Back to School ~ Laptop Bag

on August 10 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 153 Comments

Joy from How Joyful brings us this handy and really pretty Laptop Bag tutorial today. Laptop bags are often so boring and utilitarian… Joy’s bag brings some style and color and fun into the mix! Learn more about Joy in her introduction, and check out her HowJoyful Design Studio, where she offers custom website, blogs and logo design, in addition to her blog predesign shop.

To get started you will need:

  • Main/outer fabric – I used home décor weight fabric in two different designs by Jessica Jones
  • Liner fabric – I used 5 fat quarters for all pieces and had leftovers
  • Contrasting solid color fabric – I used a home décor weight fabric in yellow
  • 1 set of magnetic snaps
  • 1 piece of 1½ inches of Velcro
  • Lightweight interfacing – I used Pellon 808
  • ½ inch thick foam for the bottom of the bag and the sides of the laptop pocket
  • 2 big buttons

This bag was designed to fit a 13 inch MackbookPro but it has a lot of room so it can fit a 13 inch PC laptop too. If you have a 15 inch laptop the pocket will have to be altered, but there is room for it in the bag just like it is; you just have to make sure the pocket fits on the sides. The whole bag will have to be enlarged for a 17 inch laptop.

Note: Seam allowance is ¼ inch and it’s included in all measurements; also be sure to secure all ends and beginnings of sewing lines.


  • 2 pieces of 22×17½ inches of outside fabric. (bag body outside) – I used 2 different fabrics just for the fun of it!
  • 2 pieces of 22×17½ inches of liner fabric (bag body inside)
  • 1 piece of 60×4 inches of contrast solid color (handles)
  • 1 piece of 60×3 inches of fleece or batting for the inside of the handles
  • 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches of contrast solid color (closure strap)
  • 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches of outside fabric (closure strap)
  • 1 piece of 14½x12½ inches folded in half to be 14½x6¼ inches of liner (laptop pocket)
  • 2 pieces of 22×14½ inches of liner fabric for laptop pocket
  • 1 piece of 2½ x10 inches folded to be 2½ x5 of liner fabric for the laptop pocket strap
  • 2 pieces of 22×17½ or bigger of interfacing to apply to liner fabric (bag body inside)
  • 1 piece of 12×3¼ inches bigger of interfacing to apply to outside fabric (closure strap)
  • 1 piece of 14x 13¼ inches of foam for the back side of the bag
  • 1 piece of 14×10 inches of foam for the inside of laptop pocket
  • 1 piece of 14×5¼ inches for the bottom of the bag

Closure Strap:
First you will need to add the interfacing to the back of your outside fabric. Once that’s done, pin it with the contrasting solid color fabric and round both ends of the strap; I like to make a paper pattern first so I can fold it in half and get the same curve in both sides.

After that apply one of the magnetic snap pieces to the outside fabric. I centered it 1 ½ inches from the top. Place both pieces with the right sides facing each other and sew around it leaving a 3 inch gap in the center of a side so we can turn it inside out.

After sewing, carefully cut on the round ends as shown in the picture above, so when we turn it it’s a perfect round edge. Turn it inside, press and out and sew around to secure it.

First you will need to press ½ an inch towards the inside, all the way through your contrasting color fabric to easily make the sandwich with the fleece or batting.

Once you have the piece ready, place fleece 1 inch from the bottom and fold the bottom in. Then fold the pressed side in and pin it in place to sew.

Sew the handles. I sewed them 1/8“ from the fold. You will have a 60”long strap that you will need to fold and cut at 30”. If I were to make the bag again I would make two separate handles so they could be longer and place them lower in the side of the bag– about 10” longer.

To place the handles in the outside fabric, I measured 5” from the top to the lowest point of intersection, on the side 6” from the edge to the most right or left point of intersection. I pinned them in place and sewed o the bottom of the strap to 1 ½” from the top. I also added a piece of leftover interfacing to the front piece of the outside fabric right where the other magnetic snap will go to make it more stable. I measured 6 inches from the top. (Don’t worry the image above already has the handle cut on the outside fabric, we will do that next.) Repeat the process for both main bag body pieces.

Now to cut the handle space in the outside fabric and foam… I also like to make paper templates first. To make your template you will need to cut a 8×2½” piece of paper, fold it in half so it will be 4×2½” and draw a round line from the top center to the bottom corner. Cut it, and there you have your template. Center your template on the fabric, mark and cut. Also center it in your biggest foam piece.

Now you will need to center the closure strap on the other piece of your outside fabric. Remember that the side with the magnetic snap has to be the opposite the one we will be sewing to the outside piece. Measure 4 inches on your closure strap from the center on the round edge in and place the strap centered. Pin 1 ½” from the bottom, sew and secure the strap. Hand sew the buttons to both ends; I placed one button right where I sewed the strap to the outside fabric and the other right behind the magnetic snap.

Now place both outside pieces with the wrong sides looking out, like in the pictures, and pin them together, especially in the handles area. Sew all the way around leaving the top part open. Press the seams and cut the excess of material in the handles.

Before you start with the pocket, press the interfacing to the back of the liner pieces. Now for the pocket you will need to sew around leaving a gap at the bottom so we can turn it inside out, but before you turn in inside out cut the excess in the corner.

Turn it inside out, and press it.

Center the pocket 4 ½ inches from the top. I measured 6 inches for one of the pockets and sew two lines of top stitch.

For the laptop pocket, place one of the Velcro pieces and sew it centered and 1½ inches from the top of one of the pieces. After that, place both pieces with the wrong side facing out– Sew only the top. Turn inside out and center the foam in between. Sew ¼ inch inside the edge of the foam, on top of the sandwich made out of both pieces of fabric and foam in the center. After that place the laptop pocket on top of the other main body liner piece aligning in the bottom.

To make the laptop strap, do the same as for the closure strap with your 2½ x10 inches piece folded to be 2½ x5. Sew all the way around leaving a 2 inch gap to turn inside out. After you turn inside out, sew the other piece of Velcro at the end of one side and topstitch to secure all the way around. Align it with the piece other piece of Velcro in the laptop pocket and sew it to the main body liner. Make sure that the sewed portion does not go above the laptop pocket line.

Sew the laptop pocket to the other main body liner piece ½ an inch from the foam following the same line you just used to secure the foam to the laptop pocket pieces.

After that place both main body liner pieces with the wrong sides facing out and sew sides and bottom, leaving a 6 inch gap at the bottom so we can turn the bag inside out later on. Once you finish sewing, press seams out.

This step actually applies to both main body parts, the outside and the liner. After you press, pin through the sewing line in the bottom corners. I like to align my ruler in the sewing line, and I measured 2¾” from the center out and drew a line. Mark all 4 sides and sew in the lines. Once you have them all sewed cut the excess like shown above.

Place the outside main body inside the liner with both wrong sides facing out and pin the edges. I cut the inside curve of the handles in the liner after I sew them together, just in case. It makes it easier to align. Once everything is pinned, with a few hand stiches, secure the foam to the liner side that had the laptop pocket attached. I did three different stitches, one at the top, at the bottom, and center sides.

Sew the top of the bag all the way around and after that cut the liner bottom handles areas; make little cuts so when you turn it you get a clean edge. After that turn the bag inside out very carefully, especially with the outside foam that is attached with just a few hand stitches.

Top stitch all the way around and reinforce, going more than once over the areas where the handles are. Press and hand sew and insert the bottom piece of foam, hand stitch the area where the gap to turn inside out was in the liner and make a few stitches to secure the foam in the bottom. Press and you are all done!

I just wanted to mention that I am no bag-maker or professional sewer… So I might have not used the right term, or the best process, but this worked for me so I wanted to share. You can always let me know if you have a better way as I am always learning!

So there you go! I hope you all enjoy!

This week you can win a $25 Gift Certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! or one of FIVE copies of the Hexiecase Pattern from During Quiet Time. Comment on any post this week to win!

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153 Responses to Back to School ~ Laptop Bag

  1. Julie says:

    Love this bag. I wonder if you could give dimensions for sewing one for a netbook. Love the colors!

  2. Kim says:

    I fell in love with this bag and wanted to try it; I am not very skilled at sewing so my mom gets “dragged” into my projects all the time. We’ve been working on this all afternoon and I have to agree with Clare; I’ve had to read & re-read the instructions over and over. It’s a bit frustrating for me. Glad that mom is helping; as they say: Two heads are better than one! I read and she figures as we go:-) I know I’ll be pleased with the end result but I’m not sure if I’ll make the second one I was planning on. Thanks for sharing! I DO love it!

  3. Jenn says:

    This bag is so cute! i wish i were better at sewing so i could make one!

  4. Stefanie D says:

    I LOVE that fabric! Such a cute pattern. I like the button detail on the closure too.

  5. shree says:

    oh vow. this is like breathe of fresh air… love co-ordinating colours. lovely stuff.. especially for me all this sounds like rocket science..neverthless, will try my hand at it but would love to have it.. but i am from india:-( do i qualify

  6. Regina says:

    Oh, I loved it!
    I going to make this beautiful bag for my daughter!
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Great tutorial! I could see this bag being very versatile as a diaper bag or carry-all bag. Nice fabric choices, too. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Mamima says:

    I’m waiting the oportunity to make one of these bags and share the result on flirk.

  9. TroyJennene says:

    good idea and I was in the midst of making one of these, from a different pattern, for a newbie college student friend of mine. I may have to make this one as well.

  10. Clare says:

    This laptop bag looks fantastic. I have read through the instructions and find them incredibly confusing . . . there is alot left out and I find I have to read and re-read them to make sense of it. But I will push on and have a crack at it!!

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Dawn Kuczwara says:

    I’ve been looking for a bag pattern for my new laptop – thanks for the idea!

  12. […] is a great back to school project from Sew Mama Sew – a very cute and function laptop […]

  13. Linda says:

    My daughter was justing asking about a new laptop bag. This is so cute and stylish and doesn’t look too hard to make. Thanks for the tutorial.


  14. lisa mcclellan says:

    great instructions for a great bag!

  15. Dani says:

    This is so cool! I love this design so much. I have to make this right away… it’ll be my jump back into sewing project!

  16. Whitney says:

    Super cute bag! I think it would make the perfect purse as well 🙂

  17. Darleen Worm says:

    Two cool daughters. Two unprotected laptops. One starting grad school. One starting college. One mother that needs to start sewing these stylish bags right now.

  18. Sarah says:


  19. Loralee says:

    What a stylish way to carry my computer!

  20. Tamara says:

    I just bought some fabric from Ikea that I had no clue what it would become and now I do. Great bag!!

  21. Vanessa says:

    What a great idea! I’m going to have to make one for myself even though I don’t really take my laptop any place.

  22. Michelle says:

    Great use of fat quarters, I can’t wait to start this one! Thanks.

  23. […] swell laptop bag from Joy of How Joyful for Sew, Mama, Sew! would be a perfect back-to school project, especially […]

  24. Crast says:

    I love it! What a cute, playful solution to those ugly ugly laptop bags I always see.

  25. Tina says:

    My daughter is sitting here and she’s fallen in love with this laptop bag. Guess, I need to print the Tutorial and get to work because she’s leaving Thursday for college! Yikes!

  26. Jennifer says:

    TOO CUTE!!! Definitely going to make this for myself!!!

  27. Jennifer says:

    LOVE this bag! Can’t wait to make this for myself!!!

  28. Trish Gibbs says:

    Love it! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  29. Kell says:

    Love the handles!

  30. Nancy says:

    Neat idea! I might be making one for myself in the near future. Thanks! 🙂

  31. Lynda says:

    Wow what a great idea!

  32. Lauren says:

    Such a cute bag! I don’t have a laptop but I’m going to make this anyway – i need a nice big bag to lug all my sketch books to class!

  33. Kat says:

    Wow this is pretty awesome!

  34. Veronica says:

    This bag is awesome! While I don’t have a laptop, I’ve been wanting to make myself a cute messenger-type bag. I’m definitely making this! Thanks for the tutorial.

  35. HiLary says:

    Oh Wow! I’m thinking of maybe not lining this bag and using a plastic feed sack as the fabric. We will see if it actually materializes.

  36. MarciaW says:

    I like this bag (…could be your sms fabric too)

  37. Melissa says:

    This bag is so cute! The fabric used are fantastic. Adding to my to-sew list.

  38. Bronwen says:

    Love it! Makes me smile and I always need a new laptop bag 🙂

  39. Betsy M says:

    The bag’s details are wonderful. Very cute.

  40. Alyssa says:

    Oh How I need to make one of these for myself!

  41. Sherri says:

    Beautiful bag and lovely design. I just might try this!

  42. georgia says:

    Magical invisible hook much? I’m intrigued:) I think it is totally cute! With all the bag patterns on the market these days it is hard to find a unique desing, but this definitely is. Good work!

  43. Cindy says:

    Love this pattern, especially the handles! Thanks for the great pattern. This is definitely a keeper!

  44. Jacque says:

    I’d love to try this in some of the new organic fabrics….or maybe a laminate on the outside!

  45. ambjer says:

    Very cute bag! Love the way you did the handles! If I were to try to make this I think I would just use it as a tote, as my laptop is almost 19″.

  46. SewTara says:

    It’s really nice, I love the different straps, a nice detail.

  47. Ramona says:

    I have been on the hunt for a laptop bag and this pattern is really cute. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Bianca says:

    I really love this design. I’m definitely going to try it out. I have a laptop that needs a bed to nap in when not in use.

  49. Marseille says:

    Cute patterns!

  50. MollyP says:

    Great tutorial! The shape and style are super fun. I would actually use this laptop bag. Thanks, Joy!

  51. Ilona says:

    This is the nicest laptop bag I’ve ever seen! As it’s still on my to do-list, it is likely this is going to be the one that is going to be made soon. Already know the fabric for it!

  52. Missy K. says:

    Love it. My current bag is so boring. I hope to make this one.

  53. Debbie says:

    This will be a great Christmas present for nieces.

  54. Very cool bag and clear instructions. Love this fabric!

  55. Diana says:

    This is great! I wish I had more time so I could make one 🙂

  56. Meredith R. says:

    This bag is so cute! And pretty easy too. I’m always stumped about how to add padding to a bag for a laptop, but not anymore.

  57. Nik Kamisah says:

    Wonderful bag with bright yellow handle ..i can imagine peole will look twice (sorry, not at you but your bag!)

  58. Nik Kamisah says:

    such a nice bag with bright yellow handle ..i can imagine peole will look twice (sorry, not at you but your bag!)

  59. Sarah K says:

    Love this!! I’m going to make an attempt this weekend!

  60. Crunchy Con Mommy says:

    That is so adorable! I SO wish I would’ve had one in college that cute!

  61. Connie says:

    Great looking laptop bag! Love the colors and thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  62. jaime l says:

    Cute! What a neat idea…would come in handy for the new laptop I am thinking of purchasing 🙂

  63. Rebmara says:

    I like this bag!

  64. tara r says:

    The handle detail is great and the finish V professional-can think of lots of other uses too for it’s generous size

  65. Joy says:

    Thank you so much I am so happy you all liked my design, the bag i made was for my 13″ MackbookPro, but it has a lot of room so it can fit a 13 inch PC laptop too, for 15 inches the pocket will have to be altered, but there is room for it in the bag just like it is, you will just have to make sure the pocket fits on the sides, but for a 17 inch the whole bag will have to be scaled. =]

  66. Ashleigh says:

    I love the handles on this bag. They are so different. It would also make a great beach bag.

  67. fern says:

    Love this! will definitely try this!

  68. Alexis says:

    Wow, what a complex and gorgeous bag! I just got a new laptop, and could totally use one of these to tote it- great timing! Thanks!

  69. Betsy W. says:

    Ohhh…I’m heading back to school soon for a second degree and this sure will be handy. Thank you!

  70. Tammy says:

    Love Love Love this bag! I’m really sick of the old ugly black lap top bag.. I might have just found a replacement! Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  71. kate C. says:

    Very nice! I am sort of addicted to bags… I probably don’t need this one, but might just have to make it anyway!!

  72. Susan P says:

    fun i need to try this!

  73. Laurie says:

    I’ve had a new laptop since March, but no bag! Time to remedy that.

  74. Sherry J says:

    what an awesome bag. need to make me one asap. thanks.

  75. Maya says:

    Nice idea!

  76. caroline says:

    Just got a lap top and I have been itching to make a bag… now I have no excuse! Adorable!

  77. Vanesa says:

    Loved this tutorial! Thanks!

  78. Those are yours alright! . We at least need to get these people stealing images to start blogging! They probably just did a image search and grabbed them. They look good though!

  79. Shelly says:

    Gorgeous! I want one, like, now! 🙂

  80. April says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Ari! The bag is floating!

  81. btrflywmn says:

    Love this, I have been looking for the perfect tutorial and here it is. TFS

  82. Maricarmen says:

    Thanks for sharing…I can´t wait to sew it 😀

  83. Wowsa! Love the bag….

  84. Ruth Fidino says:

    That fabric is to die for. That bag is on my to do list. Always looking for the perfect one and this looks like a winner.

  85. Jodi says:

    Thank you so much for this – I am in desperate need of a laptop tote and this one has certainly peaked my interest. Love your posts and ideas.. keep them coming.

  86. Jennifer says:

    so cute!

  87. cwalkden says:

    What a great bag, I have some CUTE opal owl fabric that would be great for this – though it is not heavy weight, I can make up for it on the liner I suppose!

  88. Michelle says:

    this bag is too cute.. I never would have guessed it was for a laptop

  89. Ari says:

    Awesome! 😀

    WOAH the bag is FLOATING. XD

  90. Cat says:

    I am totally going to make this!!

  91. Amanda says:

    Love this! Thanks for the tutorial!

  92. Allison says:

    This is a wonderful tutorial! Laptop bags are sooooo boring at a reasonable price point and this tutorial definitely gave me hope for a stylish laptop bag for under $50!

  93. Kara Kelso says:

    I was actually looking for a laptop bag pattern or tutorial, so I’m loving this post! Although I wonder how easy it would be to scale it down to better fit a Netbook?

  94. Filipa says:

    Oh, my. Really like this bag. My laptop does need a place to travel. Why not?!

  95. robin says:

    nice bag! 🙂

  96. Wanda says:

    I love this pattern and think it will be a great to make for a couple of friends. Thank you for sharing it.

  97. radiya says:

    nice … on my to do list 🙂

  98. Ann says:

    Love the bag and the fabric!

  99. Seanna Lea says:

    Very nice. I would love a better bag for my laptop. It sometimes feels silly to be a grown adult carrying around a duffle bag.

  100. Mary says:

    Thank you so much! This is a great tutorial. Can’t wait to try it out. It will be the perfect gift for the niece who is off to college next week.

  101. jen says:

    LOVE this! Great bag – very stylish to which is what I love to see in a bag I have to carry!

  102. Sheryl says:

    Your laptop bag is lovely, Joy! Thank you so much for making and sharing your tutorial with us!

  103. Alli says:

    That bag is super cute!

  104. Erin Gustafson says:

    Wow! That’s beautiful!

  105. Tara says:

    I need one of these! Thanks for the tutorial!! 🙂

  106. Diana says:

    Super cute bag! I love it! Now I can add this project to my list! Thank you!

  107. Sherri says:

    I was just about to do a search for a laptop bag, as my parents just bought matching laptops! This saves me the trouble. Thank you so much! This is really cute.


  108. Sylvia says:

    Really cool!!

  109. Sara says:

    Love it!

  110. VickiT says:

    Wow! Awesome tutorial. Great job. Thank you very much.

  111. Kathie says:

    I love this tutorial !!! I have to make one for my daughter’s laptop:)

  112. Kristin says:

    LOVE this bag!!

  113. bess says:

    what a great tutorial! can’t wait to make one. 🙂

  114. Paige says:

    How cute!

  115. LauraH says:

    What a fun pattern! Thanks for the giveaway!

  116. Megan A says:

    omg this is so cute! I am going to have to try this!

  117. This is one classy laptop bag!

  118. auschick says:


  119. Cat says:

    So super cute. I am going onhave to make one!

  120. Kati says:

    This is super cute. I have someone who asked me to make them a laptop cover….but this is much cuter. I might check and see what she thinks!

  121. wendy says:

    Oooh, I like those handles! Cool bag!

  122. Beezus says:

    I probably wouldn’t use this as a laptop bag because of neck/shoulder issues, but I can definitely see me using this to pack around all the teacher stuff I seem to pack home with me, and back to school the next day. Lovely design!

  123. Suzanne says:

    The style of this bag is quite sophisticated. One wouldn’t guess it’s a laptop bag.

  124. Carol says:

    I love this bag. It is wonderful!

  125. Meredith says:

    Love this tutorial! Can’t wait to make one!

  126. Jessica says:

    Very cute! Thanks for the tutorial. What size laptop does it fit?

  127. Ashley C says:

    This is such a great bag. I’ll have to try it.

  128. Isabelle says:

    Beautiful bag! I want one!

  129. Diane W says:

    Love the bag! Will definitely be making this for back-to-school! Thanks for the tute!!

  130. Risa says:

    Great pattern!

  131. Rebecca says:

    fabulous tutorial! Just what I was looking for. I’ve had making a laptop bag on the list for months, but couldn’t find just the right pattern.

  132. Anna says:

    This is such a cute bag! A great design and I love how there’s a padded pocket for the laptop. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

  133. starjumper says:

    i really like the way that these handles are attached. they’re quite snazzy, but functionally are they just as strong or any stronger? i’m a chronic strap-breaker…

  134. Lola Granola says:

    What a fab tutorial! Thank you so much for posting! I’ve been on the hunt for a cute lap top bag to take with us when we feel like doing homeschool lessons at a coffee shop. : )

  135. rose says:

    Very cute!

  136. Jennie says:

    I’m not going back to school, but I still want one of these laptop bags. And those Hexicases would make awesome stocking stuffers and gifts for my niece and nephews. So cute.

  137. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for the pattern and instructions. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  138. Maria says:

    I love this, particualy the choice of fabric. Thanks for sharing.
    My one concern is that I was always told you should keep magnets away from computers. I’d be nervous to put a magnetic closer on the bag even if it’s a week magnet. I think I’d go for velcro.

  139. Love this cute bag design and color choices. Love that hexiecase, too.

  140. Amy G. says:

    This bag looks amazing! I am totally going to try it!

  141. Mare says:

    OH EM GEE!! This bag is adorable.

  142. Bree says:

    Great tutorial, can’t wait to try it out!

  143. Samina says:

    Thanks so much – I was just looking at laptop bags online. Now I can have my own, customized & pretty bag!

  144. Cary says:

    Very nice bag! I like your fabric choices.

  145. tayamg says:

    Super cute! Great idea – I love the handles!

  146. Carmen says:

    Love it!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  147. Andrea C says:

    wow! love this laptop bag. it’s so fun!

  148. anna says:

    that is way cute! great job!

  149. Erica says:

    Adorable laptopbag and cute hexie case!

  150. Keri says:

    Love this idea, hope I have enough time to make one soon.

  151. Margaret says:

    love this, and I am going to give it a try!

  152. Carrie says:

    I love making bags, and this one is so neat! Can’t wait to make it!

  153. This might be more appealing to me in different fabric. We’ll see if I know someone who needs one.

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