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Bernadette Noll writes in:

I’ve got a question for you. We’ve been sewing rubber inner tubes recycled from the local bike shop. You can see a picture on our blog of the cool bags we’ve been making. We love the materials and there are oodles of them being thrown away but we’d like to make the sewing of the rubber simpler. Do you have any suggestions for running the rubber through easily?

The rubber has an extremely smooth, nonporous surface, the same as most sewing machines. The two surfaces stick together, making it hard to pass the rubber through the sewing machine. The only solution I’ve seen to this problem is to use a piece of tissue paper, newsprint, or other thin paper in between the rubber and the machine. Use a heavy-duty needle and thread to avoid snaps and tangles, and make sure your presser foot tension (how hard it presses down on the material) is set correctly for the thickness of material you’re sewing through. When you’ve sewn the rubber, you can simply tear the paper away; it will have been perforated by the needle.

If you have a question for Ask CRAFT, shoot me an email at becky@craftzine.com, or drop us a tweet! We’d love to answer your crafty questions on any topic: technique, projects, crafty culture, or anything else! Each week the answers are here; include your name, where you’re from, and your website or blog if you have one!

becky stern headshot Ask CRAFT: Sewing Rubber and Other Sticky Materials

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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