-Lynne: Our hardware challenge sounded straight forward when we first proposed it. The idea of being turned loose in a hardware store seemed more like a dream than a challenge and the $5.00 limit on materials cost did not daunt me at all. We are “make-do” sisters.
Earlier this spring, I found the book “Simply Sublime Bags” by Judi Kahn. In it she shows how to make “no sew” purses using fabric and duct tape. I was so taken by the idea that I made myself a keyhole clutch from a feedsack with matching duct tape. The pattern can be found here online, but the book is well worth getting for all the wonderful ideas.
Beyond being extremely cute and novel, my clutch has been surprisingly durable. I have been wanting a slightly larger purse and this challenge seemed like the perfect time to make another one. After all, duct tape is to a hardware store like water is to a duck. Besides with a project like this, all I would need was the fabric and something to hold the fabric together in its purse shape.
I’m afraid that I became rather testy when I realized that glue, thread, staples, paint, ink and tape would count towards the $5.00 total. I can tell you right now that no hardware store can sell you 50 cents worth of glue. We had to buy what materials we needed in the quantities available and we could not buy a quantity and divide the price by the number we used. I only wanted 4 yards of fishing line, but I would have had to buy 700 yards for $2.99. That was more than half my budget. I needed to rethink how to “sew” the purse together.
I wandered the aisles of all the hardware stores in town. I had knowledgeable, helpful men following me trying to help me find the “right part.” They would always take a step backwards when I told them that not only did I not know the part I needed, I did not know what the part would be for. Hardware by its very nature is made to be used in the manner it was made. Wood screws are for wood and metal screws are for metal and never the twain shall meet. People who work at hardware stores are bewildered and confused by browsers.
When I saw the fiberglass window screen, I knew I wanted to use it as the fabric for my purse. I could buy one foot of the 36″ wide screen and stay well within my budget. I noticed a roll of clear plastic vinyl next to the screen and remembered that plastic can be fused into a fabric by heating it with an iron. Heat unlike glue and staples would not cost me anything. I could sandwich the screen in between two pieces of the plastic and have both my fabric and my “glue.” I added some electrician’s tape which is cheap because it doesn’t stick to anything, a carriage bolt, a foot of copper wire and a brass hex nut to my list and I was 14 cents under my $5.00 limit.
I found that fusing the “fabric” could be tricky. You have to keep in mind what will melt fastest and that plastic can shrink in odd ways and iron accordingly. The holes in the fiberglass screen allowed the plastic to adhere to itself, but I found that where I needed a strong bond I had to use just the clear plastic. By cutting the screen smaller than the plastic, the seams were only plastic and strong enough to hold all the stuff I put in a purse.
I desperately needed some decoration for my purse and I only had 14 cents left in my budget, but I had become a crafty challenge participant. I gathered up the paper bag I had used for the free popcorn, the plastic bag for my purchases and the free telephone directory at the end of the counter and felt crafty as well as rich in materials.
The electrician’s tape strengthened the open handles and made a nice decorative statement around the top of the purse. I fused the logo from the plastic bag to the front of the purse to add the graphic text and some much-needed color. Once you start fusing it is hard to stop. I fashioned the copper wire into my initial and fused it in a sandwich of clear plastic, fiberglass screen, the label from the paper bag and another layer of plastic for a hang tag.