Friday, December 13, 2013

Book review - Duct Tape Bags

Before I get started, tomorrow (12/14/2013) is my last show of the season - if you're in the Milwaukee area and would like to check out a fun and rowdy craft show, please come see me at the German Immersion School (3778 N. 82nd Street in Milwaukee) from 10-3 for their Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market).  Come and say hi!  Remember that anyone calling me "Purple Mist" gets 20% off of their purchase at my table!

Also, class browsing for the 2014 Bead&Button Show is open!  You can see all the details for my Cobblestone Path bracelet class here.  You can register for classes starting noon on January 7th.

Like I mentioned on Tuesday, today I'm reviewing Duct Tape Bags, a free eBook I found on Amazon.  I know sometimes I've posted reviews I've written for Amazon, but today I'm going to write the review here then post a modified version on Amazon when I'm finished.

If you want my thoughts on actually working with duct tape or making a bag, please see Tuesday's post.  I do have a slight update to my bag, which I will do after the book review.

This book is a compilation of projects from the Instructables website.  There are many authors and many different styles of writing.  It seems they take a group of projects from time to time and publish an eBook.  I have another one of their books, Manly Knits, which was and is also free.  I'm sure the goal is to bring people to their website, as after every project there are links to other, "similar" (but not always) projects on their site.  Also, there's a full list of links to each of the projects and their authors at the beginning of the book.

The bag on the cover is a little misleading.  The inside of the bag is duct tape, and the outside of the bag is heavy duty fabric.  There are some projects that use fabric or cardboard along with the duct tape, and there are some projects that use duct tape alone.  Some of the projects explain how to make duct tape "fabric" (sheets of duct tape with sticky sides touching), so the cover bag probably could be made using just duct tape and some modifications of the instructions.

The projects in the book aren't organized very well.  I would have liked them grouped by type, maybe by size: camera bags, purses, totes, messenger bags, and other.  That way, when I want to look for a project to make, I'm not jumping around the book.  I did that a fair amount while deciding what I wanted to do for my duct tape purse I wrote about on Tuesday.  I got dizzy, because the names of the projects as seen in the Table of Contents didn't always tell me what the project was.  "How to make a Duct Tape bag" ended up being the one I used, as it was a purse with a flap.

Whoever did the editing made some effort to make the book look like a cohesive unit, with the same formatting for every project, such as red and bold for "Intro" and each of the step numbers ("Step 1:").  However, I do wish there had been more editing of the individual projects.  There are many spelling and grammatical mistakes  If it was my book, I would have cleaned all that up.

Also, there are places where pictures are repeated, probably because that's how they were uploaded to the website.  One or two pictures didn't bother me (much), but there are a few projects where every single picture appears before the written instructions, then each picture appeared again.  A few times I thought there weren't going to be any instructions - just pictures.  I kept flipping pages, and the instructions appeared eventually.

Speaking of pictures...  There were many pictures that were blurry, dark, or both.  I know how hard it is to take good process shots of my jewelry designs, and I spend a lot of time taking pictures, fiddling with the camera, and grumbling.  I won't include a picture in my instructions if it's not clear what's going on.  I know the instructions on the Instructables website are free, as was the book, but why bother doing it if someone isn't going to be able to understand what to do?

Speaking of  being able to understand what to do... There are a number of places in this book where there are little or no instructions, such as, "first make a duct tape box like this."  Yes, that was in step 1.  The instructions I followed to make the basic shape of my purse were great for making the individual pieces (front, back with flap, sides, bottom, and strap), but then I was on my own: "take all of your pieces and tape them together like you would tape pieces of cardboard together to make a box."  Fortunately, I'm a crafty person and could figure it out.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some projects with very good instructions, such as the backpacking pack (including PVC pipes for the frame) and a messenger bag with hardware for the buckles (including instructions on how to make the hardware).  They are very detailed with many pictures on each step of these complicated bags.

One good thing about the Instructables instructions (on the website and in the book) is the ability to have image notes.  The authors can "tag" parts of the images, which in the book show up as numbered yellow rectangles, and the notes come after.  That's helpful if highlighting an area of the bag that needs trimmed or things like that.

All in all, if you're interested in making bags from duct tape, this book is a good place to get an idea of what kinds of bags you can make, or you can go directly to the Instructables website and look for projects there.  If you're crafty, you can figure out the bits that are left out.  I'm planning on referencing this book again when I next see some pretty duct tape.

Now for the update on my duct tape purse.  Here's how it looked when I left off on Tuesday:

If you recall, I was trying to figure out a way to make the flap close.  Since I wanted the whole purse to be made of duct tape, I didn't want to use magnets.  Besides, I didn't have any appropriate magnets.  :)

When reading a book on paracord knots (that will probably be another review at some point), I saw a Celtic button knot that I thought would be cute. I rolled up a piece of duct tape to be kind of like a rope.  It took a few tries (using a picture online instead of instructions in the book, so you can imagine how good the book is), but I was able to make a knot that almost looks right.  The duct tape is a little too rigid for the knot to form perfectly.  I used the excess to make a loop.  I taped both of them down, and:

Voila!  My flap will theoretically stay down.

Here it is up close:

Remember, I want to see any duct tape bags you make!  Send your pictures and thoughts to

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