CRAFT: Sew and Sew
CRAFT’s Shawn Connally just got a great laptop bag. It’s a messenger-style and has a long shoulder strap, great graphics, and all the pouches and pockets in the world. But despite all its bells and whistles, the bag is lacking versatility. Without a sturdy handle on the top, it is hard to grab in a hurry. So, with a donor bag and heavy duty thread, I’ve added function- and it looks great too!

Bag without a handle
Donor bag with a handle
Stiff canvas or leather scrap
Heavy duty thread
Needle-nosed pliers

Step 1: Raid your donor bag for useable parts. My bag has a top handle of its own, but also has extra straps and some interesting webbing details. This project is a sewing task, but is also a bit an engineering problem. I thought about it a bit, and decided that the shorter top handle on the bag would be too short. Instead I cut the longer straps to be sewn parallel.
Step 2: Decide on handle placement. I centered my new handle to line up with the long shoulder strap. Use the ruler to find the center of the bag, and with the chalk, mark the center line. Then make a second mark in the dead middle of the bag. This mark will orient you for placement. The final set of marks indicates exactly where I want to sew my handle.
Step 3: Cut 1 yard of heavy duty thread. The thread I used is for sewing buttons, and much thicker than standard sewing thread. Thread the needle, double it, and tie the ends together with a big knot.
Step 4: Sew it all together. Starting with one end of one handle, sew a square around the edge in a rectangle. I stitched down 1″ of each end. Because you are stitching though so many layers of thick material, the pliers are going to be your best friend. Use them to push and pull the needle, but be wary of breaking the needle. I used the pliers to pull the needle up, and the thimble to push it back down. As I worked, I needed to tug the thread into alignment to keep things tidy.
Step 6: Repeat Step 5 for the remaining ends. Erase the tailor’s chalk and you are good to go!

  • Shawn Connally

    I love it! Thanks so much, Brookelynn, and thanks for sharing how to do it!