I have a pretty high tolerance for putz. For projects that don’t come out quite right, for instructions that have clearly been translated from German to Mongolian and then into English by way of a dartboard and are thus indecipherable save for the stick-figure illustrations. I can handle that. After all, I have Ikea furniture–need I say more?!
So it’s really not very often that a project truly frustrates me. Frustration to the point where I rip stuff up and stalk off to the couch and pout in a huff and vow never ever to ever work with ____________ again.
Well, this weekend, laminated oilcloth is the material in question. And the Hemma Designs “Solveig” bike bag was my attempted project. I love the look of this bike bag, and a convertible purse/pannier is something that I’ve been wanting for a very long time. Now, there are people out there who make such things, but trust me, they’re all either a) doggedly ugly, or b) uber expensive. So when I found this pattern at the local fabric shop a few weeks ago, I bought it. I barely read it, I was so happy to have found it. In fact, I didn’t realize that it called for special (read: non-cotton) fabric until I went to make it and realized I didn’t even know what oilcloth was! So back to the fabric store to raid their remnant bin for oilcloth.
Turns out, oilcloth smells funny. (That was my initial impression, anyhow).
So I got home and cut out the pattern, which includes a few rather putzy pieces to make the flower design on the front flap. Hand-cramp-inducing, but thanks to a few Dr. Who episodes on the Netflix, I didn’t mind that it took me nearly an hour and a half to cut them all out (or, maybe it was thanks to said episodes that it took so long?). Anyhow. Got them cut out finally and then pinned them to the oilcloth.
Kids, pins put holes in oilcloth, as in, never-to-be-recovered-from-tiny-holes. I though it was rather odd that the instructions said to tape the pattern to the cloth to cut it out (my inner tightwad was all a-flutter, protesting “but how will you reuse the pattern if you do that!!?!?”) so I pinned it. Now all my pieces have random puncture wounds…it looks a little like I have a very tiny vampire running around attacking my fabric stash.
Two episodes later, I had all my pieces cut out of the oilcloth, and the gluing commenced. Yep, you read that correctly. Step one is to glue the flower stuff into place. Then stitch around the flower outline. This is where I really ran into trouble (not the glue, the stitching). Turns out, laminated oilcloth sticks like a mofo in my sewing machine. Holy bananas. I’ve never had much problem sewing anything I’ve tried sewing before (which granted has either been knit jersey or some variation on quilt-weight cotton).
It floored me, to be honest, and nothing I did really helped. I tried taping the bottom of the foot with masking tape…no luck. I tried disengaging the feeder feet…no luck. I adjusted the tension…no luck. I tried yanking the fabric along as I sewed…no luck, just lots of knots. I tried using the hand wheel to crank stitches while the foot was up and just guiding the fabric by hand…looked like a drunken toddler had sewed it.
It may have been the glue fumes. It may have been the heat (even with aircon, I’m sure it was a solid 80 degrees in the apartment Sunday afternoon). Whatever it was, I gave up. I harumphed over to my couch and pouted for a solid 20 minutes. I tore that stupid little flower piece to bits. I felt better.
I still have all the rest of the pieces cut out, and I think I will take a stab at finishing the bag, but there is no way that it will have that stupid flower design on the front. And you can bet your bippies that I’ll be researching “how to sew oilcloth without turning into the incredible Hulk” before I continue. And, maybe I’ll run across something that makes that flower do-dad more doable and I’ll add it back in, but don’t hold your breath.