Return to the Ratropolis website. Like us on Facebook.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Using Rigilene in Your Hammocks

Hammocks Reinforced with Rigilene

Have you ever wanted to make a cube that can stand upright on its own without needing to be hung from the cage bars? Rigilene may be the solution.

Rigilene polyester boning
What is Rigilene? It is a flexible polyester boning used in strapless dresses and swimwear to provide that extra support that keeps everything "up." It is not as firm as some forms of boning, but it can be sewn directly onto fabric and it is machine washable.

I have found that sewing strips of Rigilene into or alongside of the seams in a cube can help it keep that upright shape without sagging or collapsing.

The nice thing about the Rigilene is that it seems to have that perfect balance of support and flexibility. If it is too stiff, it would be hard to work with and difficult to turn the cube right side out when completed. It also would not collapse for easier storage. If it is too flexible, it won't hold the desired shape and will collapse. In my testing of the self-supporting cube, I have found that when placed in the rat's play pen, it maintained its shape as the rats explored it and wrestled inside it. It will support the weight of a rat on top of the cube, but it likely would not allow the rats to climb on top without giving way. However, the rats seemed to sense this and while they put their front feet up against the top, when they felt the boning start to bend a little, they promptly got down and did not attempt to jump on top. So, during out time, the cube held up great without additional support. At the end of the week, when I change out the hammocks, I will leave the cube in the cage to see how it holds up without support.

The cube can be collapsed and stored by pushing in on one corner until it collapses inward, then folding the structure into a square.

The Rigilene comes on a roll and thus has a natural bend to it. You can iron your cut strips to straighten them out. After washing, a little of the curl did return, but it wasn't too bad. Just a slight bowing in some of the sides.

I test washed the cube and it did lose a little of its perfect shape, but still held up structurally (the picture above was taken after it had been washed). I had read that with Rigilene, you need to burn the cut edges of the boning or wrap the ends in scraps of densely woven cotton, or the sharp edges of the boning will prick the garment wearer. Since I was not making a garment, I did not bother to do this, but I should have. After washing, some of the sharper corners started to poke through the fabric. It didn't help that I was using cheap Easter fabric. So, with subsequent projects, I have been burning the tips of the Rigilene with a candle lighter so that they melt slightly and the edges have a smooth finish. I advise you not do this in the same room with the rats as it does briefly emit a chemical burning smell. Or you can just fold a small piece of tough fabric around the edged before sewing.

Once I had the cube figured out, I wanted to see if I could use this material in some of the other hammocks that would benefit from a little support. The most obvious was the tube - using Rigilene to hold the tube open in a circle at either end. Ironically, it was more difficult to use in the tube than I expected. The difficulty comes with using Rigilene in a perfect circle and still being able to sew it into the tube. My first attempt did not work the way I expected, and I ended up just having to sew the circles into the ends by folding the raw edges into the tube and leaving them exposed. I would like to find a more finished way to do this and will continue experimenting. If I just want the tube held open in a tear-drop shape - that is much easier to do. But in my mind, a tube should be circular.

After my experience with the tube, I realized it would be extremely easy to create a tunnel that sits on the ground, with the rigilene keeping the tunnel upright in a half circle shape. The tunnel was the simplest of the projects I tried and came out just as imagined. I used three strips of Rigilene (front, back, and center) to keep the tunnel open, with about six inches between each strip. Down below you can see that Jo really enjoys the tunnel.

Jo Peeks out from the Tunnel
The last project I tackled was an Easter basket. The basket is basically a modified cuddle cup with a Rigilene structure supporting it, a Rigilene handle wrapped in fabric, and no dipped opening. This was by far the hardest of the projects to implement and I swore that I would not attempt it again. The stitching was absolutely atrocious, because it was hard to guide the structure through the sewing maching. However, the final product, despite all the poor craftsmanship was still very nice. I have an alternate idea for constructing it that I will be trying out. I am not sure if that method will end up being harder or easier, but I like the finished product enough, that I am willing to give it a try.
I do not have tutorials for any of these projects yet because I am still working out the kinks. I will add tutorials for the projects that I am able to master when I have things figured out to my satisfaction.

No comments:

Post a Comment