Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Graduation Laundry Bag

When I graduated from high school in 1985 a lot of things were different. I had my own computer, but there was no internet. Instead of cell phones we had to remember phone numbers and dial them by hand on land line phones and pay long distance charges.

But one thing was the same. If you wanted clean clothes you had to wash, dry, and fold.

My Aunt Dorian gave me a big denim sack with my initials on it for my high school graduation. I took that sack to Georgia Tech. Once a week or so I would cram all my dirty clothes and sheets and towels in there and lug it across the street from old-timey Glenn dorm that didn't even have air conditioning to the new-fangled dorm that had coin operated laundry machines in the basement. It was a long skinny bag with a round bottom. My folded clothes would stay folded when I pushed them back into the bag when they were all clean. It was a very good graduation gift. I wish I hadn't spilled epoxy on it in the '90s. Anyway, that's why laundry bags are now my traditional graduation gift for nieces.

My niece Brenna just got done at Jupiter High School. Here is her report:
My graduation was yesterday morning. The senior graduating class was 777 students! I walked across the stage for less than 5 seconds of the 3 hour and 30 minute ceremony. 
I graduated with only 211 other people. So that's another thing that is different.

I have more nieces to go, so I thought I should document how I made this bag. If Brenna gives me notes on how it works I can make improvements in the next version. Let's start with finished photos:

Front View, un-cinched with a pillow inside
The basic structure is a box bottom sewn to a cylinder. The yellow bottom is made of 100% Nylon Cordura canvas. I bought a 1/2 yard of all the different colors of yellow they had at Seattle Fabric to see which one matched my board game. I used half of a sample for the bottom.

The patterned fabric is Waverly outdoor canvas, 100% polyester. I got a yard of this at Joann when it was 70% off just because it's pretty.

The lining is a royal blue 100% nylon taffeta. It's been in my stash about 16 years.

Side View, un-cinched
The strap is made from the 8" strip left when I cut the main fabric rectangle. It's backed with 3" orange grosgrain ribbon I had leftover from the FLORIDA sash for the Women's March.
Back view with strap

Box Bottom:

To start, look at your heavy fabric and decide how big to make the box bottom. I folded a t-shirt and measured it and decided to make a 14"x9" rectangle. I had enough width in my piece of fabric to add 4" to all sides. In hindsight this may have been too big for folded clothes. It is a great bag for carrying all your bedding in though.

I marked 4” squares in the corners on the wrong side and sewed them right sides together with heavy duty needle and thread. I left long tails and hand sewed the flaps folded toward the small ends. I cut the Cordura with scissors because it has a coating and doesn't unravel.

Cut Bottom Rectangle: 22" x 17"
Finished Size: 14" x 9" x 4"
Circumference: 46"

Bag Body:

Cut main canvas piece: 27” x 49”
Finished size: 27" tall open cylinder
Circumference: 46"

For the 100% polyester fabric I marked it with a white Scribe-All pencil and then cut it using a $3.99 Harbor Freight soldering iron and a pica pole. (A long metal ruler) Make a tall tube out of the pattern canvas. You need to leave an opening for a drawstring, so mark 2 3/4" from the top edge and skip 1/2". My fabric has a definite right side up, so be sure you get this correct.

Switch sewing machine to regular size needle and thread to match the other fabric. I used royal blue, the lining color. With right sides together sew quite a large seam to achieve 46” circumference. Mine was just shy of 1 1/2". You may want to sew around the opening like for a buttonhole but wait to do that until you're sure you don't have to adjust this seam to fit the bottom.


Join Bottom and Body:

Turn the bottom inside out and put 1/2” EZ-Steam II seam tape on the edge. I gave this a quick press over the backing paper with the iron on low setting. That helps it stay on one side when you reposition the layers. I put a label in at this stage, sticking it to the seam tape on the bottom so it would come out right no matter how many times I redid the next step.

Put the bottom inside the tube so right sides are together.  I used a ruler to get the seam 7" from a corner on one of the long sides. Secure bottom edge of bag fabric onto the box bottom with binder clips. Go around and be sure circumference is right. Remove cylinder and adjust the seam as needed.

Go back to the heavy duty needle and heavy outdoor thread. Sew cylinder to bottom with 1/2" seam allowance.

Fold patterned fabric up and top stitch through seam allowance with the heavy thread to make it neat. (This is the same outdoor thread I use for the lines on the star on the WatUR cases.)

Close-up showing the texture of the cordura compared to silkscreened canvas


Lining

Switch sewing machine to regular needle and thread for the lining.

Cut lining, 2 pieces: 25” x 38”
Finished size: 38" tall pillow case shape
Circumference at top edge: 46"

For the lining I'm going to make an ordinary box bottom bag with drawstrings on both sides. It's going to take more fabric. (I originally cut two 25” x 44” rectangles. These were 6” too long. I finished the whole lining and tested it in the bag and determined what it needed to be and I ripped the seams at the bottom and moved the box bottom up 6". This made the fabric at the bottom double thickness for the prototype bag. I figured it would help it be extra stiff? 25” x 38” would be better.)

I marked the rectangles with a white Scribe-All and cut the nylon taffeta lining with the soldering iron.

Mark openings in the seams 4” and 4 3/4” from the top. Don't sew between the lines. Make another pair of marks about 6" apart in the middle of one seam for turning. Measure 23" across the middle to determine your seam allowance. You need to be sure you're going to end up with the same circumference as your box bottom. Sew seams right sides together, and across the bottom leaving gaps for the drawstrings and for turning.

Turn the lining right side out and insert it in the main fabric and pin it around the top edge to be sure it is the same circumference. If not, adjust the side seams before going forward. Take the lining out of the bag again.

Box bottom in lining

I used a file folder cut with a square corner. (Cereal box is also good) I put a ruler across the corner to find a 9" hypotenuse, the length of the short sides of my box bottom. I made sure the two legs of the triangle were equal, drew a line, and cut out the triangle. Insert the cardboard triangle with the 90° point going into the corner seam of the lining. With the seams all open, fold the lining around the cardboard triangle so the seams line up down the middle of the triangle. Press with a cool iron. Draw the line on the fabric along the hypotenuse of the triangle and take out the cardboard. Sew the line. Then secure the flap up the side for stiffness. Repeat on the other side.


Make the Strap

I had an 8” strip leftover from cutting the main fabric so I just used that. Fold over the two sides to make a 3” wide strip. Sew grosgrain ribbon on top of the raw edges. It doesn't have to be this wide. I just had that 3" ribbon so I went for that width. I sewed the strap with orange top thread and a blue bobbin. You can kind of see blue dots on the ribbon side, but I like it better than a blue line.

Close-up of strap attachment.
I cut the ends with the soldering iron so they don’t unravel. I pinned the strap over the seam of the bag from the box bottom to 3" below the drawstring opening. Using orange thread to match the ribbon I sewed through the big seam allowance and the strap with several rows of stitches 1/2” apart. I left 1/2” loose at the bottom and stopped the top below where the lining will be sewn down. Then I tried on the bag to determine how long to make the strap. I cut off about 6” of it.

Final strap length: 44 1/2”
23 3/4” loose
19 3/4” sewed to the bag

I sewed the two pieces of strap together to get the finished end underneath. Then folded it at the bottom and secured it about an inch up the back going back and forth a few times. I switched back to the blue thread for this since it was showing on the patterned side. This hides all the hot cut ends inside. It's fairly stiff because there's 5 layers of canvas in there, plus the grosgrain ribbon. My 1951 Singer 301 sewed this like it was nothing. My Singer from the '90s that I only use to wind bobbins would break the needle trying to sew this much heavy fabric though. Be warned.


Sew In the Lining

Turn the lining right side out and turn the bag with the bottom inside out. Mark the halfway point from the center back seam to line up the side seams of the lining. (Half 14" + Half 9" = 11 1/2" from the center back seam) Put the lining into the inside-out bag. Be sure the box bottoms line up. The side seams should be on the mark. Work around, pinning the fabric together. If it doesn’t come out, adjust the side seams on the lining.

When it’s right unpin it and take it out and sew the seam allowances open on the lining. Do any finishing you want around the openings for the draw strings now too. Finish the ends of the threads to the wrong side and then pin the two parts together again.

Sew the lining to the outside with a 1/2” seam allowance.

Turn the whole thing right side out through the hole in the side seam of the lining.


Make Drawstring Channels

Now fold the outside fabric down so the opening for the drawstring is at the edge and the lining seam is about where the strap attaches. Pin this in place with a consistent edge. Sew right at the lining seam. Then sew a 1” channel for the drawstring.
Lining is sewn to the outer fabric but then that is folded down into the bag to make a second drawstring channel.

Next fold the nylon to line up the drawstring opening at the edge and sew that channel.

Cord lock secured to back of bag above strap


Finishing

For finishing I cut a length of ribbon to attach a cord lock for a white cord in the outer fabric. I used blue satin cord in a double pull configuration for the lining. I heat sealed all the ends and threaded them through the channels with a yarn needle.

I sewed up the hole in the lining (from turning it right-side out) by hand.

I used some of the yellow thread to tack the corners of the lining to the bottom of the bag.

Finished size:
Base: 14” x 9”
27” from bottom to top of patterned section
Strap 23 3/4” loose, 19 3/4” sewn to bag

Folds to 8” x 11” x 2”
Weighs 1 pound

Here's the finished bag with the drawstrings pulled closed


Inner drawstring only. This one you just yank the two sides.

Second drawstring with cord lock at back of bag

Side view cinched shut

Front view cinched up. Drawstrings shown not tucked in.
You could tuck the drawstrings into the bag if you have to put it in the car or something.

Top can fold down when you're starting to fill it up with folded clothes
With the leftover fabric from the yard of Waverly outdoor stuff I made another little drawstring bag with blue lining. This fabric is a bit stiff for a really cute bag. I'm not sure what this is a good size for. It will fit a giant iPhone. Or about $40 in rolled quarters. I will send it to Brenna for whatever she might need to carry around. Pens and pencils, chapstick, medicine. To go in her backpack or whatever.

I also made a tiny pouch with the 6" I cut off the strap. This is possibly the easiest thing I ever made. I burned two holes in it with the soldering iron to put in the snap first. Then I snapped it closed, pinned the sides, opened it, sewed the side seams, and it was done. The raw heat sealed edge is unabashedly the edge of the item. It's got a bright orange lining though!


Fold It Up

One advantage this drawstring bag has over regular luggage is it folds up pretty neat. Here's how it goes.

Fold up the bottom to one side like a grocery sack


Fold the sides into the middle to make it in thirds

Fold the bottom up where it naturally wants to fold

Spin it around and open up the last bit to fold it around the stiff bottom part

Insert the yellow bottom part between the layers of the top

Final folded package is a tidy little bundle to put away until needed again

This folding feature is going to make it very easy for me to mail this to Brenna tomorrow. I save envelopes.

Only tangentially related to this, but I'm flabbergasted and have to put this here. I just looked up Glenn Dorm to see if it had one n or two and the Georgia Tech website lists how much it costs to live there now. It has gone up nearly an order of magnitude! 7.5 times the 1985 price to be more precise. I distinctly remember it was $305 per quarter because it was about $100 cheaper than my brother's dorm on West Campus that had air conditioning. Three quarters in a typical year, so my dad forked over $915 a year for me to live in Atlanta and go to school. Now school is just two semesters and it would cost $6850 to spend your freshman year in Glenn! Whole Lee Shit. That must have been some renovation they did in 2015. Oh look, on site laundry! I bet these machines are on the internet. I wonder if they have one laundry room that is strictly for unscented detergent and no dryer sheets? They should.
Laundry machines in my old dormitory. Weren't there in 1985.
This renovation gave them laundry rooms on every freaking floor of the dorm, plus elevators! You might as well have a wheels on your laundry bag. Oh well. Maybe Brenna will still have to deal with stairs and will be glad for her shoulder strap.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Introducing WatUR: Not a KickstartUR, Actual Games For Sale



WatUR is now for sale on my Etsy store. I've listed one because I've only finished one. I have 11 more ready to sew up. As soon as they're done I'll edit the listing and release some coupons and do some promotions.

This is the best game I've ever played. It's easy to learn and instantly engaging. Whenever I get new people to play it so I can watch I have a good time watching them enjoy the give and take of offense and defense that seems like the decision to be made with every roll of the dice. And then in the end it always comes down to such an exciting, close finish everybody feels evenly matched and as though it's all fair in the end.

Most of my play testing and rules development has been with my nieces, Kate, Brenna, and Kara. After I developed the expansion pack and the final case design I went down to my brother's house to play a few rounds with Brenna and Kara. I woke Kara up early on Saturday morning and made her model for me in the pool before the sun got too high. Kara is 14 and it is not in her nature to get up early on a Saturday. She was a very good sport and an excellent model. I used my brother's cell phone to take these underwater photos and videos. I still can't believe how great it turned out. Later that night Brenna and I sat on the side of the pool on a towel and played two games in a row with our feet dangling in the water. It was exactly as fun as I hoped it would be.
Playing WatUR on the side of the pool
This deluxe version of WatUR comes in a floating case called a presURver. It is good for travel. It fits in a tote bag or backpack. The fabric is Solarmax 100% nylon with a water repellant finish and superior UV resistance.

I've shown the board, dice and stones going into a dishwasher because it is theoretically dishwasher safe. At low heat and without detergent I would absolutely do it. But high heat and strong chlorine based detergents would likely degrade the dice or leave unsightly watermarks on the board. I don't actually recommend putting WatUR in the dishwasher. I'd just hand wash it. (I don't even own a dishwasher though. I understand some people just don't hand wash things.) If it's so contaminated it's either that or throw it away, go ahead and stick it in the dishwasher. Let me know how it comes out. If the black dice and stones get chalky try rubbing them with some car polish to bring the color back. While all of the parts are fine in the water and sun for a little while they can't stay in the water continuously. Don't set up a game of WatUR as an aquarium decoration. And don't try to wash the case with laundry. Just rinse it off and wipe it down. Dry it out of direct sun if possible. Every time I've gotten a case wet it was dry again in under an hour.
The PresURver floats with the game inside
The board is fiberglass with etched copper lines. I would love to see what it looks like on an airport security x-ray monitor. All the lines should show up at high contrast because they are copper. Be sure to pack it so it is flat on to the x-rays and not on edge. That would be boring.

All the contents of this premier edition of WatUR
The rules I've written for WatUR are the ones Tom Scott and Irving Finkel played on International Tabletop Day in 2017. I've read other rules but these are the ones I like.

I read the full white paper Finkel wrote on his translation of the cuneiform tablet referenced in the video linked above. The main point of it was that stars are lucky. He deduced that players would have a pile of tokens that they would use as sort of gambling and to reinforce that lucky aspect of the squares with the stars. I find it interesting that the board the British Museum found is actually decorated with rosettes, not stars. Mine has stars. And now with the expansion pack it also has 30 tokens for rewarding you for landing on a star and penalizing you for passing over one. I call this ElabURation.
ElabURation and FloURishes
I made up another expansion called FloURishes. This is entirely my invention. The first time Kate played with it against her boyfriend Matt she made him run out of tokens entirely. We made up the rules for that instance on the spot. Running out of tokens is bursting. You lose.

Inside the presURver there are three pURses that hold the dice and stones as well as ElabURation and FloURishes.
Black dice and stones

White dice and stones
I'm really glad I matched the dice and stones because if I play one game as white then the next time I play as black I might forget and try to move the wrong stone. Anything that reduces my cognitive load leaves more energy for coping with the fact I'm in a social situation with another person.
Please buy WatUR!

WatUR: How It's Made

PresURver
I'm almost ready to sell my new version of the Royal Game of Ur. Thanks to Chris Warnock and his computer controlled laser cutter I have very sharp cases and unique dice and stones that match my board.
Laser marked dice
Chris sends me the dice and stones after they're etched and I color in the lines one at a time by hand. The dice I do with gel enamel that I brush into the grooves then I wipe off the excess on scrap cardboard. (The inside of cereal boxes) Then I cure it under a UV lamp before going on to the next side.

The stones are a bit harder as they are double convex. I've experimented with a lot of different materials and methods and finally came up with a way that I'm going to keep to myself for now because it took me a really long time to come up with it and I'm not ready for somebody else to copy me.

I got quotes for custom molded dice but even at quantities of 2000 they are still more expensive than laser cutting blanks. And they would have rounded corners and not look as nice. I am determined to get my head in this repetitive task game and learn how to be fast at production work. So I only bought enough for the prototype boards I had for the first run.

The nylon fabric I use for the case comes on 60" wide rolls at over $9 a yard. I could only afford the raw materials to make 15 full sets in my first run. (I can't use fabric from the fabric store because it's folded and that fold will not come out of nylon. Only the 60" wide rolled fabric from industrial sources will work. The added advantage of this high priced fabric from Seattle is that it doesn't reek like all the fabric from JoAnn.)

I went through over 10 design iterations before I finalized the PresURver pattern that I sent to Chris for laser cutting. I heard about a new industrial standard process of bonding instead of sewing and wanted to try it out. Bonding is like gluing fabric together with a strip of adhesive between two pieces of fabric. It's heated under pressure to make the seam. I have some expensive bras that are bonded instead of sewn. It makes a smooth seam that doesn't chafe. I don't have the specialized expensive industrial machinery to do bonding fast and efficiently, but I can mimic the results using products for sale at my local craft store, namely Pellon EZ-Steam II. I can still peel it apart though, so it's just like basting. I still have to sew everywhere.
Laser cut star with bonding material
Chris cut circles of the sheet style EZ-Steam with the laser. Then he used a laser-cut template to locate them on rectangles of nylon ready to go in the laser bed. The laser cuts the outline of the star shape, sealing the edge of the nylon fabric with heat with the added security of the bonding material preventing any unraveling.

When the fabric gets back to me in the mail I apply the gold circle, also laser cut, to the back of the fabric. I have a special iron with no holes for steam that I use to bond the gold and black fabric. I made a two layer canvas mat for my Fireslate workbench so I can put all my weight on the iron to press the fabric together. I can only use low heat because it's nylon. I feel like the pressure is critical for this reason.

I mark the lines of the star on the front with a water soluble fabric pencil using a stencil pattern also cut with the laser. Then I sew the lines with 100% polyester outdoor rated heavy thread. I use a Singer 301 sewing machine from 1951 which makes exceptionally straight stitches.


I sew the 4 main star points first in one continuous line then go back and do the short points. As I finish each point I turn the piece over, pull the needle thread to the back with the bobbin thread and knot them. If I don't do it as I go the tails can get caught in the stitching for the next line and make a mess. I use the presser foot of the sewing machine to hold the fabric so I can use both hands to tie the knots. I got pretty fast by the last one. I could sew all the lines for a star in 12 minutes. Chris says this is absolutely not how he would execute this task, but it gives the results I want with the equipment I have. I don't think there is any embroidery machine that can do this exact thing if I wanted to scale up. Embroidering on the whole star would weaken the fabric enormously. I would likely have to redesign this feature for mass production.
Detail for finishing the back of the star
The final step for the front of the PresURver before assembly is adding the snap. I had Chris save the center circle of the star cut out with the EZ-Steam on it. The laser cut about a 2 mm hole in the center. I line this up with another laser cut hole and bond it on with the iron. The snap goes through this reinforced hole and is pressed in place with some special pliers. I rigged them to be a bench mount apparatus with a length of 3/4" PEX tubing heated and shoved on as a handle extender. 

The edges of the pocket and lining are finished with a single fold bonded with 1/2" EZ-Steam tape. Because they are heat cut the raw edge won't unravel. Both hems are sewn as well. There is an inner pocket for the rules on the lining that is prepped with the 1/4" EZ-Steam and sewn around all 4 sides.

I came up with a pretty handy way of making that folded hem even. I cut one side of a legal size manila folder to 1/2" less than the final width of the fabric. After I peel off the paper backing on the bonding tape I fold the edge down to meet the manila folder all the way across. I made these jigs for all the hems I had to do and it improved how straight and square they come out and make it faster. The EZ-Steam can be peeled up and repositioned before it's ironed. It's a nice way to get things really lined up just the way you want them. Nylon is so springy I don't think I could make this without the adhesive.

The rest of the PresURver is assembled with 1/4" EZ-Steam tape to hold everything together while I sew it. It also gives some stiffness to the edge of the case. I worry about clipping the corners of nylon for fear it will unravel and make a hole in the corner, but with the EZ-Steam I think it will hold up well, so I clip the corners then turn the case right side out. I insert closed cell foam rectangles between the outside and the lining as stiffeners before sewing the fold lines. The last step is to put in the other half of the snap. I fold the case closed and mark the spot for the snap with a white Scribe-All then burn a hole through with a soldering iron. Then I can crimp on the snap. If I just use an awl to punch the fabric it runs, making four lines shooting out along the grain of the fabric. Unacceptable.

In addition to the main case which holds the board there are separate pURses for the dice and stones plus a new gold one for the expansion. 
PresURver with board and pUrses
I did them each in a solid coordinating color. The pUrses have closed cell foam stiffeners and will float their contents individually. They also have color matched non-latex elastic. Finding non-latex elastic in three colors was unbelievably hard. I ordered from 4 different sources before I finally got all three colors of the same width and texture. I went with foldover elastic on these. I didn't like the line the fold made when used flat so I folded it over and sewed it with a double needle. This is a ridiculous extra step. If I go to quantity production I hope I can find a source of the satin faced so-called bra strap elastic that will work instead. I have finally gotten 3 yards each in 3/4". My next run of pURses may have that instead of this kind.  
Full contents of WatUR deluxe spread out
The black and white pURses hold the stones and dice and the yellow one is for ElabURation and FloURishes. These are two optional expansions that can be played together or separately. There are 30 acrylic gems and 5 small printed circuit boards duplicating designs on the main board. The acrylic gems were selected over glass to keep the weight of the complete game under 16 ounces. USPS First Class Package Service is the most affordable method of shipping but it is only for packages under a pound. This game can be shipped for under $5, but that is without insurance. I found these at JoAnn on clearance, plus I had a coupon. I had to wash them in dish soap and dry them on a mesh lawn chair in the sun to get that JoAnn smell off them. I have enough for all the cases I have. Next run, who knows. If I have to buy them online they are going to cost a lot more.

I have some custom woven labels in the design. The pURses have my brand, Beachton, sewn into them. My thinking is that anybody who loses some of their parts can google Beachton, find this website, and contact me for replacements. The main case has the name of the game and logo on the side. I bought both these custom labels online from the Dutch Label Shop in minuscule quantities. The price per piece is quite high, but it works with my goal of making high quality products without a giant investment up front. If I manage to sell these then I'll use that money to buy slightly more next time. And even more the next time, reducing the per-item cost with each subsequent increase in quantity. Will I ever make a profit? I doubt it. I'd be delighted if if I can recoup the expenses. My time will remain uncompensated for the foreseeable future. My goal of the year is to beat my lifelong difficulty with repetitive tasks. I've always been lousy at it. I have a hypothesis that only through muscle memory can you do a good job at repetitive tasks. I want to see if I can reach that point.

I also hope that everybody who buys this game will appreciate it as a unique and valuable experiment in design possibilities or as an art object that they will treasure and show off to their friends.

The boards are all ordered online from SeeedStudio in China. The ordering process couldn't be simpler. I upload a ZIP file of all the Gerber layers and it generates a quote automatically. There is no set-up charge. I pay for it with PayPal up front, including staggeringly expensive shipping. It takes about a week to make the boards and only 3 days to ship them to me. The board and FloURishes are like the woven labels. They scale down to small quantities while still allowing for full automation.

I would like to credit my board layout software too, since it was free. I used Osmond Cocoa for Mac. Their payment model makes it like a demo version until your board has a certain number of holes then you have to buy it. Since my board doesn't have any holes at all, free software. This is perfect for my minimum-cost-up-front business model. I had to do some real file format conversion gymnastics to import a DXF file at the right scale. Then I had to do a lot of careful editing to delete the lines it added to make every single curve in the design into a closed polygon. I think the results are very good though and I'm happy with this program. The Help files are excellent. I was able to learn the tools I needed and ignore all the actual features that a normal person would need to make a useable circuit board. I actually drew the cuneiform numbers on the FloURishes using the tools in the program, which is really really not made for that.

If anybody has read all the way to the end of this then you are exactly who I wrote it for and I don't need to explain why.