The bike transportation bag project is advancing. The wonderful Shuttle fabric shop in Shipley had just the ripstop fabric I needed – nylon (stronger than polyester), black and wider than the usual 150cm. It was the only ripstop nylon they had in the shop and, as luck would have it, it was exactly what I was looking for. I felt especially lucky to have found fabric wide enough to wrap around a bike, thereby avoiding a seam along the bottom of the bag which would have been a weak point.
I couldn’t find any nylon or polypropylene webbing of the right width and weight for the straps locally and had to resort to eBay for that. I went for red rather than black to liven the bag up a bit. While I was at it, I ordered 1” wide black hook-and-loop fastener tape too, and the combined order came to less than the price I would have had to pay for the fastener alone in a local haberdashers. I do try to support local shops when sourcing craft supplies, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.
I’m still concerned that the seams of this bag will be liable to tearing, because of the needle holes. I’m trying to minimise that risk by using a longish stitch (about 2.75mm) and a very slight zig-zag (0.5mm width) which should also allow a little stretching without the thread snapping. But I thought I’d look into the alternatives and did some research on the web into bonding seams instead of stitching them. Plenty of people have tried it, as a DIY option, usually because they are wanting to make a completely waterproof garment, or even a boat. One website I found suggested that fusible hemming tape could be used, and to my surprise I found that it does quite a good job. Here’s my first attempt.
I put a sheet of Teflon over the nylon-Wundaweb-nylon layer before I ironed it – don’t tell my dear husband what his pizza-baking sheet has been used for – but I still managed to melt the fabric at one end of the lapped seam. I’ll have to do some proper experiments to find out what the best temperature-time combination is if I go ahead with this, but the seam has stuck pretty well. It can be peeled apart but not pulled apart, ie it’s not great in shear but has good tensile strength. This has definite possibilities and I guess I could even use it in combination with stitching by sewing over a bonded seam.
I also tried ordinary double-sided adhesive tape. The absence of heat means there’s less opportunity for things to go disastrously wrong, but the tensile strength of the seam isn’t as good as with the fusible tape – my dear husband succeeded in pulling it apart although I couldn’t.
Another type of tape I have seen recommended is a pressure-sensitive fusible tape which has brand names such as HeatnBond, Steam-a-Seam and EZ-Steam. I’ve never used such tape but it seems to be popular with quilters. I might see if I can beg a length from a quilter acquaintance to try.
Finally, it’s possible to buy self-adhesive ripstop nylon tape which is meant for mending spinnakers and kites. It’s about 2” wide and would probably be ideal for reinforcing seams, as anything that will stay on a wet, wind-filled sail will surely stay on the inside of an occasionally used bag. Unfortunately, here in West Yorkshire we’re about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be in the UK (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration) and chandlers that might stock such tape are thin on the ground.
These experiments have got me thinking. I’m now planning all the seams carefully to decide how best to do each one according to the demands that will be placed on it in use. To that end, I’ve made a mini-bag to understand how the seam allowances go, depending on whether they are overlapped or stitched face to face as normal.
One underdressed rabbit
I am now the proud possessor of a toy rabbit in its underwear.
I’m not too sure about the tail. The Bertie Bunkins pattern called for a garter stitch sphere of a tail rather than a pompom. That’s probably best for a baby – no possibility of any threads being pulled free and ingested. I suspect that the size and firmness of this knitted, stuffed tail is driven by the need to have something to prop the bunny up in a sitting position. That’s all well and good, but I can’t get away from the thought that a toy rabbit’s tail should be fluffy. Never mind, this will have to do.
I didn’t have any white cotton yarn for the tail and I didn’t want to use acrylic or wool for launderability reasons. I got round that by knitting the tail in the ecru I’d used for the head and body and then soaking it in bleach for a few hours until it was white, whereupon I rinsed it, dried it and stuffed it. Frankly, I’m not convinced it was worth the effort.
This rabbit toy still needs a dress. I’m thinking maybe coral red with a trim to match one or both blues of the underwear.