Standard-compliant measurement of the in-plane fracture toughness of metals is often challenging due to insufficient material in the through-thickness direction to extract a full single edge bending (SEB) or compact tension (CT) fracture specimen. In the present work, we propose a new specimen design methodology to overcome this challenge. A W-shaped SEB specimen (called W-SEB) was developed, and its topology was optimized using finite element simulations. The new specimen design was validated numerically and experimentally on a case study showing excellent agreement with standard ASTM E1820 actual SEB specimen geometry. In view assessing the anisotropy of the fracture toughness (KQ and crack tip opening displacement (CTOD)) of pipeline steels susceptible to hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC), the W-SEB specimen was tested on X65 and X42 pipeline steel samples taken from the field. Experimental results show an increase in the maximum CTOD along the in-plane direction as compared to the transverse direction for both steel grades. Such experimental results could lead to important considerations with respect to accurate fitness for service assessment of HIC-damaged assets.