The Telescope Caddy: Part 2

Welcome to my project-in-progress.  Last time, we discussed the project concept and the overall plan for the telescope caddy.  In this segment, we start putting the plan into action.

The Pattern

To create an overall pattern for the caddy, I taped artists tracing paper (the same stuff I use to trace patterns) to the side of the telescope.  Using a graphite sketch crayon from the art store, I traced an impression of the outer edge of the telescope’s base. Then I cut it to size with rotary cutter and scissors. (You can click or tap on the photos for a larger view).

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The Pocket Samples

I decided to use the “simple” method of creating a bellows cargo pocket from Threads magazine.  I’ll spend my time doing fancy sewing on some other project.

I have three eyepieces I use for 99% of my observing.

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I measured the largest diameter of each and drew a pocket pattern for each eyepiece following the instructions in the Threads article.

Because the eyepieces are round, the width and depth of the pockets are identical and so the pockets will have square openings.  I added anywhere from 1/4 to 3/8 inch to the actual measured diameter because I was concerned the finished pocket could wind up too snug.  I also made the height of each pocket about an inch or so shorter than the height of each eyepiece, to make it easier to grab the eyepiece from the pocket in total darkness.  I added 1/4-inch seam allowances and 1/2 inch for a rolled hem across the pocket opening.

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I constructed the pocket samples using the scraps of denim left over from the sketchbook project. There turned out to be just enough to cut the samples and provide a backing to which the pockets were attached.

I pinned and cut each pocket pattern piece, then pressed the fold lines and top hem. Next, I stitched the bottom seams, inside out, then turned the pockets.

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The instructions had me do a line of edgestitching around the front edge of the pocket, “to prevent puckering.”

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Then I topstitched the pockets onto the backing.

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Finally! Time to try out the pocket samples with the eyepieces.

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My first attempt at pockets turned out to be a failure on multiple fronts.  I’m glad I took the time to do the pocket samples first.

  1. The pocket openings are way too large.  The 3/8 inch ease along each dimension actually adds the square of the value to the size of the pocket, since it adds to both the width and depth of the pocket.  The resulting pockets were way too large for their intended contents.  This was a big surprise to, since while I was stitching the pockets I was worried all the edgestitiching would make them too small.
  2. The pocket openings are not tall enough. Combined with their large size, when I pick up the sample, the eyepieces flop around and fall out.
  3. The combined weight of the eyepieces are heavy – a few pounds. I’m not sure Velcro alone will be enough to hold the caddy on the telescope when it is carrying all three eyepieces.  Either industrial-strength Velcro, or a lot of it, will be required.

I have another idea for solving the attachment issue. It’s a bit of a return to my original concept of hanging the caddy on the side of the telescope.  I’ll tell you more about it – and construct it – in the next installment.

The Walking Foot

Santa Claus brought me a Walking Foot for my sewing machine this past Christmas.  After a short issue with Santa’s returns department, since the foot was not the appropriate model for my machine, I got a proper model sometime after the holidays.  Today, to end my sewing on a happy note I decided to finally give it a try.

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I was pleased with the way it works.  Basically, it provides a set of feed dogs for the top layer of the fabric, as well as the bottom.  This helps keep the fabric from shifting or puckering when sewing pile fabrics like corduroy or velvet, slinky fabrics like satin or chiffon, or for keeping plaids matched when sewing shirts (one of my intended uses).  Quilters also love this tool, as it keeps multiple layers from shifting during the quilting process.

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There’s some limitations to the walking foot.  You can’t run the machine at higher than medium speed while it is attached, and it doesn’t allow you to backstitch.  Although I backstitched a few times while playing around with it, the issue is that the mechanism is powered by the up/down motion of the needle shaft, and goes forward only.  It has no way to tell that you shifted into reverse, and so if you backstitch it works at odds to the forward motion of the foot.  Eventually, my Internet research tells me, it will break.

So no backstitching.  As it turns out, my computerized machine has two variations on the straightstitch and zigzag stitch, which will automatically start and end the seam by stitching a few times in place rather than backstitching.  These stitches are intended for quilters, but “what goes on in quilting, stays in quilting.”

I’m thinking I may want to use it for sewing the oilcloth instead of the Teflon foot, but I haven’t decided yet.

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