Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wonderful Ways With Webbing

I'm a bit of a fan of alliteration. 

That blog title probably promised more than I'm delivering here.....  but I quite liked the opportunity to use as many W words as I could. 

I'm also quite partial to a spot of hyperbole.  Literary devices have always amused me.  I digress....

We're going to talk about polypropylene webbing - which is fabulous for bag straps.  The down-side is its quirky tendency to to do this (below) if it's not treated properly...


If you've used my Laptop Bag pattern, you'd have learned how to avoid fraying on webbing.  I know that some people haven't bought the Laptop Bag pattern and have had issues with fraying (which of course is always a bigger problem once the bag is finished....), so here's a quick lesson....


Ideally, we'd all be able to justify the cost of an industrial hot knife (...or....ummm...is that just me?).  This makes one simple cut-and-seal on webbing, which means that you can simply turn the sealed edge over a ring and stitch it down, or you can safely sew it into a seam and know that it won't come undone.

Mere mortals like us (with scissors) have to turn under any raw edges and stitch them down securely.  I usually go for the box-with-an-"x"-in-it approach, with a sturdy needle and synthetic thread.


And I zig-zag the living daylights out of any frazzled ends that may be going into seams.  I've been meaning to get a soldering iron and see if it will do the job of a hot-knife, but haven't managed it yet.  (I'd be interested to hear if anyone has done this or found any other alteratives).

Although I haven't done it here, I often zig-zag after I've staystithed the strap in place on the bag, so that I'm not only preventing the ends from fraying, but anchoring them the seam allowances within the bag.  I might be a little over-cautious here, but I'd say that's better than slap-dash where the potential for fraying straps are concerned.

The other tip I should mention here, is that if you're pressing a bag with webbing straps, take extra care (read: use a Rajah Cloth) to protect the straps from the heat of the iron.  Nothing worse* than a beautifully finished fabric bag with melted webbing straps. 

EDITED TO ADD:  Thanks for the comments re: a lighter or match.  I meant to suggest that as well as the soldering iron, but forgot.  I have used a lighter for this in the distant past.

Since I have super-sensitive smoke detectors** (that cause the evacuation of the building, two fire trucks to arrive and a $1700 fine for false alarms.....says the voice of experience!), I haven't been able to use any melting techniques for the last 6 years.  Prior to this studio, I had access to a hot knife. 

With melting plastic, you have to be prepared with something to squash out the flame in case it flares up and melts too far.  Having something flat - like a block of wood or the side of an old knife (and a fire-proof flat work surface) is a good idea before putting a flame to the end of the strap.


*Did I mention something about hyperbole...?
**Or alliteration?

17 comments:

Lollybags said...

I have found that running the cut end of the webbing along the iron seals the webbing and if you do it in the right spot it doesn't leave any residue on the iron so it won't ruin the next thing you iron :)

Michael said...

Running it quickly across a lighter once or twice usually create a neat sealed edge for me :)

Fiona @ Feebeez said...

I rember Dad always ran the end of a cut synthetic rope over a lighter a few times. I imagine it would work with the webbing straps too.

The Hojnackes said...

I've used a soldering iron on polypropylene cording I used for a drawstring backpack. It worked very well, but a soldering iron has a lot of exposed hot metal and you can easily burn yourself (I did). If a hot iron works, it might be easier. You could even try sandwiching the webbing in wax or parchment paper while ironing it to avoid it getting on the iron.

quinn said...

Have you ever tried running the edge along the top of the flame of a lit match? That's what I've done to shorten dog collars and leads, horse halters, etc. The edge fuses together very quickly. Not sure if the material is identical, but it might be worth a try on a scrap piece.

Fer said...

I've used a candle on i-cord, but I have to be careful and it smells too. Thanks for the tip!

willywagtail said...

You sound like me. Zigzagiing the life out of everything just to make sure they are life-proof. Cherrie

Margaret @ Konstant Kaos said...

I use a flame as well, but I am sure that you could also use an old hair striaghtner if you wanted to sacrifice it.

Missymaomao said...

I use one of those long handle gas lighters that you can buy in the supermarket for lighting the stove.

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh darling, your warnings & edited additions were the funniest, ooppss!! My husband is the king of working with webbing (for his soldier stuff) & is forever sealing ropes off with all sorts of techniques - in our garage!! Love Posie

Sue said...

The trick with using an open flame (lighter or match) is to not actually touch the flame with what you are trying to seal.
I use this method regularly for sealing the ends of zippers that I trim down, I use a lighter and just keep the fabric 1-2mm away from the flame, and it seals without lighting up ;)

mammajoy said...

What about using Fray-Stoppa? I used it on a messenger bag and so far it's done the job. Has anyone had success with it?

our shabby cottage said...

I had that exact thing happen last week, regarding ironing the webbing.. not happy Jan, had to unpick the living daylights out of the bag and replace it. I learnt a very valuble lesson indeed.

Annette said...

I've never tried it, but how about using a HotFix Crystal Applicator, you know the tip part that heats up, you'd rub it against the cut piece. Something to try at least

Four Gambel Girls and a Guy - documenting the adventures we call life said...

Just found your blog ~ through Maya-made ~ and I think I am gonna bookmark it! Looks great and since I love to sew as well as two of my three daughters...it will be quite helpful!

NessaKnits said...

I don't know if this would work, but I would probably heat a cake skewer (the old metal ones, like my mum has) on a coiled stovetop for a while until it was red glowing and then with BIG GLOVES ON, pick it up and lay it across where you wanted to seal with that laying on something that was burn resistant, like a tile. Just a suggestion. Worth a try.

Mary Creighton said...

I have a wood burning tool with an X-acto knife blade attachment. This works the same way a hot knife does, at a much lower cost. It cuts and seals the nylon at the same time. Just be sure to cut it on a surface that won't melt or start on fire!