I’ve always wanted to haul my laptop around in vintage WWII style. But the musette bag is just too narrow.
So, when I inherited a 50 year old industrial sewing machine, I decided to try my hand at crafting my own. For the time being, I've set aside my table saw and crate making, and cozied up with the Singer and some canvas.
If good old Sgt. Bill Guarnere had to jump into Normandy with a MacBook Pro, this is what the unit rigger would have made for him.
I’ve made about 15 bags in the last couple months.
I use original WWII materials – ‘upcycled’ USMC shelter halves, ponchos, GI shelter halves, tool rolls, Navy cold weather overalls, silk parachutes, duffle bags, kit bags, sea bags, life vests, canvas cot covers, stretcher canvas, and signal corps radio covers. Bandoliers, pouches, WWI grenade vests (particularly on the USMC-themed bags) and M2 ammo vests. Original snaps, hooks, clips, buckles, 50 cal and 30 cal ammo belts, bed roll straps, parachute webbing and hardware. All legit.
My favorite part is the fabric .50 cal. belt used as a pencil holder inside each bag.
I sold a bunch of these at SOS in February, and have been making more on request as time permits. Some folks wanted custom UNIS marks or unit stenciling. A couple have sent me ‘granddads old seabag’ and asked me to make something they can carry every day to work as a 'hip' reminder. The laptop pocket fits the big Macbook Pro and is padded on the back and bottom for protection. But some are custom sized to the requestors' specs.
Most are made as if a GI, or unit rigger, or local tailor – working to a GI’s specs – hand crafted the bag in theater. I try to concoct a 'realistic' backstory for each of those bags. Keeping 'early war' parts together - and 'late war' parts together - to create a time capsule.
After these photos were taken, I marked the "Medical Department" bag to the 603rd Quartermaster Graves Registration Co. And the PW bag pretends to be a bag made by a crafty German POW from spare damaged canvas, used-up HBT coveralls, mattress ticking and a leather rucksack strap while doing time at Aliceville, Ala. PWC.
I made some other bags purely to appeal to the ‘fashionistas’ out there. “Chicks in New York paying top dollar for this garbage” – Stripes.
Soon, I'll be working on some Vietnam era bags - as if SOG needed to schlep MacBooks out into the bad, bad bush. And some Luftwaffe style bags - as if Werner Von Braun carried a laptop out to the V2 launch sites at Peenemunde. Got some nice German, WWII vintage, knobby linen fabric for those.
The bag in the last photos is made from a salvaged WWII Navy parachute kit bag. Uses Navy parachute webbing, a period zipper and some old ivory dice as a zipper pull. Might stencil on some Naval Aviator's wings on the front flap.
These are sturdy, but they aren't perfect. I'm not exactly a Kate Spade or Gucci qualified male-sewist. Got some 'learning curve' glitches here and there. But I figure that makes them more 'rigger'. Nowadays, that's called 'artisanal'.
The options are endless.
Hope you enjoy. Thanks for your patience.