Introduction: My Computer's "Down" Keyboard Comforter

Picture of My Computer's "Down" Keyboard Comforter

I love my laptop, but not for its body!  All summer that darned aluminum / aluminium radiated like a firebrick.  The shop assured me "nothing's wrong, that's really just how hot they get."  I consoled myself with "oh well, at least it'll keep me warm in the winter."*

But it didn't really.  When the ambient dropped below about 62°F / 17°C or so the metal started sucking all the heat out of my forearms, which they could ill afford to lose.

I'm fed up  - fed up, I tell you - with trying to type in gloves all day.  However, I'm just enough of a geekess to know that the computer's insides do NOT want to be warm; in fact, the actual silicon bits would be ecstatic at brass-monkeys-beware temperatures.  

Here, the top layer keeps my hands warm and the bottom layer keeps heat from being trapped too close to the computer - even if it's one of the ones that vents heat between the keys.

(Pic-1) You can stay REALLY warm while touch-typing or just using the touchpad and button(s).
(Pic-2) If you have to look at keys, you can still keep your forearms, wrists, and knuckles warm!
(Pic-3) The blanket-top comes off altogether so you can just use the vented pad to keep your wrists and forearms up off the metal.  This might reduce the unwanted heating in the summer too!  Raising them up is a little better for your joints too. 



__________________*I'm blessed to live in a place with mostly mild weather.  In such places, people like landlords, real-estate agents, and workplace facilities managers will tell you "we don't need any form of climate control here, ever."  NEVER BELIEVE THEM unless you have the nearly-infinite comfort  zone of an eight-year-old boy.

Step 1: Inputs

Picture of Inputs
(Pic-1) There are a lot of ways to implement the basic design.  At a minimum you need:
  1. "Blankie" material (quilted, fleece, etc.)
  2. Heavy-duty thread + compatible needle.*  
  3. Silky drapery cord, 1/2" or bigger, ~2-2.5yd / m
  4. BRIDE-SPEC tactical netting; aka, nylon tulle,**  enough to cover one side of your computer.
  5. Elastic, reasonably durable & preferably non-rolling, enough to wrap once around the largest dimension of your computer
  6. Sewing machine OR lots of time with nothing else to do
  7. (not pictured) Fabric glue, e.g. Bond 527
(Pic-2) In my example I also use
  1. Plastic canvas (as a temporary stabilizer for the tulle; does not become part of the finished product)
  2. Pleasingly textured lightweight lining (here, ultrasuede), because my quilting isn't lined
  3. Bobby pins

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*I like 8-20-lb-test fishing leader.  Leader, unlike regular fishing line, doesn't stretch and isn't nearly as stiff.
**Maybe you have some on a dress you were forced to buy, don't like, but haven't yet cut up for dish-scrubbers.^

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^Mad-Men-era brides ended up using wedding-gown-esque nylon netting to hand-scrub the family's dirty dishes "ever after." Semiotically disturbing or what?

Step 2: Make the Vented Pad

Picture of Make the Vented Pad
(Pic-1)
  1. Cut a piece of tulle big enough to cover the part of the laptop surface "south" of the keys.
  2. Finish the edges.  Here I just used an overlock stitch.  You can also make a rolled hem or use bias binding.
  3. Check to see of your touchpad works if you touch it through the tulle.  Mine did, thank heaven.  If yours doesn't, you'll want to cut a hole where the touch-pad is and finish that inner edge too.
(Pic-2)
  1. Attach the drapery cord to the tulle.  There are different ways to do it, but you want to avoid any adhesives that might re-liquify if they get too warm.  To see how I did it, scroll down here.*
  2. In your design,
    • Leave a blank space for the touch-pad (or work around the hole if you had to make one).  
    • You don't have to leave blank spaces for the buttons unless you want to; they'lll work perfectly well underneath the drapery cord.
    • Everywhere else, leave gaps 0.5 - 1" / 12-25mm wide between neighboring sections of drapery cord.  This spacing is a compromise between letting heat escape away from the computer surface and keeping your skin up off the metal.
(Pic-3)  
  1. Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each as long as the vented pad is wide.
  2. Secure the ends of one piece to the 2 top corners of the pad, and the ends of the other piece to the 2 bottom corners.
 (Pic-4)  These 2 elastic bands go around the bottom of the laptop to hold the pad in place.  
  • Note how they don't really cover much of the heat-shedding metal or block the slots and things you'll want to use.  
  • When you want to close the computer, the elastic stretches enough that you can put the lid under the pad and use the elastic to hold it closed.  This prevents the unfortunate combination of a lid-closure interlock with lowest-bidder-made hinges and latches from putting your computer into weird "half-asleep" limbo states.**
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* (Pic-5) Pin the tulle to some plastic canvas to keep it stable.  The big grid also helps you eyeball spacing and symmetry while you sew, without having to draw the design anywhere (if you tend to live dangerously as I do).  (Pic-6) Whip-stitch the drapery cord to the tulle, "sneaking" the thread  in between twists of the drapery cord so it can't be seen.  You can either temporarily unpin the part of the tulle you're working on, or put the needle through a nearby hole in the plastic canvas, then capture some tulle threads and put the needle back through THE SAME hole.  The idea is to take the plastic canvas off when you're done.

**Although, to hear it said, truly superior computers never have that problem, or any other problems.  And if they do, it's either (a) something you did wrong, you cretin, (b) actually a wonderful feature for. . . some reason, or (c) fixed in the latest, swingeingly-expensive model, which is sold out anyway for the next 3 months so you should pre-order right now.

Step 3: Make the Quilt-top

Picture of Make the Quilt-top
(Pic-1)  Note where there are holes or groups of holes in the surface of your laptop.  Make sure the quilt-top won't block them.  They might be speakers, heat-vents, or both.

(Pic-2) Cut the "blankie" fabric, and its lining if any, to cover the keyboard and the area covered by the vented pad.  Leave a seam allowance if you're going to seam-and-turn.

(Pic-3) Also make a tulle "pocket" for your fingers that starts where the vented pad leaves off.  
  • This will keep the quilt-top from sagging into gaps between keys and blocking any heat trying to radiate out of there.  
  • Tulle edges can be scratchy so I don't like to leave them exposed where my skin might be rubbing.  Here I made a binding for the open edge out of my lining.  If you're using something less bulky than quilting for the "blankie," like a fleece, you could use that same material for the binding.
Add any embellishments you want to the "blankie" (I made a couple of patches out of computer-printable fabric).  Then put them all together,  Here I seamed, turned, and top-stitched, but you can also use folded-over bias binding, add piping, etc.

Step 4: Put the Pieces Together With Detachable Connectors

Picture of Put the Pieces Together With Detachable Connectors

Your goal:  Attach the edges of the vented pad to the adjacent edges of the quilt-top!  Options abound: buttons, frogs, snaps, hooks-and-eyes, various clips. . . but probably don't use anything magnet-based.  Even if you don't have a magnetic hard-drive, who knows what else is in there that a magnet might mess up?  Better safe than sorry.

Here is the lazy-a** way I did it.

(Pic-1)  With the heavy-duty thread, sew two bobby pins to each edge of the quilt-top (these are the edges of the wide section that goes on top of the vented pad - remember, we want that over-the-keyboard section free to flip down off the keys) with the open ends of the bobby-pins facing each other.  Tack them in place with a couple small dabs of fabric cement.

(Pic-2) When the cement is dry, slip each of the bobby pins over one of the elastic bands on the pad.  They'll come off easily on purpose, but are unlikely to slide off by accident because of the way the openings face each other.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Comments

grannyjones (author)2012-01-29

Give a man a lousy apple; wind up washing dishes until the end of time.

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Bio: Licensed quantum mechanic. Experienced cat-herder (literal and figurative). Aspiring open-sourceress. Linguam (note the "u") legalicum loquor.
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