Very nearly four years ago I had a vision of a totally DIY chess set. In the year 2000 I designed a bag for holding chess pieces – that could be turned inside out and used as a chess board itself. I filled the bag with some cheap1 plastic chess pieces… and then lost it after we moved in 2006.
Fast forward nine years after I made this bag to the year 2009 when I bought my very first 3D printer – my trusty MakerBot Cupcake CNC #465, “Bender.” In preparation for Botacon 0 in the winter of 2010, I was furiously dialing in my printer to create a set of non-black chess pieces so that I could bring a full set of printed chess pieces to New York. I was able to print the pieces – but I still could not find the chess bag.
Today, I found my chess bag – and I’d love to share it with you. I’m not a tailor and I’ve had no formal training with a sewing machine. When I was in college I wanted a very specific kind of carrying bag – so I made it.2 What I know about sewing I learned from my dad when he showed me the basics of the machine operation and turned me loose on my mom’s sewing machine. In any case, I no longer have the designs for this chess bag, but I’m quite sure a clever person, such as yourself gentle reader, would be able to figure out how to put one together from the pictures you shall find within.
If this is the sort of thing you feel like embarking on building yourself, I have some suggestions:3
- Find the fabric first. I’d recommend canvas for the outside, obviously a simple black and white checkered square for the board itself, and a nice pleasant deep color for the border around the checkered board.
- Get a cool cord. The bag as designed incorporates a pretty nifty looking shiny cord.
- Consider how you’ll put it together carefully. As best as I can recall and piece together from its appearance, this is the rough process I used:
- Prepare the checkered fabric. I remember that I had to find a good piece of the checkered pattern that was more square than other parts. I then ironed it so it would hold it’s shape. Then, cut to size, leaving about 1/2″ all the way around the checkered board.
- Prepare the cool border. The next step I recall is ironing the cool border, then sewing the checkered square to it. I think my border is about an inch thick – maybe an inch and a half.
- Create the bag. I am pretty sure the next thing I did was sewed the border fabric to some of the canvas (but I’m not certain). Once that was done, it looks like I folded the pieces of canvas so that it was trapping the cool red cord, and then I sewed that together. Once I had the two sides individually assembled, I then sewed them with the board-side-out. This had the effect of putting all the seams on the outside edges of the bag, making them visible when the bag was laid out for play. The reason I sewed the bag in this fashion, rather than leaving it so the seams were on the inside of the bag when it was laid out for play, is that it would have caused too much fabric to be inside the bag making it uneven during play.
I simply cannot tell you how happy I am to have united these pieces I printed in 2010 with the bag I made them to be contained within in 2000.
If you and I happen to see one another, and I hope this is soon, please remind me to bring this bag with me and maybe we’ll share a cup of coffee or a beer over a friendly game and a bit of conversation.