2-in-1 Tutorial: The Book Sweater and How Not to Write a Tutorial

I like to read, but I don’t have a lot of time for it. It’s hard for me to sit down with a book when my crazy toddler is running amok and my baby is needing attention, besides the fact that I am always thinking of things I need/want to be doing instead (need to clean, want to create).

I do listen to audio books a lot while I do dishes, fold laundry, or work on projects. It’s how I got through War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and Crime and Punishment in one year (this definitely would not have happened if I’d have had to sit down with each of these hefty tomes).

But there are some books that I still need to sit down and read, either because they’re not available as an audio book, or they are the kind of thing I like to mark up for later. With these books, I often find myself lugging them around and trying to read them in little snippets while waiting for doctors appointments, long car rides, or at other things that involve sitting and waiting. But a diaper bag is a dangerous place for a  book, let me tell you. At least mine is. So I decided to make a little pouch to protect the books I carry around with me. Nothing fancy, but plenty handy.

So without further ado, here it is:

  1. Start by felting a wool sweater. You may already have a sweater that you accidentally felted in the wash, but if not throw a 100% wool sweater in your washing machine with hot water and soap. I threw mine in the dryer, too, but some people say this is bad for the wool, so do this with caution. It may take a couple washes for the wool to be felted enough.
  2. Cut apart your sweater along all the seams, unless you want to work the seams into your design.
  3. Lay your chosen book down on your chosen book on the largest part of the sweater. You want enough to go around the sides of the book at least an in on three sides (leave more space if you have a really thick book or want to make it for several books) and enough on the fourth side for a flap that will be tucked in.

    (By the way, I recently read this article and I had to smile at my inadvertent “product placement,” since I took these pictures months ago and this was honestly the book I want to tote around with me in my diaper bag.)
  4. Cut another piece the same width as the first piece, but this time without the extra length for the flap (so that is 1 inch extra around each side of the book).
  5. Trim the edges of your pieces so they are pretty much square.
  6. That was the last “process” picture I took, so sorry if I lose you after this. My top piece was cut from the front of the sweater. It was a button-down sweater, and there wasn’t a piece large enough to make the top piece, so I sewed 2 pieces together and then sewed a strip of fabric with the edges turned under over the seam to cover it.
  7. Then I sewed the two pieces of wool, right sides facing each other, together, with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
  8. Then I just turned it right-side out and pressed it.

I was going to sew buttons on, but I decided that tucking in the flap was just as good, and it saved me the trouble of trying to sew buttonholes.

In case you were wondering about where this wack-a-doo tutorial came from, here are some instructions that you will definitely not want to follow when you’re writing your own tutorial.

How Not to Write a Tutorial:

  1. Start by choosing a technique that you don’t know anything about and have no business explaining to others (in my case, sewing).
  2. Skip the planning phase, just jump right in there and get making.
  3. Take random pictures of obvious and/or simple steps and neglect to photograph the essential, tricky, or less obvious steps (see my examples above).
  4. Realize you cut your material too small (or that you didn’t have enough to begin with); try to “make it work” with some random piecing.
  5. Get hung up in some of the logistics and stop taking pictures altogether because you’re just so frustrated with the dumb mistakes you are making.
  6. Liberally apply your seam ripper to all areas of the project.
  7. Consider giving the dumb thing up as a lost cause.
  8. Force yourself to finish it because you already spent 4 hours on it, and you want something to show for it.
  9. Realize that anyone with basic sewing skills would probably be able to figure out how to make the thing by themselves.
  10. Decide to piece together a tutorial anyways, just for fun.

Anyone had a project that went like this (even if you weren’t trying to write a tutorial for it)?

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