Monday, August 12, 2013

DIY Tutorial: Origami Sleeve for Sunglasses

We've ruined many pairs of sunglasses by tossing them into our bag, unprotected from floating pens and other sharp edges. We've been meaning to make a sleeve for our glasses, and share the process with you! We aimed to make a sleeve that is simple, unpadded, but provides enough protection from lens scrapes (our biggest concern -- we've never actually crushed a pair). Follow along after the jump to see how we made our origami-inspired sunglasses sleeve, a simple project that requires very little fabric!

For this project, we used a Sarah Watson tribal print cotton and a lovely cotton/linen blend from Robert Kaufman's Essex collection. We can't get enough of Essex this summer! This process might appear a little tricky, but it really can be completed in less than 30 mins and if you pay close attention to the stacking order in the photos, you'll be good to go! Feel free to ask any questions, confusion, in the comments below.


This makes a sleeve that measures 3" by 6" in size, perfect for a standard size pair of sunglasses. If you have oversized lenses, add width to your measurements according to your needs.

You can complete the whole thing with scraps -- and neither side requires a full fat quarter.

Fat quarter for lining (or 6.5in by 12in scrap)
Scrap for exterior print
Trimming, tape, or binding tape for seam finishing (4 inches in length)


1. Cut materials

One a sheet of white paper, cut a square measuring 6.5" by 6.5". Fold in half, and draw a diagonal line across the top corner (see top photo, as cut from fabric) beginning 1/4" from the left fold side, cutting down about 2.5" from the right top corner.

Unfold square, and cut out the corner triangle you just sectioned off with your pen. Use this template to cut out this shape from your exterior fabric (see photos above).

Using the paper template, cut an identical shape from your lining material.

Cut your template in half, removing the left (no corner cut) rectangle measuring 6.5" by 3.25". This template will now look like only the right half of your original template. Using this new template (6.5" by 3.25" with a corner cut), cut (2) from your lining fabric.

Cut out (2) rectangles that measure 3.5" by 3" in size.

If you'd like to use this for interior seam finishing, cut a 1.5" by 5" rectangle from your lining.

This is what all pieces should look like, cut:

2. Finish edges

Stitch together your two small rectangle pieces (from your lining) on two sides with a 1/4" seam allowance, one short side and one long side. Clip the corner to make flipping right-side-out easier (see photo).

Stitch together the two lining "half template" pieces with a 1/4" seam allowance, right sides together (if you have a right side), along the angled edge and short vertical edge (see photo).

Take your two larger template pieces (one from exterior, one from lining), and line up the angled edges, match up all corners, right-sides together. Stitch together with a 1/4" seam allowance, along the angled edge only!

3. Layer to Prep for Final Construction

Open up your large pieces you've just sewn, exposing the right sides of your exterior & lining pieces cut from the large template. Lay your small rectangle piece along the top, lining up the raw edges along the top and right sides of your sunglasses case. Next, layer the half template seamed piece on top of the rectangle, with the closed seam facing to the left (see left photo below). Close flap with exterior fabric covering the "sandwich" you just made, and stitch all layers together along the top, short flat edge of the sunglasses case. Your case will now be sewn along the angled edge and the top short edge (see right photo below).

4. Final Construction Layering

Top photo:
Pulling from the bottom left corner of your large lining piece, pull the lining fabric across the top of your interior flap, matching the bottom left corner of the lining of the sunglasses case with the bottom right corner.

Middle photo:
Holding your "sandwich" in place, smooth the lining piece you just pulled over down. Next, pull your exterior material over to the right side, matching up the raw edges along the right side. The wrong side of your exterior fabric will be touching your lining, right side facing up.

Bottom photo:
Smooth down the final flap of your exterior material, so that the right side is facing down. everything should be smooth underneath your hand, and all raw edges should be lined up along the right side of your sunglasses case. The right side will have two rounded folds of fabric, on being the large lining piece and the one on top being the large exterior piece.

Pin to prepare for sewing down the right, raw edge side. Stitch down with a 1/4" seam allowance (see photos below).

5. Flip right-sides out

Lift up the top flap of your exterior fabric, pulling open the hole at the bottom of the exterior fabric. Pull everything through this hole (this will take some wiggling -- just be patient!). Smooth everything out until it looks like the bottom photo. Your rectangular flap will tuck nicely into the top, behind the two angled top pieces. The bottom will have all raw edges.

6. Close up bottom seams
Now that it's all smoothed, pull out the top rectangle to peer into the sunglasses sleeve. Using this gap, flip the entire sleeve inside out.

You will now see the interior loose flaps. Fold them as they would be when you are using your sleeve from the other side, and line up all bottom raw edges. Using a straight edge, trim off excess threads.

Pin together to prepare to sew.

7. Prep binding strip

*If you have purchased a tape or bias tape, skip this next part. This is instructional on how to make your own binding strip for the bottom of your sunglasses sleeve.

We trimmed the edges of our binding strip rectangle to triangular points, to make sewing up the ends easier (as it makes it so you have less fabric on the edges, which can tend to bulk up).

Fold in half lengthwise ("hot dog" style!), and press with the iron to create a center crease. Open up, and iron in each long edge to the middle line, working one side at a time. Fold in short edges to where you need them (your strip should be 3" in length with edges folded in -- if there is too much length, trim here). You can test this required length by matching up your binding strip with your sunglasses case.

Lay your raw edged-bottom of your sunglasses case, tucked into your binding strip. You'll stitch down one side first, tucking in ends before stitching over them.

Once you've stitched down one side, close the entire binding strip over the raw edges, and manually pull your needle into the end of the closed strip. This will make it easier to begin sewing, so that your edge won't come apart under the presser foot before you begin stitching.

8. You're done!

Flip right side out again and tuck your sunglasses in!

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