This was going to be titled “Sewing with vinyl”, but I didn’t actually end up sewing my successful projects. :)
(This post is a bit rough, sorry. Migraines suck. I don’t think I’ll have the energy to clean it up before I lose interest.)
The goal was to make a waterproof rain skirt, so that I could sit at bus stops in the rain. The folks at dressew told me (and I later confirmed with the shower) that regular water-resistant fabrics wouldn’t be enough, and I should try vinyl. They also warned me that the holes from sewing it could easily turn into perforations. So I got $3 of their thinnest clear vinyl (4 gauge) and started experimenting.
The first test was regular sewing. I made a little pouch (not quite the one I was intending to make, but oh well) and was careful to not stitch too close together. Still, when I pulled gently on the seams they seemed to stretch. Tolerable for a little coin pouch, but not for the kind of strain I could put on a skirt if I sat down quickly.
Next I tried gluing the seams. Glue guns aren’t much use on vinyl – it just peels off when dry. The glue gun itself wasn’t hot enough to fuse the vinyl properly, either. White glue was even worse at sticking.
The experiment with the glue gun got me to try the soldering iron, though, and that worked much better. With parchment paper to keep the tip clean, it easily fused two layers of vinyl together… Although it did burn holes in the single layer where I accidentally touched it. Good thing I was practising on scraps first! :)
For practice, I also made a cute little coin pouch, which almost holds water (I only made two pinprick holes).
After finding the right soldering temperature and speed to fuse the vinyl without damaging it, I went back to figuring out a skirt pattern. I wanted as few seams as possible, so I just made enough pleats that I could sit down, and soldered the very top of them.
While the vinyl stuck to itself enough to test at home, I needed a proper fastener to make it stay on reliably. Since I also needed to adjust it to a varying waistline, and have the ends overlap, Velcro was the obvious choice. Not so obvious was how to attach it. Sewing was already ruled out, I didn’t think stick-on Velcro would be strong enough, nobody sells the iron-on kind around here… But I was poking around in dressew and stumbled on “Velcro glue”, which appears to be one step below superglue, and works on vinyl. It was a bit of a pain to apply (I was scared of touching it even though it claimed to not bond skin) and it’s not quite as strong as I’d hoped, but it’s strong enough. I could still peel off the Velcro if I put a good bit of effort in, but the forces on the skirt won’t do it on their own.
In positioning the Velcro, I made it so that the opening was on the side, with the opening pointing backwards. That way it’s easier to walk, still keeps the rain off as much as possible, and I know I have vinyl protecting me when I sit down.
So, I have a skirt! :)
In testing the skirt itself… It does a good job of keeping rain off, but the non-velcro side was being awkward when I sat down. Next time I’d probably do two pieces with Velcro on both sides. It’s also a bit awkward in general, despite being the thinnest vinyl I could get, and even though it folds up small enough for my backpack I wouldn’t want to put it in there while it’s wet. It’s like carrying around a second umbrella in that regard. I think I’d only wear it on heavy rain days, and maybe I’ll try a smaller square of vinyl for sitting on at bus stops.
Oh, and I upgraded the coin pouch with some boning (stiff plastic strips used for corsets) so that if I pinch the ends it opens up :) that part was easy, since I just had to fold the ends over the boning and fuse them shut.