Janet Riley

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  • Project 1: Storage Box

    Project 1: Storage BoxProblemCreate storage for the magazines, books, and cat toys that live on the coffee table.ProcessMy pattern is based on the Make It, Love It fabric storage box. An accumulation of small changes turned it into a different pattern.My box is for larger objects. At 12" wide x 18" long x 12" deep, it's about 50% bigger on each dimension than the original pattern. I skipped the handles and label, since it won't be pulled off a shelf (static assets, not dynamic), and replaced the bias tape edging with a generous hem with the overflow fabric.The box design is a lot like wrapping a present. A rectangle of fabric is wrapped around a box shape, sealed on the bottom, and left open at the top. A rectangular insert is added to the bottom for extra support.It was hard to see the overall design with my modifications. Here are supplemental sketches, starting from about halfway through. I made a prototype with a grocery bag before cutting anything.My wrapping paper is 60" long and 18" high, plus a little extra for seams.I drew seam guidelines with a disappearing ink marker. Important tip: ink from old markers disappears quickly. There was a slapstick moment when I sat down to sew and found them gone.The box is assembled inside out. Following the tutorial, slip the outer fabric tube into the inner lining tube, "wrong" sides together and nice sides visible. Add seams at the four corners to create slots for the reinforcements.Sew the bottom edge to make a pocket.As the sides of the pocket are pulled open, the bottom flattens and the corners turn into points.Fold the points down, like you're wrapping a present. Now you have a box shape.Turn the box inside-out so the points are flat along the bottom. The bottom insert will cover them.The recommended plastic reinforcements were too flimsy for a box this size holding magazines. I used corrugated cardboard in the side pockets, and a double layer on the bottom. There was a generous margin left on top, which I folded over into a deep hem.Voilá! RetrospectiveProject post-mortems are a formal opportunity to reflect on what went well and what might be done differently next time. This seems in keeping with the Maker spirit.The paper prototype cleared up a lot of confusion with the directions.Sketch and prototype before buying material. I got away with it this time, but had barely enough scraps to cover the bottom insert.Geometric patterns make it easy to line things up. For a non-sewer, I've got a great arsenal of sewing tools.I listened to a Sandi Metz interview while I worked. A beginner asked how long it would take to get good so she didn't code so slowly. Serendipitously, I was in the midst of lamenting how slowly this project was going. Sandi remarked that the writer was comparing herself to everyone else's speed. I realized that I've never been around another beginner sewer. I've picked up everything from watching my mom, who has been sewing since age 5. I don't have any sense of where I am on the learning curve, beside Not Expert.Sandi also remarked that programmers make mistakes for a living. Once we fix a thing, we move on to break the next. Truth. I worked around all my mistakes, and am happy with the outcome. Picks and Resourcesthe Make It, Love It storage box tutorialSandi Metz interview on Code NewbieJoAnn Fabric has a system for sending coupons to your phone. You can download them in the time it takes the person ahead of you to check out.

  • Summer Project: Ten Makings

    There's always something new to learn in tech, which is both exhilarating and exhausting. Lately the balance has tipped toward overload. Physical projects - real, hands-on projects- have been a good antidote. An evening's effort produces a tangible and lasting result. And however it might be done better, if it Does The Thing then it's a success. Ship it.Andrew issued the Maker Challenge at the beginning of summer. Andrew runs the design lab at a middle school, where he teaches hands-on projects in a variety of disciplines. Beyond problem solving and applying classroom lessons, design projects fuel insight and a sense of agency. The Maker Challenge was perfectly timed. I had several ideas on hand when vacation started. I can't recall when I spent so little time at the keyboard. I came back recharged. The rules include posting what we make. Links will appear below. Stay tuned. PROJECTS1. storage box 2. mini notebook 3. robe 4. The zero-intimidation sketchbook: simple folded booklet 5. Mini notebook: stab stitch binding 6. Mini notebook: coptic binding 7 and 8. Lunch bag noir, versions 1 and 2 9. Shed! 10. An etymology-related programming project - too big for the scope of summer, but I'm well past 40 hours

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