Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beyond Plarn

Any guess what this is?

About half the people who've seen it have known right off the bat: it's VHS tape.

I've been wanting a new lunch bag, so I started knitting with an old movie no one had ever watched (and never was going to watch!).

One old movie and a garbage bag lining plus some creative work yielded this result:
Now I'm thinking it's too nice for a lunch bag and may claim it as a purse. Decisions...decisions...

First step in making the purse was to take apart the cassette tape to get at the video tape.

Then I knit a large rectangle of mesh. Not having a pair of super-large needles, I just wrapped the tape around my needle twice while knitting each stitch. Then when I came back to knit them, I knit one loop and let the second one drop. This is an easy way to fake a large needle. (Stitch size is related only to loop size.)

It was also a way to make the tape slide over the needles a little easier. The tape stuck to the needles like crazy. It wasn't pleasant. And while I'm complaining I'll add that the tape was very noisy! Crinkling and squeaking. I couldn't knit while watching TV! Ha ha, but somehow I made it through:
Once it was knit, I slip stitched down each side with a crochet hook to make it the right shape. Project Stats
: 22 May '10
Finished: 09 Jun '10
Pattern: I made it up!
Materials: one reel VHS tape, one purple garbage bag, $0
It was very amusing at this stage because it would stretch every which way and not hold any particular shape.

The next question was what to line it with. I've been thinking quite a while about doing some plastic fusing and yesterday decided to try it out. My mother-in-law sent me a couple of big garbage bags that were a beautiful colour of purple. It would set off the black beautifully.

First step was to cut off the bottom and fold it into thirds.
This gave me six layers which I thought was a good thickness to try, and also gave me the right width for the pieces I would need for the purse.

To protect my iron, I laid the plastic between two layers of an old poster. (Parchment paper works too, but I didn't have any.)
And then ironed away. Not too hot, keep the iron moving. Flip it over and do it on the other side:
Eventually you have a sheet of fused plastic. My sheet did not come out as smooth as some I've seen in pictures. Apparently it depends on the plastic composition (which varies widely in plastic bags) but I was pretty content with how it came out.
The plastic shrank quite a bit. (No surprise.) It was no longer wide enough for my original measurements, but turned out to still be wide enough for what I needed. Nice when that works out!

So then I cut out the pieces that I needed. One large rectangle for the front, back and bottom (all in one), and two pieces for the sides. Sew it together, remembering to use your teflon foot because it won't stick to the plastic:

Then cut out narrow strips and sew them on for handles.
The plastic turned out to be perfect for folding into shape. I pressed two creases to shape the bottom, and pressed the seams so it formed a nice "box" with handles to fit into my VHS bag.
Slip it inside and finish by sewing around the top edge.

The finished bag has a great shape
and looks pretty sweet!

I can't wait for the next project that absolutely must have some fused plastic!


  1. OMG, what a mind you must have to concoct these projects ! :^)

  2. Your vcr tape purse turned out really cool and I love the lining you created. I like how you made the lining and then inserted it inside your vcr tape shell. This method is very convenient and allows for you to sew them separate which I find is an easier method.

  3. You already know I love the VHS tape thing, but the shrunken plastic is even better! Now I have to figure out something I need to make out of shrunken plastic!

  4. How well did your VHS bag hold up? I used VHS tape for the handle on a plarn purse, and after a while of use, it broke and I had to replace the handle,

  5. Diane, the bag is still going strong, but I have to admit that it doesn't get a lot of use. (It got reclassified as a purse and now just gets used when it suits an outfit.)

    But most of the wear in this bag is on the fused plastic. The VHS tape does nothing but decorate the outside.



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