Introduction: Super Special Laptop Sleeve (**With Updates**)

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After reading this I thought it sounded like something that might be fun to try making.

Since my mom's birthday is coming up (Hi Mom!), I figured it might be neat to make her a nifty laptop sleeve emblazoned with the covers of her favorite newspapers (The New York Times and The Washington Post). Just to make it extra special, I used a photo-editing program to change the news a little, but you could also leave it as is - especially if something interesting was covered.

I also made one for myself with a nifty computer repair flowchart on one side, and the circuit map of an Apple-1 on the other. There are probably a billion different things that you could use as an image (repair guides might be cool/helpful), whatever floats your boat!

Because it requires a hot iron and needles, make sure to be careful. This would be a great simple project to teach kids some sewing techniques (rounded corners and rolled hems), and the results are pretty nice!

*note: make sure to check out the tips in Step 5*

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

  • some t-shirt transfer paper (at least two sheets), 8.5"x11" (make sure it's compatible with your printer)
  • an iron
  • a printer
  • a scanner (if you don't have your images in digital format)
  • a newspaper or two, depending on if you want the two sides to be the same or not (if you don't want to go through the hassle of scanning a newspaper, etc. you can also look for images of newspapers online)
  • a computer with photo-editing software (Photoshop, G.I.M.P., etc.)
  • other images and things (if you want to change the news)
  • some fabric (I used some canvas) - you'll need enough to cover the laptop like a book jacket, and as well as extra around the edges for seam allowances)
  • needle, thread (or sewing machine if you have one - it makes this much easier)
  • pins
  • a pillowcase or other fabric to protect the transfer during ironing

Step 2: Make Your Transfer

  1. Select your image and use image-editing software to size it to 8"x10.5"
  2. Make any changes you might like, such as writing new stories and adding new pictures
  3. Flip the image on the horizontal axis so that the text will be in the correct direction when the image is transferred to the fabric. If you don't have image-editing software to do this, there should also be a print option that will allow you to flip the image on the horizontal axis when printing (if there isn't text, you don't have to do this, but the result will be the mirror image)
  4. Insert the photo transfer paper into the printer according to the package directions (there may be a notch or something to indicate the proper orientation)
  5. Print the image on the transfer paper

Step 3: Getting Everything Ironed Out

  1. Cut your fabric to fit around the laptop, with extra for seam allowances
  2. Lay the fabric out flat on a hard surface (with some newspaper or something under it) and put the transfer paper on top of it. You'll want to leave about a 1.5" border around each edge and a 2" space between the two sheets
  3. Place the pillowcase over top of the two sheets
  4. Heat the iron (the transfers I used called for High heat and no steam, but make sure to check your instructions)
  5. Iron over the pillowcase until the surface is warm to the touch, this may take a few minutes. Be sure to keep the iron moving so you don't scorch anything
  6. Remove the pillowcase and gently peel back the paper backing on the transfers
  7. Sometimes the backing paper sticks, or not all of the transfer has affixed to the paper. Be sure to peel really slowly, and if anything is sticking, go back over it with the iron

Step 4: Sew It Up

  1. Position the fabric right sides (transfers) together so that the transfers are aligned however you want them to end up (I wanted mine centered)
  2. Pin along the two short edges and one long edge (basically making a big pouch). For nice corners, pin and sew them on an angle - this will make them slightly rounded when they're turned right sides out
  3. Sew these edges
  4. Roll over a seam along the open side of the fabric and pin
  5. Sew the seam
  6. Trim the seams down a bit if there's a lot of extra
  7. Turn right sides out
  8. Slide in your laptop


Step 5: **A Couple of Tips**

  • In order to make it easier to line up the transfers, try sewing the sleeve (Step 4) BEFORE ironing on the transfers (Step 3) - this way you can make sure they're properly aligned
  • Try not to pin or sew the edges too close to the laptop. Since there will be seams inside when it's turned right sides out, you'll want a little extra space so that the sleeve isn't too tight
  • Pin and sew the bottom corners at a slight angle. When the extra fabric is trimmed away, it'll make for really nice looking corners once they're turned out
  • I opted to just make these sleeves, since both my mom and I used padded bags to carry our laptops. If you wanted to, you could add a layer of padding and lining
  • Pinking shears would be helpful (I didn't have any though) when trimming down the seams, just to make sure that the fabric doesn't fray
  • To make a neat seam on the opening, fold the fabric over, and then over once again. This will ensure both sides have a finished edge
  • Make sure to use thread close to the color of the fabric for a neater finish

Step 6: **Updates**

My mom liked her new laptop sleeve that I decided to make one for my dad also. He prefers the Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Tribune so I decided to use those papers. Also, I had to construct the sleeve a bit differently since my dad's laptop is larger and thicker (14"x10" and 2.5" at it's thickest point).

To make a sleeve for a thicker laptop:
  1. In addition to a front and back portion cut to the dimensions of the laptop (plus seam allowances), cut a strip long enough to go around three sides and the width of the laptop (in this case, 34" long and 2.5" wide, plus seam allowances)
  2. Cut pieces of the same size in a lighter fabric (I went with muslin since the outside was canvas). If you want to add padding between the layers, you can do that - a sheet-type foam works best
  3. 3. Pin and sew the pieces together. The long strip will be between the front and back pieces, making a kind of fabric "box" (see 2nd image)
  4. Turn the outer fabric right side out, but leave the lining wrong side out. Iron your transfers onto the outer fabric - while you're at it, you may also want to kind of squish everything down a little and iron it as well (see 1st, 3rd, and 4th image)
  5. If you're using padding, slip it inside the outer fabric, and then put the lining in
  6. Tuck in both the outer fabric and lining along the top so that no raw edges are showing. Pin and sew along this hem (see image 5)
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