Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Not Much to Natter About

Confirmed for Festival of Maidens.

Found another source for thread for the big sewing machine, and discovered that the lightest weight thread I have for it may work in my consumer-level machines. Called Durkopp-Adler and got an answer to a question I had about using that weight thread for bobbins for the big machine (usually you want to match top and bobbin threads, but there are exceptions).

After ordering thread from the new-to-me supplier I found a couple other things on their website I should have ordered. Primary is "thread sock", expandable net fabric that keeps thread on cones under control. $2/yard, $9 for 10 yards. I just need to double-check that it will fit the big 1-lb cones.  Other is inexpensive baby cones of regular sewing thread for my standard machines.



Found a source for "Jean Rivets", and ordered a bunch for a non-Otter project which ate my weekend, and which I blathered on about on Google Plus and my personal blog at great length already.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things Accomplished, With Pictures, Plus Natter


As you may notice, Military History Fest and Boar's Head are now confirmed.

I've added Festival of Maidens, which I've requested space for but haven't heard back about, and Ayreton Carnivale, which I don't think is far enough organized to even request space for yet, other than having a date.

The Weekend

The weekend was fairly busy with not-Otter things, as detailed on the personal blog. Saturday was a complete write-off. My goal for Sunday morning was to get the bindings on the tops of the quivers so that Ron could assemble them.

The plan was to roll aluminum wire into the binding to help hold the top edges in shape. Why aluminum? I had some 12-gauge that I'd bought for attaching chainmail to pouches, but decided was too heavy for that.

After getting the binding sewn onto the pouches by machine, I decided I wasn't going to be able to do the second pass of stitching (after rolling the binding over the edge) done by machine - I'd cut the bindings a bit heavier than usual, so it was going to be too big a lump. So I was going to have to do the second pass by hand.

Got the smallest quiver done, and we decided that the wire wasn't really doing much. So we pulled it out. By the end of the day I'd finished the stitching on all the quivers. I also cut the strips for Ron to lace them up with (1/2" wide strips).

I also finished stitching the rolled binding in place on the beer gut I'm refurbishing.


Yesterday was my big day for getting things done this week.

After voting, I went to work reducing piles of parts to finished satchels and soft pouches. (Click pictures to embiggen)

I made 2 satchels, 3 belt satchels, and two little tabbed pouches.

On the one hand, I felt like I rolled through them pretty quickly. On the other hand, it took pretty much all day - I think I finished about 3:30 in the afternoon (with Pippin keeping me company for the last hour or so).

The satchels still need shoulder straps, but that's fairly easy now that I've got all the fussy bits and sewing done.

Simplifying Fussy Bits

We've been making satchels for umpty years now, and the hardest bit has always been sewing on the leather piece with the buckle on the front.

The piece isn't very big, hence challenging to keep in place, and sewing it down involves sewing backwards until you get enough clearance to turn the piece around and sew forwards (because of the shape of the machine foot), and the lever to put the machine in reverse has to be held in place (sometimes with the aid of Mr. Bungee).

Yesterday I finally had the brilliant idea of not just riveting the piece together to hold the buckle, but putting a hole in the front piece of the satchel and riveting the whole thing together.

Yay! No more worries about the piece slipping around, worries about masking tape (yes, even the painter's tape) leaving marks on the leather, or picking bits of tape out of the stitching! I haz a happy! Still have the fun of working in reverse, but this is an improvement.

Then it took me 5 of the leather pieces to get the buckles on 2 satchels - I didn't think of including the satchel front in the riveting operation until I had riveted two the old way. But I ruthlessly cut them off, as I decided lack of frustration was worth tossing out a pieces cut from scrap. Then I messed up the rivet on one. Managed to get the rivet popped off without damaging the satchel (I sacrificed the piece that holds the buckle), and got it replaced. Yay!

That's Not Right!

As I was sewing belt loops on the pouches I heard an odd thunky noise. It didn't repeat so I figured it was the dees on the back of one of the belt satchels whacking into the table support or something as it dangled (I like to daisy-chain things when I can, saves time, and thread).

A little later I heard a thunky noise that was definitely Not Right, from the machine.

Oh carp. That . . . looks like a piece of the needle we broke a couple weeks ago. In a very not-good place.

You see where that rod (actually the allen wrench for the needle) coming from the left is pointing? That's where the chunk of needle was. That space is where the feed dog moves back and forth. I took off the needle and both halves of the pressure foot, and tried to extract it, and it disappeared. Oh carp.

Opened the hatches on both sides of the feed dogs. The one to the right is easy, that's where the bobbin is (you can see the bobbin casing in the picture). The one on the left . . . not so much. The way the machine sits in the table you have to rock the whole machine back (on hinges) with one hand while taking the cover off with the other. Have I mentioned that this machine is Really Heavy? Yeah, not fun. But I had to get that chunk of needle out.

Unfortunately, the bit of needle hadn't fallen safely down into the oil-drip-containment well below the machine. But it did reappear in the not-good place with a bit of poking, and I was able to use a pair of straight pins as a pair of tweezers and extract it.

Here's a picture of the machine reassembled so you can see the two halves of the (walking) pressure foot, needle, etc.:
If I ever have to replace this machine or decide to buy an industrial free-arm model, I'm buying another Durkopp-Adler. This one has handled a lot of abuse.

After that my main excitement was deciding to wind more than one bobbin at a time because I have enough spares to do that, dammit. The bobbins are bigger than most home sewing machines, but the thread is a lot thicker, so stopping to wind a bobbin is more frequent, and hence more annoying. Stopping just to put a new pre-wound bobbin in is much less of a disruption. Should have done that years ago, too.

Also determined that I need to get more black and brown thread in the weight I sue sooner rather than later. I'm not actually to the running-out point yet, but it's getting close enough to be a possibility.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Swedish Leather Book

Not a lot going on Otter Necessities-wise this week.

I finished up the last of the pouches I had ready to lace up yesterday. Quivers in pieces with lots of holes punched. Beer gut re-build stalled for no apparent reason.

I did mark the guide-lines for lacing on a batch of soft pouch parts last night. And an order of nothing very interesting in the way of hardware arrived yesterday. Tonight I really need to do a couple tweaks to the techie-themed MuseCon poster.

So far the highlight of the week has been receiving my Swedish book having something to do with leather, which I ordered a week or so ago from an ABE seller in Arizona or New Mexico.

The title, as helpfully stated on the title page, translates as "There's Nothing Like Leather".  The book is from 1944, which astute readers may note is at the end of WWII. There's a couple pictures of what appears to be a field radio backpack case, but nothing else that might deal with the war. I'm assuming that's because claimed neutrality and sorta-kinda succeeded in keeping out of the war.

Here's the link for the helpful Wikipedia overview, which I resorted to myself:

Getting back to the book: No, I don't speak or read Swedish, although my paternal grandfather's side of the family are Finn/Swedes (if we're Finns or Swedes depends on which of sibling you asked).

I do, however, have a have some rusty knowledge of German, left over from two years of it in high school, and translating captions from a book about blacksmithing a few years ago.

Fortunately, as I learned from the always-helpful Wikipedia, Swedish is a North Germanic Language, so it's not completely different from the West Germanic German (English, meanwhile, is also a West Germanic language). The Wikipedia article on Swedish language says "Swedish being a Germanic language, the syntax shows similarities to both English and German. Like English, Swedish has a subject–verb–object basic word order, but like German, it utilizes verb-second word order in main clauses" and then goes off into minutia about different types of clauses and phrases, the definitions of which I let leak out of my ears just as soon as I got out of the English classes where my grade depended on them. And I also can't diagram a sentence to save my life, thankyouverymuch.

So, what I'm getting around to is that hopefully with the help of the Swedish-to-English dictionary I ordered and should find waiting for me at home, and an iWhatsit app to access an on-line Swedish-English dictionary, I should be able to make heads and tails of what this book is about.

The ABE description included the subtitle, from which I had thought the book would be about saddlemaking. Looking at the pictures, however, I suspect that it's more likely a history of this company:

At lunch today, with heavy use of said app, I plowed my way through the subtitle ("A book for all friends of the noble art of saddlemaking" or maybe "leatherworking", the exact word there wasn't available), and most of the dedication, which is to the founder of the company, from his sons.

Hopefully the more I try the easier it will get.