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How to Make a Reusable Coffee Cup Sleeve Cozy with Sewing Pattern

Updated on July 19, 2016
DIY reusable coffee sleeve
DIY reusable coffee sleeve | Source

Even if you're all thumbs, you can help by choosing to use a pre-made reusable coffee sleeve.

DIY Reusable Coffee Sleeve and Pattern

Approximately 58 billion cardboard coffee sleeves are trashed each year. 58 billion! That's a really big number. Forgoing a coffee sleeve can be dangerous - today's cardboard coffee cups are thinner and use less materials than older-style cups, which means provide less insulation to protect your fingers from hot beverages. Luckily, you can keep cardboard sleeves out of the trash and save your fingers by making your own reusable coffee sleeve. Homemade coffee sleeves are also a fantastic, low-cost, personalized gift option, so keep them in mind when you're planning holiday gifts for friends and family!

This easy to follow tutorial shows you how to hand sew a coffee sleeve, so you don't even need a sewing machine. Of course, a sewing machine makes the project a bit quicker, but there's no need to purchase, or even drag out, such a big appliance for a small project. If you're unfamiliar with hand sewing, check out my illustrated guide to basic hand sewing stitches. If you already know how to sew, good for you! You can move straight to the instructions. If you already know exactly how to sew a coffee sleeve, but just want a coffee sleeve pattern, feel free to use the one I've provided below. Since coffee cups and sleeves do vary a little, I also provide instructions on how to make your own pattern for a truly custom sleeve.

Supplies for a reusable coffee sleeve
Supplies for a reusable coffee sleeve | Source

Materials Needed to Make a Coffee Sleeve

You probably already have most of what you need for this project sitting around at home!

  • A cardboard coffee sleeve
  • A piece of paper
  • Fabric - scraps work, or you can purchase 1/8 of a yard at a local store
  • 1/8 of a yard of heavy-weight interfacing, fusible or non-fusible
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Elastic cord or ribbon
  • Large button
  • Needle and thread

To get your cardboard sleeve, you can either keep one from a cup of coffee, or ask a gas station cashier, coffee shop barrista, friend, neighbor, or whoever else if you can have one. For my fabric, I purchased a small piece of drapery remnant fabric from a local store. Remnants are always very inexpensive because there isn't enough material left for a large project. You may use fusible or non-fusible interfacing, I just happen to dislike fusible interfacing. I chose heavy interfacing, but the choice is yours. If you prefer a thinner, or thicker, coffee sleeve, feel free to purchase a different interfacing weight. If you want your coffee sleeve to be washable, prewash all your fabrics. Materials all shrink at different rates, so it is important to pre-shrink them in the wash before stitching them together.

Because I purchased remnant fabric and used a button that came as an extra for a coat I no longer own, I spent less than $1 on supplies. Now that's an inexpensive, DIY gift idea!

How to Make a Coffee Sleeve Pattern

First, pry your cardboard coffee sleeve apart at the seam. Then, lay it flat on a sheet of paper and carefully trace its outline with a pencil. This gives you the basic outline of the sleeve, but it is not the pattern. Because the fabric must be stitched, and stitching takes space, if you used this as your pattern, your finished sleeve would be too small. You must add a seam allowance before you have a real pattern. Most commercial patterns today provide a 5/8" seam allowance. I personally think that's a waste of fabric. I am comfortable with a 1/4" seam allowance, so that is what I used for my pattern. The provided pattern below uses a 1/4" seam allowance, so keep that in mind if you choose to use my provided pattern.

To creart a seam allowance on the pattern, use the ruler and pencil to mark 1/4" out (or whatever seam allowance you choose) from the existing lines. Then use the cardboard sleeve to connect these marks. By using the sleeve again, you can make sure you keep the same curvature. You may also choose to free-hand the curve, but tracing the cardboard sleeve is more accurate. After tracing both curved sides, use the ruler to extend each straight side by 1/4". Your pattern is complete!

Do not cut the pattern out. You may cut it out roughly, but it is easier to make accurate cuts on your fabric if you're cutting along the pattern for the first time.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Open the cardboard sleeve and lay it flat on a sheet of paperTrace the sleeveMeasure an additional .25" out from your original trace lineConnect the .25" out marks, using the cardboard sleeve to create the correct curvesUse the ruler to make the straight ends .25" longerCompleted coffee sleeve pattern
Open the cardboard sleeve and lay it flat on a sheet of paper
Open the cardboard sleeve and lay it flat on a sheet of paper | Source
Trace the sleeve
Trace the sleeve | Source
Measure an additional .25" out from your original trace line
Measure an additional .25" out from your original trace line | Source
Connect the .25" out marks, using the cardboard sleeve to create the correct curves
Connect the .25" out marks, using the cardboard sleeve to create the correct curves | Source
Use the ruler to make the straight ends .25" longer
Use the ruler to make the straight ends .25" longer | Source
Completed coffee sleeve pattern
Completed coffee sleeve pattern | Source

Free Coffee Cup Sleeve Pattern

Cup sleeve pattern. Just print this out on a full-sized 8.4"x11" sheet. This pattern has a 1/4" seam allowance.
Cup sleeve pattern. Just print this out on a full-sized 8.4"x11" sheet. This pattern has a 1/4" seam allowance. | Source

How to Cut the Reusable Coffee Sleeve

Fold your fabric in half, 'right sides' out. This ensures your pieces are cut out correctly so you can have the 'right side' of the fabric on both sides of the sleeve. If you want, you may use two different fabrics so the sleeve is reversible. If you choose to use two different fabrics, I recommend placing them, wrong sides together (which is the same as right sides out), on top of one another and cutting them at the same time. Pin your pattern securely in place and make sure to use sharp scissors that cut the fabric instead of mauling it.

After cutting your fabric, cut your interfacing using the same pattern. You can either unpin the exterior fabric and pin just the paper patter to the interfacing, or you can just pin all three layers to the interfacing.

While your scissors are still out, cut about a 4" piece of ribbon or elastic cord. If you use a synthetic ribbon, I suggest quickly holding the cut end to an open flame from a lighter or match. This melts the ends and prevents the ribbon from unraveling. Also, snip the interfacing's corners to reduce bulk in the finished project. Make sure your cut stays within the seam allowance. In other words, if your seam allowance is 1/4", do not cut off 1/2" at the corners.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fold the fabric, right sides out, for easy cutting.Pin the paper pattern to the fabric.Then, cut the interfacing using the same patternSnip the interfacing's corners to reduce bulk.
Fold the fabric, right sides out, for easy cutting.
Fold the fabric, right sides out, for easy cutting. | Source
Pin the paper pattern to the fabric.
Pin the paper pattern to the fabric. | Source
Then, cut the interfacing using the same pattern
Then, cut the interfacing using the same pattern | Source
Snip the interfacing's corners to reduce bulk.
Snip the interfacing's corners to reduce bulk. | Source

Assembling the Fabrics

Next, you need to sandwich the layers together. It is crucial that you layer the fabrics correctly. Pay close attention and double check to make sure you set your sandwich up correctly! First, place the interfacing on your work surface. Then, place a right side up piece of exterior fabric.

Next, take a moment to quickly stitch your ribbon and elastic in place. It should be in the middle of one short, straight side. Its position is marked on the provided pattern. Form the ribbon into a loop and place the looped ribbon on top of the fabric with the loose ends along the fabric's edge, as shown. You can carefully pin everything in place, but it is worth the effort to make a couple of quick stitches to hold the loop in place.

After creating your loop, place the second piece of exterior fabric on the sandwich, making sure to place is wrong side up. If this is confusing, look at the pictures to the right.

After pinning your fabric sandwich together, mark off two or three inches of space long the bottom edge. Do not stitch between these lines! You must leave a gap so you can 'turn' the sandwich to create the final sleeve.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sandwich layer orderLooped ribbonCompleted sandwich with marked space to leave a gap in the sewing
Sandwich layer order
Sandwich layer order | Source
Looped ribbon
Looped ribbon | Source
Completed sandwich with marked space to leave a gap in the sewing
Completed sandwich with marked space to leave a gap in the sewing | Source

Sew the Reusable Sleeve

If you have a sewing machine, this small project should take you less than five minutes. Sewing by hand takes a little bit longer, but not by much! I recommend using a basic running stitch because it is fast and the seams will not be under tremendous pressure. Remember - do not stitch between your marks on the bottom edge! Since I wanted a 1/4" seam allowance, I stitched (almost) all the way around while staying 1/4" away from the edge. Place your stitches according to your seam allowance.

Note the stitching 1/4" from the edge and the gap along the bottom edge.
Note the stitching 1/4" from the edge and the gap along the bottom edge. | Source

Did you Know?

The coffee sleeve as we know it was invented by Jay Sorensen to reduce costs at his coffee shop. Customers wanted a second, empty cup to protect their hands from hot beverage cups, but the extra cups were costing him money. Sorensen developed a way to use less materials and keep customers safe by creating a 'sleeve.' He patented his idea in 1993 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Finishing the Reusable Sleeve

After your stitching is finished, 'turn' the sleeve through the opening, as shown. You are flipping the creation right-side out. You may need to use the eraser end of a pencil to poke the ends out. If you have an iron, this is a good time to iron the sleeve flat.

After turning the sleeve, you must stitch the gap shut. If extra interfacing is sticking out, trim it to make turning the fabric ends under easier. Then, turn the fabric ends under, as shown, and pin them in place. This creates a nice, finished apperance. Stitch the cap closed. You can use any stitch, but a simple whip stitch works just fine.

Lastly, place the sleeve around a mug, hold it in position to see where you need to sew your button, and then stitch your button in place. If you want the sleeve to be reversible, sew a button on each side.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Turning the sleeveYou may need to use a pencil to poke the ends outExcess interfacing sticking out?Just trim it awayTuck the fabric edges under and pin the gap closedWhip stitch the gap closedHold the sleeve in place around a mugFind where you need to stitch the buttonFinished reusable coffee sleeve
Turning the sleeve
Turning the sleeve | Source
You may need to use a pencil to poke the ends out
You may need to use a pencil to poke the ends out | Source
Excess interfacing sticking out?
Excess interfacing sticking out? | Source
Just trim it away
Just trim it away | Source
Tuck the fabric edges under and pin the gap closed
Tuck the fabric edges under and pin the gap closed | Source
Whip stitch the gap closed
Whip stitch the gap closed | Source
Hold the sleeve in place around a mug
Hold the sleeve in place around a mug | Source
Find where you need to stitch the button
Find where you need to stitch the button | Source
Finished reusable coffee sleeve
Finished reusable coffee sleeve | Source
Source

Your Own Reusable Sleeve

There you have it! Your very own, custom, reusable sleeve. If you have just one coffee a week and use this sleeve instead of a disposable cardboard one, you can keep 52 coffee sleeves out of the trash.

If you make several and give them as personalized homemade gifts, you can help other people save coffee sleeves, too. With a little adult help and supervision, reusable coffee sleeves could be a great way for kids to create gifts for teachers and family members. Kids love giving presents and usually lack the funds to purchase items, so handmade gifts are perfect.

Are there other disposable items you make reusable alternatives for? Do you use reusable sandwich bags, cloth napkins, or some other 'alternative' product? I'd love to hear about it!

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    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You have some of the best ideas of things to make that I've ever seen. Love this one and this is another great Christmas gift idea.

      Voting up, sharing, pinning and will be making a few of these.

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      How fun! And great guy gifts too. I will show my daughter, she loves to sew.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      This is fantastic and easy. Your close attention to detail make this so user friendly. Great job. Voted up and sharing.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow, thank you, everyone!

      Thanks for sharing and pinning, Just Ask Susan, and I'm glad you like my ideas.

      I hope your daughter enjoys it, too, bridalletter.

      I'm glad you like the pictures and instructions, donnah75. Sometimes I feel like I get carried away, but I'm glad you like all the detail.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      You should market these online! I find them very attractive and convenient. Voted way up!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I thought about putting them on etsy, but part of my sewing machine is broken right now and I don't feel like hand sewing a bunch of them.

      Thanks for the comments and votes, teaches and HouseBuyers!

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      What a great idea! And the formatting of this hub is very good too!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you for the complements! I'm glad you liked it.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      There are quite a bit of them on Etsy but they seem to use drab looking material for a lot of them. You could have luck with them if you had bright colours and cheerful patterns. Hope you get the sewing machine fixed soon.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yeah...it's a simple tension spring problem, but I haven't gotten it fixed for about, oh, three years. When I saw this fabric on the drapery remnants table, I was so excited! It seemed perfect for this project. I agree, many that I've seen online are fairly boring.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

      A very cool and easy idea! What a great way to repurpose old material and create a resuable product. I'll be sharing this with a few of my fellow coffee drinkers:)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      This is actually not a bad idea.. Im guilty of tossing away my coffee sleeves.. but for me I would use a Football Jets logo rather than the frilly stuff.. but the concept is the same great share and useful :) Frank

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      That would be easy enough to do! Get some basic, plain material (or some logo material) and sew/iron a patch on it. It would be way less expensive than any pre-existing licensed coffee merchandise, I'm sure.

      Thank's for stopping by, even though it wasn't 100% your kind of idea.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent =)

      I'm glad you liked it and hope you get the chance to make one!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      Super cute! What a brilliant idea! It doesn't look too difficult to make at all. Rated up and awesome :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you for stopping by and voting! Glad you liked it.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      These are so cute! I'm going to have to make some for my Starbucks addicted friends ^_^ voted up, useful and pinned ^_^

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, Mama Kim! I hope you enjoy making them and your friends enjoy using them.

    • shai77 profile image

      Chen 4 years ago

      This is brilliant. I saw the reusable ones for purchase on tv, never would have thought about just making one out of scrap fabric. Great, clever, wonderful job!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! =)

    • ignugent17 4 years ago

      Very creative! It is great to know such simple ways and looks so nice.

      Good work. :-)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I am thinking of making some of these for gifts this year because I am pretty fond of them. Thanks for stopping by!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      What a clever idea! I'm not so creative, but I like the idea of a sewing project I can tackle without a sewing machine and help the environment at the same time. These would also make a unique and thoughtful gift, as well. I look forward to using your step by step instructions. Thank you!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      You could easily customize them with iron on letters or fabric paint if you wanted to add someone's initials, favorite sports team, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck if you decide to make any!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      What a great idea! I may have to make a few of these as environmentally-friendly stocking stuffers. Thanks for sharing the idea.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I've been thinking of them for Christmas, too! Quick, fun, practical, and customizable - they're the perfect little gift.

      Thanks for stopping by and please let me know if you have any questions.

    • Sarah 3 years ago

      I love this idea - it would make a lovely little stocking filler too.

      Thanks so much for linking up!

      Sarah

      http://acatlikecuriosity.blogspot.co.uk

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! These coffee sleeves are easy to personalize, which makes them great for little gifts, I agree.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I do tend to put a lot of time into my hubs, but it's totally worth it when others enjoy my work!

    • a beautiful mess profile image

      Alex Rose 3 years ago from Virginia

      now all i need is a coffee cup!!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Fantastic! These would make nice gifts, too. Thanks!

    • Victoria Anne profile image

      Victoria Anne 3 years ago from Las Vegas

      Can't wait to make some, thank you!

    • lesliebyars profile image

      lesliebyars 3 years ago from Alabama

      I voted up and awesome on your hub. I have never thought of making your own coffee cozy. I posted to pinterest as well. I don't sew very well but, hopefully I can figure this one out. I thank you so much for sharing..this is a great idea!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, everyone! I agree that they make great gifts and I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out, lesliebyars. It's a pretty easy project! Thanks for pinning and voting.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Very cute!! Nice article!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      interesting idea. Now i can reuse my spare fabrics for a cup of tea

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      It's a great way to use scraps! I was thinking of making another one just a few days ago.

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