Monday, August 18, 2008

I Know You're There

It's not that I don't care, really I do, but you're so undemanding that when the whining starts, and it's not you, you get neglected. I'm so sorry.

The main focus of my attention (apart from the headache) has been getting ready for Bead Fest Philadelphia. I'm teaching four classes, and while none of them are even close to full, two have a respectable number of sign-ups and hey, the other two aren't empty, and I won't be teaching one-on-one, which is in general not my favourite thing. I might be breaking even.

Packing is interesting, especially the clothes-to-beads ratio.
Notice the squinkle of fabric bottom left? That's most of the clothes. The checked-in suitcase will have two boxes of instructions and kits (to be made up into kits for sale) and the carry-on will have all the kits and instructions for my classes. If they lose my luggage, at least I'll still be able to teach, even though I'll have no toiletries or a change of clothes. 

Notice the space in the red carry-on? That's for my knitting - what, you thought I'd forgotten to plan for knitting? Are you simple? I will only be bringing the one project though. I think I'm safe, since I've only just started the sweater: I'm perhaps three hours in and even though I'm the ultimate vacation knitting optimist, I don't think I'll run out of knitting. Besides, I'll have beading in a pinch (travel beading doesn't take up much space).

For months now, actually years, but intensely only for months, I've been trying to figure out selling kits at bead shows, and finally, as time gets squished, I figured it out.

Here's the problem: I package my kits in 6x9 zipper bags, and even though an eight-foot table seems rather large, after one layer of 6x9 bags, they start sliding off, and even when they don't, it's a big mess.

When I taught in 2006, I went to the Dollar Store and bought a whole lot of plastic crates, small cubes, each big enough for perhaps ten 6x9s. It worked out ok, except that the plastic was cheap and they cracked and broke and took up way too much space in the suitcase.

In Miami this past April, I found wire-framed clear vinyl baskets, but the size wasn't quite right, and they sort of collapsed, so I threw them away after five minutes.

About a month ago I came up with an elaborate design that I would build myself for a collapsible rotating display and I even bought the wood, pegboard, hooks and lazy susan hardware, but procrastinated since I don't have a power saw and hand-sawing sucks the big one. I realized that I'd have to pull finger if I wanted to get them done, and so, in a last-ditch attempt to save myself from sawing planks, I Googled "collapsible fabric boxes", hoping to just buy the stupid things, but it was even better: I found instructions. 

Decent instructions, hopelessly pathetic review comments to the contrary, but not an efficient design. I made alterations and made the prototype, found it good but lacking, bought velcro and now I have two excellent collapsible fabric boxes in my suitcase (see the turquoise-ish things on the extreme left?) which work very well holding kits such that they don't fall out or slip sideways, and are easy to flick through. I also have a serviceable extra (without velcro).

Here's the scoop:

I used stiff upholstery fabric and some stiffish cotton twill for the lining, with plastic canvas for stiffening. It's not as stiff as cardboard, but if it gets bent, it doesn't crease.

You naturally need the height, width and depth of your box. Draw two sets of parallel lines, one pair separated by the width measurement, the other separated by the depth measurement, like a double ninety-degree "X". The intersection rectangle is the size of the bottom of the box, and each line extends the height of the box. It looks like a big fat cross. 

If you want to use velcro, then in a chiral fashion, add an extension about three quarters of an inch deep, extending to about an inch from the intersection of the adjacent arms.  

Add seam allowances, and cut two. Place them right sides together and sew all seams but one. Trim corners and turn inside-out.

Place plastic canvas in the four arms of the cross, avoiding the tabs. This support is for the sides. Stitch around the base of the box, trapping the plastic canvas pieces. Close up the final seam.

In a very methodical manner, add velcro to the outside of the tabs, and to the corresponding inside of the non-tab edges. Sew them, even if all you could find is the stick-on type. Seriously, you don't want the velcro to rip right off the fabric.

Blogger's being fussy, so no pictures, but I assure you, they are most excellent and take under an hour to make. I could be the box maven, but I don't love sewing all that much. Interestingly enough, even though I used to do fun sewing (at one point I was making about ninety percent of my clothes), the sewing I do now is nasty: Roman shades, boxes, duvet covers, fitted sofa covers, futon covers - though the worst thing about sewing futon covers is getting them ON.

Still, boxes. Collapsible, light, no sawing. 


Juno said...

Wanna have dinner Friday - while you're in Philly? Only 40 minutes from downtown here.....

Charlene said...

Oh I wish I could, but I teach until 8 and then there's the Meet the Teachers (a.k.a. Buy/Sell Stuff, depending on perspective) from 8:30 until 11. Not that every free moment is accounted for, or anything - jeez!