Recently, I took it upon myself to design and make a tote for a laptop computer. I mulled over the project for a while, visualizing what I wanted it to look like and weighing in my mind what sort of fabric might best suit my purpose.

After a few days of pondering, I decided drapery fabric would suffice. I wanted a lively print with red in it but nothing girly. I also wanted to avoid leopard, zebra and giraffe prints, and anything remotely construed as camouflage. I wanted something, well, for lack of a better word, jaunty.

So off I went to to various stores to see what I could find — a lot, as it turned out. But I settled on a print in red, blue, pale orange, yellow and a hint of turquoise on a white ground. Folksy is the only word I can think of to describe it.

The fabric cost $12.99 per yard, so I bought a yard, knowing that was more than I needed. I decided to purchase the extra half-yard in case I messed up measurements or miscalculated somewhere in the process and ended up with pieces of wrong dimensions.

I had fabric at home to use for lining the tote — one less thing to chase down.

The next step was to measure the width and length of the laptop. I measured generously, allowing extra fabric for half-inch seams. I cut strips to serve as handles and a rectangle to serve as an outside pocket. I decided to add a flap that would button the sides of the tote together. The operative word in that idea was “button,” which meant I’d have fun choosing a vintage button from my stash.

I rummaged around in the steamer trunk that holds vintage magazines and a bag of quilt batting remnants until I found a piece large enough and lightweight enough for my project. I cut two pieces of the batting to the same dimensions of the body of the tote. Ditto, for the tote lining fabric.

Then it dawned on me, I’d need some wide, cotton seam binding to finish the top edges of the tote, which I found in the middle drawer of the old oak bureau where such notions live at my house.

Thus equipped, all that was left to do was set up the old Singer and have at it. After I’d sewn the body pieces together, I checked to see if the laptop fit into the tote, which it did very nicely, I’m happy to say. Otherwise, it would have been back to the drawing board — and maybe a refresher course in basic arithmetic.

An hour or so later, I’d finished the project, except for the button. I located a large, bright red button — it was perfect! — in the first glass jar I looked in and sewed it, by hand, in place.

The result was a simple, useful tote with the air of jauntiness I had hoped for.

Snippets is the new Internet home of Patons, Bernat, Caron and Lily Sugar ‘n Cream yarns. Among the hundreds of free designs available for both knit and crochet are items to make for Halloween, including bats, a spidery wreath, trick or treat totes and pumpkins.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email Visit her blog at