THE PORTABLE GALLERY
by Rognvaldr Buask and Lady Briony Blaaslagen (mka Ronald E. Holtz and Lori A. Vickers). Mr. Holtz is located in Ansteorra, the Barony is Bjornsborg. Other hobbies are computing, ranching, sailing, and The Association of Old Crows (electronic warfare). His title is Master (OP) and Baron to the Court of Ansteorra.
This article was originally printed in The Compleat Anachronist #26, and is reprinted with the author's very gracious permission. If you have questions regarding this gallery, Ronald Holtz can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org . This gallery would also made a great covered outdoor kitchen area.
Gallery constructed by Rognvaldr Buask, Briony Blaaslagen, and Brianna ap Orion
The tournament of Lions was rapidly approaching when the Baron said, "I think it would be nice if we had a gallery on the list field for the Ladies--why don't you look into that." And he was pointing at me! So began the project to construct such a gallery.
To begin, take plenty of time to decide just exactly what you want. We decided on the following criteria:
With these criteria firmly in mind, now comes the detail of matching available material, labor, and other resources. The very first thing is to determine what cloth size is available. We recommend a durable fabric with at least 50% natural fiber, as it will look more period and the natural fibers will swell in the rain, making the top less water- permeable. We used heavyweight broadcloth, 60" wide, in two colors. If you use 45" wide fabric, you will need four lengthwise strips in order to achieve the same width as three 60"-wide panels.
Only after you know what size fabric is available, and only after you have consulted with the person doing the sewing (I can't sew), are you ready to go through the numbers that will make everying come out right. Look at Figures 1 and 2, a top view and a side view of one end of our pavilion. The key to the whole thing is to determine dimensions "a" and "b". Dimension "w" is determined by the material you use. Consult with the seamstress to find how much of the material will disappear in seams. In our case, one inch on each edge went into seams or hems. The resulting "w" was then 3x58" , or 14'6". Dimension "b" was simple, b=w/2, or 7'3". Dimension "a" and the height of the peak above the eave, "h", are related as follows:
You know "w", so simply specify "a" or "h" and calculate the other. In our case, we specified "a" as 6", so "h" turned out to be 2'7 3/4 inches.
Referring once again to Figure 1, that shaded area between the peak and the corner will be sewn up in a dart. No diagonal cutting or trying to match up and sew are required.
Now look at Figure 3. The heavy lines represent reinforcing tape . There is a grommet through the material every place where these tapes meet; that's where the poles go. The "x"'s are stakes, and the dashed lines are the guy ropes. To some, this may seem like overkill, but remember that thunderstorm I spoke of earlier? This arrangment will survive.
Construction of the Cloth Top
After calculating the overall size of the pavilion, select the type of fabric you will use. Our pavilion was sewn in three strips (the strip running lengthwise) and with 1" to 1-1/2" seam allowances and edge hems, this will give a flat width of about 14-1/2'. (Remember, the darts that form the peaks will subtract further from both width and length.) In any case, purchase fabric according to your desired length of pavilion, remembering hems and darts and how many panels you need across the width of the top. We decided on a length of about 20' for our gallery. We purchased 15 yards of 60'-wide heavy blue broadcloth. In addition, since we wished to give it the look of a gallery, we decided to put a panel running the 20' length of the front of the pavilion about 28" high, so we bought an additional 3-1/2 yards of the blue, which would be cut in half lengthwise along the fold, to make two 10' x 30' sections. Next, get notions: matching thread and reinforcing tape. The reinforcing tape I recommend is available at upholstery shops. It is a white, woven, synthetic tape about 2" wide and 1/4" thick. DO NOT TRY TO USE SEAT BELT MATERIAL IF YOU ARE SEWING ON A CONVENTIONAL MACHINE (Mira's note--Ronald told me NOT use seatbelt material for this. I won't tell you what nickname this pavilion got when it was sewn, but I believe it was because his advice was a voice of experience). It can be done, but it is a real pain. See the diagram for calculating how much tape to get.
SEWING--First, cut each strip to its proper unfinished length. If your pavilion will have a seam running along the center of the length (even number of strips) sew the center panels together, using a blue jean seam (see Figure 4). If your center top is in the middle of a panel (odd number of strips), mark the center along the length of that panel (or use the natural fold in the fabric). Sew a section of reinforcing tape down this center seam or line from one end to the other lengthwise. (You can also wait and do all the tape last, but this way you will avoid having to stuff large bulks of fabric through the inside right of your machine. Of course, I did not think of this until after I had done it the hard way.)
Next, sew all the panels together lengthwise, using the blue jean-type seam (see Figure 4). Now you have a flat top with unfinished edges. Mark the points of the two top center poles. From each corner, measure and mark the width of the darts (see above for how to calculate). Using tailor's chalk, draw the dart lines form each edge to the center top holes, with each dart point ending just at the edge of the reinforcing tape. Sew the darts. Press the darts flat, centering the seam line and pressing half the dart to each side of it. Topstitch 1/4" in from the pressed edges of each dart. This will make the pavilion sturdier. Turn under and stitch each edge of the perimeter that is now selvage. Turn edges under 1/2" to 1" and stitch all the way around the perimeter, up the center of each dart, across the width where the center top and interior edge poles will fit, and along the center top length (if you did not already). (See diagram for pictorial of reinforcing tape lines). Set a large grommet for the poles in each place the reinforcing tapes cross. This completes the top of the pavilion.
If you wish to make a front piece as with a gallery, take 3-1/2 yards of fabric cited above (or whatever amount will serve the needs of the pavilion length) and cut it in half along the center length (fold) to make two 10'4-1/2" x 30" sections. Sew two ends together with a 5/8" seam, then finish it with a shirt-tail hem all the way around, for a 20' x 28" panel. This can be tacked or tied to the front poles. Or, cut into two sections: one which sits between a corner pole and the closest interior pole, and the other which sits from the same interior pole to the other corner. Finish the edges. Then, you can open up the section between the two front interior poles to make a doorway when desired.
Just a short note about the poles: Ours were made form 1-1/4" pine dowel rod. When deciding the pole height, consider who is to use the pavilion. One of our lovely ladies is six feet tall, so our poles are seven feet long. The poles are fabricated so you can't put them together wrong. The poles consist of a three foot section with an electricial conduit sleeve (one foot long) on one end, and a lag screw in the other. The larg screw was turned into the wood to cover the threads, and then the head was ground off to fit through the grommet into the cloth. The lower section is four feet long. The remaining pole sections (two required) are 2'7-3/4" long, with a sleeve on one end. These are for the interior of the pavilion, to hold the peak up. If you tell someone how to assemble the poles, and that the metal sleeves do not touch the ground, it can't be done wrong. Here, again this pole size may seem excessive, but it has withstood that Texas thunderstorm I spoke of earlier. Also, make sure the guy ropes are strong enough to hold it all up. Remember that hemp rope will shrink when it gets wet and may pull the stakes out of the ground, or even rip the top asunder.
So, that is our pavilion. It is a year old, has not developed any material failures and has served its intended purposed with ease. It has traveled well, is set up easily, and provided an attractive addition to a list field, campsite, or what have you. Give it a try--you'll like it!
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