:
The first thing that shocked me was how much stuff was needed to make a laptop bag. I was constantly on the internet placing orders and had to make frequent visits to the post office to collect the parcels once they arrived.Here is a summary of what I used to make my laptop bag:
- 1 m – Tweed for the main body of the bag.
- 1.5 m – Cotton Twill for the lining
- 0.5 m – Wax cotton for the flap
- 1.5 m – Heavy weight fusible Interfacing
- 1 m – Heavy weight fusible fleece
- 0.5 m – Fusible Foam, I used In R Form Bosal Bag & General Foam Batting
- 5 m – Leather piping (plus a little more for practice)
- 2 m – 38 mm wide Cotton Canvas webbing for strap
- Square pattern drafting paper
- 3 colours of thread to match the tweed, lining and wax cotton.
- 1 x Tuck lock clasp
- 2 x Leather Magnetic buckle clasp
- 2 x 2 bar bag sliders
- 1 x 3 bar bag sliders
The fabric pieces needed for my laptop bag
|Bag Piece||Fabric To cut||Fabric Size (cm)|
|Bag Front||Tweed |
|Cut 1 of each– 33x43|
|Bag Back||Tweed |
|Cut 1 of each – 33x43|
|Cut 1 of each – 60 x 43|
|Front cut 1 of each - 18x12
Sides cut 2 of each - 12x7.5
Bottom cut 1 of each - 18x7.5
Flap cut 2 of tweed – 18.6 x 13
Flap cut 1 of facing & fleece – 18.6 x 13
|Front Pocket Lining||Denim||Cut 1 – 19x 13
Cut 1 – 29x17.5
|Inside Zip Pocket||Denim||Cut 1 – 25x33|
|Inside Slip Pocket||Denim|
|Cut 1 of denim – 23x33
Cut 1 of facing – 23 x 18
|Bag Sides||Tweed |
|Cut 2 of tweed & Foam – 33x14
Cut 2 of denim – 33x17
|Bag Bottom||Tweed |
|Cut 1 of tweed & foam – 43x14
Cut 1 of denim – 43x17
|Cut 1 of each – 43 x 28|
Cutting out the Fabric and the Scariness of Pattern Matching
One thing that took a significant amount of time was cutting out the pattern pieces from the tweed, this was because I wanted to make sure that the checks were perfectly aligned. If this wasn’t done properly there was a chance the whole look would be ruined. I wanted a vertical stripe to run down the centre front, a horizontal stripe to run through the front pouch pocket and all the horizontal stripes to follow through from the front piece to the sides and the back. Additionally, it was important for the stripes on the pouch pocket to align with those on the main body of the bag.
One way I achieved this was by sketching significant markings on to the pattern piece for the front of the bag, for example I drew the area that the pouch pocket would be located and a vertical line at the centre which could be used to line up the pattern piece with the check. For all the pattern pieces I would sketch lines on them that marked where I wanted the checks to be and I made sure these matched with the other pattern pieces. I cut each piece one at a time, I did not cut 2 pieces at a time by folding the fabric in half. As a final check I would line up the piece of the fabric to be cut with one that has been cut previously to see if there were any glaring errors that I had missed.
- Add interfacing to the wrong side (WS) of the tweed used for the main body of the bag, flap, slip pocket and front pocket (see the table above).
- I then added fusible fleece to some of the interfaced pieces to provide a bit of padding (see the table above).
- I attached fusible foam to the sides and bottom of the bag instead of fleece to help provide structure and help the bag keep its shape.
- The foam was also added to the laptop pocket for a layer of protective padding.
- I made sure that the fleece and foam were trimmed by 1.5 cm on each edge to make sure it didn’t extend into the seam allowance. I wanted to avoid any extra bulk in the seams.
- Sew and attach the internal slip pocket and the internal zip pocket.
- For my tutorial on how to sew a zip pocket visit : How to Sew a Zip Pocket
- For my tutorial to sew a slip pocket visit : How to Sew a Slip Pocket
Sew the gusset of the bag lining.
- Place one of the short side pieces Right Sides Together (RST) with the longer bottom piece and stitch with a 1.5 cm SA. Finish the seams, I used a zig zag stitch.
- Repeat with the other short side.
- I reinforced the seams by stitching over the top another 2 times.
- Lay the gusset flat and on the wrong side mark the centre line. Draw 2 lines 1.5 cm either side of this. These guides will be used to aid with the insertion of the laptop pocket
Sew and insert the laptop pocket:
- Attach fusible foam to the lining fabric, I trimmed the foam to make sure it didn’t sit within the seam allowance. This was to avoid any additional bulk.
- Fold the pocket pieces WST and press.
- Take one of the pocket pieces and sew the 3 sides closed with a basting stitch.
- Repeat this process for other half of the pocket.
- Baste both sections of the pocket together along the 2 sides and the bottom edge.
- Place the pocket inside the gusset placing the edge of the pocket along the guide line drawn along the middle of the gusset in the previous step. Pin and sew a 1.5 cm seam to attach the pocket inside the lining. Make sure to sew all the way along the side edges, not only to the top of the pocket or your lining won’t fit properly.
Unfortunately, I had cut the size of the laptop pocket too big so I had to trim it down by a couple of cm on one side.
Finish Sewing the Lining
- Pin the front lining piece to the gusset RST.
- With the gusset piece facing upwards stitch along the first short side stopping 1.5 cm from the edge. Lower the needle and raise the presser foot to pivot 90 degrees and continue sewing. Use a 1.5 cm seam allowance (SA).
- Attach the gusset in the same way to the other bag lining piece, ensure you leave an 8” gap in the base to turn out later.
- I sewed over the seam one more time to reinforce the stitches.
- Finish the edges.
Make the front pouch pocket
- See my tutorial on how to sew a lined pocket cargo pocket : How to Sew a Lined Cargo Style Pocket
- Attach the leather piping to the front and back main body pieces as well as to the bag flap.
- I added piping to all 4 sides of the back of the bag.
- I only added piping to three sides of the front of the bag, I did not add it to the top edge.
- I finished my edges before I added the piping.
- Here is my tutorial on how to sew piping within a seam. I hope you enjoy! How to Apply Piping to Your Sewing Project
Sew the Bag Flap:
- I attached the interfacing and fusible fleece to the tweed lining of the flap rather than the wax cotton, this was to avoid any waxy mess on the iron and ironing board.
- When I attached the piping I only added it to three sides. I did not add it to the side that would be attached to the body of the bag.
- Attach the magnetic clasp fastenings.
- Pin the outer and lining bag flap pieces RST. Sew around the three sides that have the piping attached and leave the top edge open.
- Snip into the seams at the corners of the flap, being careful not to cut the stitches.
- Turn the flap the right side out,
- Sew basting stitches across the top raw edge to close the flap.
Sew the Strap Tabs
- Cut 2 x 17cm lengths of the cotton webbing
- Fold strap tab in half and loop a d-ring up to the fold.
- Sew the ends of the tabs together with a 1.5 cm seam allowance.
- Turn the tab so the seam is on the inside of the loop.
- Stitch the strap tabs to the short sides of the main bag. To ensure the join is strong, sew in the shape of a rectangle with a cross through the centre.
- I sewed over the pattern three times to reinforce.
- Repeat with the other strap tab
- The metal rings I bought originally looked far too flimsy and I didn’t think they would take the weight of the bag once it had my rather hefty laptop in it, so I upgraded to a sturdier looking pair.
Attach the fastenings
- Add the second part of the magnetic fastenings to the front of the bag. Check to ensure they line up with those on the flap.
Sew the Gusset of the Main Body of the Bag
- When pinning the sides together take the time to match the checks.
- Place one of the short side pieces RST with the longer bottom piece and stitch with a 1.5 cm SA.
- Finish the seams, I used a zig zag stitch.
- I reinforced the seams by stitching over the top another 2 times.
- Repeat with the other short side.
Construct the main body of the laptop bag
- Pin the front of bag to gusset, RST. Take plenty of time to make sure all the checks are matching.
- I then basted the seams together as a final check to make sure the pattern matching is ok.
- With the gusset piece facing up stitch the gusset to the main body of the bag. Stay as close as possible to the piping.
- Attach the gusset in the same way to the other main body piece, but stitch with the main body piece facing up. As before take the time with pattern matching, trust me it is worth the effort.
- Turn bag right side out, ease out the corners and finger press the seams.
- The biggest problem I found was sewing round the corners. This was due to the bulk of the fabric combined with the facing and the foam. What added to the challenge was ensuring I stayed as close as possible to the piping so the tape didn’t show through when the bag was turned out. In some cases I had to hand baste around the corners so I could work out the path that the needle of the machine had to take.
- I sewed over each seam another 2 times to reinforce.
Attach the Flap to the main body of the laptop bag
- Pin the flap to the back of the bag, RST so that the flap lining will be facing upwards.
- Sew the pieces together using a row of basting stitches. Keep as close as possible to the piping.
Attach the Lining to the Main Body of the Laptop Bag
- With the flap open and the bag strap tabs tucked down place the bag exterior Right Side Out (RSO) into the lining Wrong Side Out (WSO). This means that the bag pieces will be RST. Check the flap is at the back with the zip pocket.
- Match the 4 corners then pin every inch or so along the top of the bag.
- Sew the two pieces together along the top edge, 1.5 cm SA.
- Pull the bag through the gap in the lining.
- Stitch to close the gap in the lining.
- Push the lining into the bag.
- Topstitch along the top edge to keep the lining flat inside the bag. Avoid sewing over the piping though. Switch to a longer length stitch for this. To topstitch I aligned the edge of the fabric with the centre marking on my machine foot and the changed my needle position to the left.
Add the Adjustable Strap
- Thread one end of the shoulder strap through the 2 bar slider and fold under by 1.5 cm followed by about 2”. Folding under by 1.5cm ensures the raw edge of the cotton webbing is enclosed.
- Stitch together using the rectangular pattern mentioned earlier when sewing the strap tab. This provides strength.
- Loop the strap up and over the 3 bar slider loosely, then loop it through the second 2 bar slider.
- Loop the strap back under the slider bar beneath the first loop and pull through by 2”. Pin the strap down and test you can adjust the strap.
- Stitch the strap in place using the rectangular pattern once more. Fold under the raw edge by 1.5cm to ensure it is enclosed.
That is it your laptop bag is finished!
This is the first instructional guide I have posted and the first pattern I have made for myself, so if there is anything that is unclear please send me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Also if you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.
Thanks to Love Sewing magazine and the instructions for sewing a book bag in issue 35. They provided guidance when I was designing this pattern. http://www.lovesewingmag.co.uk/downloads/item/573-love-sewing-issue-35
Additionally, thanks to Kerrimade with their instructions on how to make a zippered divider pocket. I adapted these to make my laptop pocket. http://kerrimade.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/part-2-tote-bag-tutorial.html