If you have spent any time talking with me, you are probably well aware that I am putting significant time into lowering my environmental footprint. This is a pretty common sentiment nowadays, with everyone taking a different path to achieve their goal. One day, on a walk with my wife after getting a remarkably hot cup of coffee, I took notice of the generic cardboard cup sleeve on my cup. It dawned on me that, along with the cup, there was no reason why a sleeve to insulate your hand had to be disposable. While it is easy to find a non-disposable cup (duh), I have yet to run into a reusable cup sleeve. I soon thought, why the hell not make my own? Then I thought, why not share the template so anyone can make one (hopefully better than mine)?

Download the Printable Template (PDF Format)

This template will print on a 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper with your average, everyday printer. I encourage you to share it in any way you would like.

Download the template (PDF format)

Why Do This?

For a while now, I have been trying to find a way to make a difference in my own special little way (emphasis on little). I thought it was time to get my hands dirty like a real man… and start sewing. What intrigued me the most about this project was the idea not of the actual product of the cup sleeve, but the product of the downloadable template that anyone could take and do something far better with than I could ever dream of doing. With all the do-it-yourself’ers out there, I can only imagine the amount of craft and artistic touch people could add to something like this. Instead of having an advertisement whoring your cup of joe, why not have something beautiful?

Why Not Just Use a Mug?

By all means, do so. If you normally mosey into a coffee shop with a mug or use one of shop’s mugs, you have no need for a reusable cup sleeve. However, I find myself slightly absent minded (most likely due to lack of caffeine) when I enter a coffee shop and usually do not remember to bring anything but money to pay for my drink. If I need to get the coffee to go, well then I am royally screwed. In those circumstances, a reusable cup sleeve will save a bit of cardboard that would otherwise be used keeping your hand from burning. Because the sleeve is small and easy to store, you can keep it in your slightly oversized wallet or basic purse. No excuses now.

Instructions

Below are some simple and brief instructions on how I made my cup sleeve. If you have any sewing experience at all, DO NOT READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS as they will only atrophy the skill you currently have. My hands have spent too much time with a keyboard/mouse and not enough time on just about anything else. If I made this cup sleeve with Actionscript, I may be a little more confident about what I have done, but unfortunately this project took real skills. If you are looking for my knowledgeable and eloquent advice, may I suggest some tips from people who know what they are talking about.

These instructions are here to prove that, yes, I did actually make a cup sleeve and to act as a guide for people just as lost with a thread and needle as I was. In all honesty, the process is not that hard and, with a couple tries, anyone should be able to be able to make a cup sleeve for themselves. I was so happy with the end result of my cup sleeve that I have decided to start sewing my own prom dress.

Lastly, yes, I did shed blood for this project. This really should not shock you.

Step 1: Download and Print Out the Template

The template has the basic information you need to make a cup sleeve. It should print out just fine on your average printer.

Step 2: Get Yourself Some Sewing Supplies

This may come to a shock to you, but I did not have any sewing supplies before this project. I actually put some serious time trying to find sewing equipment that was made in the USA, but that ended up being all but impossible. I settled on a mini home sewing kit with all I would need to accomplish this task (i.e. thread and a needle). A little kit like this should run you no more than $3.00.

Step 3: Cut Out the Template Shape

From the template, cut the outline from the solid line. The dashed large dashed line signifies where you join one end to the other. The small dashed lines signify the fold regions, although those are unimportant if using fabric.

Step 4: Get Yourself Some Fabric

The hardest part of this entire project was finding used fabric that I could cut into pieces that would otherwise not be useful to someone in need. I thought it would be bad karma to take jeans that could otherwise clothe someone and turn it into something that would make me feel less guilty the next time I get my nonfat latte. I also did not want to use a tattered rag as it would look, well, bad. Seriously, this is a tough part of the project. I put the limitation of not using any new resources (other than the sewing kit) to make the cup sleeve. However, you could just go to a fabric shop and make it easy on yourself. Make sure to get something relatively thick since it will not keep your hand from burning.

Step 5: Trace the Template Outline on Fabric

Pretty basic and equally hard to screw up. I used a pen, although I am assuming that is not the best way to go.

Step 6: Cut the Fabric Outline

From the outline you made, cut the fabric with fabric scissors (I read that these exist) or any type of scissors you can find. Take a wild guess if I used fabric scissors… You can read up on fabric cutting techniques to ensure a better cut. Take a wild guess if I read those tips prior to cutting my fabric…

Step 7: Sew the Fabric Outline Together

For my sleeve, I decided to use two layers in order to add a little extra insulation. This made the project a little more difficult because I needed to sew all the edges together. I did not include pictures of me actually sewing the pieces together because it was a pretty gruesome sight not to mention that I accidentally deleted that image. I suggest you read up on different stitching tips to ensure that you do a much better job than I did.

Step 8: Revel in Your Sewing Masterpiece

I have no doubt that, for many of you, this will have been your first sewing project. Not too hard, is it? With just a little effort, you now have something that will save unneeded use of important environmental resources.

Step 9: Use it (often)

If you followed these instructions, you should have a cup sleeve that will fit your average coffee cup. You now need to immediately go out and buy a cup of coffee to use it. As mentioned before, these things are pretty small, so you can carry it on you so you will never have burnt hands or a guilty conscience due to using a disposable cup sleeve again. All that is left is to find a locally-owned coffee shop and perhaps pick up a paper cup that isn’t. If you end up making your own cup sleeve, please drop me a line and I will post in a later post. Happy sewing!