Studio Notes

iPad Pro + Apple Pencil : Sleeve Design


I've been using our 12.9" iPad Pro since November and my favorite thing about the device isn't the device, it's the Apple Pencil. It was expected, but when Apple announced the 9.7" iPad Pro, I was most excited that more people would now get to experience it. I've tried a number of styluses (styli?) over the years including Evernote's Adonit Jot (with its incessant tap, tap, tapping on the screen) and the Apple Pencil is the clear choice. Hands down. I could write about how it feels but... it doesn't feel like anything. You don't even notice it. It gets out of the way which is what good design is supposed to do. I highly recommend it along with the Adobe Suite of apps for OSX. Playing with the watercolor brush on the Adobe Sketch app is an easy way to spend an evening.

So being that it is my favorite new thing, I've played with some ideas specific to the Pencil and those will be coming (if you'd like to be a beta tester, email me). For now, we are releasing the iPad Pro sleeve with Pockets to fit the 9.7" iPad Pro. The 12.9" version of this sleeve has been our best seller since its release likely because it has a pocket specifically designed for the Apple Pencil. I did a write up on our materials/design/process/studio for another publication so I'm sharing that below for those interested. Thanks again!


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ONE: Made of 100% Wool felted in Germany. This is the good stuff. We choose this felt specifically over the other German felts as it has a smoother, tighter surface and higher density which makes for more solid stitching. Two full body pieces plus a third that forms the pocket on the front... that's 9mm of felt to protect your goods. Our felt is hand selected for us to ensure we are supplied a consistent color & texture.

TWO: Our stitching is heavy-duty bonded nylon by American & Effird and we are very specific about stitch length, placement and reinforcement. The reinforced 'starts and stops' (referred to as backtacking) and carefully designed corner details carry throughout our line. We keep the space between the stitches and edge of the felt tight to further minimize profile and create a cleaner look that will maintain with use.

THREE: We've been building felt sleeves since before there was an iPad and our goal has always been to provide sleeves that fit. As the devices have evolved with the additions of Smart Covers, Smart Keyboards, Smart Cases we've opened up our sizing to accommodate. Beyond looking at sizes, we also pay attention to materiality of these accessories and how that affects your use of the sleeve. Those sleeves sized to accommodate Smart Covers/Keyboards/Cases are slightly oversized to allow for those items to slide in and out easily but sized still close enough to feel tailored and that your device is secure. See HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR SIZE below for the different sizes available.

FOUR: Need more security that just a perfect fit? We get it. We love this sleeve and feel comfortable with the open end but if you really want it, we can add leather strap to the opening similar to our other designs. Cost is an extra $20 and you can choose between brown or black leather we cut from hides we have custom finished for us by Wickett & Craig Tannery in Pennsylvania. Contact us to set-up a custom order. Adding a strap is suggested for those users who plan to purchase sleeves to accommodate covers or cases but also want the flexibility of sometimes leaving those covers off. The strap will keep everything in place regardless of contents.

FIVE: Let's talk about the Apple Pencil pocket. This pocket structure was designed with Apple Pencil users in mind. First, the width of the Apple Pencil pocket is designed to allow you to reach in with your thumb and forefinger to grab the Pencil. If you been using the Apple Pencil, you know that the end of the Pencil comes off easily so you need to be able reach deeper, beyond the end to pull it out. The slanted pocket design is intentional as it gives you variable depth and the ability to choose how low you tuck your Pencil if you want it fully concealed below the lip of the pocket.

SIX: The second pocket offers a little extra storage best suited for flat/thin items: cords, earbuds, notebooks. On the 9.7" iPad Pro, this pocket is about 4.5" wide. On the 12.9" iPad Pro, this pocket is 6.5" wide or more and some users have found they can use this pocket to tuck in their thin, wireless keyboards such as Logitech's Keys-To-Go. This pocket will not fit Apple's Magic Keyboard but if you want a sleeve for that, we have one coming soon. For your reference, the notebook shown in this pocket is a standard size FEILD NOTES notebook.

SEVEN: Need a spot for your iPad Pro charger? Check out our Small Storage Accessories. The Small Dumpling is perfect for your iPad Pro charger.

EIGHT: Every byrd & belle product is made in small batches (and sometimes one at a time) in our studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find more information on who makes your items and see photos of where they are made on our ABOUT page. 

NINE: Our studio maintains a low-impact initiative where we balance the quality of our materials with our environmental impact. We choose felt as our main material because beyond its beauty and its addictive texture, it is a rapidly renewable resource, fully biodegradable, LEED recognized and Oeko-Tex certified. Choosing to have your device case made out of felt rather than other materials such as canvas means you've chosen a natural material that acts as exterior material, interior lining and padding in one, eliminating multiple sourcing routes and petroleum-based foam. Our only wish is that someone in the USA would manufacture this material but for now, we'll stick with the Germans as they have a higher level of workplace standards & equality than other countries we've seen supplying felt. It costs a little more. It's worth it.

TEN:  We want your experience with our studio to be a good one. Beyond our return policy, we are here over the life span of this item. The need for repairs is rare, but we make them and usually for free. If you upgrade to a thinner/smaller device, we might be able to modify your sleeve/case to suit or make it into something else entirely. Our materials are chosen to last and often times outlast your device. Let's figure out a way to keep it in use. 

Whoa. Thanks for reading... you deserve a prize. Here's a discount code for 15% off the purchase of any iPad Pro sleeve: FIFTEENOFFPRO


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