First night in the sewing room

My self-inflating mattress came with a bag designed to keep it dry, but it died. Since I don’t really need a waterproof bag for something I only take SCA camping, I thought I’d make something myself out of fabric.

The old bag was a tube with compression straps and a roll-top closure. It’d be altogether too easy for me to just make a simple bag, so I’m going to try and make something overly complex. My heraldry’s split into 8 parts, alternating red and black, so that’s how I’m going to design my bag. :)

Heraldry - James of Yale

The old bag was 30” long, with a 28” circumference, which means I need 8 panels of 3.5” wide, adding (huge) seam allowances makes that ~4.5” wide. Throwing some on the length to give me space for seams, a rolled edge to hold a cord to close the top, and some extra because I’m terrible at cutting accurately I went with 34” x 4.5”.

To close the bottom of the cylinder I’m planning on making an octagon out of triangles, since that seems (in my naiveté) easier than cutting triangular bottoms and making that all work.

I cut two strips of red out before I realised I should probably check my sewing machine works. Thus endeth bag-related things for the evening.

A few years ago I inherited a Frister & Rossmann 904 sewing machine. Suffice to say it’s a terrifying device made in Japan, with German and seemingly Norweigan roots from the 80’s. I’d been told it’d had a service just before I received it, and I’m sure I’ve run a test bit of fabric through it not long after I got it.

I’ve used quite a few different brands of sewing machines before, from my mum’s Husky to RMB’s Brother, and some Bernina things in high school. This one’s… a little special. I got the bobbin wound full of thread, and threaded it up what seemed to be the usual way. All good so far? No go, batman. Top thread stabbing into fabric, bottom wasn’t playing.

Finding the manual online 1 wasn’t too hard, and I found that I had the basic idea right, but there’s something a little bit weird about this particular device. Inserting the bobbin required a serious amount of tongue-wriggling, along with a few swears. Pro-tip, don’t release the bobbin-carrier-carrier thing. It’ll fall out and you’ll swear and wonder why it looks like something from inside a Cylon.

After a few trial runs I found that I’d:

  1. not wound the bobbin thread through the right spot in its carrier
  2. failed to feed thread through the top tensioner correctly
  3. somehow let the thread spool holder sit at a funny angle making it feed poorly
  4. broke a needle

I’m still not sure how I broke the needle - probably something misaligned in the bobbin carrier after dicking with it - subsequent tests showed it seems to all move right, so I might just have gotten something else wrong.

Alas, I have no spare needles to try again, so I’m going to have to go shopping and see if I can find a replacement. Something for another day, I guess.

I’ll leave you with a joke I heard tonight in an episode of Homeland:

What does the optimist say as he jumps off a building?

So far, so good!