Credit: photo by Incase
Designing a protective bag collection needs to be produced with three things in mind – conveyance, organization and co-ordination. Begin with a super durable fashion fabric for the exterior so that the bag will take you through your travels and beyond. It should be spacious and the perfect size for urban commutes and easy air travel. Remember some airlines have weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Leather, suede, vinyls, waxed canvas are ideal choices as they are rugged and durable.
For the inside of the bag, the interior layer should be a soft-textured, moisture-resistant bonded fabric for easy sliding and ensures good protection against water and dust. Waterproof fabric make it suitable for swimwear, sun creams and conventional shopping. While, a padded interior made with a soft-textured quilted lining fabric or reinforced middle padded layer will provide superior protection against impact and leakage. Typically, the middle layer is foam or batting of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Between the exterior and interior layers (lining), this middle layer has a dual purpose: to protect the item(s) from scratches, bumps and smudges; and, in order to add structural body to the bag and its outward appearance.
On the practical side, you want to guard sensitive electronics with anti-scratch, smudge-free surfaces such as sueded microfibre polyester or neoprene as a smart addition. Use high-quality nylon Riri® zippers to ensure a smooth operating yet scratch-free closure. You may want to include dedicated compartments for storing travel adaptors, cables and wires, as well.
When creating a bag style for carrying or storing fragile items, try to design a dedicated tote for that item, meaning that the dimensions of the bag is based upon the dimensions of the item being stored or carried, such as bag shapes found for laptop bags or casserole carriers. In other cases, you might consider a padded lining or a flexible padded insert for the interior. Removable padded linings will allow you to customize the shape and division of the interior compartments to hold different or odd shapes, such as found in styles for gadget bags and keepsake storage, while keeping the exterior portion of the bag fixed yet roomy-in-scale.
Construction seams should be doubled for extra strength and durability, yet hidden for aesthetics and easy access. I often like to add adjustable and detachable carrying straps to the bag styling. This provides the flexibility of transporting your belongings truly “hands free” while en route.
When selecting fabrics for bag interiors, you may want to choose napped fabrics as their textures are characteristically a soft hand textile and will prevent scratching and make sliding of the item, easy. There are many upholstery napped fabrics with bonded foam backings to provide a cushioned surface, as well.
Pre-quilted fabrics are ideal for protective handbag making. They are conventionally fabricated in cotton and cotton blends with 100% polyester batting. They make perfect padded bag interiors while adding body to the exterior of the bag. Many pre-quilted patterns are offered in double-sided or reversible styles, and thermal or reflective styles making them perfect for simplifying bag construction and keeping it lightweight.
Batting is often constructed of different types of fibers held together using a variety of methods, so that it does not clump within the lining or break apart. Batting comes is different thicknesses: Low loft is thin (most popular for quilting), and High loft which is thick (commonly used in upholstered furnishings).
Manufacturers use these most common methods for holding the fibers together:
- Fusible Batting: This is the fibre-fill that most quilters use in their projects. It can be used doubled over for a high loft, or pull it apart into a thin low-loft batting. It’s popular with the construct-as-you-go techniques and I have only ever used it for small projects. You can buy batting that already has the fusible applied so that just by using the iron it temporarily attaches the top, batting, and backing together, rather than having to baste or pin the layers. This is especially convenient for smaller projects (since you use a steam iron to fuse the layered “sandwich”).
- Needle-punched: The fibres in the batting are mechanically felted together by punching them with thousands of tiny needles. This causes the batting to be stronger and denser while being lower loft. Because of the denseness of this batting it isn’t generally good for hand stitching. These types of batting will tend to migrate but will not bunch and shift if machine-stitched to the lining material.
- Reflective Batting: Keep it hot or keep it cold with needled insulated/reflective lining (common brand names are Insul Bright™ and 3M Thinsulate™). Manufacturers offer an easy-to-cut-and-sew form and the option to choose between waterproof/windproof and breathable/wind-resistant. Use in wine totes, casserole warmers, lunch bags and picnic totes. The hollow fibers resist conduction while the reflective metallic poly film resists radiant energy. The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.
- Scrim: A thin stabilizer that is needle-punched into the batting to add strength, loft, and to prevent stretching and distorting. Most battings have a scrim backing.
Heat n Bond Ultrahold Iron-On™ adhesive is a paper-backed sheet of solid heat activated adhesive. It uses a low temperature & short pressing time so it allows for a wider range of materials that can be bonded. Use with fabric, foil, lame, denim, felt, suede, leather, wood and cardboard. It is machine washable. There is no steam or pressing cloth needed. It will not lift or pucker after washing. It’s no-sew bond is three times stronger than any other traditional fusible web. I find this product helpful in creating my own fusible fabrics.
Urethane foam is the material commonly known as foam rubber, which is produced by blowing gas into a heated, liquid chemical mixture. When it dries, the foam rubber is porous and spongy, and the gas trapped within the urethane foam gives it great insulative properties. This same material is used as cushioning for upholstered trunks, gig bags for musical instruments, and soft-sided luggage.
For handbags, a thin film of polyurethane finish is added to a polyester weave to create polyurethane laminate (PUL), which is used for its waterproof and windproof properties in wardrobe bags, camera bags, wine totes, and so forth.
Neoprene has become a favourite material for lifestyle and other home accessories including padded handbags. In this market, it sometimes competes with LRPs (low-resilience polyurethane), which is a sturdier (more impact-resistant) but less-used material. LRPs are often molded to the shape of the item.
Neoprene resists degradation more than natural or synthetic rubber. This relative inertness makes it well suited for demanding applications such as a base for protective inserts and as padding in external metal cases to protect the contents while allowing a snug fit. This is ideal for laptop bags, tablet carriers, and mobile phones.
You should know the difference between a protective sleeve and a padded bag, as well as the variations, accessories, materials, and design choices. Essentially, bags are larger cases that offer more protection and more storage space than sleeves. Sleeves offer minimal protection, but are sleek and lightweight. Since most laptop devices are standard sizes, you should be able to create a sleeve or a bag with ease.
Height = length of item + depth of item + thickness of padding + 2 seam allowances
Width = width of item + depth of item + thickness of padding + 2 seam allowances
Depth = thickness of item + (2 x thickness of padding)
Storage compartments to hold auxiliary items such as chargers and cables, may be added to the exterior without compromising on the fit of the carrier. They can be designed as pockets with flaps or as pouch-style sleeves. The size of the bag will not affected.
In the case of photography or musical equipment, where the padding is loftier and denser, you may need a liner for the interior of the carrier bag as its exterior is often larger in volume to accommodate the individual inserts and various flexible configurations for transport. The contents should not jostle while being transported.
In the case of wine totes and casserole/picnic thermal carriers, temperature is a factor to be considered, as well as protection. Keep it hot or keep it cold with an insulated/reflective protective lining. The hollow fibers resist conduction, meaning the fabric is breathable or wicks to keep interiors dry, while the reflective metallic layer resists radiant energy. The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.
In all cases, have durable carrier handles/straps to protect the contents and your hands, and make transporting your belongings easier.