Nathan and I have been off in Illinois this past week enjoying a belated wedding reception thrown by his parents for those who could not make it to our chilly January wedding in Minnesota. It was a wonderful vacation and I came home greatly rested and full of new enthusiasm for life!
Two days before heading down I decided to tackle a project I've been thinking about for awhile: a leather tapestry backpack large enough to accommodate my laptop. My old laptop back was wearing out, and I hadn't found any backpacks that were large enough, cheap enough, and cute enough to justify the purchase and commitment. So I decided to make one myself!
First off, I went to the fabric warehouse where they sell leather scraps by the pound. I found a piece back enough for the flap, bottom and buckles of my laptop. It weighed in at 5.5lb, which was just $5.50! Then I searched until I found the perfect piece of rose tapestry fabric to form the body of the bag. 1/2 yd of that was just $5.00. Finally I plucked a lace applique out of a bin. I wasn't sure how much that was going to be, so imagine my excitement when it rang up for just $1.00!
I don't have a ton of photos from the cutting out phase, but basically I measured my laptop+writing binder to figure out how big I wanted the body of the bag to be and cut out corresponding rectangles for the sides and bottom of the leather, tapestry fabric, and lining. I then used the straps of another backpack to create the pattern for the new straps. I added some thick cream fleece to the inside of the straps to make them nicely padded.
You don't want to pin leather together because the hole marks stay (see above). So I glued all of my pieces before topstitching them. To get a good topstitch, I used a leather needle in my machine and thick topstitching thread. My machine did just fine as long as it had the same number of layers for the entire seam. Sewing varying layers or a bump like the buckle edge above messed up the tension like crazy. So I filled in the holes by stitching that section by hand.
The topstitching thread has a bit of a waxy quality to it, and I knew from experience that it likes to unravel over time. So I secured each end with a bit of crafty glue.
Here you can see the buckle and straps coming together!
The tapestry fabric and tablecloth lining made for a sturdy bag, but I wanted to go the extra mile so I interfaced both of the tapestry side pieces.
Before sewing the pieces together, I pinned on the lace applique and stitched it down.
Above you can see the sewn and serged lining. Basically it is a tube, with a square sewn into the bottom to form the base. The outer shell was created the same way, but using the tapestry fabric and a leather square for the base. but before I sewed the outer shell together, I needed to attach the straps.
Here I ran into the tension problem again when I wanted to use leather squares to cover the join between the straps and the back of the pack. I was forced to punch out the holes using the leather needle on my machine, but complete the actually stitching by hand.
It wasn't terrible, but my fingers did get very tired after three hours of this!
The leather squares go through all the layers, but I did not want to depend on that to support the weight of the pack, so I did some heavy-duty zigzagging to actually secure the straps to the back.
Here you can see it all laid out.
Time to stitch the outer and inner shells together! I slipped the lining into the outer shell, then folded over the raw edges for topstitching. I inserted the back edge of the leather flap between the back pieces so that the topstiching would secure it in place.
This was also the point where I pinned in the back loop for hanging the pack on hooks.
Almost done! Time to put in the buckle and drawstring...
Look at that!!!
All sewn down!
A custom sized laptop backpack that took me just 2 days and $11.50 to make! I had it done and ready to haul my computer off to Illinois!