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Padding a laptop case

Elisabeth | Posted in General Sewing Info on

DD has her heart set on a brocade case for her laptop and I am in the process of making it now. I think I have everything worked out but before I put my chosen padding in I though I had better pose the question here. If there is any reason why I should absolutely not use that craft foam 1/8″ sheet stuff for a thin padding layer, please let me know now! This is an inexpensive project and after seeing the price of neoprene I looked for cheaper stuff. This craft foam is interesting stuff, it sews beautifully although it won’t be sewn into the case. The only downside I see is that is compacts under enough pressure. The case won’t get a lot of wear and the brocade won’t hold up forever anyway so I am not too concerned about eternal durability. Should I go ahead and try this funky stuff?


  1. SewTruTerry | | #1

    I would use something thicker.  And also something that does not give under pressure.  If you look at briefcases for laptops you will notice a lot of padding and it is really stiff.  I know that even if you do not plan to do a lot of airplane travel with this computer you will still be taking it back and forth to school and home or the the office.  You would be suprised at the number of dings and bumps that you can run into in the course of the day. And something else to remember if it gets damaged and you did not have it properly padded the company could void the warranty on the computer.  Just some thoughts.

  2. sueb | | #2

    Hi Elisabeth,

    If I were you, I'd use timtex interfacing as a padding.  It'll give you stifness, durability and a good cushion for the laptop.  It's usually available at most fabric stores and several places now carry it online, such as nancy's notions.  If you're not familiar with it, it's the type of interfacing used in hat brims and for making those very popular fabric bowls and boxes.



    1. Elisabeth | | #3

      That's a nice idea, Sue, it would shape up that poly well. The poly brocade needed something so I got out a piece of stiff pellon. Then I didn't like the crunchy feel right under the brocade and I found some flannel in my stash and sandwiched that in between. I had eyed some thin craft batting but didn't want to spend the money. I sound so cheap! but this is best put in the category of experiment. Perhaps what I have created a wimpy pseudo timtex!Good point about the warranty, Terry. These days the laptop gets carted around once a week or so in a canvas shoulder bag so anything will be an improvement. Now I'm thinking I'll do this first bag as a test, see if my design and pockets work. Then I can spring for neoprene and a better backing system and have at it again.Thanks so much for the suggestions!

      1. stitchwiz | | #4

        Hi Elisabeth,

        Hope this isn't too late for this  project...or try it for the next case.  Try cutting a stiffening layer for case out of a Crazy Carpet - those plastic sheets that kids use to slid down snowy hills on.  They're probably on clearance right now.  It's cheap, about  $1 at the dollar store or $3-5 at Walmart or Candian Tire for a piece of firm plastic that is 20 to 24 inches wide and about 3 feet long, or raid your kids old winter play toys...

        Cut the 'carpet' with a straight edge and an exacto knife.  Round the corners, craft scissors will cut this but it make take a bit of strength depending on the type of plastic and your own hand strength (trace a dime or around the eraser end of a pencil for a nice shape).  Make a sandwich with 2 layers of the craft foam (the foam you already have is fine) and put the 'carpet' in the middle.  When you are putting this together, check that it is stiff enough, if more stiffening is needed, add another piece of 'carpet' to the middle of the sandwich.  Sew around the sandwich, on the foam only, so that everything stays put. 

        If you want to permanently install the padding into the case you can; but if you want to make the case washable, you could cover this with a nice lining fabric which would help protect the foam from accidental nicks and divots.  Just sew triangular pieces of fabric into each inside corner of the case top and bottom so that you can pop the padding under the corners.  (The sandwich of padding will look like a photo in an album with the corners covered when it is in place.)  Then whenever you want to clean it, pull the padding out from under the corners and throw the case into the wash.  Sponge clean the padding cover if needed or use surface cleaner for upholstery; spray, brush it in, let it dry and vac.

        If you want the stiffening to protect the sides as well, you will have to design a template.  It will look like a rectangle with a tab on each side that will be slightly larger than the depth of the laptop.  Score and fold the plastic where you want it to fold.  At each corner the plastic will butt together.  You will need to trim the plastic away where they meet at the butt joint, a little more that the thickness of the foam, so that when you put it all together nothing will bind.  Fold the foam around the plastic as it would sit in the case to cut it a little larger on the outside and a little smaller on the inside so that everything will fit smoothly.  Cut lining to cover it before you sew everything together to make sure it will fit also.  Stitch along the outside, long edge of the tabs to secure the layers.  You will be sewing just through the foam and possibly your covering fabric, not the plastic - unless you have and industrial machine and very large needles...

        Presto!  You have soft sides for both the outside and the inside of the case and the stiffness you need as well.  Best of all, its easy on the budget - unless you can't find crazy carpets, of course.  Be creative!  Someone may have sheets of firm plastic that were meant for another purpose that you could substitute - ie. plastic canvas if it's cheap in your area...

        Hope I remembered everything...Good luck!

        1. Elisabeth | | #5

          What a good idea. I like the covering of the plastic sheet with the foam. Sounds like you have some experience with sewing this funky foam? Interesting stuff, isn't it? Making a picture frame instertion is good too. I had planned a lining with an opening to slip the foam in or out. No, this is definitely not too late for the project, more like just right. I made the basic pattern and plan for the case but it really is one of those figure it out as you go projects. When I get to a puzzle part I put it down and think about it on the mental back burner while I work on other things and when something gets figured out I pick it up again. Right now it is the zipper opening. While I enjoy this kind of slow figuring out I am sure my daughter wishes I would just get it done!This case is being made of some totally unwashable stuff. I'm going to try Scotchguard and see what happens. After I have figured out the method and the right pocket sizes for the power cord etc. then I will be able to whip another one up and then I will make it washable. Bags always get gross after a while no matter what and it would be the best to be able to take out the liner and throw the shell in the washing machine.Well, Crazy Carpet season is long gone here in Virginia but you never know what might be found. It's fun to use inexpensive or free unlikely materials, it's like inventing something. Thanks for your perfect description of the process!

          1. stitchwiz | | #6

            Hi Elisabeth,

            Sounds like you and I work in a similar manner.  I examine everything I can get my hands on when I have a puzzle like this.  I'm a perfectionist so I try to figure things out so that I don't I waste my time/materials.  I work/play in the theatre world so I see things 'outside of the box' anyway.  The contradiction here is that in theatre nothing has to be perfect as long as it looks good from 20 feet away and works the way it should.  But I like it to look and work perfectly.  So I'm always working between the extremes.  Good thing I like challenges.

            A lot of the info I gave you came from my own pet project. 

            I am in the process of designing a 'garment bag' for my sister.  I make her show jackets, shirts, other accessories, and another sister makes her slinkies.  (She trains horses and people, is over 6 feet and has a terrible time finding anything that fits her long, lean body.)   These garments have to be 'glitzy' (lots of crystals, etc.) because she shows in indoor arenas under lights.  The fabrics are usually not as sturdy as one would expect for someone riding horses, so the finished garments have to be protected for storage, but more importantly for transportation.  The finished product will have storage pockets to handle all the components for one outfit.  One of the pockets will be hidden so that she can take off her more fragile jewellry and store it safely away from prying eyes and fingers while she is wearing her 'just for show' jewellry.  Each one will have a padded shaped hanger for the jacket that will help prevent 'hanger points' and creases that you get from regular hangers.  Eventually each out fit will have it's own bag so that she can just grab one bag and she has it all together. 

            I'm not sure how the storage area of the bag is all going to go together until I can observe her at a show.  You and  I are both handy people who love to sew, but I'm sure our sewing rooms are very different.  By the same token, I'm also sure that my sister does things differently than other women who show horses.  So the final product won't be made until I watch her in action.

            Meanwhile, I share what I've figured out so far so that everyone benefits.  If I need help, I know I can appeal to everyone here for assistance.

            Have fun and let me know how it turns out.

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