I’m in Day 7 of a short series: Thirty Days of Making. Every day for the next thirty days, I intend to make something, anything, that is in some way connected to school. There won’t always be pictures, and I reserve the right to credit myself for things that I help my kids make. But I’ve decided that I need thirty days of maker success and maker failure under my belt to be a better designer.
I’ve decided that artwork counts, but not writing (unless it’s part of the art, like calligraphy). Digital work counts, but it has to be useful or publishable.
Some days there will be pictures, some days there won’t be. Each blog entry will contain a list of some of the materials and tools, a quick review of the success or failure of the Making, and a reflection on what i think i learned from the endeavor.
Reason for the Project: A crystal ball without a bag
Over the weekend, I was at a friend’s house for a party. In a window, there was a large crystal ball, half-shrouded in silk bandages. I asked if it had ever started a fire. “Oh, yes,” said my host. “One day I came in here, and there was smoldering from the deck, where the sunlight had passed through the ball and hit a focal point. I was about ten minutes away from a serious blaze.” I said, “I think I should make you a bag for it.” He agreed, “that would be awesome.” And then we dropped the matter and said nothing more about it.
But the thought stayed with me all through Sunday. When I got to school on Monday, I decided, this would be my project for the day. So I resolved to get to work on it, and I rummaged in my fabric stash at home for a scrap of about the right size.
Process and Results
The piece of fabric I brought was nubbled linen. I think it’s a blend of polyester and linen, rather than a true linen, but it feels nice and it has some weight to it. I used a pie plate to cut the base of the bag as a round circle, and then used a string to measure the circumference of the circle. That became the length of the sides, which are fairly deep. The bag is deep enough for my hand and most of my forearm. I cut two circles for the bottom, and two matching sides, in order to create a bag with a lining, and give it some extra strength in construction.
I wound up using all of the modes of thinking common to the Design Thinking Method of my school. I did some research first of all, by looking at some photos of drawstring bags. I then had to name what sort of problem I was trying to solve… make a container for a large round and heavy object, which needs to be protected from the sun and yet uncovered quickly. I had to do a quick sketch of the completed bag and how the object would fit inside it; that’s visualization. I then had to assemble the bag with pins — inside and out — in order to assemble the finished project. I then had to re-pin it for sewing it together, set up the sewing machine, and actually assemble the bag. It turns out that I forgot where the white thread was, though, so I assembled the tube for the drawstring with black thread instead. I even had to ask for help, by calling my mother and asking for her guidance through the final assembly of the outer container and the inner lining.
Reflection on My Learning
(UPDATE: Apparently everything but the headers beyond this point got deleted as I was uploading this blog entry. Not sure if what I’m doing is a reconstruction, a slap-dash rewrite, or a completely new set of thoughts. Oh well. Stuff on the internet happens. Roll with it.)
There was a fair bit of learning on this project. Most of it was on the job, and on the fly: how does one pin these pieces together? How do these side-pieces get measured so that they’re the right length for the walls of the bag, but still sew on to the base? How do I make sure the base is big enough around for the crystal ball? My mother and I spent a good fifteen minutes defining terminology for how the bag was to be assembled, and then spent two minutes describing how to assemble the bag — nomenclature is everything in design, especially when you can’t share diagrams.
One of the most complicated parts of the bag construction, and the most tedious, was stringing the bag with a bit of ribbon for the drawstring. It turns out that drawstring bags are easy to assemble, but that stringing them is a bit difficult. I may have cursed during my assembly effort.
But the bag got finished, beginning to end, in about two hours. Probably about an hour for the cutting and sewing all told, a half-hour for panic and discussion on that, and a bit of thinking of how to work through the redesign. That was fun. A lot of it.
Reflection on Learning in General
I’m not really sure if the pre-sewing machine me could have figured out how to build a a bag like this. It turned out to be similar enough to some of my other patterns. A lot of the work today involved, or flowing a pattern; turns out it’s awfully cleaning.
Five out of five. I feel like this project did what it was supposed to; successfully I’ve learned how to do this again. The completed project also has a home: when I’m done learning from it.