A casual stroll through the personal electronics section of any big-box store will provide a handful of standard-issue iPad sleeves to choose from. Sure, you could buy a mass-produced sleeve to protect your iPad, or with a little ingenuity you can make a homemade iPad sleeve out of all kinds of materials and trick it out to suit your needs. It's not as difficult as you might think, and the protection can be just as good as commercial sleeves.
Current-generation iPads come in two standard sizes: regular and mini. The regular iPad is 9.50 inches by 7.31 inches. The mini is 7.87 inches by 5.3 inches. But your iPad sleeve needs to be slightly larger to accommodate any extra padding you add and you'll need a seam allowance for sewing the edges of your sleeve together. When you're cutting your fabric or cardboard to create your sleeve add at least a half inch all the way around. Pin all the pieces together and make sure the iPad fits inside before you glue or sew the pieces together to create your sleeve.
The most basic sleeve is made of two pieces of cardboard covered with contact paper sewn together with felt in the middle. All kinds of textured and patterned contact paper is available to create unique sleeves, but cardboard doesn't give you a lot of protection. If you love contact paper add a layer of craft foam to the inside or insert a bubble mailer between the cardboard and the felt to add a little more padding. Ultimately, it's still paper. Consider choosing something more durable like leather, vinyl or felted wool. Rubberized and plastic outdoor fabrics from a fabric store are also good choices. Whatever you use as the outer sleeve you'll definitely want something soft like felt, flannel or jersey lining the sleeve to protect the iPad from scratches. Thick cardboard or balsa wood can be inserted between the cover and the felt to add stability.
Choose Your Tools
Depending on your materials certain tools will make it easier for you to add decorative elements and sew on pockets. A rotary punch makes small holes in almost any material. Use it to sew on webbing for pockets or decorative elements like chain link, wire and leather cording. You'll need wire cutters if you're adding chain link or heavy gauge wire to a designer lookalike sleeve. Waxed thread and an upholstery needle are best for sewing on pockets or straps. Waxed thread is available in many colors and it's heavy-duty so it'll stand up to daily wear and tear. If you don't feel like sewing a hot glue gun equipped with fabric glue will hold almost any materials together permanently. Small purse snaps or Velcro strips are available from any craft or fabric store if you want to add a closure to your sleeve. Add an additional 2 or 3 inches to the length of your sleeve to create a fold-over closure.
Trick it Out
Here's where you can really get creative. Bling out your sleeve with a Stella McCartney lookalike design by sewing chain link around the edges of a leather sleeve. Or go all-out and customize your sleeve with pockets, carrying straps and strips of elastic to hold pens, keys or papers. Elastic, Velcro and webbing are available in many colors and widths at fabric stores. Sew or glue pockets onto your sleeve in any size or configuration to accommodate a cell phone, notepad, ID cards, cash or anything you want to carry with your iPad.
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