I've had quite a few custom orders come up lately, one of which was for a Panda iPad Case, but instead of a sleeve, my customer wanted a folio-style case instead.
Right off, I will admit that this was the toughest challenge I've ever faced so far since I started up Hooby Groovy in 2010. Most custom orders I've had were design challenges. This, on the other hand, was mainly a construction challenge. And it had all to do with how to hold the iPad within the case.
I spent quite a bit of time researching what other folio type cases did to hold the iPad within and came up with one big fat realisation about what they all had in common. All these cases had inside holder units that were made of leather and were factory shaped/manufactured. I don't work with leather and don't have a factory. (Though sometimes I like to pretend to feel like a factory!)
So I started experimenting with how to do this folio case my way, using the materials and skills that I had. The fitting was really difficult to get right and it didn't take long before I had a pile of failed holder units. The problem is that felt is pretty flexible, which is awesome in most cases but not in this case. I really needed it to be rigid and hold its form. So I had to figure out a way to line it to get it to be more solid. The other problem with felt in this case is that its very thick. And though I mentioned that its flexible, it's thickness makes it not flexible enough at the same time too, which made sewing all the pieces together really difficult! I don't think I've ever embarked on any sewing project that had me using my bicep muscles just to hold pieces down or out of the way of the needle. Who needs the gym or weights when you can have a sewing machine and some stubborn pieces of felt!
Anyway, after many failed attempts and a whole lot more thinking sessions during showers, drives, walks and restless nights, I finally managed to create a holder with just the right dimensions and proportions. It's large enough to hold the iPad within without collapsing onto itself due to the flexibility of the material, yet not so large that it's as if you're carrying an iPad in a suitcase. It's also got all the holes needed for all cables and access to all buttons and cameras.
As for the outer Panda bit, I utilised one of the Panda arms as the closure tab to secure the case when closed. The case is slightly bigger than my usual Panda sleeve cases but not by much. It's quite a lot thicker though due to the holder unit. There's also a pocket on the inside cover, in addition to the usual back pocket.
Overall, I'm quite proud of this creation. It truly was very hard work and very challenging, but the amount of knowledge that I acquired through this process is invaluable! Not to mention, I now have more bicep muscles. I should capitalise on this Panda Folio Case Fitness Regime: Build your Bicep Muscles...and an iPad Case! :)