Saturday, December 31, 2011

How To: Make your Own Kindle Cover

This Christmas I happened to snag an Amazon Kindle... a purchase that I've been pondering for quite some time now, but hadn't quite committed to. I was thrilled with it once it was in hand, however, and decided that protecting my new toy was a must (I've seen the fate of electronics that go in and out of my purse without protective covering, after all). After looking online, however, I realized that I don't want to shell out $30 for a cover... and what a great crafting project to take on! I looked throughout the mighty interwebz, and pulled together a Pinterest board of DIY Kindle cases and sleeves, and crafted one inspired by a few of the ones I saw. The directions I'm going to give you are far from precise, but will get you where you need to go if you have even the slightest bit of sewing knowledge. I don't really, you know, measure things... so it can be a little haphazard, but as you can see the results were good! :) Enjoy!

I used 3 different types of fabric for my cover, and they were all scraps that I had laying around. The solid brown is a pair of khaki pants that I cut off to make shorts (sustainable options hello!), and the polka dotted fabric was leftover from a prior project. The third fabric was a quarter I bought to use on my dish towels... that I never used on my dish towels.

You basically start by cutting two pieces, that will serve as the inside and outside of the cover. It should be an appropriate length to wrap around your Kindle, roughly about 3 times the width of it. Your fabric should be slightly taller than the Kindle itself.

Once you have the main pieces cut, you can create the ruffles and the holding pieces out of the third type of fabric. I created the ruffles myself, and cut them two different sizes to stack on one another. To Create a ruffle, cut a strip of fabric, fold it in half and iron it, then fold the ends under and iron them like shown below:

Once you have it all ironed out, then sew down the side with the tucked in flaps to seal it. I also sewed down the other side to make it uniform (mostly because I used darker thread that was really visible). Once both sides are sewn, use a long stitch length and do one strip directly down the middle, then pull on one piece of the thread on one end and bunch it up to make the ruffle. Do that for both strips.

Once you have your ruffles made, stack them and pin them on the outward facing fabric, on the right side. As you can see in the photo, I had my Kindle inside to get a good idea of where I wanted it to sit inside the case, and where the ruffles should be situated. This is pretty much how I operate with these sorts of things (who actually measures stuff??)... After it's pinned, sew one strip overlapping the middle line and cut off the edges of the ruffle so they only extend about a half an inch past the main fabric.

Be sure to practice proper pet safety in all this... Maeby really likes to try and "help" while I'm sewing. By that I mean she lays right where I'm trying to work. But any time my needle is actually going, I make sure she's not jumping up on the table.

The holding pieces are also not precise at all. I folded a piece of fabric in half and cut it a bit wider than the Kindle. I folded the edges under to make it almost exactly the width of the Kindle. Then I pinned it into place at about the right places so it didn't cover the screen. After that I sewed the sides so that it could slide in and out, but the bottom isn't sewn.

Once the ruffles and holding pieces are sewn on, put the two main fabric pieces together wrong sides together and pin, leaving the end near the ruffles open. Sew the 3 sides together and turn inside out, then iron the edges to make them look a bit crisper.

At this point your case will look as follows:

I got kind of lazy about taking photos at this point, but the rest of the work is pretty simple. I didn't have any batting, but wanted to put a little padding inside the case, so I took an old towel and cut it just smaller than the case itself- leaving it just an inch or so short. I put it inside the case and got it situated and smooth, then sewed in a few different places to secure the towel and make sure it doesn't shift around inside the sleeve. If you look in the photo below, you can see where I put some of that stitching. The only thing you need to do after securing that piece is close off the end. I folded the end back to expose the inside fabric, and folded a ribbon into it that stuck out on either end (which will wrap to the back to tie closed). Make sure the ribbon is secure and you are good to go!

This is what the back looks like when everything is said and done:

There you have it! An incredibly easy, terribly inexpensive (or free) cover for your beloved Kindle. I liked this particular way of designing it because I can just fold the sides behind the Kindle and therefore don't have to take it out of the cover to use it. It definitely has that "DIY" look on the inside, but I'm sure with a bit more planning I could have made it look a bit less messy (that random stitching on the side, for instance, was a failed attempt at adding a piece of elastic to utilize buttons... the ribbon was easier and I think a better choice in the long run).

Either way, I hope you all enjoyed the pseudo-tutorial, and I hope to have more crafting projects to show for myself in 2012. Everyone have a safe and enjoyable New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Inspiration

In a bit of a funk this weekend, I received some uplifting quotes from a friend of mine. I like to keep some more inspirational ones on hand to give me a little pick-me-up from time to time, so I figured I would share some with you all if you're in need of a little oomph in the stress and lull of the holiday season. The one above is one I've been saying since my days of basic training (oh the things you say to get yourself through), and will be just as applicable through my training to get in shape for an indoor soccer season... Below is a link to a board I've been accumulating on Pinterest. Enjoy!

Tara's Pinterest Board

Friday, December 09, 2011

In Defense of Northeast Ohio

This week I happened to encounter through my news channels (read: Twitter) a couple of articles beaming praise for Akron, and I wanted to share them... because I really feel there is great value in my home city, and I love hearing good news regarding the state of its economy.

On December 2, Atlantic Cities published a piece about building community around job creation in the downtown area. I don't think this is revolutionary thinking necessarily, but that area around University of Akron's campus certainly needs some love and University Park Alliance is doing some really great stuff to make that area a true neighborhood and improve the quality of living within the area-- it's great work and certainly worthy of praise.

Just a couple of days ago on December 7, the Fiscal Times included Akron in their list of the Ten Best Cities to Find a Job. I have to say that I was surprised to see our city at #2 on the list... but happy nonetheless. I try to be fairly skeptical about these silly lists, but there is obviously much truth in many of them and it's nice to see Akron part of one that is on the more optimistic and positive side of the spectrum-- unlike Cleveland, which topped Forbes' 2010 list of the nation's most miserable cities.

As I recall, neither Cleveland or Akron fared well on that list. I do find it kind of interesting, though, to think about these exercises. I grew up and spent the majority of my life in Akron. I live in the Greater Cleveland area now. If Cleveland is the most miserable city in America, I would hardly be able to tell. I've found success in this city without any strings or connections, great investment in social capital. The cost of living is fairly low and there is a plethora of things to do- amazing restaurants, free cultural activities, and it's relatively easy to get around (even by public transit if you live in the right areas).

I've visited other cities that would probably not grace that list, and I've never thought to myself, "You know, self, these cities seem far less miserable than Akron or Cleveland." San Diego has gorgeous weather, Chicago has a bustling (and almost overwhelming) nightlife, and Toronto is likely the cleanest major city I've visited in all of the North American continent. None of those cities have the atmosphere, raw authenticity, or genuine nature of the Rust Belt, however. Perhaps they don't share in its devastation, either... but even with the blight, poverty, and rough economic status, I wouldn't on first glance put any of those cities far above Akron or Cleveland as "less miserable" (actually, I was told I could not even think of gracing the streets of Southern Chicago in broad daylight, despite my desire to see the more stressed areas of the city).

The fact of the matter is that every city has its problems- the sunbelt promotes sprawl and lack of social connectivity, hotspots like Cali and NYC experience a completely different cost of living, and many of the communities throughout the U.S. are devoid of any amount of diversity (while some may consider this an advantage, I would argue vehemently that it is a serious and tragic shortcoming). No matter where you are, residents will find something to complain about. No place is perfect.

Where I think this sort of list would matter is in terms of a city's at-risk and low-income residents. How does your city take care of its disadvantaged population? It is certainly easier to be homeless in some areas than others. It is easier to live on disability and social security in some cities than others. It is certainly easier to be a single, working mother in some places than others. Though I hear people of my generation bitching about how awful Akron is because the jobs are scarce (apparently not as scarce as we think), opportunities do not abound, and it may not be growing or thriving like other larger ones-- I can't say any of those people (myself included) are really in a position to call any quality of life they've experienced as a result of the city "miserable." I would argue that a family struggling to get their kids a solid (fair) education while trying to subsist on two measly minimum wage incomes, worried that a bullet may accidentally graze their kids while they are sleeping because gunfights are going on outside have a much better understanding of what "miserable" really means.

Of course every person's situation is different and people all have their issues... and these lists do include some of these more systemic parameters (unemployment, violent crime, etc) - but I think more times than not, people look at their own city's position on the list, become either proud, enraged, or defeated - and only base their assessment of that call on their own, limited experiences. But I also feel that the misery factor of a city would be far better measured by access to public amenities or green space than it would the performance of pro sports teams. Perhaps in this more socially-oriented perspective Akron and Cleveland are still towards the top of the list, but I also feel like it would be a list that would better serve to improve the cities that are under analysis.

As far as these silly lists are concerned now, I'd like to invite anyone with any amount of privilege to take a look around at the assets all throughout NEO. They are everywhere, and they need to be leveraged. Part of our problem is that we get so bogged down in our despair. We've become fatigued and exhausted. There is so much energy brimming in pockets all around us, however, and if we approach it properly it could potentially gain even more speed. I don't need Forbes to put Cleveland at the top of a list to know that change needs to happen. I need a collection of innovative and excited individuals to take pride in the identity of our region and tell me how this can happen and where to begin.

I think it all starts with an appreciation. Then investment. Not necessarily a financial investment (though these cities certainly need that as well), but an emotional investment. If Browns fans are still psychologically convincing themselves that the team is going to win "this time," why not champion the city itself and believe in something they can really be a part of? According to Forbes, our whole city, region is a "Factory of Sadness." The difference is that we have everything we need to turn it around- if we can bring ourselves to stop bitching and recognize that we have amazing things to offer and experience.

Miserable, say you? Fine. Every city has its problems. But when are you going to start taking responsibility for your part in ours? And what are you going to do about it?

Tara on the soapbox, signing out.