Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homemade Water-Proof Fabric?

Yes, there is a way!

This all started with cleaning my make-up brushes and deciding to wash the holder for them too. The lining fabric disintegrated. I had heard of laminated fabric before. I assumed it was either purchased that way, or sent through one of those paper laminating machines. A quick internet search later, I find out it can be done at home with Iron-on vinyl (and an iron of course). It seemed like the perfect way to make a make-up bag that would wipe clean easily. I needed a new crochet hook anyway, so I looked for the iron-on vinyl while I was at Joann's. The one they carry is by Pellon and it's a boxed 15" by 2 yard roll in the notions aisle. I posted my project idea on facebook and was instantly asked several questions on the performance of the material and what it looks like. So, I thought I would share my iron-on vinyl experiment will all of you too.

I cut the vinyl to the size I wanted and applied it to a larger sheet of fabric. I did this to protect my ironing board from the vinyl's adhesive because I have seen ironing boards ruined my adhesive! Having a larger piece of fabric also makes it easier to get the vinyl positioned. I followed package instructions for application, but noticed a few spots that were winkly and realized they were from where the pointed end of my iron was and I just went back over them to smooth them out. After doing the first piece I noticed a small cat hair stuck in near the edge, so make sure use a lint roller on the fabric and board before to so you not add in any "extra material" to your laminating. It's also a good idea to save the backing paper in case you need to iron it while you are working on it.

In the image below on the left is the vinyl before ironing, in the middle is just the regular fabric, and on the left is the vinyl that has been ironed down. The vinyl layer does not distort or cloud the print on this fabric, it just makes it shine since this is the gloss version of this product (some manufacturers also make a matte version)

I am quite please with the results of the homemade water-proof fabric. Working with it, however, is a different story and takes some careful selection of project and construction techniques. 

I had no actual pattern to follow going into this project and was just using an extra piece of fabric to test how this laminated fabric works up. In the past I have often sewn purses and other things by putting the right-sides of the fabric together, sewing almost all the way around the edges, and leaving a little opening to flip the piece right sides out. That did not work very well with this laminated vinyl because it is a little delicate at stress points and tore right by the opening I flipped it through.

I was able to iron one seam flat very carefully by pressing it with my fingers then putting it between the backing paper and ironing just the seam. That turned out fine, but when using that construction method I like to the whole iron the piece once I flip it out to press in all the seams. I put it between the pieces of the backing paper to iron it as per the instructions on the package. It got all wrinkly, so that was a disappointment. 

I noticed while sewing on it that the vinyl makes a bit of plastic build-up that sticks to the needle. It also wants to not feed through the machine when it's near the edge, and just generally was a bit "stickier" than regular fabric. The vinyl does make the fabric thicker too. I was in a bit of a rush trying to sew it and got frustrated with how the seams were not behaving, so I took them apart and re-did them with bias tape instead of trying to sew it inside out then flipping it right side out. Try not to be in a rush when you work with laminated vinyl as your needle marks will show in the fabric, as well as, the pins you use to hold it together while you sew, so pin in the seam allowance if you need to pin!

I would highly recommend that you practice using this material on a test project to experience how it behaves so that you do not ruin something important. Please feel free to comment on your experiences with this iron-on vinyl, or ask any questions you might have.

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