Wednesday, February 8, 2023

 Work on The Project, the whole Project, and nothing but the Project....

Sounds great, doesn't it? But it doesn't always work that way as I have proved to myself more than once.

A big project like a sail can demand some significant real estate. In 'traditional' modern sailmaking (!!), an outline of the sail is laid out on a clean, smooth floor with enough extra space to walk around. Panels of cloth are laid out, with appropriate markings for seams and the like. Then panels are taped together and the thing is sewn, in whole or in parts. And sewing itself  demands a different space, either floor or table space, typically twice as long as the longest seam of the sail. This is often manageable, but it takes both planning and cooperation from the members of your family. Whoops--unexpected guests. Project must go into hiding.

Even with the space negotiated there can be hiccups. Some necessary component hasn't arrived or you received the wrong thing. It happens. Your sewing machine balks. A sail project that drags on can create big family issues or fester uncompleted for a very long time. While the unexpected can always occur, it IS possible to plan so carefully that most problems are precluded. 

Preliminary layout of a sail on a cottage floor. I have carted furniture outside, have a tarp handy in case of rain. This sail occupies about 144 sq ft.

Here is that sail again. It is an experimental rig combining the features of a square rig and a balance lug sail. It worked surprisingly well.

A need for careful planning seems obvious, but haste and determination to get going can bollix many things. Here is an outline of a process:

Building a sail:

1. Visualize every step of the project, including its sequence.

2. Identify spaces and the times they will be available (this may involve going somewhere away from home to find space.)

3. Make a detailed list of materials and tools needed and get them ordered.

4. Practice sewing with the material you have chosen. Get your machine performing well.

5. Make a detailed list of every part of the plan, including checkoffs for every step. I use a yellow pad.

6. When all materials and tools are in hand, place them where they will be handy.

7. Get started, checking off steps as you go.

Here is a similar sequence for a boat cover:

1. Work out the design for the cover. There are several good published sources on designs.

2. Get materials and tools, including sewing machine, in hand.

3. Figure out where you will measure and lay out the panels for the cover (hint: panels that go from side to side are often easier than ones that run the length of the boat.)

4. Decide where you will sew the cover. If clean space is available it is convenient to sew right beside the boat, but that may not work out. You may have to tape, staple, and clamp sections of the the cover and then take them elsewhere to the machine. (Inconvenient but often necessary.)

5. Again, make a detailed checklist of steps and all other items.

6. Cross your fingers and get started.

Sequencing big projects is VERY important.

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