Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plastic Fantastic

Okay, I promise...this is the last post on my ongoing war with machines.  Actually, this is not about aging sewing machines, but plastics. Remember the scene from "The Graduate" where an old drunk friend of the family gave Benjamin the one secret to success? "Plastics". There was some truth in that revelation, as just about everything under the sun has some plastic incorporated into it today, and sewing machines are no different.

After the total breakdown of my own machine and the subsequent blowing up the FabricLady's precious old Viking, I called upon my daughter-in-law to borrow back my old Singer, just so I could get back to sewing.  I had it tuned up before I gave it to her a few years ago.  She had only trotted it out a couple of times, so it has been locked up in it's case for a while.

I didn't plug it in for several days...I didn't even unpack it. To say that I am little gun-shy of the whole sewing gig is an understatement.  So I left the old Singer on my sewing table...walking by it...staring at it...wondering if spontaneous combustion might take it down.  Yesterday I decided to go for it....you know what they say, 'if you wanna ride, ya gotta get back on the horse.'

I unzipped the case and set it on the table. What's with the yellow plastic?? I bought a yellow machine????  

So, given my whole nightmare experiences with sewing machines, I am afraid to start her up.  Seeing her aging yellow body immediately reminded me of my last experience with old plastic, in the form of ski boots.

We used to ski all the time with our kids, but when they all left home, Dave and I stopped skiing.  After about 10 years away from the slopes. we were invited by my old boss to join he and his sons on a day trip up to Alpine Meadows.  I knew that the new parabolic skis of today would be easier to negotiate, given my 10 year hiatus.  I opted to rent skis once I got up there, but surely, I could wear my old boots...after all, they cost me $250 - they should be fine!

Upon arriving at the parking lot, I unzipped my boot bag and brought my boots out into the light. "What's with the that yellow tinge', I thought to myself, but I deftly shoved my feet into them, grabbed my gloves and hat and stepped out onto the parking lot.  As I walked along, I thought I heard a tiny crackling. Then I felt it. I looked behind me and noticed little shards of plastic were trailing behind me, until after one final step, the entire soles of my boots were left on the pavement.  We laughed and laughed. Needless to say I rented new boots that day.

Despite the fact that plastics do not break down in the environment, I can attest that not all plastics hold up when you want then to. Given my ski boot experience, I thought I'd do a  little research before I fired up the Singer.  I found some gaming nerd's 500 page dissertation on the dreaded yellowing of Nintendo game boxes. He did some research himself and found this article by another plastics nerd...

Dr. Rudolph Deanin"Unsatisfied with Nintendo's answer, I decided to dig deeper. I contacted Dr. Rudolph D. Deanin, founder of the graduate program in Plastics Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and director of the program for over thirty years. I told him everything I know about plastic chassis discoloration in both the Super Nintendo and Macintosh computers and asked what he thought might be causing it."The plastics most commonly used to make the structural cases for electronic equipment are polypropylene, impact styrene, and ABS," replied Deanin. "These all tend to discolor and embrittle gradually when exposed to UV and/or heat. They become oxidized and develop conjugated unsaturation, which produces color. They crosslink or degrade, which causes brittleness."

Aah...so that explains the ski boots. So what about my old Singer, you ask? Not sure, but I need to sew, so I'm going for it.

Wish me good luck, God's Speed, Best wishes, May the Force be With Me...whatever chant or prayer you might have...I'll take anything at this point!

Laurel. And sew on, and sew on...


  1. Um Owen needs a badge sewn on. Might be a good start. You know a good deed for a little cub scout that you love.

    1. Too funny...I know who you are!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I expect that plastic works better than metal in many instances but I'm old enough to appreciate a time when most things were made of metal.


Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...