August 03, 2006

Sew What?

I am sure many of you who sew have had this exact reaction to a sewing request. In this case, one woman named her company Sew What? Inc. Megan Duckett started a business sewing draperies. Her employment sewing for a theater company is how she decided on a company name. The complete story can be found at U.S. News and World Report, July 31, 2006 edition.

I am always impressed by women who start sewing related businesses. Megan even ran her company out of her garage for a time. What an inspiration! For more info about Megan, check out her website Sew What Inc.

My blog entry is not really about Megan's company, but about those Sew What?! moments. For Megan, she was asked to sew a lining into a coffin for a theatrical production. I have had many Sew What?! moments, but one stands out. I was asked to sew a vinyl car top cover for a convertible VW Bug.

Yes, I took this job. I knew I wouldn't make any money from the project, but it was the challenge that grabbed me. This was during college and I thought I could sew anything (I still think that, provided I have the right equipment). During college, a friend of mine bought a convertible bug. It had no cover. He welded a frame together and then asked me to sew a top together. I had an average home sewing machine and a lot of ambition.

With a budget of $60, I purchased some black vinyl, extra large snaps, and some clear vinyl (for a rear window). The only equipment purchase I made was some teflon coated needles in size 18 and a snap kit. This fabric was very thick. I have to say my initial pattern actually looked very good. The execution is where I had trouble.

This is one of those instances where a walking-foot machine would have come in handy. Instead, I sewed this thing together with my Singer 503A. For all of those Ebay sellers out there that claim this machine can sew through 4 layers of vinyl, well they are half right. It will do it, but it may not look very good. This is a tuff little machine and I really pushed it to the max sewing this together. The seams were overlapped on top of each other like a lapped seam, but the material slid and stretched as it went along. In any event, I finally finished it.

The top was attached to the car with the snaps. The snap kits available in the fabric stores are not really designed to go through heavy-weight vinyl or to be glued onto a car surface, but somehow we got them attached. Despite our efforts, this car was not really safe to drive with a home-made car top. I could just see it fly off at 25MPH. My friend ended up using the car top for rainy days while it was parked. He also bought a real vehicle that was safe to drive.

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