The next stage was to build the bag. The pieces were layered much like a pocket: the outside right-sides together with the lining fabric, all on (black) batting. I stitched ONLY the flap edge and what will become the top front edge.
The long sides were left open. I turned the whole works right way out through one side.
Once it was right side out I pressed it very carefully to make sure that the corners were turned, the hidden zipper on the front flap was not stitched shut by accident, and that the layers were all nice and flat. You can see here that I layed it with the outside facing up and chalked lines for stitching. These lines were at the fold of the top flap and the fold on each side of the base. I stitched them side to side, careful to make sure that my layers did not shift. At this point I did a few lines of vertical stitching in the back (between the base and the flap stitch line).
Once these lines were in place I turned to the inside pocket placement. The first thing I did was add a fabric covered piece of Timtex the same size as the base. I stitched it right to the inside of the bag. This will help keep the bottom flat even when the bag doesn't have a book or the computer in it.
I then put in the small patch pocket on the front inside. It's smaller than the outside pocket, so I put it on first...that way all the construction stitching was hidden inside the big pocket when it went on later. I used the same method as last post when I put the little patch pocket on the laptop pocket.
Notice in the photo at left that the top front edge (and flap edge, too) is only pinned, not topstitched yet. That is later. I pinned it early on so that the layers would not shift while I was putting all the pockets on the inside. It's really important to pin like crazy through this next portion so that the layers don't shift. If they do, the bag will never be square or stand true.
I put the laptop pocket on the back inside, topstitching down each of the three edges at a 1/8" from the edge. You can see in the photo that the pocket stands up nicely. You can also see where the Timtex is stitched into the bottom, and that the front inside pocket is open in the opposite direction to the laptop pocket. This is so that when the side seams are sewn the pockets are both right way up.
I put those pesky button tabs back on, they needed to be against the back of the bag. I'll put buttons on the pocket later so that when the computer is in the bag it will be secure. They were placed using the flap stitch line as a guide. First they were put on facing up, then stitched a second time, down, covering the previous stitching and the raw edges of the tabs.
Once the all the inside pockets were secured, I put the patch pocket on the outside front. It was done using the same patch pocket method as earlier...first with the lining facing up and stitching the bottom edge, then turning it upward and topstitching. The front pocket is the same size as the front of the bag - this was fundamental to the final bag shape, and to the final form of it.
The picture at left shows the front outsidepocket pinned into place before stitching the sides.
You can see that the top edge of the pocket is open, the sides of the bag are still unstitched.
I took a minute and trimmed the batting, making sure the outer bag, batting and lining fabric were all even, then turned the bag lining side out and stitched the side seams. The trick here was to make sure that the top edges were even. The bottom tends to work itself out a little. For this seam I used a strong overcast stitch. This one takes a lot of stress, and will be seen when the bag is open. Many times I'll use a Hong Kong seam finish on a side seam that will show, or flat fell the seam, but it didn't appear to need those kinds of finishing details.
The bottom edge was given its depth by the following, extremely simple corner shaping trick:
Once the side seam is stitched, stand the bag up on it's base. Match the side seam to the centre bottom of the bag. This will give you a little triangle. Stitch across this little triangle at the point at which it is your desired bag depth. In a lot of cases you can then cut off the little triangle, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance - but in this case I left it. When I'd put the Timtex on the base, I'd left the short ends open. Once the bag was turned right side out I just tucked those little triangles under the end of the Timtex.
Here it is, right side out for the first time. I like a bag that will stand up and keep it's shape without stuffing it with tissue.
I removed the strap hardware and webbing from my original favorite bag and made more strap out of the brown batik and black batting. The finished strap is 2" wide. The wider straps are more comfortable. I may yet make a strap pad for it, if carrying the computer puts a lot of strain on my shoulder.
I pinned the strap in place and tried on the bag to make sure it would hang right, and that the strap is long enough. It was good, so I stitched it on. It ended up that the best placement was right at the top of the bag sides. It seemed to take the weight the best there.
The last shot I have here is of the inside of the bag from the top. You can see that I don't have buttons on for the button loops yet.
Now to test drive it for a while. I'm never sure how functional a bag will really be until I've used it for a while. This one has definite potential, though. And luckily enough, it goes with most of my jackets!