The Ambience Enhancer project that I am going to share with you is a basic but beautiful looking retro-futuristic style cover for anything you'd like it be, although I built mine as an MP3 Player Cover, you could build a watch, a cellphone cover, or even a PDA into it. Its totally up to you! Use your imagination...
This device was blogged by Wired, Boing Boing (thanks Cory!), Tekzilla, Make, Gizmodo, Engadget, and some others, and now you will be able to see how exactly how its made!
My goal here is to inspire people by showing them just how easy it can be to make something unique and wonderful to use in their daily lives. I take this everywhere I go, and find its a great conversation starter! I will give ideas for different ways to make this project your own, and I plan on eventually taking this design a lot further, so I'd love to others run with it as well!
The headphones shown in the picture are another project all together, and I will be sharing it on a Jake VonSlatt's website The Steampunk Workshop in early January, so please visit his site and check it out, his stuff puts mine to shame!
My name is Molly, and I'm a 32 year old self employed artist. I mostly make things like this for fun, but I also sell things. If you'd like to see what I have been up to, come on by and check out my Deviant Art page:
I have more strange fashion and jewelry than you can shake two or three sticks at (warning: your stick mileage may vary). Have a great holiday season with your most treasured loved ones, and take care all!
Step 1: The Plan
Here's what I used in my project:
Brown Faux Leather - I bought half a yard of it, but this project uses much less than that
Black Faux Leather - Same here, half a yard is more than enough!
1 Brass D Ring
1 Brass Rectangular 'Ring'
2 Brass Lynch Pins
1 Large Brass Grommet
1 Small Brass Grommet
1 Inch Wide Elastic Band - about 8 inches is good.
Threads - I used upholstery thread because its strong, although quilting thread is fine as well. I used black for most of the construction of the cover, and white thread for the pictures on the buttons.
and of course, the MP3 player... mine is a Sansa and has a distinctive shape, I will be showing you the patterns I made, but remember that you'll want to adjust your design to fit whatever it is you're building a cover for. I will try to explain it in a way that will help you do that.
When I was coming up with ideas for this project, I found it amazingly inspiring to look at the work of other people who build retrofuture devices. My favorite gallery is here:
If that fantastic stuff doesn't give you ideas, nothing will!
Grab a paper and pen, lets get working on step 2!
Step 2: Trace the Object
Step 3: Transfer the Pattern.
NOTE: Make sure to flip the pattern over, so that when you finish sewing this piece and turn it inside-out the buttons will line up properly!
Step 4: Finish the Transfer
Step 5: Design the Plate and Buffers
I knew I wanted to have a D ring and Lynch Pins as the notions, so once I figured out where I thought they looked best, I drew an outline to represent the metal plate. Then I drew another line about 1/2 inch outside of that to represent the buffer. then I figured out where the straps and such attach.
I only made half of the pattern.
Step 6: Cut Out the Difference
Step 7: Tace the Padding
Step 8: Finish The Padding Pattern
Also, on your centerline, place the first bit of pattern we made for the object. Fold the sides up and just trace the basic outline of the object. Then, draw lines at a 45 degree angle going inward from the corners of this shape. and connect them to make another overlap border. This will be the hole that we can use to insert or remove the object at will.
Step 9: Trace the Metal Form
For metals, you can go to almost any good hobby or hardware store and find craft materials that will work. Metals over a thickness of .15 might be a little too much for most people. I think I used a .10 thick sheet of brass for the original Ambience Enhancer.
For this one, I didn't have any brass laying around big enough, so I figured I would use a piece of steel from my recovery bin. This particular piece of metal is from a computer case I found laying in a dumpster about 2 weeks ago. I'm not sure at all how the holes are going to effect the final outcome, but I figure why not give it a shot?
Step 10: Cut Out the Patterns
Be sure to cut out the centers from the pieces and cut the 45 degree lines where the overlaps meet on the corners.
Step 11: Trace the Padding
Step 12: Pin the Pattern Together
Pin the corners of the object holder together, also with right sides facing.
Step 13: Sew the Object Case Corners
Once you are done, flip the object case right side out and pin the overlaps to the inside walls, so they aren't pointing inward, as this will interfere with how the object sits inside this case.
Sew up the overlaps to lock them in place.
Step 14: Turn the Object Case Inside Out
Step 15: Pin the Window
Step 16: Sew the Window
Step 17: Locate Plugs
Step 18: Place the Grommet
Step 19: Trim the Case
If you want a simpler looking case, you don't even have to do any more to it, but I think it looks nice to add something as a protective border around the window. This is a part from a purse strap I found at a thrift shop, but it could be anything you like. On the Ambience Enhancer, I used a rectangle of brass I found in the notions at Joann's, also intended for purse building. If you have a circular window, maybe try an old watch case front or a key ring. If you're not sure what you want, you can always skip this step and add on something later if you find it.
I also added another grommet to the center of the buttons on the front of the Sansa. Again, this will change depending on the object and your personal taste.
If you want to add rivets or any other kind of trim, now might be the best time. Remember to leave a space for the straps to be added on the sides of the case.
Step 20: Sew the Padding
If you have a machine, this is a good step to use it, as double stitching around this sucker will get tedious. Be careful around the curves, as this seam will be the outside border of the material. If this seam isn't smooth it will effect the look of the whole project more than any other seam.
Don't sew the center hole, just the outside border.
Step 21: Pin the Padding Overlap
Step 22: Mock Up the Project
Earlier, I changed the type of metal used to steel, and I also changed the trim to fit it.
When I got to this point, I realized I didn't like how the steel trim matched the brown padding, so I decided to change the padding to a different color. I had some red, green, and some white laying around, so I chose white. I won't repeat the steps showing how I made the white padding as I did it the same way as the brown, but from this point on we will all pretend the padding was *always* white and speak of this no more! _
Step 23: Sew the Padding Overlap
Step 24: Sew the Port
The picture shows the seam about halfway done, which is why it looks like a dotted line. If you are not familiar with sewing, in order to finish this line, I will go around one more time and fill in the spaces to make it a continuous seam. This is called a Holbein, or double running stitch.
We are going to leave this line unfinished for now and come back to it in a later step.
Step 25: Pin the Case to the Padding
LOL this might be the most erotic sewing step ever! Sorry about that image : P
Step 26: Turn It Over
When you think its pinned together correctly, continue.
Step 27: Sew the Overlaps Together
Step 28: Sew the Port Up
Step 29: Prepare the Metal Plate
Step 30: Place the Plate on the Padding
If you like how it looks, move on to the straps.
If you think something needs changing, go back and redo it to your liking.
If you'd like to use your magic sword to defeat the Red Dragon, turn to page 75.
Step 31: Begin the Straps
Step 32: Cut the straps
For the sides, if you want them longer, leave it at 4 inches, if you want it closer to the case make them 3 or 2 1/2 inches long. The best way to figure out what looks best is to find your D rings and loop the strapping around them and place them on the project to see what they look like in different places or lengths.
Step 34: Begin Sewing the Straps
Step 35: Loop Strap Around D Ring
Step 36: Finish Sewing the Strap
Repeat these steps with the other long strap to make the another one. These will go on the sides of the project.
Step 38: Make the Top Strap
Step 39: Attach the Top Strap
Step 40: Sew on the 'Buttons'
I simply sew on little symbols right over where the buttons are. I have a few different angles shown below so you can see all the buttons clearly. If you want to make it more unusual, maybe try doing runes, alchemy symbols, or arcane occult symbols. You could also try adding something else instead of sewn symbols, like actual buttons, rivets, or even sewing little charms onto it. You imagination is the only limit here.
Step 41: Armband
You could use part of an old belt from a thrift shop or found laying around the house. You could use a chain of some sort, or a few chains wrapped together. You might want to try a strap like those found on helmets, with 2 D rings on one end and a loose strap on the other.
But the simplest way to do it is an elastic band. A bit of a stylistic cop out, but more faster and more convenient in everyday use than the other options. If you only want to wear it as a costume piece once in a while you may want to make it one of the fancier ways.
I will be demonstrating the elastic band, as you can use what you've learned so far to make the other variations.
Cut a strip of 1 inch wide elastic to about 6 - 8 inches long.
Step 42: Wrap The End
Step 43: Sew the Band
Step 44: Pin the Other Side
Step 45: Finish the Band
Step 46: And that's It!
The top D ring is for attaching it to jackets, just use a buckle of some sort. Or maybe instead of a D ring, put the buckle at the top so that you can hang this from a belt loop or something when you're not wearing it.
Thanks for your time, have a great 2008!