Sunday, October 20, 2013

Soft Case Gig Bag for the Clawhammer Banjo (full size)

Years ago I made a guitar case cover to protect a guitar from heat and sunlight during a long summer road trip through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas where the guitar was going to be riding in the back seat.   A musician friend introduced me to a product called "Reflectix" which she uses inside her van windows and roof for insulation and cooling when camping.   It is basically some bubble wrap with mylar surfaces to reflect heat and light.  It comes in various sized rolls at your local hardware center and is quite inexpensive.   I put the newly covered case out in the direct sun and left it for hours.  It did not even warm up inside.

Not that I need much in the way of sun protection with the banjo, it will benefit from some cushioning and insulation,  as well as the banjo gig bag/case being quite light.

The plan initially is to cut out 4 oversized banjo shaped pieces, two to be used per side with some cardboard reinforcement inbetween, all spray glued together.  Side strips will be cut out and both the side strips and the front and back pieces will have denim from some sacificial jeans from St. VDP glued to them on the outside surface, and some flannel from old shirts glued to the inside. 

After the glue is dry I will sew all the edges together using my White's Family Rotary treadle machine, covering the raw edges with cloth adhesive tape which will then get another row of stitching.  A zipper will be centered along the bottom end for a bottom loading case.  Straps and handle will be attached at the end.

For now, here are some pix showing where I got to tonight.

More during tomorrow's session.

21 Oct update

Took the table and stuff outside and sprayed and glued.  The front and back pieces are laminated from two pieces of Reflectix with a banjo head sized piece of cardboard between them.  The denim front and back were then glued on.

I inserted some zipper flys in the ends of the side piece denim to form the end load zipper opening.

Then back to the thrift store for some sacrificial flannel shirts for the inner linings.  Below they have been glued to the other side of the pieces.

Tomorrow I will decide how I am going to assemble it.  So far I have broken 3 leather needles in my treadle machine attempting to sew too thick a spot....

I trimmed the inner reflectix on the top and bottom to 1/2 inch larger than the banjo to make the suturable parts thinner.  Still not going to be able to machine sew it.


Oct 24 - Stapled a side into place and hand stitched with fairly large stitches, and pleased with the overall look.

Outer edges will get trimmed and covered with "athletic adhesive tape" then sewed again either with a running stitch or a spiral whip stitch...

OR....   perhaps there is a cobbler/shoe repairman locally that would be willing to run the taped edge through his sewing machine he uses for sole edges.  I will look into that.

Both sides are on, top is ready to attach..

As soon as my finger stops bleeding...  apparently tried to snip a chunk off the tip...

Not the best thing I could have done a week away from a music camp...

Oct 27 update...

Finger healing well, should be good to go for the camp next weekend.

As the cobbler/shoe repairman wanted $50.00 to sew the edges, (twice what I have in for materials), and that my treadle machine would not feed this thick a "fabric" sandwich I resorted to manual assembly, a task which proved fairly strenuous...

Gig bag top attached with big basting stitches to put shape to it and test fit the banjo.  The edges will be trimmed to about 1/2 inch from stitch line then covered with white tape and sewed again.

I am pleased with the rigidity of the case once all the edges are joined.  

I still need to make a foam/denim/flannel flap for the opening, construct a handle and shoulder straps for backpack carry.

Coming along nicely...

Oct 31 update - - - - - - - - - - -

The flap has a piece of spring steel in the bottom edge to keep it in place behind the zippers when closed.

Instead of white cloth tape for the edges I opted to use black gaffer tape and I think it worked out well. I whip stitched around all edges with denim orange thread, breaking no less that 6 needles in the process.  Each stitch was made by pushing the needle through with a pair of spring open pliers.  Going through tape both gunks up the needle, and dulls it to the point of it breaking once in a while.

Once stitched, back to SVDP for some handle strapping, which matched the case surprisingly well.
I also got a backpack for sacrificial straps for the future.

As for now though, I deem this project not only complete, but functional and fitting with the theme of the instrument safely cushioned within.

Til next time...   stay tuned