Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, January 04, 2010

Pavillion Progress


A few months ago we decided to undertake the project to sew a medieval pavillion for taking to SCA events. Actually, we expressed an interest in having a pavillion since our current excuse for a camping tent is just our 10x10 booth tent and it leaves a lot to be desired as a structure to actually live in. Rossilin, too, was interested, because her current pavillion, which I've pictured before:

At Estrella War, 2008

is 10 years old and is more than starting to show it's wear. Particularly it's way of not actually stopping the rain, but rather just converting it to a fine mist that permeates the tent.

Rossilin, being the 'yes we can' type, suggested we sew a pair of them together, and we, being the same type, enthusiastically agreed. So we started laying out the pattern -- during which we calculated more geometry than I think I've used since my Geometry class in high school. Our main criteria is that our new camping bed had to fit inside the tent -- which has a single center pole for support. Given that the sides are mostly cylindrical, and yet do slope in somewhat, figuring out what the footprint size needed to be was an interesting brain teaser.

We settled on a 14' diameter base, she's making a 18' base. Knowing that the canvas comes in 60" widths, and that it is most efficient to be able to layout 6 roof segments across that, we had to determine how many segments the roof would take if the straight side was just under 20" each.

Layout of 6 roof triangles, across a 60" width canvas.

For us that comes to 22 segments, 28 for Rossilin's. Then laying out how many roof and wall segments we need we decided that a 100 yard roll of canvas would suffice. Rossilin ordered this and had it delivered to her house. Which was a much better plan than what we considered - which was to have it delivered to our ranch in order to get a business-to-business shipping discount. But as none of us could actually lift the thing, us NOT having to cart it over to Rossilin's was well worth the extra $10 shipping! Rossilin also arranged to borrow an industrial sewing machine, which we did help cart to her house.

So, for the past couple of months we've been spending hours and hours over at Rossilin's house, and it was seeming like a never ending task. Seriously. It took 8 hours to cut out all the roof and wall pieces, spread over 3 days. This was unfortunately back breaking work as we were working on the floor - and we pretty much did Dave in the first day. We revamped our process the next two nights and had him spending much less time on the floor which helped.

Yes, we had several misstarts with the angles. Always easier to re-mark, than recut was our motto!

Finally we were ready to start sewing! Only, Dave informed me as we drove over that evening after work, that Rossilin had called him to say she'd fired up the machine and managed to get it jammed... It was not sewing. GRRR. We got there, and poked around, but it was clear 3 of us were at least 1 too many pokers, so I set about organizing canvas. Pretty soon Rossilin joined me, and asked -- is Dave mechanically inclined? *SNERK* Yeah, I said, he knows something about what he's doing. He really is the most mechanically inclined person I've ever met. Sure enough, 20 minutes later he had the panel on the OTHER side of the machine open and had identified the issue -- and fixed it. What ever it was. I tend to leave such details to him.

And, we were off sewing!

And.. ripping out seams. And fighting with the tension control of the thread. And, in the end, fighting even with the spools that the thread came on. It was an evening of utter frustration. 3 hours later -- we had 2 whole seams to show for it.

One of the main issues turned out to be the thread spools. They were so poorly manufactured, that they had a ton of rough spots on them, catching the thread regularly -- which seemed to be the cause of most if not all our tensioning issues. Dave arranged for us to get a giant cone of thread -- which is probably 10 times what we really need, but does seem to have addressed that particular issue. The second night we sewed we added 6 more panels to the 3 we had attached. 9 down, 11 more to go on our roof alone.

Finally, yesterday we got over to sew again -- having taken a long break over the holidays. Our session didn't start so great, given the fact we couldn't remember which way we were adding panels before and thus added another in the opposite orienatation before we figured out it needed to be ripped out. However - once that hour of messing around was over - boy did things start taking off. After 4 hours we had joined ALL of the roof pieces, and had gotten 5 pairs of wall pieces together.

One significant improvement in our process was to work on joining pairs of panels first. It is definitely easier putting just two panels together at a time -- and even though adding a double panel onto the constructed roof is harder than adding a single panel, at least half of the new seams were easy ones, and therefore straighter and better sewn.

We have a roof! (almost)

So we press on. We have the machine only until the owner wants it back at the end of January. Which is fine, since we both want to use our pavillions at Estrella War this year, which is early February. So keep your fingers crossed for us!



Blogger Spike said...





*grin* My fingers are crossed for you and Rosslin!!!

Best of luck!

1/4/10, 1:41 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

LOL Spike! Our thoughts exactly at times so far.

1/4/10, 2:01 PM  
Blogger C├ęcile said...

Wow! That is ahuge project. Kudos to you for tryilng. It looks like you have made good progress. I hope the rest goes at least as well.

1/4/10, 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Caroline said...

Fingers crossed for you! Reminds me of my old job at a hang glider factory, sewing on industrial sewing machines for 50 hours a week. Only sewed through my finger once -- doh!

1/4/10, 9:52 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Hi Ceci, Yep, it's a big job. I hope we feel accomplished when we're done. :-D

Caroline - I've never heard of this hang glider factory job... how fascinating! But yeah, constant sewing is really hard on your back and arms.

1/5/10, 8:23 AM  
Blogger William said...

It's great you're documenting the progress like this. You'll look back at these pictures in a few years and have some good memories (and be laughing, hopefully). I'm sure the tent will be awesome, and I hope it travels to a lot of places!

1/10/10, 12:08 PM  

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