Archive for August, 2011

My Photo Studio
August 20th, 2011 | Link

For those who are curious, this is my setup for photographing books and other small items. Our condo has south-facing windows with wide sills, so I tape a sheet of cardstock to the wall, drape it onto a cardboard box, then drape a second sheet of cardstock to the sill. The box raises the book to a level height with the tripod (which is a small, table-top version):

White cardstock is taped to the wall and curves onto a box and then down the front of the box. A book sits on the box. There's a large window on the right, letting in diffused light.

Often the light is diffused nicely by fog in the morning, and very little post-processing work in Photoshop is required — occasionally I need to add a curve layer to lighten things up. But I have a short window of time in which to get set up and shoot before the fog burns off and the sun comes through.

OMG – I Made a Book!
August 18th, 2011 | Link

Cream colored thread sewn in four sets of parallel vertical stitches running most of the height of the book, with a row of horizontal link stitches at the top and bottom.

Maybe some of you despaired that this day would ever come, but fear not: I haven’t given up on bookbinding. It was just a hiatus.

The book is fanned open and shot from the back, showing the spine detail as well as how the bookcloth wraps around and meets the decorative paper on the front.

I had cut out all the pieces for this book (and several others) some time ago — probably near the end of 2009 — and then never assembled them. It was so long ago that I forgot what I had planned to do with each set of pieces, and I’d forgotten some of the processes that used to come naturally. So this book was a big relearning experience.

The sewing is an old standby, the long stitch and link stitch binding from Keith Smith’s Non-Adhesive Bindings Volume 1. This was actually my first oops moment: I drilled the holes, then realized I had meant this to be a photo album with only four sections — the sewing uses two sections per each set of stations. Fortunately I had more Mohawk Bristol Drawing paper and was able to come up with four more sections. So now it’s a sketch book instead of a photo album. Sometimes you just have to roll with things.

The cover paper has large white flowers on an olive background that matches the bookcloth

The final size is 9-1/2″ wide by 7-1/2″ high by 1-1/2″ thick, with 96 pages. The cover is a matte Chiyogami paper from The Paper Place, with Asahi bookcloth on the spine.

Backpack Prototype in Action
August 5th, 2011 | Link

We drove an hour north of San Francisco for a couple of days of hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore. And while we were there, we got live action pictures of the pack!

Side view:

Side view of me wearing a backpack, with the California coast in the background

Back view:

Back view of the fully packed backpack on my back, with a seating pad anchored by horizontal straps

That’s my seating pad in the back there — the sleeping pad is tucked inside the frame of the pack. It’s the same kind of accordion fold foam pad, 20″ wide by 51″ long. The pack probably wouldn’t fit a full-sized (72″) pad — there are 7 folds in this one and it was tight.

After two days, I will say that so far it’s pretty comfortable — we weren’t carrying much weight, but aside from needing to rethread the shoulder straps properly so they can be easily adjusted, there weren’t any major issues. I will probably put in a couple more pockets on the sides for the next one. And, I need to make some kind of wrapper or case for my water bladder — it’s sandwiched between the dry bag and the sleeping pad, and it squeaks as it rubs against the foam pad.

A Backpack Prototype
August 1st, 2011 | Link

Last year I stumbled on a pattern for an ultralight waterproof backpack posted by Jan Rezac from the Czech Republic. The pattern splits the pack into two parts: an outer shell that supports the shoulder straps and hip belt, and a waterproof dry bag that is strapped into the outer shell. The dry bag can be constructed from a very lightweight fabric because it doesn’t have any stress points for straps and it’s protected by the sides of the outer shell, and this allowed Rezac to get his pack weight down to 320 grams, or about 11 ounces. My pack is about 24 ounces and E’s is about 16 ounces, so the idea of an 11 ounce pack was intriguing.

I sent off for a bunch of fabric samples from Seattle Fabrics, and E helped pick the fabrics and other materials needed for the pack, and we ordered them… and then they sat under the chaise in my studio for a year. However, I finally got to the project, and here’s the first prototype:

The front view of a blue and black backpack with mesh pockets on each side. The interior bag is strapped inside the shell by buckled webbing.

Doesn’t look like much without the sleeping pad to give it some structure and with the dry bag all crumpled up inside it like that, but I still think it’s pretty cool. The various pieces are sewn from different fabrics, depending on stress and wear. The bottom is a sturdy 330 denier Cordura — tough and water resistant, for putting it down on the ground. The back is 200 denier coated Oxford — waterproof, and heavy enough to support the stress of the straps and hip belt. The sides and front are waterproof 140 denier ripstop nylon, to protect the inner bag from branches and other wear.

Here’s the back view:

Back view of the backpack, showing details of shoulder straps and hip belt.

The shoulder straps and hip belt are made of 1/4″ foam padding, which I perforated with a 1/4″ hole punch to further reduce the weight (marginally) and to allow it to breathe. There are also strips of grosgrain ribbon sewn to the back where the shoulder straps and hip belt are attached, to support the additional stress at those points. The hip belt is sewn in to the seam where the back and bottom meet, and attached to the lower grosgrain strip with short strips of heavy elastic, to provide support and accommodate the pack’s bouncing as you walk.

The side pockets are made of dive mesh, with a light-weight elastic gathering them into the protective sleeve at the top:

A close up of the blue mesh side pockets, which are gathered into a protective sleeve at the top edge.

The dry bag is made of heat-sealable fabric — the outside has a waterproof coating, and the inside has a heat-sealable coating. I sewed around it with about a 1/2″ seam allowance first, then used an iron to seal the seam allowance and also 1/2″ inside the seam allowance. In theory only the heat sealing is required, but should it fail I wanted to make sure stuff wasn’t going to fall out. The webbing and velcro across the top allow the flap to be folded over a couple of times and then buckled, so it’s waterproof:

A close up view of the top of the dry bag, showing the webbing, buckle and velcro that hold the flap closed.

I’m not totally in love with the dry bag. I had originally purchased some 1.9 ounce silicon coated ripstop, which is much lighter but would require sealing the seams. Then I got a photocopy of the article about the heat-sealed dry bags and thought I’d try that instead. We’ll see how it works. The ripstop was also a light blue, which I suspect would be easier to find in a dark camp site.

The finished weight of our prototype, with dry bag, came to 16 ounces, which is about the same as E’s current lightweight pack (which, unlike this pack, doesn’t have a hip belt). It fits me quite well, and it seemed to adjust all right to E’s height (he’s 6′ 2″, I’m 5′ 6″). We’re going to give it a test run this month.



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


2014: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2013: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2012: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2011: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2010: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2009: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2008: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2007: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2006: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2005: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12