Sophie shows you ways to stretch your duct tape

Stretching your duct tape, part 3: Alternate materials

<p>Ever mindful of the expense of duct tape, Sophie shows you how to stretch your duct tape by using less expensive materials.</p>

In an effort to stretch my duct tape even farther, I have been investigating alternative materials that can be used for the “base” of my duct tape fabric. The issue is when you are creating something large out of duct tape, such as a purse or backpack, it can take upwards of an entire roll of tape just to make the base fabric. For those of you unfamiliar with duct tape projects, fabric is made by overlapping strips of tape to create a sheet of tape. The fabric needs to be taped on both sides, so if you are making a piece of fabric to make a 4 by 6 inch clutch purse, you’re going to need about 15 feet of tape, which is about half of a roll of patterned tape. That’s just to make the base fabric! At $4.99 a roll, you can see how it adds up.

Knowing that my audience using this tape has limited budgets, I thought it wise to start investigating alternative materials to use instead, the idea being that one could embellish like crazy with fun patterned and designed tapes as long as one had a good base that adhered to the tape. And thus the search began!

Fabric can work... I’ve used felt before... but the issue is that the item becomes sort of bulky, and thinner materials such as cottons fray. So what to use that has strength, flexibility, thinness, and will adhere to tape? The answer came to us (I say us because we were all sitting around brainstorming about this... and I believe it was Simone who threw out the final answer) in a flash of brilliance when we were considering some of the reusable bags piling up in the corner of Simone’s office... PAINTER’S TARPS!

Here are the materials you need to make duct tape tarp fabric

Any of you who have ever had to cover an outdoor object to protect it from the elements probably knows what I’m talking about. People use them to cover loads in the back of a flatbed truck, cover tables for art projects, keep items clean when painting, even use them to keep the rain out of little houses with holes in the roofs! They are made out of a thin plastic with a woven sort of webbing, which adds strength without bulk. They come in pretty standard colors: brown, silver, and my favorite, blue. But the best thing about them is the price: one basic 8 by 10 foot blue tarp will run you about $5.00 -- enough to make over 50 purses, or 40 backpacks!

Four easy steps to make duct tape fabric with a tarp

So you are probably asking: how do I use this material? Basically, you cut pieces to the size of duct tape fabric you normally would use for your project. Then you’ll want to embellish the outside as you wish, then trim the decorated fabric to size.

Making seams with a tarp backed fabric at

When securing any seams (places where you fold over and attach one item to another) you’ll want to make sure to use small pieces of tape going horizontal to the seam, then come back and secure the ends of the small pieces with a strip of lengthwise tape on either side of the seam, and one final lengthwise strip over the seam. You’ll want to do this inside the item as well, but that should normally just take a longwise strip right down the seam.

Freda and I are looking into alternative ways to seal the plastic as well. One thing we have in the office is a heat sealer. We use it to seal mylar balloons and plastic goodie bags, but we’ve discovered that it seals the plastic tarp as well. So our next project is to figure out if there is something that can seal the tarp that is a common household tool. We’ll keep you posted on what we find out! In the meantime, if you’ve got an old tarp lying around... why not give it a try? You may find that you’re needing to make less trips to the craft store!

Here are some examples of bags made from tarp fabric at