Introduction: Introducing the Fab-brick (a Sew Useful Contest Project)
A multipurpose, hand-sewn, upholstered brick form. Multiples can be configured and reconfigured to furnish the changing needs of day-to-day living. Like Lego but a domestic rather than a universal system.
Wherever I go, I cannot resist picking discarded bricks out of skips. I always do it very casually, not only to do a mental check that I'm bending my knees and not my back, but also to convince those passersby who watch you out of the corners of their eyes that you are in fact doing the opposite of fly-tipping.
The oldest shaped bricks ever found (on the site of a Neolithic settlement in Turkey) have been dated to 7,500 BC; poor students and other technically advanced peoples have been building brick structures ever since.
I stumbled across the Instructables / Etsy SewUseful contest at the latest possible moment and in a desperate bid to win a much coveted Singer sewing machine I wracked my brains and remembered the catalogue of useful things I've made using bricks - draught excluders, wine racks, desks and book cases, candle holders etc, etc So, I knew at once that I would have to sew a honest, utilitarian brick.
See the Fab-brick listing on Etsy
Step 1: Checklist
You will need:
Materials for one brick:
1.40mm (or thereabouts) diameter cardboard tube; a double-walled corrugated cardboard box with two side panels measuring at least 42cm x 29.7cm to make a robust, brick-shaped hollow cardboard form
2. wood glue
3. screw cap spout from a fruit juice carton
4. a pack of yellow dusters, or fabric of your choice
5. recycled textile to pad the hard cardboard form
7. heat-fusible hemming web
8. Silver sand and/or sawdust to weight the brick
1. scalpel or utility knife, scissors
2. steel edged ruler
3. circle cutter
5. pencil & disappearing fabric marker
6. various elastic bands to use as you see fit to hold the cardboard panels in position whilst the glue hardens
Step 2: Measure Twice Cut Once
Though a HUGE fan of Claes Oldenburg's 'Soft Toilet' , I didn't want my fab-brick to turn out like the Muir Glacier (melted) so, I decided to build a thick-walled cardboard form that would be strong enough to be weighted and be able to withstand everyday wear-and-tear. I decided on building a reinforced, panelled construction in which the panels overlap and interlock, further strengthening the form.
Following the dimensioned drawing cut out the panels for the outer shell; then calculating the thickness / guage of the cardboard you are using, measure and cut the panels of the inner shell.
At all times be mindful of where your scalpel / utility knife blade is in relation to your fingers and thumbs - need it be repeated that scalpels are made for the express purpose of incising flesh with the least possible effort.
Step 3: Assembly of the Cardboard Form: Step 1
Assemble the side panels as per the photo: on the vertical axis align each inner panel and corresponding outer panel centrally; on the horizontal axis align a side edge of the panels together.
Step 4: Assembly of the Cardboard Form: Step2
Glue the inner and outer panels of the top and bottom of the the brick together as per the photo: the panels are aligned centrally on both the horizontal and the vertical axis.
Step 5: Assembly of the Cardboard Form: Step3
Glue the three sections of cardboard tube in position as per photo.
Step 6: Assembly of Cardboard Form: Step4
Glue the first two side panels to the base panel as per the photo. The panels interlock at the joint.
Step 7: Assembly of the Cardboard Form: Screwcap Inlet / Outlet for Filling the Hollow Fab-brick
It occurred to me that since the criteria of the contest called for the project to be listed on Etsy and I only had time to make a single brick, I would have to market it as a doorstop or a paperweight or something. If it was purchased it would't be economical nor environmentally sound to ship it weighted with sand. So I salvaged a screwcap spout from a fruit juice container to incorporate as an easy to use inlet / outlet for filling the brick.
Step 8: Assembly of Screwcap Inlet / Outlet: Step1
I discovered that after recessing the spout in the side panel there would not be much clearance to screw the cap on and off. So, I used the spring of a clothes peg as a retractable grip with which to twist the cap.
I threaded the bent ends of the spring through two holes pierced in the cap. I thought that the brick could then be filled with dried pulses or aquarium gravel to weight it, as sand might escape from the holes in the cap. However the thickness of the side panel meant that there would be very little clearance in the cavity between the back of the spout and the cardbord tube wall of the first "hole-
through-the-brick" and that only sand or sawdust would be fine enough to be poured through this gap. I then cut a washer out of a thin sheet of plastic and threaded it onto the bent ends of the peg spring on the inside of the cap - this acts as a barrier to prevent sand from leaking out.
Step 9: Assembly of Screwcap Inlet / Outlet: Step2
Stick the three pices of double-walled corregated cardboard together and line the ragged hole with a section of cardboard tube as per the photo. This provides the depth in the side panel to recess the screwcap spout.
Step 10: Assembly of Screwcap Inlet / Outlet: Step3
Glue the screwcap spout positioned centrally in the hole in the side panel (as per image "front"). Sandwich the final piece of board on the back of the assembly (as per image "back").
Step 11: Assembly of the Cardboard Form: Step 4
Glue in the final two side panels as per the photo.
Step 12: Assembly of the Cardboard Form:final Step
Glue on the top panel as per the photo.
Step 13: Underlay: Step1
Cut out the underlay panels from recycled textile (I used a piece of an old wool blanket and some yellow felt to cover the inlet/outlet panel which will be exposed until the brick is filled and the covering flap sewn or bonded over).
Step 14: Underlay: Step2
Glue on the underlay.
Step 15: Sewing the Fab-brick Cover: Step1
Cut the side panels from the covering fabric. To find the dimensions, measure the final dimensions of the cardboard form AND THEN ADD A SEAM ALLOWANCE OF 1cm TO EACH EDGE.
For the flap to hide the recessed inlet/ outlet I doubled the piece of fabric, hemmed and stiched it's edges and then sewed it into the strip (as per the photo) that will cover the side panels. I turned over and pressed the long edges of the strip.
Step 16: Sewing the Fab-brick Cover Step2
I turned over and pressed the edges of the top and bottom panel covers. I snipped cuts into the seam allowance of the holes and then pressed pack the edges as per the photo.
Step 17: Sewing the Fab-brick Cover: Step3
To find the length of the fabric strip used to line the holes in the brick (the perimeter ) times the diameter of the hole, in millimeters, by pi (3.14), then add a generous 1cm seam allowance to EACH edge. Seam as per the photo.
Step 18: Sewing the Fab-brick Cover: Step4
Position the strip of seamed sides panels over the corresponding panels of the form and bond the cover to the form using an iron and heat fusible hemming strip. Now that the panels are held in position, tack the cover to the form at various places. Stitch all along the "hinge" of the flap down onto the corner edge of the form to attach the cover strip securely at this point. Hem the raw end opposite the flap. Stitch all along this hemmed edge down onto the other corner edge of the form (as per the photo).
Insert the linings of the holes.
Step 19: Sewing the Fab-brick Cover: Final Step
Stitch on the top and bottom panels of the cover. And there you have it, YOU'VE made it another SewUseful Instructable.
Once the brick has been filled with sand the flap can be stiched or bonded or glued over permanently to hide the recessed spout.
You need at least three bricks to make a draught excluder, now you see why a Singer QUANTUM(r) 9940 computerized sewing machine would be more than just appreciated!!!!! Hmm now I've got to figure out how to add this to the Etsy group. Tah Rah. Here's that link to my Etsy listing again