Retro-Fitted Backpack Laptop Compartment

I’m working on my backpack, yet again. It’s a regular run-of-the-mill back pack. I have had it for years and it’s lasted. It has a problem though, there isn’t a compartment for my laptop. I decided to change that. I am going to put a laptop compartment in the big compartment of my backpack and it’s relatively easy so you can do it too.

The first thing to do is make sure that your laptop actually fits inside your backpack. I know that my laptop fits inside of mine, but if you’re not sure just try it out.

Ultimately, for this project you’re going to need some foam, cloth, some wide elastic and of course your sewing machine and thread.

I cut a piece of foam, and yes, it’s part of a foam mattress pad. I cut the foam to the size of the laptop. It doesn’t need to be any bigger or any smaller.

Using my piece of foam as a guide, I  cut two pieces of fabric about an inch bigger than the foam all around. I am using nylon, but you could use whatever fabric you wanted.

I also cut four pieces of wide elastic. These need to be measured against your laptop. The length of each piece needs to be long enough that it stretches around the side of your laptop and there is room on each end to hem it up.

I put the two pieces of fabric together, good-side to good-side. I have trouble determining which side of this nylon is supposed to be the good-side so I just picked one. I pinned three sides. I also pinned the elastic pieces in the sides. Remember they’re pinned on the inside so they get sewn up into the whole thing when I sew up the sides. I placed two elastic pieces on each side and made sure they were directly across from the two pieces on the other side. I then sewed the three sides up.

I then turned the whole thing the right-side out and put the foam piece inside. It was a little tight, but as long as it’s flat inside it’s ok. I then pinned up the top to hem it up.

This is what it looks like with the foam inside and the top hemmed, but I’m not done yet.

One of the things about foam is that it’s really flexible. It can bend all around and if you don’t sew it to your fabric it can bunch up inside of the fabric. So it needs to be sewn into the fabric. First of all I sewed all the way around the edge of the piece. This keeps the foam in place and also keeps the edges of the fabric on the inside from fraying very much. I did use nylon and it frays terribly. So it’s a longevity measure. I also sewed across the piece several times in both directions. Why did I do this? Well believe it or not, the more you sew into this foam the more stable it gets. Whereas before the entire thing was very flexible and moved around everywhere, it’s now sturdier. It can still bend around, and it will still cushion the laptop, but it’s stronger, now that I’ve sewn through it.

It’s now time to sew this into the backpack and this is honestly the hardest part about this project.

I turned my backpack inside out. Some stuff may fall out of your backpack when you do this. Crumbs, little pieces of paper, etc., we all know if a backpack is well-used it’s going to have little bits of whatever in it.

I pinned one side of the piece to the backpack making sure the bottom was lined up with the bottom of the backpack. One side has to be sewn at a time. I sewed up the top piece of elastic first. It was fairly easy. The hard part was sewing the bottom piece of elastic in.

I had to first make sure all the straps and everything were out-of-the-way. Then I literally put my sewing machine in my backpack to get it to where I could sew the bottom piece on. I switched to a zig-zag stitch to get a little more sewing coverage while sewing the piece on.

It was time to sew the right side up. If you would have seen my struggle sewing on the bottom piece you probably would have laughed. Anyways, I pinned the other side a bit differently. I turned the edge of the elastic under then pinned it to my backpack. I then sewed through the bottom and top pieces of elastic in this manner. It was also very difficult to get the bottom piece sewn on this side as well, but I finally did it!

Here it is in use! It gives my laptop a place to be and some extra protection while it’s being bounced around in my backpack. There is no need to put foam on the backside because the backside of the backpack is already padded.

In addition to this simple compartment you can also sew the bottom in, but good luck with that! I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to sew the bottom in all the way across. You can also put a little Velcro strap across the top, but I thought mine was fine without one. Basically, I retro-fitted my backpack with a laptop compartment.

Here is the moral of the story: If you want a backpack with a laptop compartment don’t rush out to the nearest store and pay fifty bucks for a backpack with a laptop compartment when you can put a laptop compartment in the backpack you already have.


About Ashe

I always said my dream job would be to get paid for sitting in a corner and drawing all day long. Now, I have to ammend that idea of my dream job. I think I would like to sit in a corner and be able to get paid for drawing and writing.
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