Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When Vinyl Attacks

I was trying to be creative and out-of-the-boxish, which was my first mistake.

I should know that anytime I take on a project, specifically a sewing-type one with a pattern, that I should always ALWAYS make it from the pattern specs the first time around. And not stray even in the teeniest way.

Just do what the instructions say, and you won't go wrong. And always keep Make It Snappy's mantra in mind: You might think you've *got it* but you do not. Follow the pattern to the letter.

Well, I had a brief lapse in judgement when I chose to ignore every fiber of my being which screamed, "Put down the rubber ducky shower curtain!", when choosing materials for this month's InStitches project: Toiletries Bag.

I was thinking,

"Hey, I've got this sewing thing down (I indeed, did not). I can stand to be a little creative. I can make this Toiletries Bag into something new and interesting which can hold items other than that fit for a toilet."


Here's another layer to my problem onion: I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I was trying to:

1. Be creative
2. Make baby shower gifts

Normally, these two concepts go nicely together and result in things like hooded baby blankets, custom onesies (thank you, Lera) with matching headbands and Nappy Bags in unconventional fabric combinations.

In this case, these ideas resulted in a sticky, squeaky, frightening mess of massacred rubber ducky shower curtain shards being wadded up into an unpleasant ball of shame and shoved into the trash during a rare period of quiet known as The Death Silence.

This is when, despite my boiling hatred and anger at the unsuccessful project before me, I don't make a sound. In fact, I turn my aggravation inward and become something of a human hate vacuum, sucking in the evil around me until I become a dead star of nasty.

Or something like that. Basically, Bubba knows it's bad when he sees me frantically wadding things up and shoving them in the trash and he knows better than to try to engage me in any type of conversation or even have the gall to ask me if everything is ok because obviously it is not. This is when he turns quietly toward the TV/computer/wall and pretends to be invisible.

Fortunately, he wasn't there to witness the Murder of a Thousand Rubber Duckies, because it was a failure of the highest order. A failure that derailed so spectacularly that there were moments when I might have uttered (to myself like a crazy person):

"I'm sure if I continue forcing this vinyl through the machine, eventually it will stop chewing it to pieces.",

"Perhaps I could create vinyl bias tape from the unused portion of this white shower curtain.",

and my favorite,

"I wonder if I could adhere these two sheets of vinyl together by pressing them with my scorching hot iron".

All terrible, futile and eventually blunderous ideas.

I had set out to make a Toiletries Bag turned "Baby Bath Bag". I intended, with full confidence mind you, to craft said bag from reclaimed shower curtain rubber ducky vinyl and stuff with all manner of baby bath needs like that tearless shampoo, body wash, sleepy time bubble bath stuff (that is purple when everything else is yellow), a rubber ducky washcloth and, duh, a rubber ducky.

What I ended up with was a ducky genocide spread across my dining room table and floor with parts stuck to my iron and ground up in my sewing machine. I managed to keep the killing field contained to the shower curtains alone, so the baby bath supplies that I so naively purchased beforehand are still intact and taking up valuable space in the linen closet where they will remain until I make a suitable bag for them from a material other than vinyl.

The unexpected result of The Death Silence is that it is often followed by The Second Wind of Great Determination. This is when, despite my very fresh failure, I am able to summon the energy/desire/courage to start all over because I know my failure was initially due to ignoring the instructions, so any further activity will be successful because I will follow the instructions. To the letter. Just like I know I should.

And so I will post soon the photos of my finished Toiletries Bag. It is not made from vinyl (oh blessed canvas, how I love thee and thy rugged unmeltingness). It is not for babies. It is also not for toiletries. However, no patterns were ignored in the making of this project, and I'm sure that's why it's not crumpled up in a big ball in the trash like some other certain items of disgrace.


  1. Ah, if only I would learn to heed my own good advice more often; your story is very familiar in many ways. I still tip my hat to you for the bold out of the box attempt -- daring and clever on so many levels! Oh, and also for getting back on the horse so quickly. That's dedication right there.

  2. Well thanks for steering me away from the vinyl. Your poor machine and iron. I hope we don't need to play Taps for either of them.

  3. Oh your poor machine and iron! Those duckies probably had it coming to them anyway... I was starting to think that I could handle vinyl too... thanks for steering me the other way!

  4. YOU. KILL. ME!!!!!!!!!!!

    "I wonder if I could adhere these two sheets of vinyl together by pressing them with my scorching hot iron". -- Oh my goodness, I was crying with my face in my hands over this one!!! It's my favorite, too.

    I think you need to buy a walking or teflon foot and give it another go.

  5. Ducky genocide. Oh my gosh! I am laughing so hard my diet coke just came out my nose. LORDY!
    Can't wait to see the pics.

  6. Well drat! That little toiletrie bag out of ducky vinyl is a brilliant idea! I realize you're freshly burned from the experience, but after the pain wears off (like labor, it will) you should give it another chance. You either need a teflon foot (as suggested by lera) or another trick is to sandwich your vinyl between strips of tissue paper. After sewing, the tissue paper is easily removed and it's not as tedious as it sounds!

  7. laughin silently to myself over here as when the gurlz here me laughing they want to know why and I really cannot explain this. the tears are coming from my eyes.
    Wonderful brave attempt AND I love that you are also getting hints on how to try it again.
    Congratulations on getting back on the job right away!!

  8. LOL. Yeah,I know that "chewing." I recently decided to make an insulated beach bag using (now this is creative) an auto sun shade. The result was a $40 repair to my sewing machine. Later, I learned that with plastics it's best to loosen the tension on your sewing machine. Tension seems tricky, I'm going to stick with fabric.

  9. OMG, I don't sew but I have the "moments" sometimes when attempting something new in knitting. It can get ugly. Ale has learned to stay clear as well (after trying to joke about it which as you can imagine didn't go over so well with me in my death star phase either).

  10. you're killing me with humor. i've been lurking on your blog for a few days now. it's a great read -- from one seamstress to another. i had a similarly treacherous encounter with pleather this past month. you may ask, what on earth was i doing messing with pleather?!!?!? so much for going through the remnant bin.
    ps -- walking foot did not help with pleather... not sure it would help with vinyl.

  11. PVC and vinyl is tricky. I was pleased with a couple of bags I made from some Cath Kidston oilcloth by substituting double-sided sticky tape for pins, finger pressing for the iron and using tissue paper whenever the oilcloth side was going to be in contact with the machine foot or feed dogs. My teflon foot was very useful too. I was tempted to use some more oilcloth I got on sale to try the Amy Butler caddy but think I will heed your advice to make it with the suggested fabrics first.


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