Introduction: Soda Tab Chainmail Laptop Bag

Picture of Soda Tab Chainmail Laptop Bag

This gorgeous bag offers a way to reuse the tabs from soda cans. The final pattern created by the tabs looks a bit like chain maille or fish scales, but either way, it's ever-so stylish.

The dimensions used here perfectly fit a 13" MacBook, but the proportions can be adjusted for other laptops, or to make other bag sizes. To make sure that the laptop will fit, you'll need to be sure to keep your seams as narrow as possible, or add a little bit to all of the pieces to allow for extra room.

This idea was inspired by the bags seen here:

You can also make a really really cool bag out of 35mm film - click here to find out how!

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

Picture of You'll Need. . .

- Scissors
- Sewing needles and straight pins
- Thread (white and black are both used here)
- An iron (optional)

- Fabric for constructing the bag (black cotton in a medium/heavy weight is used here)
- Fabric for the lining of the bag (a blue and silver silk print is used here)
- A cotton woven-type belt (34" black belt is used here)
- Soda can tabs (a lot of them - so many that you would think you have too many. Just over 1,000 are used here)
- If using as a laptop bag, either some .5-1" foam sheet or a laptop sleeve (depending on your preference. For foam, cut pieces the same size as all of the fabric pieces as described in the next step

Step 2: Cutting Fabric for the Bag

Picture of Cutting Fabric for the Bag

For both the lining and the outer portion of the bag, you'll need the following:

2 pieces 13.5" x 8.5"
2 pieces 8.5" x 3.5"
1 piece 3.5" x 13.5"
1 piece 5.5" x 13.5"

So, in total that's 6 pieces to make the liner, and 6 for the outer portion of the bag. For a different sized bag, just adjust the proportions accordingly.

Step 3: Sewing the Outer Bag

Picture of Sewing the Outer Bag

1. First, pin the pieces together. Remember to pin and sew so that the right sides of the fabric are together:

a. the 13.5" x 8.5" pieces (A and B) will form the sides of the bag; pin the 8.5' x 3.5" pieces (C and D) to these along the 8.5" sides of each. This will basically form a tube of fabric
b. pin the 3.5" x 13.5" piece (E) along the bottom of this tube forming an open "box" - each side of E will be pinned to another piece (the 13.5" sides to A and B, and the 3.5" sides to C and D)
c. pin the 5.5" x 13.5" piece (F) along the top of this "box" to form a flap over the opening - only pin along one edge to connect it to B

2. Sew along all the pinned seams - black thread was used here. To make sure that your laptop will fit, either make your seams as narrow as possible, or add a little extra to all of the pieces
3. Turn right sides out

Step 4: Sewing the Liner of the Bag

Picture of Sewing the Liner of the Bag

Repeat the same steps as for Sewing the Outer Bag to create the liner - white thread was used here

Step 5: Constructing the Bag

Picture of Constructing the Bag

Optional Pre-Step 1. If you're using foam sheet as protection for your laptop, you'll need to place it between the outer bag and liner - then proceed with step 1. I have a laptop sleeve that I like and use already, so I did not use foam here.

1. Slide the liner into the outer bag - both should be turned so that the final side of the fabric is out (the right side of the outer bag should be exposed on the outside, and the right side of the liner should be visible inside the bag)
2. Turn in .25" along each edge where the liner and outer bag meet and pin them together. The tops of the 8.5" x 3.5" pieces (the 3.5" edges) should not be sewn, since this is where the strap will be inserted and attached
3. Sew along the pinned edges, hiding the stitches as much as possible

Step 6: Sewing on the Strap

Picture of Sewing on the Strap

1. Insert each end of the strap into the opening left on the sides of the bag (the 3.5" sides that were previously not sewn together)
2. Tuck in the edges of the outer bag and liner around the strap and pin them
3. Sew as shown to ensure that the strap is secure
4. Use a warm iron to press all seams (optional)

Your base bag is now complete!

Step 7: Attatching the Tabs

Picture of Attatching the Tabs

This is going to take a little while, so you'll need some patience (or a few days).

1. Place a tab at the edge of the bag
2. Sew through the hole as shown to attach it to the bag
3. Place another tab next to it and sew through that hole and the hole of the previous tab to attach both to the bag at this point
4. Continue until you have a full row of tabs
5. Add another tab slightly overlapping the first tab in the first row
6. Repeat to form another row (and another, and another)

I found that working on the larger areas first was a good way to add the tabs. I started with the flap portion, then did the front side of the bag, then the back, and then around the three sides (finishing with the base). It took a while, but I only had time to work on it for about three hours a week total (in short spurts).

Step 8: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

By the time you're done, chances are you'll never want to look another soda tab again, but at least you have an awesome bag. This also provides a way to reuse the tabs of soda cans, which often aren't as useful for other projects where the can is reused (and it looks pretty stylish as well).


quesoman (author)2009-09-04

this is if i only had a laptop

osgeld (author)quesoman2009-09-11

heh, unfortunately I think my old beater of a laptop would be worth less than the aluminum on the bag

m1keo (author)osgeld2009-09-16

lol a tab is 10 cents lol

JackBond (author)m1keo2011-11-22

Nnnoooo. One tab is nowhere near 10 cents. Maybe 100 or more tabs.

m1keo (author)JackBond2011-11-22

My comment is 2 years old, maybe they were 10 cents back then?

JackBond (author)m1keo2011-11-24

I don't think they ever were, but okay.

shesparticular (author)m1keo2009-09-16

Wow, really? I always thought it was a price per pound. . .Hmm, good to know since I used about 1,000 :)

bombmaker2 (author)osgeld2009-10-10

what kind is it

osgeld (author)bombmaker22009-10-11

oh its a dirt old Texas Instruments, originally a pentium MMX 150mhz i rigged up an amd k6/2 450 to run @ 366mhz, 64mb ram 8 gig disk and 800x600 tft screen

its only used in rare situations lol

shesparticular (author)quesoman2009-09-04

From one hockey fan to another, thanks! :)

Might want to check this out too - it turned out really well I think.

lycoris3 (author)2011-10-01

For as much soda as my friends rink, i should have enough to produce the size that i want in a week. Oy, now to find the cloth I was saving just for something like this....

peaceupgg (author)2011-08-18

i am going to try when i get the things and just dont go on a airplane with it hahahhah (cause metal dectores)

shesparticular (author)peaceupgg2011-08-18

Can't wait to hear how it turns out for you!

Eviil~~PikmiN__{7} (author)2010-11-01

haha i clicked on this thinking it was real chainmail

Same here but there is instructions on real pop tab chainmail. This is still pretty cool.

aeshem (author)2011-08-08


shesparticular (author)aeshem2011-08-08


peaceupgg (author)2011-08-05

that looks hard is it

shesparticular (author)peaceupgg2011-08-05

It's not terribly difficult, no.

kimjuliesavage (author)2009-09-13

This bag looks great, very inspiring and I shall give it my best shot, just got to save up the soda tabs. thanks

H1T4TCH1 (author)kimjuliesavage2010-07-01

i have over 2000 ^^

Thanks so much! I hope you'll post pictures when you're done!

heatblast (author)2010-06-14


gruaqt (author)2010-01-29

I know its aluminum but wouldn't this thing get kinda heavy?

shesparticular (author)gruaqt2010-01-29

It's actually the same weight or lighter than other laptop bags and purses I've had.

Foaly7 (author)2009-09-09

Wow. A memoir of every can of Red Bull you ever drank, every can of soda you ever slurped, every, every, um I can't think of anything else. :)

j03b0b0fd00m (author)Foaly72009-10-09


hojop25 (author)2009-09-21

wow! thanks thats a great way to ruin and scratch my laptop thanks.....looks awesome though

frogmeetcog (author)hojop252009-10-03

This kind of thing is always lined. Regardless, if you are attempting to keep the non-fuctional outside of your laptop enirely glossy and scratch-free, I would reccomend never touching it, maybe keeping it in a glass case. Or just never open its packaging...

shesparticular (author)hojop252009-09-21

It's actually fully lined, so it can't scratch your laptop.

Fieldownage (author)2009-08-30

Rather than using canvas, I would use neoprene and contact some LARP players and ask from them how to make real chainmail.

It's actually a cotton blend, not canvas, though neoprene would be a good choice if one had some on hand.

Sorry for my ignorance on that issue (I was dying say that after looking through). I guess you should be able to buy it from internet or from local retailer.

futeng (author)2009-08-28

This would be great for college students as they drink so many cans a day.

topazcat (author)2009-08-05

This is awesome! I don't have the patience to make this (or a lap top lol) but your idea could be scaled down to a really cool evening bag instead. You are very creative!

shesparticular (author)topazcat2009-08-05

Thanks so much! If you check out the site that inspired it, there are a lot of other bag styles that can be made the same way and would look great.

amakerguy (author)2009-08-04
shesparticular (author)amakerguy2009-08-04

That's so nice of you, thanks!

amakerguy (author)2009-08-04

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I would have to drink a lot of soda!!

porcupinemamma (author)2009-08-04

Very very cool!!!


MrL33TPenguin (author)2009-07-12

Thanks for this idea! I'm working on mine and I made it bigger and I just started adding the tabs now. Great idea!

Thanks! I hope it turns out great! Please do post pictures when you're all done with it.

Will do that when I'm done with it.

HCHOR001 (author)2009-06-18

Wow i have to say these people have no vision for how a project can turn out. I went to that website and saw what inspired your work and used it to make my own. I have to say i think this is a great project! It looks amazing, its completely functional and doesn't scratch your laptop people... you don't line the bag with so tabs ...thats the outside. The inside is very nicely lined. Thank you for the idea! I love the finished product!

shesparticular (author)HCHOR0012009-06-18

I'm so glad you gave it a shot and it turned out well! Please feel free to post photos, I'd love to see your bag.

berky93 (author)2009-03-21

looks great - now make one ONLY out of chainmailled (thats not a word is it?) soda can tabs

lucius108 (author)berky932009-06-16

not too mention it would scratch ur laptop

BearForce1 (author)berky932009-06-01

well, you would have to do it like actual chainmail (i mean like for shark bite suits) and cut the loop at the end of soda cap and loop it onto another soda can tab and then weld the open loop shut, repeat. so..... good luck if you ant to see what I mean, look at How to make a chainmail shirt

Speedmite (author)BearForce12009-06-16

I wouldnt recommend that. It would scratch up the laptop. You dont have to weld them either. Just make regular chainmail. I make it out of 3 and 5 subject notebook spirals. From old used notebooks. And I recycle the paper.

About This Instructable



Bio: Learn more about me here: or follow me on Twitter (@shesparticular) (if you're into that sort of thing).
More by shesparticular:Almond and Brown Butter CupcakesMillionaire's Shortbread BarsBellini Cookies
Add instructable to: