Today we're going to make a simple, elegant satchel made of locally produced materials. It's been designed to carry a small laptop (or a regular sized tablet), a notebook, and a camera.
If you know of a better way to do any of these things, please let me know in the comments. I'm always learning.
Here are the materials you'll need:
- 2m strap material
- 1.2 m2 Felt
- 0.6 m2 lining material (I used African print)
- Upholstering thread
- Regular thread
- Double thick cotton
- 10cm edging material
- 700mm zipper
- 2x brass zip sliders (make sure they're the right size for your zipper)
- 3x brass buckles
Step 1: Sketch Out the Design to Scale
This step isn't compulsory, but sketching out the product helps me plan the process.
Step 2: Marking and Cutting the Main Components
- Mark out the cut and stitch lines of what will become the outer part of the bag using a contrasting coloured pencil.
- Cut the felt. I decided to use two layers of the felt to increase the strength of the bag — you could get thicker felt if you’d like
- Mark out the cut lines on what will become the lining of the bag.
- Cut out the lining along the lines you’ve just drawn.
Step 3: Inner Pocket
- I’ve cut a slit in what will be the inner layer of felt about 7cm from the top, and 9cm from each edge.
- Make sure to cut a stretched “H” shape so we end up with two flaps. We’ll stitch the zipper and the pocket lining to these flaps.
- Cut the same “H” shape in the lining material.
- Pin the zip, the lining, and the inner felt together ready for stitching.
- Put the zip slider onto the zipper.
- Stitch a 4cm long piece of edging material over each edge of the African print to stop the edges from fraying.
- Cut a 185x240mm piece of felt. This will be the inside of the pocket.
- Pin this pocket inner to the inside of the lining, and then stitch it in place. You might want to do a double stitch for extra strength.
- Nicely done! That’s it for the pocket.
Step 4: Laptop Sleeve
- Now we’re going to make the inner laptop sleeve which will keep your laptop or tablet (or ridiculously big smartphone) safe from any sharp edges.
- Cut a 260x380mm sheet of the African print.
- Fold over and stitch both long edges to prevent fraying.
- Now stitch the sleeve to the lining material.
- I did a double stitch at the bottom edge for some added (psychological) security
Step 5: Inner Lining
- Cut out 2 100x290mm strips of African print fabric.
- These will be the sides of the inner lining.
- Pin them in place, and then stitch.
- Do this for both sides.
Step 6: Outer
- Stitch the 2 outer pieces of felt together.
- Cut away the inner flaps about halfway in.
- This leaves you with a double layer of felt for the outer. (You could just use thicker felt if it’s available).
- Cut 4 100x290mm strips of felt. These will be the sides of the bag. (We’re doing another double lining).
- Stitch these together so that you have 2 double thickness strips (1 for each side).
Step 7: Main Zipper
- Stitch each side of the zipper to the inner top edge of the bag — make sure to align them nicely!
- Cut 4 30x60mm strips of African print fabric — these will be the zipper stoppers.
- Pin and stitch one of these at each end of the zipper (make sure the zipper slider is in place first).
Step 8: Strap
- First, we’ll do the parts that are attached to the bag.
- Cut 2 195mm lengths of your strap material.
- Attach one of the buckles to the strap as shown in the image.
- Do this for the other side as well.
- Stitch each one of these to each of your felt side strips as shown in the image.
Step 9: Lid Lining
- I added an extra lining layer of felt to the lid to cover some blemishes, and to make it feel a little more durable.
- Go ahead and stitch this to the backside of the lid — it should look inside-out.
- Turn it outside-in.
Step 10: Siding
- Pin the sides to the felt outer.
- Again, it should look inside-out — we’ll reverse it in the next step.
- Do this for both sides.
- Stitch each edge, and then turn the bag outside-in.
- Your bag should be taking shape now.
Step 11: Attaching the Outer to the Inner
- Because of the thickness of the materials we’re going to need to hand stitch this part.
- I’ve also used a thicker thread for this step.
- Pin the top edges of the inner and the outer slightly below the zipper.
- Make some holes with a tailor’s awl — or anything else that’s really pointy and sharp — about 1cm apart.
- Stitch them together — I had to use a pair of pliers to get the needle through the fabric.
Step 12: Finishing the Strap
- Measure enough strap material so that you have 1.7x the length that the bag hangs comfortably.
- Preventing fraying: fold the edge over twice, about 1cm each. Pin in place. Stitch. Do this for both ends of the strap.
- Feed one end of the strap through one of the buckles — about 10cm.
- Fold it over, and pin in place.
- Stitch a nice strong square. I went over it twice. Hopefully you can make less of a mess of it than I did.
- Feed the other end of the strap all the way through a loose buckle, and then through the other attached buckle.
- Feed the same end of the strap (about 10cm) through the middle buckle — the one not attached to the side.
- Stitch it in place (same as above).
- You’re done! Go ahead and make yourself a nice cuppa tea. You deserve it!