Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The joys of PVC

I've had a lot of fun over the last couple of days drawing logos and printing labels, but tonight I fought a terrible battle against some PVC - just one new fight in a long struggle that basically has me losing against a sadistic plastic enemy.

My zipper pouches - can you spot the shiny enemy?
First, some background - one of my favourite things to make are little zipper pouches in bright prints that you can use for pretty much anything (I currently employ one as a makeup case, one as my camera case and keep one for jewellery when travelling). I realised fairly early on that I could make them spill-proof by sewing a plastic outer layer onto them, so I tottered off to my craft store to see what I could find. They had some awesome PVC sheets - the type your grandparents keep on their dining table to protect the tablecloth - so I brought some home. 

It took a lot of effort the first night. There were lots of things I didn't realise the PVC would do and lots of different ways I didn't realise it would react to my machine (like stick to it!). But after some fighting I finally figured out the best way of sewing it into the pouches. While they're more difficult to make than the non-plastic coated ones, they look lovely and really are spill-proof. And when I went back to buy a second batch the sales lady was extremely helpful and put it on a big roll for me so I could store it without it getting crinkled. Not the easiest thing to carry home, but effective none the less. So I thought I had won the war - until tonight.

The dreaded PVC roll
My state of mind after fighting with it all night

My friend asked me to make a pouch with the plastic on the inside, to protect against any makeup that might spill from within. Innocently enough, I said yes, thinking it couldn't be much worse than the normal ones, and went to work. I'm not very quick at making them yet - usually one will take me half an hour or so - but I ended up working on this for close to two and a half hours all up.

It just wouldn't work! Seeing as the plastic was getting pushed inside the pouch instead of just sitting outside like usual, trying to line up the amount of slack in the plastic versus the amount of give in the material was a nightmare. Also, the lining starts off as being inside-out and gets flipped around, and all the pushing and pulling put a bit too much strain on the plastic and it split slightly. Needing to fix the hole, coupled with the fact that the PVC just refuses to go through my machine when I try to sew it without any material between it and the needle, meant I had to finish the bag off by hand. Being more of a knitter than a sewer my stitching is somewhat wonky. Luckily it was just for the inside! I was also lucky in that I had some really sharp hand needles that pierced the plastic fairly easily. My fingers are still feeling rather sore and well-pricked though.

I actually really like the final product. It's very durable-feeling, and it won't get dirty on the inside (which my makeup case is starting to do). I sort of want one for myself now but the idea of making another one is sending my brain into a spin, so it may just have to forever remain as a painful but successful one-of a kind experiment.

The finished product
The pretty, evil interior

If you want to make your own plastic pieces and I haven't scared you off it entirely, hang around for the next post and I'll write up some tips for trying to work with it.

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