Introduction: Duct Tape Bag (okay...Purse)

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The perfect fashion accessory for a Maker Faire near you!

This is one of the 48 projects for our Instructables: Made In Your Mind (IMIYM) exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Houston showing from May 26, 2012 - November 4, 2012. Produced in partnership with Instructables, IMIYM is an exhibit where families work together to build different fun, toy-like projects that help construct knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while instilling a “do-it-yourself” attitude in kids so they feel empowered to explore, tinker, and try to make things themselves. To learn more, check out the article here.

For this project, we were inspired by the How To Make A Duct Tape Bag Instructable created by heatherdanielle, but there are others on Instructables that are also similar. Often, the materials and process for building our projects are designed for use with a large number of visitors (we see over 800,000 annually) and the need to ensure safety in a mostly non-facilitated environment. So, yes, many of these projects have room for improvement in both materials and methodology, which is PRECISELY what we want to encourage the kids to do. So please do share your ideas for improvement and modifications!

By the way, I call this a "bag" and not a "purse" because, I figure that with some flame-printed duct tape, you could make a man-bag, right? Okay, maybe not - this is about the size of a clutch, to be honest - but with some modificiations to size, it could be turned into a man-bag. If you do this, please add a pic to comments or, better yet, link to your Instructable!

Step 1: What You Need

We are selective in our materials for cost, ease of use, and safety due to our high traffic (800,000 visitors annually). So, for our purposes, this design worked best. But you may have other ideas - please share!
  • 2-3 – Rolls of Duct Tape (different patterns/colors are available just about anywhere). Because of how much we needed, we purchased ours in bulk from Tape Brothers
  • 2 -  8½” x 11” Chipboard (cereal boxes work well). We purchases ours in bulk from U-Line
  • Scissors (optional - depends on how well you can tear duct tape)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Step 2: The Video

We offer optional video segments of each step for this project in the actual exhibit. Here is a compilation of all the steps.

Step 3: Step 1 - First Chipboard

On one sheet of chipboard, measure 6 inches from the short edge along both long edges and make a mark. Draw a line across the board. From the line, measure another 1½ inches along the long edges and draw a line across the board. Cut along the lines. Place the 6 inch and the 1½ inch pieces off to the side

Step 4: Step 2 - First Chipboard (cont.)

On the remaining piece, measure 6 inches along each long side and make a mark. Draw a line across. Cut along the line. Discard the smaller piece. Along the shorter sides, make a mark at 1½ and 3 inches and draw lines across. Cut along the lines. Discard the thin strip and set the rest off to the side.

Step 5: Step 3 - Second Chipboard

On a second sheet of chipboard, measure 6 inches from the short edge along both long edges and make a mark. Draw a line across the board. From the line, measure another 1½ inches along each side and draw a line across the board. Cut along the lines and set aside all the pieces except for one 6 inch piece.

Step 6: Step 4 - the Inside Covering

Cut a 9 inch strip of duct tape. Note this color will be for the INSIDE of the bag. I would recommend your basic grey duct tape (even though we used color here) since it is cheaper than the colored stuff. Place the strip of duct tape on the long edge of a 6 inch piece of chipboard so it slightly overhangs all three edges. Fold the excess tape around the other side of the chipboard. You can cut notches  parallel to the edges of the chipboard to create three tabs - it helps make clean folds.Keep adding, slightly overlapping the prior strip until the entire piece is covered on one side. Repeat for all the remaining pieces.

Step 7: Step 5 - Lining Up the Pieces

Line the following pieces duct tape side down in order along the long sides: 3½”, 1½” (long piece), large 6”, 1½” (long piece), and large 6” so it creates a large rectangle. Make sure the edges are touching.

Step 8: Step 6 - Covering the Outside of the Bag

Cut a 9 inch strip of duct tape. Note this color will be for the OUTSIDE of the bag. Starting at the top of the 3 ½ inch piece, begin covering the entire giant rectangle with overlapping 9 inch strips of duct tape. Trim the tape (which can be harder) or fold the tape (whcih is easier) over the back. Make sure the tape bridges the gaps between the pieces to hold the whole rectangle together.

Step 9: Step 7 - Forming the Bag

Flip the rectangle over and fold the bottom 6 inch piece over to create a front of the bag with the other 6 inch piece making the back of the bag.

Step 10: Step 8 - Making the Sides

Cut a 6 inch strip of duct tape. Note this color should match the OUTSIDE of the bag or be an accent color. Tape one of the two smaller pieces of chipboard (uncovered side out) to the front of the bag along one 6 inch side. Use a second 6 inch piece of tape to attach it to the back of the bag. Use a 1½ inch piece to attach it to the bottom of the bag to finish the side of the bag. Repeat to attach the other side of the bag.

Step 11: Step 9 - the Strap

To create a strap, cut a 28 inch strip of tape and lay it flat on the table, sticky-side up. Carefully fold it in half hot-dog style. Trim off any uncovered sticky parts. Tape it to the sides of the bag.

Step 12: So What's the Educational Value?

Well, we already talked about duct tape with the Duct Tape Wallet project (see it here). In this case, I'd focus on the math of fashion. One of the most important pieces when designing something is to create a pattern, - the different pieces that, when put together, will create your final product. In this case, the pattern was made up of the pieces of chipboard that you covered with duct tape. By carefully measuring and cutting the pieces, the bag could be easily assembled correctly.

Basically, it is a great project to explore geometry and to practice meauring skills. This is a great project to also reinforce the mantra to always “measure twice and cut once,” meaning double check your measurements before you cut because if you cut incorrectly you may waste materials.