Return to the Ratropolis website. Like us on Facebook.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Seamless Cube Added to Tutorials

Seamless has never been my thing. Not that I don't appreciate the polished, finished look to a completely seamless project, but it just seems kind of pointless when our rats just chew up the lining within days of getting a newly sewn item. So much for polished and finished.

Recently, I made some hammocks for a friend's chinchilla. I learned that chinchillas can only use fleece (not cotton) and that everything must be seamless or they may become impacted. That meant I had to go revisit the instructions for the seamless cube.

The biggest drawback for me was that the design I learned from for the seamless cube requires you to hand cut and hand sew the opening. My hand sewing is atrocious and my hand cut and sewn openings look terrible. I would much rather have visible seams on the inside and nice finished openings on the outside than a sloppy lopsided hand-sewn opening leading to a finished interior.

After studying the design for a while, I finally figured out how to add a single machine sewn opening, as long as I was content with only one doorway. So I worked with that and made a seamless all fleece chinchilla cube.

But for our rats, I need front and back doors. If they don't get a back door, they don't waste any time creating their own, and quite frankly, their openings leave a lot to be desired. What good is a seamless cube with a rat chewed hole for a back door?

I let the issue fester in my mind for a while, every now and then revisiting the design to see if I could wrap my head around a solution. And then it came to me. It was actually pretty simple and obvious once I figured it out, and no one was more surprised than me to figure out that it worked. It made me wonder what took me so long to figure it out. As long as the opening panels were across from each other and not next to each other, and as long as I did certain steps in a specific order, I had solved the problem.

I made a couple seamless cubes in my St Patrick's Day hammock sets and got the method down pretty well (my rats have already done their own interior decorating and ripped out some of the fleece "wallpaper" and "carpeting" I worked to hard to make seamless). It took me a few tries to get my corners aligned properly. I tweaked things that I didn't like and improved my techniques, and I now feel pretty comfortable making seamless cubes. The process is not that hard - it is learning the process and visualizing the steps that is hard.

Of course, once I figure something like this out, the next step for me is sharing what I have learned so the next person doesn't need to struggle with the same issues. This tutorial was the most difficult tutorial I have ever written. As hard as it was to learn how to do a seamless cube, it is much harder to try to explain it in words and pictures once you have learned it. Once you know the method, it is not that much more difficult than a regular cube, but it does involve some non-intuitive ways of manipulating the layers of fabric that are really hard to explain and somehow just as hard to demonstrate with pictures. Given that a cube consists of six identical square panels, it becomes even more difficult to tell exactly what you are looking at in a picture.

View from inside a Seamless Cube
To make the pictures as clear as possible, I labeled every side of the cube with a name and then used a different color fabric with a matching color of fleece for each panel: Front Panel (Yellow), Back Panel (Mint), Left Panel (Pink), Right Panel (Purple), Top Panel (Blue), and Bottom Panel (Green). At least that way you could always tell exactly which cube panel you were looking at from the color. When you are pinning together four layers of fabric from two different panels, it is clear at least which fabric belongs to which panel. In the text, I used these panel names extensively. Unfortunately, the colored fabric I used was a cheap broadcloth, since I bought it specifically to do this tutorial and didn't want to spend the money on good fabric. Broadcloth tends to bunch and gather around the stitching and is not as stiff as woven cotton. Any defects of this nature in the finished product are because of the cheap fabric used and not a flaw in the method.

Despite these efforts, this is a more advanced tutorial. It is not one that I would recommend to a beginner. You have to really want a seamless cube to bother with it. The tutorial includes almost 60 pictures because this is one case where it is best not to lump any two actions into one picture, even if they are simple steps.

It is also a tutorial that you just need to work along with. Because it is so hard to visualize, it will be easier to follow along if you are working as you go. If you are trying to picture everything in your head, it can drive you crazy; but if you have the project in front of you, the next step becomes more obvious, even if the words to describe that steps are confusing.

It is my hope that those who really want a seamless cube tutorial will find this helpful. I will gladly take feedback from anyone who has suggestions that might make the tutorial more clear. I think I have done as much as I can with it on my own and it needs a fresh set of eyes to re-evaluate it.

The tutorial is now a part of the Tutorials for Common Rat Hammocks and Accessories. It is saved as a PDF that can be downloaded to your computer from the page linked above.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I have been trying to figure out how to make a seamless box, but my method left the fleece and cotton separated from each other. This is exactly what I was looking for. You are marvelous!