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In Which I Make a Kindle Cover, With Some Help
Some of you (hopefully most of you, actually) are familiar with Nancy Zieman, of Sewing With Nancy fame. (That's the longest-running craft TV program in the country - it's been on PBS since 1983.) Nancy has a new line of Tablet Keeper products with Clover, and she offered me a chance to try them out. Having seen Nancy demo some of her other template products at CHA last year, I was excited to see how this one worked.
I was also excited to have such a nice use for the fabrics I'd ordered from Daisy Janie. I love how they look together here!
The Tablet Keeper is essentially a clear plastic template that guides you through the process of making fabric covers for electronic tablet devices or good old pads of paper. Used by itself, the template is awesome (more on that in a moment), but you can combine it with a few other products for an even easier experience, like the fusible Create A Strap interfacing shown above.
I'd recommend watching this excellent video Nancy made, showing how the Tablet Keeper system of products work. The whole process is very easy, and I love, love, love Nancy's ability to make these extremely-simple tools that create perfect results.
I'm pretty measure-phobic and genetically inclined toward wonkiness. But with this template, you just keep re-applying it to your project at crucial moments. It's your pattern for cutting the fabric. It's your placement guide for the strap and Velcro pieces. It's your guide for placing the inside spine.
…And what I ended up with was a level of precision that I'm not usually able to create myself. The written/illustrated instructions that come with the template are very clear and detailed, and walk you right through the process. It took me maybe three hours from start to finish.
One tiny caveat: I did have to cheat the measurements a little to fit my Kindle Touch.
The Tablet Keeper will make covers in three sizes: Large, for large paper pads, Medium, for iPads and similar devices, and Small, for Kindles and other e-readers. But after reading through the instructions and watching the video above, I noticed something odd: the Small size seemed a little too tall for my Kindle Touch. You can see what I mean below - the pink lines denote the Small template size.
So I went here and learned that different Kindle models have different dimensions. The Tablet Keeper, it turns out, is sized for the Kindle Keyboard and the Kindle Fire, which are a little taller than my Kindle Touch.
No problem; I just cut my fabric a little shorter than the template indicated (7 ¾" high, for those who are curious). The template, luckily enough, has a totally unrelated mark on it (shown below) that I was able to use as a guide line, and with that, my cover turned out just fine.
(For the record, I checked our iPad, and saw that the medium size dimensions for the Tablet Keeper do fit perfectly. But there's no way K will let me make a girly cover for his iPad!)
I also opted to put some iron-on vinyl on my fabrics, as we're in that interminable season here in Portland where everything in your bag tends to get a little bit wet. And, although you can get buckle hardware in the Tablet Keeper product line, I discovered that this little buckle, which has lived in my stash for 12 years, was just perfect for this project.
Which should remind all of us that it is completely okay to never, never throw anything away. :-)
I was curious about what kind of process goes into making a tool that simplifies a project to this degree, and Nancy was nice enough to elaborate:
"I have a bin of Tablet Keeper prototypes! My guess is that I personally made 12-14 prototypes, then my ace stitcher, Sharen, made another 8-12 tablet keepers before the design, size, details (snap, Velcro, and elastic placement) were finalized. When we have achieved the final design, photos are taken of each step, which I use to write the instructions. Most generally during the instruction-writing step, I'll streamline the process and then make yet another sample!
As a side note, the initial prototypes did not include the Pre-Cut Tablet Keeper Shapers. That product concept came to mind when I was sewing — the Tablet Keepers were not secure enough to house an expensive e-reader! Clover agreed to pre-cut the heavy plastic. What a terrific finishing touch to the Tablet Keeper."
(That's true - those fairly rigid plastic sheets do give the finished Tablet Keeper a nice sturdiness. I was able to cut mine down to fit my altered size very easily using a utility knife and a cork-backed metal ruler.)
So, my Tablet Keeper has been out and about with me several times now, and I'm loving using it. It definitely gives my Kindle lots of extra protection in my bag, and makes it more comfortable to hold. And I might just make that girly iPad cover, and use it in secret. :-)
If you'd like to check out the Tablet Keeper template, take a look at Nancy's website.