Introduction: Denim Laptop Sleeve

I made this simple quilted laptop sleeve to cushion my laptop when it is in my backpack.

Making your own sleeve is a great way to make sure it fits your device perfectly and suits your personal style.

This is a reasonably basic sewing project but I am assuming you know how to work a sewing machine - straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, etc.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Materials (of course you can use any fabric):
  • Denim recycled from a large pair of jeans
  • Fleece blanket for padding
  • Cotton material for lining
  • Sewing thread

Standard Sewing Equipment:
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric shears
  • Thread snips
  • Pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Ruler
  • Chalk or fabric pen
  • Overlocker/serger
Tip: if you are breaking a lot of needles sewing denim, try getting a denim or jeans needle, these are less likely to break.

Step 2: Fabric Cutting

First I cut the fabric roughly to size. I ironed the fabric to make sure it was flat and uncreased. I cut out a long rectangle, twice the length of my laptop, with a generous margin for stitching and later adjustments. The quilting process requires some extra margin because the fabric layers may move around. If your laptop is thick, you'll need to add some extra margin to account for that too.

I used a double layer of polyester fleece to make the padding inside the sleeve. I sewed a test piece on my machine to make sure it could handle the thickness and the fabric would feed nicely through the feed dogs (which can be a problem for slippery fabrics like polyester).

I sewed the two layers of fleece together so they would stay together during the quilting phase.

I also pre-cut the fleece so that it would end up short of the sides of the sleeve, reducing bulk when sewing and finishing the sides.

Step 3: Sandwich Quilting

The next step is to the quilt the layers together. I made sure everything was placed correctly and pinned it in place. Then I did a line of stitching across the middle of the fabric sandwich, using a zig-zag stitch. You can use any stitch you like - fancy stitches, straight stitches, contrasting thread colour, etc.

I used the stitching guide to make parallel lines to the left and right. Things did get a little bit wonky towards the end - next time I will probably mark straight lines with a ruler.

Step 4: Stitch It Up

Now we can fold the sandwich in half, with the outside layer (denim, in my case) on the inside, and use the laptop to find where we need to stitch the sides.

Note: The sleeve will be inside-out during the whole sewing process. If you are using the same fabric on the outside and the lining, make sure you don't get confused as to which way is inside out!

I pinned my sides and then stitched them, the stitch lines did come out a bit wobbly though so I suggest marking a straight line with a ruler once you have found the right spot using pins.

Stitch one side first with basting stitches (longest stitch on your machine) and then check with your device in the sleeve again to see where to stitch the other side.

You can turn the sleeve right-side out to check the fit. If it is too tight or too loose, you can easily remove the loose basting stitches and try again.

Once you are happy with the fit, stitch over the basting stitches with a tight straight stitch. Stop an inch or two shy of the end (where the sleeve opens) for now.

At the bottom of the sleeve I did small diagonals to round off the corners.

Step 5: Edge the Opening

The next step is to finish the edge around the opening of the sleeve. With your device inside the sleeve, mark where the edge of the opening should be. Trim back the padding if necessary. Then fold and pin the edges so that the raw edge of the fabric is on the inside. Iron the folds to make sure it will stay in place while you're sewing.

Now you can top-stitch the edges closed with a straight stitch, very close to the edge.

Did You Know: sewing enthusiasts call ironing 'pressing'.

Step 6: Finish the Sides

Now that the opening of the sleeve is nice and neat, you can finish stitching up the sides. At this point I added a small loop of denim as a handle. I did a double-stitch along the sides for added strength.

Finally I trimmed off the excess fabric at the edges and overlocked the edges.

Note: Make sure your overlocker can handle denim. On my sleeve, I had to skip the spot where the fabric loop was stitched into the side, as it presented too many layers for the overlocker to handle.

If you don't have an overlocker (serger) you can use a zig-zag stitch to finish the edges. I used the zig-zag on my machine to finish a few spots such as on the corners at the bottom of the bag.

Now is a good time to tidy up all the loose threads inevitably hanging off the sleeve.

Turn it inside out, and your sleeve is done!

Step 7: Final Thoughts

If I was making this bag again, I would do a few things differently:

  1. Extend padding all the way to the ends of the quilt sandwich - I trimmed the padding too short, and there isn't very much padding around the opening.
  2. Mark my stitch lines with a ruler and chalk, rather than stitching freehand (for neater quilting lines and straighter sides)
  3. Stitch the sides up with a loose basting stitch, making it easier to unpick and adjust for fit/snugness, before doing a final normal stitch.

My original plan was to add a zip to close the sleeve, but it turned out snug enough that I decided it didn't need a zip. In addition, with such little room for the zip, it might scratch my laptop when it was sliding past.


You could easily add a triangular flap to go across the opening with a button or some velcro to close up the sleeve.