Friday, May 28, 2010

Laptop Sleeve Tutorial

I’ve spent the last year picking up those foam laptop sleeves and inevitably putting them back down because I knew I could make something just as functional and infinitely more fun. Of course, that year saw my laptop getting tossed in and out of my weekender, me fearing that I would damage it, but the worry never reaching the point where I actually did anything to remedy the situation.

Until this week.

laptop sleeve

Of course, I didn’t have the foresight to photograph the process, but hopefully my instructions will provide enough direction should you decide to make one for yourself. And I have a feeling I’ll be making more of these in the future.

You'll need:
-Home Dec Weight Fabric - You'll need enough yardage to make the pieces described below. For my netbook, a fat quarter was just enough fabric. I used an Echino fabric from a couple seasons back.
-Batting - I used fusible fleece. 1/4 yard.
-Lining - I used Michael Miller's Organic Cotton Fleece leftover from a blanket I made Alice. Any flannel or soft fabric will work fine.

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I dug out some favorite home-dec weight fabric for the exterior and some super soft cotton fleece for the lining. I went so far as to buy a yard of high-density foam to serve as the middle layer, but aborted that plan before I even pulled out my scissors. Instead, I opted for some fusible fleece.

Step 1 – Measure your laptop and determine how to cut fabric.
Front & Back Panels = (L+H+1) x (W+H+1). Cut two each of exterior fabric, lining fabric, and batting.
Flap = (L + 1) x (H + 1). Cut one of exterior fabric, lining, and batting.

Step 2 – If using fusible batting, iron to lining fabric.

Step 3 – Create flap.
-Sew one long strip of Velcro (scratchy side) on long side of lining fabric, one or two inches from the bottom. You can do this step before ironing on the batting, too.
-Pin fabric and lining right-sides together. Sew all sides, except top, together. Turn right-side out. Press. Top stitch around three sewn sides. Set aside.

Step 4 - Sew flap to exterior fabric.
-At unfinished edge, center and pin flap to long edge of exterior back panel. Sew. Keep in mind, flap will be a couple inches shorter than exterior panel.

Step 5 - Sew velcro to exterior front fabric.
- Cut two 3 or 4 inch strips of velcro (soft side). Pin, perpendicular from the top of the fabric, a couple inches from each side and an inch or two from top of fabric.
- Sew in place.

laptop sleeve - open

Step 6 - Attach exterior panels.
- With right sides together and velcro matching up, pin and sew the two short sides of the exterior panels. Do not sew top or bottom. Turn right-side out.

Step 7 - Attach lining panels.
- With right sides together, pin and sew the two short sides of the exterior panels. Do not sew top or bottom.

Step 8 - Sew strap
- Take a strip of fabric at least a couple inches wide by at least 8 or 10 inches long. Fold in half, right sides together. Sew along long edge only. Turn right side out. Press. Top stitch along each edge. I usually add a few extra top stitching lines for some added flair.

Step 9 - Sew lining to exterior
- Place interior inside of lining. Match up seams. Right sides should be facing each other.
- Pin along top. Along the side seam of your choice, fold your strap in half, raw edges together, to make a loop. Loop side down, tuck the strap in between the lining and exterior layers. The two raw edges of your strap should match up with the raw edges of your lining and exterior. Sew. A walking foot is helpful to sew through all the layers.
- Turn right side out. Pull lining so it is hanging outside of exterior. Pin and sew along bottom seam. A serger makes a nice, clean seam. If you don't have a serger, a zig-zag stitch and trim will do the trick.
- Tuck lining back in. Top stitch along top seam.

Step 10 - Admire finished product.

Let me know if anything doesn't make sense.  Sewing is kind of an iterative process for me, it's difficult for me to remember all the steps unless I keep track as I go along.  I should remember that for next time, huh?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tea Party Sundress

This Oliver + S pattern has been sitting and waiting for the greater part of a year now. Upon realizing that Alice was about to grow out of the largest size, I decided I need to finally make her a dress. It helped that my super-awesome husband bought me a serger for Christmas (after years of heavy hints and emailed links) that I was itching to use. For those of you wondering, yes, I begged and pleaded for a serger and let it sit for months before playing around with it. That’s a story for another day.

alice and miles

Anyway, I fumbled through my modest fabric stash for something suitable and kept going back to a couple half-yards from Joel Dewberry’s Aviary line. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough yardage. I don’t know what took me so long, but eventually I realized I could mix up the skirt fabrics a la the hippie dresses I made during my younger days.


I always overestimate the time it takes to sew clothing, especially with a serger. It took me twice as long to cut the fabric than it did to sew the pieces together! The result is a cute little springy dress that will hopefully fit her through summer. I cut and started the bloomers, but never finished. Alice is almost always in a cloth diaper, which are cute enough on their own, so I’m not too concerned about it.
alice in her new dress

Alice has plenty of room to grow wider, but the dress is already at her knees. I should have planned better considering she’s usually around the 30th percentile for weight and 80th for height. Oh well, at least we know Baby Girl number 2 can get some use out of it, too!

Pattern: Oliver + S, Tea Party Sundress
Fabric: Joel Dewberry, Aviary. Amy Butler Quilting Solids.

another action shot