Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nearly Complete Gores & Cutting the Parachute

This week was a fantastic week working on the balloon. I have been able to sew panels the last three days in a row! After having to tweak the tension on our double needle machine, I managed to crank out the remainder of my #3 panels. Unfortunately, I don't have my balloon diagram available at the moment so I cant use the color chart to show how far along I am. Once I get access to my computer again, Ill be sure to post the color chart.

After many seam folds, I have finished sewing together my #1&2 panels (32 of them) and my completed the remainder of my #3-4-5 panels (32 of them). All that is left is to combine my 1-2 panels to the 3-4-5 panels to create my 32 half gores! Next will be the tedious task of sewing the 32 half gores (left and right panels) into 16 gores. I am hoping to have this completed by tomorrow afternoon. More importantly, I will have finished cleaning the remainder of my load tapes and I can start sewing gore panels together.

Today while I was sewing together the balloon and recording the process via webcam my boss began creating a pattern for my parachute. This includes the custom artwork of an inlaid cherry in the center spot (not easy). I can already tell the parachute is going to come out looking fantastic. The color choices and attention to detail are phenomenal. Since I was unable to record myself sewing and her working on the parachute at the same time I had her sister (Debbie) take a lot of pictures for me. Here are just a few of the 40+ pictures she took....

Gayle cutting the center spot for the parachute
 Me calculating yardage
 A few more calculations...
 Discussing seam allowances
 More discussions....
 Creating patterns for the parachute
 Double checking measurements
 Picture of my 3-4-5 panel
 Creating our pattern sheet for the pie parachute
 Match marks and labels
 Cutting out the cherry & leaf
 Marking seam allowances
 This is what the cherry will look like!
 Sewing together parts of the cherry
 Gayle stitching together some of the artwork
 Figuring out how to make two dimensional artwork have depth
 Choosing the fabric color for the leaf
 Ironing out some wrinkles....
 Partially done with the artwork
 More stitching!
 Me separating my panels to sew together
 Laying out the leaf!
 Ariel shot of the center spot
 Getting closer
 Putting the veins on the leaf

I will finish some more sewing tomorrow BUT I will be unable to post an update till July 10th. So expect another update around July 12th!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Parachute Design & First "Problem" of the Build

This post will be short and sweet.
Progress: Almost completed sewing the #3 panel to the 4-5 panels.

I ran into a little problem with panels not fitting together properly. The old saying "Measure twice, cut once" has struck another victim. All of the tops of my panel #3's are nearly an inch too long. Luckily I was able to remeasure and trim the panels, but it took a long time to drag them out and fix 32 of them... live and learn...

On a better note, I now have a design for my parachute! My boss has been one of the biggest influences in my life. She got me into ballooning at 15 years old, taught me everything about repairing balloons and became more of a mother than my employer. I gave her free reign to design the parachute as long as it incorporated a single large cherry (My wonderful girlfriends last name is Cherry) somewhere on it. Well...she finally got around to sketching a few options for me and this is what I chose...

The colors will tie in the diamonds on the diamonds beautifully. I don't think the hand drawing or the Microsoft Paint drawing do the design justice. The cherry will be fully inlaid into the fabric so that the cherry will be visible from inside and outside the balloon.

That's it for now! More pics will be posted as soon as I finish sewing the 3,4&5 panels.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Load Tapes and Titanium Needles!

Over the last few weeks the process of building the envelope has been focused around destroying another balloon. I'm sure most of you are thinking "What does destroying another balloon have to do with building yours?" Well, I decided to use load-tapes from another balloon. I have tested them to twice the load strength of the previous webbing I was going to purchase and there is little difference in weight. So, after many many MANY hours of pulling and cutting fabric off the webbing...I ended up with this pile inside my garage.

I am happy to reuse the webbing and I am even happier to save the extra money, but if you have ever cleaned load tapes you know how tedious and repetitive it is. At a rate of 1 load tape length per hour, it is slow going but the end result is pretty rewarding!
Although most of my time has been invested into salvaging the load tapes, I have managed to get some more sewing done. With the majority of my diamonds completed, I decided to start to assemble my #4 and #5 panels so I can prep the stickmen which will be placed on the seam between the two panels. I am not using a seam folder for two reasons: 1) The seams I am sewing are short lengths and it wouldnt save me much time and 2) I only have a 3/8 seam folder and my seams are going to be larger. So until I invest in a larger seam folder...Ill do it the hard way. 

On a side note, we (California Ballooning Services Inc.) stumbled upon an interesting solution to shredding/breaking thread due to excessive heat on the needles OR from sewing through multiple layers at once. Our sewing machine genius, Jose, brought us a few packs of Titanium needles for our double needle machines! The Titanium is on the left, regular one is on the right. Aren't they pretty?

The great thing about these needles is that they stay much cooler which prevents thread shredding from friction and they DON'T FLEX! Not many of you will ever have an issue with flexing needles, but if you can drive you crazy. Flexing needles can cause looping of the bobbin, broken needles and throw off the timing of your machine. The titanium needles are really the way to go in my opinion.

Ok, so back on topic! I have managed to all of my diamonds together (Panel 3) and finish sewing panels 4 and 5 together. With the new needles I can really blast through sewing these things together with no thread issues! (Besides changing out bobbins of course). The only thing slowing me down is limited floor space at the shop. We have a 210 and a 250 on the floor. Take a look at the chaos:
Even with maneuvering around the other balloons, I have still managed to make a pretty pile of my own.

As usual, I have been recording every working moment to document and create a time lapse video. Although it will pay off in the end, it takes a LOT of effort to start/stop the video when I take a break or start up again. It also takes a bit of time to edit the footage to make an interesting video that isn't 20 minutes of boring footage. 

My goals for the next week is to attach the stick-men to the 4&5 panels, and start to assemble panels 1-3 to panels four and 5. Once that is finished I can start assembling the gores together. That's about it for now...tune back in soon for more pictures and a color diagram of my top cap design!