ScrapHappy January 2020

I have decided, this year, to make a concerted effort to use some of the interesting materials that I have been accumulating for the past few years. You know (or, perhaps you don’t), the sort of thing that you think “I won’t throw that away,  it’s bound to come in useful sometime”. Well, 2020 is going to be the “Year of Useful” and ScrapHappy posts should prompt me to do something with all this useful scrap at least once every month.

January started with a special make from new materials (more of that in a future post), but last Saturday afternoon the rain poured down and I decided to use the time to do some dismantling. As I have mentioned before, Sam is the destroyer of zips, metal rivets and other fastenings. Over the years she has severely chewed a variety of cushions, bags, hats and coats. Her most annoying bout of destruction involved two Gortex jackets. I was determined that these would not go to waste and I have salvaged a bit of fabric from them in the past to make waterproof patches for the knees of Mr Snail’s gardening jeans, as well as some Velcro and fastenings but mostly they have been squirreled away awaiting inspiration. Said inspiration arrived in the form of bag-making… all I needed to do was salvage all the bits.

I got out my scissors and stitch-ripper and set to. I discovered that there was also another old more traditional waterproof coat with the two Gortex ones, so I had three sources of “scrap”. I started by removing all the cords (some elasticated and some not) and associated toggles and sliders. Then I found a piece of coated wire in the brim of one of the hoods so I took that out. There were several pieces of Velcro which I unstitched, as well as a couple of zips that Sam had missed on one of the jackets.

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Extracted Hardware

Next I spotted that some pockets with zips that were still intact and wondered if they could be used on some of my bags, so those came off as whole as possible.

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Pockets

Finally I started removing sections of fabric, both mesh lining and Gortex, including cutting a sleeve to make a hood for Daisy (she gets very wet ears in the rain).

And then I started to feel unwell. One of the jackets was completely dismantled, one partially and the non-Gortex one had just had the cords removed. I drank a cup of tea, watched the TV for a bit and then started to cook dinner, at which point I announced to Mr Snail that I felt sick and needed to go and lie down. After more than 12 hours in bed and only having consumed water and red bush tea, I was feeling better and wondering what had happened.

In fact, I think that I was poisoned: having spent more than 2 hours handling the Gortex and breathing in fibres (it certainly made me sneeze), I wonder whether whatever it is coated with got into my system. It certainly felt like a reaction to something toxic. From now on I will limit my contact with it and I plan to do some research to find out whether I’m right. So, do be careful with your scraps, they might just give as good as they get!

Anyway, the bits and pieces are now being incorporated into bags that will have little contact with the skin and I hope to show you the results next month.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of other folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Sue and Sunny

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

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31 Comments

  1. Oh no! I hope there’s no residual after effects… All those lovely bits and pieces are going to be so useful, and they’d have cost a fortune if you’d bought them new. It’s *almost* as if you could have created an entirely new jacket from all the bits… I do love Daisy’s snood – you see a lot of them for greyhounds because they so skinny and their ears get very cold in the winter. I do feel Daisy needs a feminine touch for hers – a flower, maybe?

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  2. PS: there’s a new member, Sunny (at the end of the list) if you could possibly add her too? Thanks!

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  3. Please do publish any findings you make Jan, it does seem highly likely you may have made the connections correctly. I recently had a strangely similar similar experience, not with fabrics but with a cleaning product. I habitually use baking soda and white vinegar to keep my house clean, but needing to clean up some badly soiled outdoor furniture I clearly had a brain spin and purchased one of those high falutin’ power spray cleaners and set to work with that. I was surprised (why, I wonder) at how toxic it smelt, so I took care not to spray too close to my face nor to breathe over in product. All the same, an hour later I was woozy and unwell and needed to lie down. I’ve binned that stuff and returned to my preferred cleaning products. Lesson learned 🙂

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    • Well, it certainly seems like the most logical explanation. Once my head had cleared and I thought about my symptoms, it certainly seemed like I had been exposed to something toxic. Mr Snail did a bit of research and found that the coating for Gortex is similar to Teflon, for which there are known health issues. I will investigate further and am handling the stuff only for short periods now.

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  4. Oh my gosh , what a cautionary tale, beware of scraps indeed. I wonder if something had deteriorated in the filling? Proceed with care.

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    • It’s possible the coating had started to break down, but there was nothing obvious. Of course with normal use I would only be wearing the stuff over clothes and outdoors, so the nature of the exposure was well outside what is usual.

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  5. Scary scraps! Who would have thought it?
    Obviously whatever is in the Gortex didn’t affect Sam in the same way otherwise he probably wouldn’t have done such a good destruction job in the first place.
    Looking forward to seeing what you make with all those useful bits and pieces.

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  6. I love the idea of ‘year of useful’! I would never have anticipated that goretex could be toxic but I am sure you are right about the cause of your feeling ill. You do realise that you will now have to make a lot of bags to use up all those pockets? All this ‘useful’ is a work creation programme!

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  7. A Year of Useful! What a great term. I may adopt that as my motto for the year too.

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  8. Phew! Keep us posted.

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  9. what a nasty experience, hope it doesn’t have any lasting effects. I live on the west coast of Canada and have worn goretex (as have my kids and grandkids) almost since it was invented. Nobody has ever had any adverse symptoms, perhaps it starts to deteriorate as it gets older.

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    • I too have worn it for many many years, but rarely in contact with my skin and I’ve never been exposed to breathing in fibres. Neither coat showed physical signs of deterioration, but you never know how the chemical composition may have changed. I think some more detailed research is called for.

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  10. If it is the fibres, it makes you feel for the workers (probably women) who have to sew the stuff. Add it to the long list of issues in the garment making industry.

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  11. This is such a good idea – thanks for the continued inspiration

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  12. You’ve had a taste of what I routinely experience when I go out into the world. I’m convinced most people are walking around in a state of toxicity that is unhealthy for anyone. And honestly, I hadn’t thought about the poor folks who have to work with toxic materials daily to earn a living. Oh how the people in charge need to clean up their act! You had a great idea to begin with. I hope you can carry it out without further unpleasantness.

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    • I am normally so careful with things like cleaning products and toiletries that it was quite a shock to feel so ill from such an apparently innocuous activity. I’m currently working mainly with natural fibres, which cause no such ill effects.

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  13. I’ve often wondered about the fibers in Gore-Tex and the coatings classed as “DWR” (“durable water repellent finish”). I hope you can minimize contact in the future. I do love your “year of usefulness” concept, and the way you really deconstruct pieces to salvage them — I’m super impressed. The closest I’ve come is saving a couple of beautiful old brass zippers from an old bag, some buttons from a vintage dress, and turning some past-their-prime pajamas into rag squares. You’ve inspired me!

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  14. I despair sometimes at the chemicals used in everything it seems…Love the idea of a “Year of Useful” Looking forward to seeing what you make 🙂

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  15. Ann Pole

     /  January 30, 2020

    Gosh! I think I’ll just stay clear of Gortex! Glad you are OK again.

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  16. Nikki

     /  January 30, 2020

    Thank you so much for this – I’ve always been impressed with the tech behind Gore-tex & only ever buy hiking shoes that are lined with it (and not other market alternatives) because it performs so well in wet, muddy conditions. I had no idea its treatment in clothing could be so toxic (shocking!) What a way to find out (poor you). So glad you’ve recovered from the chemical poisoning. Take care, dear Mrs. Snail.

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  1. ScrapHappy February 2020 | The Snail of Happiness

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