The making of a briefcase and its pattern

A while ago I decided I would make a pattern for a briefcase. I browsed the internet looking at different styles of briefcases, saving photos for reference as I went along. I also researched laptop sizes and put them into a spreadsheet. Then I got down to work.

I decided which laptop sizes were the most popular, and made a cardboard mock-up in that size. I drew a template on light weight craft paper. After taping it together I tried the cardboard laptop in the paper briefcase. It seemed to fit. Using the paper briefcase I made a paper pattern with seam allowances.

It was time to start laying out the pattern on the fabric. I chose a dark blue denim fabric that I had purchased at a garage sale. There would be a padded pocket inside the briefcase for the laptop. I chose green and yellowish fabrics for the interior. Then I started fusing. A fleece quilting interfacing went onto all of the front and back pieces, both inside and out. I basted the sub-assemblies. The laptop pocket went onto the inside back piece, and extra pockets went onto the front inside piece.

I had bought hardware for the straps from a second hand shop. For the straps I decided on Kraftex (nothing changed hands for that mention). I measured and cut the straps to size, then sewed two layers together for each strap. After fitting the straps and hardware together I realized that the straps were too wide. I carefully cut the straps down. Now they fit well enough.

I was ready to start the final seams, but had some decisions to make. How did I want to make any outside pockets? I decided on pockets from some old jeans. Did I want to sew the inside separate from the outside, or together? How wide did I want the briefcase to open? I stalled out. I tried deciding, but could never come to a conclusion. Time passed.

A lady at church asked me about the bag I carry books in. She liked it, but is shorter than I am, and wanted something smaller. I thought of my half-done briefcase. We discussed what she needed, and I came up with a price. (I made it very discounted because it had been languishing).

I quickly restarted the briefcase. I decided that I would sew the seams for the inside and outside at the same time. I would only open the briefcase at the top, rather than like a clamshell.

If I wasn’t careful some of the interior fabric would show at the dark blue zipper. When I was sewing the opening for the zipper I sandwiched some grosgrain ribbon between the “right” sides of the exterior and interior. When I turned the opening right side out and sewed in the zipper there was only blue showing on the outside.

Because the zipper put some dark blue color on the inside against the green and yellowish fabric, I decided that more touches of blue were appropriate. I didn’t have any bias tape, so after the side seams were finished I used the dark blue grosgrain ribbon to cover the seams. I was concerned that I couldn’t do a good job of sewing down the ribbon since the side seams ended up very thick, so I sewed that down by hand.

When I turned the briefcase right side out I discovered that one of the interior pockets gaped open. That just wouldn’t do. Dark blue velcro and more grosgrain ribbon to the rescue, sewed by hand.

Finally it was finished. I delivered the briefcase yesterday. She likes it! Hurray!

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