Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Amazing Shrinking Cup

I am working on some new upcycling projects and wanted to make my own buttons. I have read in several places that #6 plastics (recyclable plastics with a 6 in the middle of the arrows) work just like those shrink plastic sheets you can purchase at the store. Many take out containers are made from #6 plastics, as are some plastic cups and plates. I reclaimed some cups from my Mom's stash and started experimenting.

Being the non-scientific person that I am, it didn't occur to me take pictures of my first attempts. I figured I would cut out some shapes, punch the holes, heat and shrink and be set to go. But noooo! My shapes kept getting seriously distorted. Circles were turning out as really skinny ovals.

My son asked what would happen if we shrunk a whole cup, so we tried it out. Turns out that a cup will shrink into a disc just a smidge larger than the opening of the cup. Interesting!

So I grabbed my camera and did a little experiment:

A 5" tall plastic cup (#6 recyclable plastic)

Cut into about 1.25" tall rings

Arranged on parchment paper on a baking sheet (you can use brown paper sack as well)

Oven set at 325 degrees. I wish I could photo the shrinking process, but I didn't want to melt my camera and my oven doesn't have a clear view door.

Rings after shrinking. This is exactly how they shrank down. Should your circles be distored, the plastic is very malleable while warm, so you can fine tune the shaping if you desire.

The rings are about 1/16" thick and stiff.

So, what do you think? What do you see this technique being used for? Upcycled jewelry? Christmas decorations? Picture frames? What else?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Clean Finish Zipper Pocket Pictorial

I was making myself a fall purse and decided that I wanted to include a nice zipper pocket on the outside. I dove into my reference library, looking for instructions for zipper pockets and discovered that every single set of instructions I have, from patterns to reference books, leave the entire zipper tape exposed on the inside of the pocket. Have you ever looked inside the zippered pocket of a store bought purse? The zipper tape is never exposed in a store bought purse, so why should we leave our zipper tape exposed when we make it ourselves? I did a web search, figuring somewhere out there I would find some guidance on how to insert a zipper pocket without leaving that zipper tape exposed. Well, I didn't find any instructions, so I decided to make my own!

I am using a brown faux suede for my bag. I need to interline the fabric as it is not heavy enough on its own. Since I wanted my pocket on the outside of my purse and I needed to interline my purse, I cut the outer purse pattern out of both my fashion fabric and interfacing. If I were putting the pocket on the inside of the lining, I would have just cut a piece of interfacing that was 2" longer than my zipper and 2.5" wide.

I pinned the interfacing to the right side of the suede and marked where I wanted the zipper to be. (I use a permanent fine tip marker for most of my drafting work as it's all inside the finished project.) I changed my mind a couple of times about the size and location of my zipper, which explains why my box has a few extra lines in it...but the outline of the box is the right size...8" x .5" (finished zipper length will be about 8") .

I stitched along the marked box, turning at the corners. I then cut along the center of the opening to within .5" of the short end. I cut diagonally up to, but not through, the stitching at the corners.

I turned the interfacing to the wrong side of the suede, by pushing it through the opening and then pressed it nice and flat.

Now, onto the zipper. I cut a zipper down to the size I needed and whipped the edges of the zipper tape together above the zipper head. This just makes it easier for me to control the top portion of the zipper as I sew it in place.

I folded down .5" of the top edge of my pocket lining and edge stitched it to the back of the zipper tape.

The front of the zipper tape looks like this.

I placed the zipper into the opening I created and pinned the bottom edge into place. I then edge stitched the bottom portion of the zipper opening into place. I pulled the threads to the back of the stitching line and tied them off.

This is the backside of the zipper pinned and ready for the top stitching.

I folded the pocket lining so that the top edge lined up with the zipper tape.

I then stitched along the sides of the zipper pocket and along the edge of the zipper tape. I made sure to reinforce the stitching along the seam near the bottom edge of the pocket.

In order to keep the corners of the zipper opening nice and flat, I lifted up the suede and stitched the little triangle flap to the interfacing. You could just stitch a single line, but I really wanted this nice and flat.

The final step is to edge stitch around the remaining 3 sides of the opening. I was careful to blend my stitching together. I pulled the threads to the back and tied them off. This keeps the stitching nice and tight and secure.

Here is the pocket from the wrong side.

Inside peek of the finished pocket.

As you can see, the zipper tape is enclosed between the pocket lining and the fashion fabric and the pocket is professionally finished.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.