OT: sewing a laptop case (sort of ranty)

Since many of you are crafting and sewing experts, I hope I can get some advice here! Sorry this is a little ranty and rambling, but just this experience was so frustrating that just the memory gets me upset!

A little while back, I wanted to sew a large messenger bag that would be similar to a very large laptop case. What I wanted to make was much larger than a laptop case though and not for holding a computer. A lot of nylon laptop cases and pieces of luggage have some kind of hard material (I think) under the fabric that allows the bags to hold a rectangular shape even when empty.

So, I went to a local fabric shop and asked an employee whether they had any stiff material for “lining a laptop case.” The employee gave me a weird look and said in an annoyed tone, “Can’t you just buy a laptop case?” :wall: Um, if I wanted to “just buy a laptop case,” I wouldn’t be at a fabric store, now would I? Does this employee like to tell customers who’re making clothes that they should just go to a department store and buy the clothes instead of sewing them? :wall:

That was a complete bust, so I went to a local hardware store and asked if they had any thin plastic or neoprene rubber sheeting for, again, “lining a laptop case.” I again was asked why I didn’t just go buy a laptop case! So I basically got laughed off by that employee too. I wandered around in the hardware store and picked up linoleum tiles for my hard lining.

In the end, I ended up with a bag that was more or less functional and could hold its shape. I ended up enclosing the linoleum tiles in thin cotton fabric, using fusable web to “baste” these panels between two thick pieces of nylon, then sewing around the whole thing (the edges of the cotton pouches and the two sheets of nylon) to close up the panels of the bag.

Later on, I went to a much friendlier fabric store where the employees also suggested a material–I’m not remembering what it’s called–that feels like a stiff felt and is in the same section as the batting and interfacing and all.

So, to get to the point, I’m thinking of making another similar bag, this time for use as a knitting bag. I am certainly not using linoleum tiles again due to problems I had working with them, and that stiff felt-like material I mentioned isn’t sturdy enough to hold up a bag the size I’m making.