Introduction: Sweet Easy Sleeve for Your Tablet

About: I teach computer science and I do graphic design for printed bags, clothing, housewares, and much more. (, and…
My 75 year old father has an iPad. Okay, if the senior citizens are getting tablet computers, you know that they're going to be a fixture in our lives for a while.  

But suppose you jumped on the tablet bandwagon, but you don't have an iPad.  Maybe you have a Xoom.  Or a Kindle.  Or something in between, like my 7" Galaxy Tab.  Its hard to find cases for these.  You can't walk into an Apple store or a Brookstone and pick up a accessories for them.

Sure you can get a case for your tablet... from the manufacturer.  And it comes in any color you want, as long as you want black.  So where are the cool accessories for you?

Well, gentle reader, the cool stuff is as close as your sewing room.  Because I am going to help you make your own sweet gadget sleeve, no matter what kind of gadget you have.  

This sleeve features ~
  • cushy felt lining for extra protection
  • exterior patch pocket for earbuds, sync cable, extra memory, etc
  • button closure
  • made from recycled / re-purposed materials!
Time to complete ~  About an hour

Materials required ~
  • rear quarter panel of a pair of jeans
  • two pieces of felt (I used eco-fi brand)
  • decorative button
  • elastic hair tie
  • newspaper
Also ~
  • scissors
  • marking pen (optional)
  • sewing machine (optional, you can also hand sew, or use fabric glue on the major seams)
  • iron (also optional, but recommended)
Lets get started!

Step 1: Measure Twice, Cut Once

In this step, we make a custom pattern for our device.

  1. Get a single sheet of newspaper and fold it.  I used a Wall Street Journal, but you don't have to be as classy as I am.  Its also fun to make patterns from the Sunday Funnies and the classifieds.
  2. Put your device so that it lines up with the fold and the edge (see image 1).  Fold up the edge to measure the thickness of your device.  Let about 3/8" extra hang over the top of your gadget.  This is your seam allowance.
  3. Draw a line around your gadget.  Draw another line all around that is the same width as the width of your fold (height, plus seam allowance)
  4. Cut along the outside line and open up the paper at the fold.  Ta da!  A pattern!

Recap for people who like math:

Cut a rectangle out of a piece of newspaper.  
The rectangle's length should be equal to 2 * (gadget_length + 2* (gadget_height+3/8)).  
Its width should be  gadget_width + 2* (gadget_height+3/8).

For example, my gadget_length is 7.5, gadget_height is .5, and gadget_width is 4.75.   So my pattern is 18.5" x 6.5"

2 * (7.5 + 2* (.5+.375)) = 18.5"
4.75 + 2* (.5+.375) = 6.5"

Step 2: Bits and Pieces

Using your pattern, find a section of your jeans that includes the hip pocket.  You can either mark the pattern on the jeans using a sharpie (like I did), or pin the pattern to the material.  

TIP: make sure that you leave room around the pocket for top and side seams.  Don't cut too close to the pocket or you will have trouble sewing it together later.

Also cut out felt at this time.  Cut two sheets as shown.

Step 3: Sew Sew Pockets

At this point, you should have three pieces of fabric.  One long piece of denim, and two short pieces of felt.

1. Fold the denim in half, right sides together.  And sew up the sides.

TIP: One way to make this easier is to iron before sewing.  Another strategy is to start sewing from the open end and go towards the fold. It seems like every time I start sewing from the fold, it always gets uneven at the top from the fabric sliding as I sew.  But if I start at the top, I know I'll always end up with an even fold at the bottom.

2. Sew the pieces of felt together, sides and bottom as shown. 

TIP #1:  You should actually not sew completely around.  You will need an opening for turning later.  I forgot, so I'll show you in the next step what to do if you forget too.  :-)

TIP#2: If you clip off the points of the corners, you'll have an easier time getting the corners to lay flat later.

Step 4: Admire Your Intelligence

So, as I mentioned in the previous step, I forgot to leave myself an opening in my felt lining for turning.   Lets just say that I  planned it that way so that I could show you how to easily fix it if you make a similar error.

Just rip out a little bit of the seam on one of the sides.  


Step 5: Button and Loop

Time to add the button and loop for the closure.
  1. Turn the denim piece right side out.
  2. Sew the elastic hair tie on the back, pointing towards the bottom (closed) end.
  3. Sew the button on the outside of the pocket.  Don't sew the pocket closed!

Step 6: Get It Together

Nearly done!  Look at the photographs carefully if you need clarification of the steps below.
  1. Slide the denim piece inside the felt as shown.
  2. Sew the top edges together.  (it helps if your sewing machine has a removable panel and a sleeve arm) TIP: be careful when you sew over the section with the elastic. Those metal clips can break or bend your sewing machine's needle.
  3. Pull the denim through the gap that you made in the felt piece. 
  4. Keep going until you have the denim completely pulled through.
  5. Sew the gap closed.  (I did a kind of sloppy job here.  Lets just pretend that I wanted you to be able to see my stitches.)
  6. Stuff the felt lining into the denim sleeve.

Step 7: Fit and Finish Up

If you have an iron, now would be a good time for you to go over your new gadget sleeve.  It will help the seams lay flat and the stitches will be less likely to pull out.

Woo hoo! YOU'RE DONE.  

Put your tablet in its new sleeve.  Put its accessories in the pocket.  (my cell phone even fits)   Slip the elastic over the button.   Drop it in your backpack or purse and go!


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