The Fortress of Studitude (Plushy Night Light by Steve Hamilton)

The Fortress of Studitude is named after Superman’s “Secret Citadel” up in the Arctic where he would escape from his day to day life as a Superhero (The Fortress of Solitude).  My Fortress of Studitude provides a lighted “reading chamber” attached to a plushy backrest where I can study late into the night without bright light keeping my sleeping wife Jocelyn awake.

The “Fortress” includes a switch which allows you to switch the reading light on, a dimmer to adjust the lighting (providing restful and respiteful mood lighting during the occasional movie viewing “energy reset”), and most importantly the ability to switch on the “disco party light mode” for when you’ve run out of X and you still want to “study like you just don’t care!”

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I started with this plushy black velveteen backrest on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Starting with the Bed, taking it way Beyond!

I created the hoops for the hood out of some plastic strips used for porch screens that Lowe’s had marked down from 3.97 to only 25 cents each (way better than the 9 dollar pieces of steel that I spent about 30 minutes unsuccessfully trying to drill a hole into).

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I used T Bolts to connect the ribs to the wooden dowel I’d cut for support but the pressure exerted by the bent plastic strips caused them to pop out.
Another trip to Home Depot yielded these spiny screw end caps that take a threaded 1/4" bolt.
Another trip to Home Depot yielded these spiny screw end caps that take a threaded 1/4″ bolt.

I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of geometry that would have told me exactly how large to make the panels and also what the arc of the cut fabric should be to get it to make the perfect shroud but I think I was out sick that day and I missed the lesson.  I used one of my plastic ribs to eyeball and trace the arc.

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It's important to maintain a positive attitude despite the slowly budding realization that you've bitten off a sewing project of epic proportions that's far beyond your capabilities.
It’s important to maintain a positive attitude despite the slowly budding realization that you’ve bitten off a sewing project of epic proportions that’s far beyond your capabilities.
I needed sleeves for the ribs to slide into.  These were tricky and made of a slippery fabric that came from Jocelyn's scrap bin.  I finished sewing the first wo panels together and installed the first sleeve around Midnight.  It worked!  The rib slid in with only minor difficulty.
I needed sleeves for the ribs to slide into. These were tricky and made of a slippery fabric that came from Jocelyn’s scrap bin. I finished sewing the first two panels together and completed the first sleeve around Midnight. It worked! The rib slid in with only minor difficulty.

After sewing most of the night I cut the last panel early Monday morning.  I’ve mapped out my circuit with a physical switch and a little laser cut plexiglass panel.  Now it’s time to get started on the electronics.  Yikes!  Running out of time.

 

Although a little bit of "seamstress exposure" can be nice, "Tailor's Crack" is an eyesore that should be avoided at all costs.  My stretch blue Ex Officio boxer briefs hold steady at the hips despite my jeans slipping down a bit.  Close call!
Although a little flash from my seamstress wife can be nice on occasion, “Tailor’s Crack” is an eyesore that should be avoided at all costs. My stretchy blue Ex Officio boxer briefs hold steady at the hips despite my jeans slipping down a bit. Close call!

Worked on the electronics this afternoon and am considering some modifications.  After IDEO class I got back on the textile tip and put the final touches on the infrastructure.  As of 11pm Monday night the base of “The Fortress” is complete.

Jocelyn takes the fortress for a test drive.  There's a bit of a gap at the bottom because I ran out of fabric.  I'm going to add a black "skirt" to fill the gap.
Jocelyn takes the fortress for a test drive. There’s a bit of a gap at the bottom because I ran out of fabric. I’m going to add a black “skirt” to fill the gap.

The last bit was to hand stitch the structure onto the plushy backrest.  I was planning to trim the sides to the length of the curved braces but I actually liked the way the fabric bunched adding to the “Victorianly decadent” feeling overall.

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