Friday, April 30, 2010

Racing Stripe Patterns

Since cool cars have racing stripes, I thought it would also be cool for my bicycle handlebar bags to have them. Then I thought that the racing stripes didn't have to be plain, but they could have pattern to them. Here are a couple of racing stripes in adhesive-backed vinyl that are to be made into handlebar bags. After I put the racing stripe on the tarp I thought they might look good as artwork, too.

I really like how a decal can become the focal point. There's a lot of utilitarian vinyl tarp out there, and using decals is a good way to draw the focus to a specific point in the design, and to make a boring piece of vinyl sing!

Update: thanks to my customers who purchased these bicycle handlebar bags at Market Collective.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bicycle Handlebar Bag with Lace Racing Stripe

I had an idea to create bicycle handle bar bags with racing stripes. Then I thought why can't the racing stripe be decidedly feminine?

Here are photos of the result. It is an unlined bag since it is white inside. There are velcro loops that attach the bag to the bicycle handlebars. I added a shoulder strap so that it can also be used as a shoulder bag. It is ready for field testing.

The original billboard for this bag had a lot of sky in it. It looks great with blue jeans.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Custom Bicycle Panniers on the client's bike

I'm delighted to report that my client Sandra Brunner likes her custom panniers. Here they are on her bicycle.

The stakes were high as I was making these for an actual client. there was a battle going on in my mind. I had to keep telling the afraid part to settle down and get the job done. It was great having the perfect client in this case. The modifications from my original pannier design include a box top to better keep the rain out, and adding a binding for a nicer look.

I read somewhere that any time you are attempting to do something different, or something that you have been told you can't do or, "Who do you think you are you don't know anything," by major influencers in your life, that you will hear that installed voice pipe up. I am pleased to report that I did not heed that voice, and I'm looking forward to that voice getting weaker as I gain more experience.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Discouraging Words

"What you have made is not good. Therefore you should not have tried that."

Sometimes people say or imply this kind of thing to me. I have decided not to heed it because experimenting is a valid way to learn something. If I wanted to learn how to work with vinyl tarps, well, there's not a whole lot of instruction books out there. How else did those other authorities get their knowledge but by trial and error? Why can't a person make themself their own authority?

Someone said that you are going to be making a lot of crap before you start making things that are worthwhile. I wish I could remember the source of this quote because it is so very true. The key for me is to get used to that kind of down feeling from an unsuccessful experiment, but not to let it become a source of self-condemnation. Instead, view it as valid experimental results.

Here's a selection of items from my experiment pile. Some worked, some did not. It was all time well spent.

Update: here's one source of the quote: "Often you won't be able to sell what you make -- it's the same with all crafting professions, you have to make a lot of crap before you get to the good stuff." -Patrick Moody.

Monday, April 12, 2010

RV seat cushions

This is my first attempt at reupholstering. So don't look too close! It is for my family so it does not have to be perfect. We considered changing the color scheme from 80's-era grey and rose. Then, I thought about just going darker with the grey as I had seen some newer RVs with that. Finally, the decision was made based on what was available at the upholstery fabric store. The original fabric is on the left.

I observed how it was constructed as I took the seat cushion apart. The shapes of the two seat cushions are subtly different as I learned how to stretch and staple the material onto the wooden panel. Upholstering is surprisingly physical work.

The only vinyl in this project covers up the wood panel on the underside.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vinyl Binding Design Tips

When using vinyl tarp for binding edges, use an adjoining technique rather than overlapping the two binding segments at the corners. This is because if you are overlapping the two bindings, you will have four layers of binding alone to sew through. It will be five to six layers in total with the material you are binding, and your machine will likely balk at sewing that many layers. My sewing machine stops feeding the vinyl and sews a big old knot!

Design-wise, use square corners instead of rounded corners when using vinyl binding. Vinyl binding is not flexible and won't bend around a curve like twill tape will.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Steampunk Notebook/Journal

"By day, I work. By Night, I Write" notebook. I was staring at the steampunk background for quite some time and searching for inspiration for quotes on topics of working, factories, and writing. Finally it came to me what text to put on it. I aligned the text with the curves on the background. This item is available for purchase here, unless someone else gets to it first!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

RV reupholstering

The kitchen table cushions in our 80s-era recreational vehicle need reupholstering. I am going to use vinyl for the cap and side pieces. Here's a photo of what I mean, but this particular photo is not from our RV.

We thought about changing the colour scheme but for now we are going to keep with the gray upholstery. As it happened I had some gray of the same shade already.

Here is a photo of my progress so far. I used a stiletto or awl to loosen the staples and needle-nose pliers to remove them. I used the existing upholstery as my pattern for the new vinyl pieces. Observing how the flap pieces were folded, I copied that and stapled the vinyl over. I kept the upholstery foam because it was in OK shape and I didn't want to bother with replacing it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Notebook with vinyl lace binding

This was only partially successful. The sewing machine balked at times, going through four layers of vinyl. I used the taping foot I discussed on an earlier post, as well as the vinyl lace binding in the previous post.

For this notebook the corners have to be sharp corners, not rounded.

Update: As I looked at this segment of the tarp which shows hair, the title of the notebook became obvious! I am learning to look at the cropped segments of vinyl to see if the colours and patterns remind me of something, perhaps a design will spring from that. Since a major part of journaling is writing about all the bad things that happened that day it makes sense to title the notebook as containing "bad hair" days.

Update #2 The lace binding wasn't working on this piece. I replaced it with one-inch vinyl binding. I might try using lace another time.

Please comment!

Dealing with internal fibers after cutting

Vinyl advertising tarps are composed of a mesh of polyester fibers sandwiched between two layers of vinyl. The mesh gives the tarp its strength.

Sometimes after cutting in the Cricut Expressions the cut edges will have quite a lot of protruding fibers. Individual tarps have more or less of this fiber after cutting. I was thinking that my lace experiment was not going to work until I thought of this way of dealing with the fibers.

I found that if you pass the material over a candle flame that the polyester fibers shrink and recede. Timing is important. Too much and the material will smoke and burn. Maybe about a half of a second, more or less, is ideal. It is not a perfect solution but I was able to clean up my lace significantly. Note: the slight melting induced by the candle does not cause toxic fumes as you are just rearranging the polyester molecules and not putting them into the air; heating until it smokes however, does. If you are concerned about fumes, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area.

Where do you get used vinyl banners?

This is the question I get the most. I'm not going to tell you my particular sources, because I have taken pains to develop good relationships with them, and I'd like to keep it that way.

However, here is where you can start: places that display banners, places that make banners, and places that install banners (they may have a "toss list"). Organizations using banners that have specific dates on them and that cannot be reused. Those might be good places to try. Also Ecofreek, Craigslist, Kijiji, key words being "tarp" and "vinyl banner". Emphasize that you are recycling the material, and express gratitude and try to give them something back, such as samples of what you make with the material. Don't expect them do just hand the material over, either. The raw material costs something like $12/yard. Also they may already be donating them to local schools and the like.

Also, reassure them that you won't use the advertiser's logos and imagery in a recognizable form unless you obtain permission first. And then keep that promise. You could also get sued if you use logos and imagery without permission. Some folks on Etsy have found that out the hard way.

I started this blog to promote recycling of this material, and to share what I've learned. On one hand I'm happy to share; on the other I have spent a lot of time and effort investigating my techniques and I don't want to give all of my secrets away. I'm sure you understand!