A screen protector is the first order of things. Since the screen is delicate, you want a plastic overlay to protect it from scratches. Why spend money on a pack of Nano-sized screen protectors when you can use something much, much cheaper? Back when I actually made use of a PDA, I bought a pack of sheet protectors from the 99 Cents Store (which also carried a pack of stylus and a $30 cable, and of course I promptly stocked up on those). Now that I'm not using my PDA, there's no reason for the accessories to go to waste. I simply cut out a piece small enough to fit the Nano's screen, and we were good to go.
The next item on the checklist is a sleeve that protects the whole machine. I looked around on Etsy and found some really cute ones, but I felt like saving money by making my own. My plan was to make one out of vinyl, with elaborate cut-outs. Since the vinyl protects against scratches but not shocks, I wanted to add a cushioned lining. It didn't work out as I planned. First, it's really hard to do intricate cuts out of a small piece. Second, it was too hard to sew hard vinyl to a rounded bag form. My plan was to sew the lining part first, then cover it up with vinyl. What I should have done was to sew the lining to the vinyl, then sew the two halves of the case together like a sandwich, but hindsight is always 20/20. Still, I ended up with a soft and functional case, so that's good enough for now.
Ever since I was a kid, I'd save shoulder pads that my mom takes out. There's something about the cushiony feel and the shape. I used to think they looked like wings and wanted to make fairy dolls out of them (I actually made one as a Christmas gift for an aunt). Once I was well past the sock doll-making stage, I didn't know what to do with them, but I saved them anyway out of potential usefulness. I'm glad I did, since they sure came in handy last night.
I started off with this:
I sewed a rectangular outline to keep the layers in place, then I cut out the shape. I folded it in half, sewed the side and the bottom shut (save for a little corner where the headphone jack was located). After that, I sewed on a piece of felt. Then I flipped it inside out. All of that took about an hour, but it could have been done faster if I wasn't doing other things at the same time.
If it weren't for the Frankenstein stitches, which I intended to cover up with vinyl, this would have looked pretty good. Still, the resulting product will serve it's purpose, so it hasn't been a complete waste of time.
When I have time later, I'll sew a loop on the back. That way, I can clip the case to a belt loop or to a velcro arm band.