Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thrift Tip: Saving Swissair, Part I

You'll recall that I bought an awesome old Swissair bag from Treasury earlier in the spring, but I immediately ripped the bag on both sides near the strap due to my overpacking and heavy photography accessories. I gave the bag a quick patch-up, but decided the repairs wouldn't hold up if I wanted a fun, long life for this bag.

Enter ReVamp. I took my bag to Kristen during one of her shifts at Treasury to have her diagnose the bag's issues and figure out if it could be saved. She was perplexed, and couldn't tell if the bag was actually made out of leather, or some sort of synthetic leatheresque fabric. She asked if she could hold onto the bag for a few days to do some research, and we set up a date for us to work on the bag together. Kristen has done fashion shows with outfits she made entirely from trash bags, so I didn't think this repair would be a real challenge for her. The challenge, I found, would be all mine. Kristen was out to make me a seamstress. Maybe just a seamstress-in-training.

Kristen explained that by sewing around the sites of the tears, I would eventually create additional tears in the fabric of the bag and end up at square one. She recommended adding fabric to the inside of the bag and anchoring it to the bag's existing seams to balance the distribution of the bag's weight on the strap.

Without being completely sure of the composition of the bag's fabric, Kristen was nervous about using heat on the bag to repair the tears. She showed me several types of fuseable interfacing, which is a thin textile with a sticky side that will bond fabrics. Some interfacing looks like dryer sheets and will completely disappear between two pieces of fabrics and act like glue when heat is applied. Other types are more helpful in providing body and shape for two attached pieces of fabric--think of the multiple layers of fabric on a shirt collar that might stay stiff without the help of heavy starch.

Fuseable interfacing comes in sheets that you cut to size and apply with heat from an iron. We first tested the affect of the iron's heat on the bag by testing a small portion on the bottom of the bag. Kristen recommended always using a test piece of fabric between the iron and item in question, to protect both the fabric and the surface of the iron. The heat created a sheen that we actually really liked, and applying this treatment across the entire bag may be something we explore in the future. Applying some heat to the bag may also stop the leatheresque fabric from flaking off onto my hands and everything I stick in the front pocket.

But before I get creative, it was time to save this bag. With its heat-survival class passed, it was time to make a plan to use fuseable interfacing to make the necessary repairs.

Next time, we'll show you how we got down to business!


Post a Comment