Introduction: Soda Tab Chainmail Laptop Bag

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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. . .

- 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

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

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

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

Step 5: 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

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

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

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).

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