Possibilities [NFCO]

Entroducing the NFCO. Although this bag is certainly a vehicle to freedom, we shall refer to it as simply the NFCO – this change of names was a natural process not dictated by any one person, but rather one bag, or, one set of materials – together. The NFCO was a rapid response to the skunk with minor changes made to the pattern, and some simplification of constructive tactics. The only item which was made more complicated was the interior pocket. None of these alterations to the skunk‘s pattern into the NFCO’s pattern are obvious, but, if you have thoroughly read the script on the skunk then maybe you will pick up on where and why the NFCO is a little different (outside of any outstanding aesthetic changes, i.e. the label on the bottom).

What immediately stood out as a “flaw” on the skunk was that the flap was just so-ever-barely-almost-non-existently too short. To be more precise; in our judgement, the flap on the skunk was one inch too short – a very minor amount – which may or may not be a problem. Either way this spearheaded the idea to follow up with another basic black bag, tweak a few things, and see how the next generation would do. As has been mentioned in the skunk‘s post, it’s final dimensions are 17″ wideX13″ tallX9″ deep with the flap hanging over 12″ over the front panel. Considering that the front panel was 13″ tall, it was a strange thing to re-design the flap (making it slightly shorter), in the case of the NFCO the flaps length matches the height of the front panel (13″). So this is one of the changes to the pattern. The next alteration was to add depth to the base: because we knew that the interior pocket would be quite substantial, the depth of the bag would need a bit extra room to be as functional as desired, typically, once you have stuffed the interior pocket, it expands into the main cargo area. This is something to think about with bags that have the billow pockets on the outside, obviously if the pocket are on the outside and can actually billow outwards, then your interior cargo space will never deceivingly be consumed. So, the depth of the bag was increased from 9″ to 9.5″ – while this may sound insignificant it is not. Two re-patterns were made, one with an increase to 9.5″ and one with an increase to 10″, the one that ended up with 10″ was more depth than desired and made the footprint a bit to square for the bags intended use (although one may argue that the extra room could never be a detriment) if/when keeping the base 17″ wide. Needless to say, the extra 1/4″ on both sides was just enough to make up for the extra interior pocketing, and added about 110 of cubic inches capacity, which is very telling. Now because of the extra depth in the pattern, the ration of the wrap around from the back and front panels had to be adjusted. This was also a slight under-sight of the skunk, on the NFCO one of the destined re-designs was to create more coverage side-to-side by the flap. With the skunk‘s pattern allowing for 6″ from the front panel, and 3″ from the rear, the new NFCO pattern would take that extra half inch and parlay it into the back panel’s wrap, making the flap slightly wider in relation to the front panel (about 1″ overall, because there has been an additional half inch on each side, right) than in the case of the skunk. The last re-tailoring of the pattern was to increase the seam allowance; on the skunk this was 1/4″, which was adequate allowance for the seams in technical terms, but was an 1/8″ shy of what the seams actually were. As in, the seams were all made with a specific type of bias tape, which creates a 3/8″ seam, thus it should have been designed with a 3/8″ seam allowance. What this means is that the skunk is slightly smaller than it was intended to be, actually a 1/4″ less in depth, and width (because it was supposed to have 1/4″ seams, but the bias tape ate up an additional 1/8″). If this is making sense, then it should be obvious that with the seam allowance on the NFCO being 3/8″, not only kept the bag to the intended outer dimensions, but from the skunk it was a virtual gain of 3/4″ in the measurement of the depth, and and a 1/2″ of gain in the width (in terms of the width, this is with no re-design of the pattern, but simply allotting for the proper seam allowance). Maybe this is getting tedious, and boring, but it was a small achievement that made a tremendous difference. To re-cap, the NFCO pattern was altered in the following ways (contrasting from the skunk pattern): seam allowance was adjusted from 1/4″ to 3/8″, the depth of the bag was increased from 9″ to 9.5″ – thus the flap is a little wider (more coverage) as a result from the excess material to become the sides of the bag, and lastly the flap’s length (hangover) was increased by one inch, making it 13″ long to match the front panel height*.

On the other side of things, a few aesthetic/hardware choices were altered too**. These of course are more visibly obvious. One small adjustment was in the use of Velcro along the front panel: on the skunk there were four strips of 1.5″ Velcro that were placed along this span to equally divide themselves across the front (the only exception was that the two outer strips were slightly shorter to follow the contour of the flap. However, on the NFCO, there are effectively only 3 strips of the 1.5″ Velcro, with two smaller 1″ Velcro strips just outside of the main three. These two smaller strips do two things, one – they add a little extra harnessing power (duh), and two – they serve an aesthetic function which serves a sewing function (form actually meets function here). What we mean is that, the Velcro has a lot to do with the stow-away place for the flap straps. Let’s go back for another moment: on the skunk two female side of side-release buckles were stitched in along the top seam of the front panel to keep the straps for the flap tucked away when not in use. Although, there is a major flaw with this feature – it wastes 50% of in-stock side-release buckles (i.e. when all is said and done at the end of the day, you are left with a hole bunch of [mostly] useless side-release buckles, all of which are missing their very necessary other half). With the NFCO, this was not an option (those buckles are too expensive to waste like that). What was devised is quite simple, sew in a small section of webbing to string the buckle from the straps (for the fastening the flap) through – with the remainder of the actual webbing from the strap also through, the half-buckles will never slip through unless aided by hand. So, the two outer strips of 1″ Velcro act as a place to tuck one end of the webbing under, the other end of this webbing being tucked under the 1.5″ Velcro. This little piece of webbing (which is parallel to the top seam of the front panel and has the top-edge of the webbing piece about 2″ down from the top-edge of the front panel) could be sewn on freely too of course, but this use of the Velcro as housing for the two ends just landed in our laps and provided a clean look. Another difference, would be the interior pocket. This was taken very seriously and in the end probably overbuilt – the reason for this being that because the interior pocket was constructed from 200 denier coated Oxford nylon, the pocket system called out to be lined. The lining of course was to protect the coated side of the nylon, which in some cases, after years of use, can begin to break down and peel away. Instead of lining the pocket (and individual pocket sections) with a lightweight nylon or other similar material, a somewhat more unique fabric was chosen. Of course, with all the Dow Weathermate lying around, it would have been economical to go that route, but Dow Weathermate tends to add bulk, and with the interior pocket being so complicated and cavernous, it was clear that keeping the bulk down would be best. So, what is the next best thing for lightweight, thinness, and economy? Obviously Dow Weathermates competitor – Tyvek. Tyvek would be very light, very thin, and perfectly suited for such a task. As construction began on the interior pocket it kept growing and taking on more and more little pocket, a zipper, and multiple Velcro lashing points. The end result was a very segmented and boisterous pocket, their sizes ranging from large enough to hold 11″X17″ flat files, to a specific pocket for a spare tube, and a specific pocket for a mini-pump. Needless to say, it’s an extensive interior pocket, one that is possibly attempting too much at once. But because the NFCO is sans exterior pockets (proper) it made sense to be able to compartmentalize your belongings in as many configurations as you want. Going on, the NFCO shares the same mid-pocket that the skunk has, which is a main player in this “simple” system: it has proven to be quite useful, and especially suited for quick cramming of U-Locks. After that, the last addition, is more of an aesthetic addition. Entroducing the NFCO reflective stamp. This is simply reflective material positioned in the Luggage typeface, it provides visibility at night and is meant to be somewhere between a word and an acronym, it means Needlefeed & Company. The following images, illustrate NFCO’s inception.

Wrap up. The NFCO is an all around classic bag, no real frills – just a sensible design. The main strap (of course this bag has no “cross” strap as those are not needed) uses the trusty Nexus ITW Eccentric cam buckle, and the dive belt webbing protruding through the buckle is free to flap in the wind (the end of which was just barely tacked back to keep it from slipping unexpectedly through the cam buckle in the opposite direction that one would desire). This system is not only tried and true, but, on the first ride out – very comfortable. Perhaps this comfort comes from the carefully planned size, perhaps not. We’ll never know. Either way – two thumbs up for the NFCO: a basic black, organized bag, suited to the user looking for a vehicle to freedom.

*Extending the dialogue around the flap, drawing from notes well after the bag was built and well after this post was originally “published” – it seems that there is still trouble with the width-ratio. While this was partly addressed in the post for the skunk, it should be restated here too. The width of the flap is tricky to designate, On the NFCO it is slightly too wide. Not too wide for the bag, but too wide to fit between the sewn anchor-points of the main strap. So while keeping in mind that the aspects of the bag’s overall width determine the width of the bag’s flap, it can only do so with consideration of the distance between the sewn anchor-points of the main strap. If it were chosen to be wider to completely cover the front of the bag, it is going to bunch up between the main straps anchors (which create a barrier the flap will not be able to move past). Perhaps the easiest way to think of this, is, the flap will only sit flat against the front of the bag if it is comfortably more narrow than the distance “X” between the sewn edges of the main strap (which face the front of the bag), of course the flap can be any width, but if you want it to sit flat…

**Something that remained the same between this bag and the skunk, which was only slightly mentioned in the skunk‘s posting is that it was made with a 1000 denier Cordura exterior and 18 ounce vinyl coated polyester lining. The strength to weight ratio of the 1000 denier was exactly the right fit: even considering that the bottom boot would not be used – this bag was not intended to be overly heavy. The 18 ounce VCP lining was a perfect fit too, although if there ever becomes a 16 ounce VCP, that may be an alteration for the future – this would keep the exterior and interior more closely matched (which is probably only a philosophical thought about cohesion and the bag being more of a singular unit than an amalgamation of materials – although amalgamations of materials is exactly what makes this crazy world interesting)

1 Comment so far

  1. BROTHER DB2-B791-015 » Click Clack February 5th, 2009 1:05 pm

    […] Brother DB2-B791-015 was having some maintenance issues while finishing up the skunk and the NFCO. Or at least it was making some noise while the stitching for the main strap(s) were being sewn in. […]