- Apr 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm #1301771
A while back I saw this thread about recreating the Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit, a pretty cool piece of kit long out of production, and was interested to try it. Ken’s link takes you to a webpage where a number of different attempts to recreate the kit are described, and the “winner” is Russell Ijams, whose webpage gives pretty detailed instructions including which pin vise he selected from several he tested (you can find it on Amazon here (*see below), and reading the reviews you will see mention of the Chouinard Kit and the same photos that are on Russell’s website. Although it says stock is limited, click on the “3 new from $7.50” hyperlink. I purchased from Hobby Tool Supply, the second option, and got the vise exactly as described). I noticed that not long after Ken posted the link, that particular pin vise jumped from $2 to $7.50! Maybe a coincidence but maybe a bunch of people suddenly started ordering it for this project.
So obviously this is not my idea, but I just wanted to (1) draw attention to how well this works and how easy it is to make so as to (2) hopefully inspire more folks to try it and (3) share a little bit of some extra details I found through searching to make the process a little quicker. Used Chouinard kits, on the rare occasions they show up, are selling for over $100 on eBay. I’m perfectly happy with my under-$10, all-metal (original was plastic) but still lightweight MYOG version.
All I did upon receiving the pin vise was saw off the 3/32” post on the back of it. Unlike Russell’s experience, for me the post did not fall out in the process of cutting, so I used a file from an old Leatherman to smooth the rough edges from the cut flush with the rest of the end piece.
I did a bit of searching to find more details on the specifics of the kit. Chouinard used a size 16 sewing needle, which I found among the spares in my sewing machine box. The original kit used a 3-inch-long cotter pin, and I’ve not been able to locate the same size anywhere. However, 2.5-inch (3/32” diameter) cotter pins were easily found at the Home Depot for $0.60 for 5, and they seem fine for my size hands. As with the original kit, since the cotter pin shape is similar, it serves double purpose as the T-bar of the stitcher and a tool to quickly rethread pulled drawstrings, a not-uncommon field repair need.
The instructions from the original kit can be found on Google Images, but I found an instructional video on YouTube on how to use the Speedy Stitcher (the Chouinard kit’s heavier grandpa) more helpful. Since the Chouinard kit doesn’t have the thread anchor the Speedy Stitcher does, you just have to hold the thread end with your thumb while stitching.
I decided to leave out some elements of the original kit: the buttons (few if any buttons on my hiking clothes) and multicolored thread from what looks like a hotel “freebie” sewing kit (I am fine to use either the dental floss or black poly thread for all repairs), and the needle threader (I’ve found them to break very easily—though they are very helpful when you have cold hands). Instead of wrapping the thread around a card, I used a thin piece of plastic. But there is a really nice aesthetic to the original kit’s leather pouch that I wanted to recreate.
Ultimately, this is what I found to work the best. It’s a coin purse from Guatemala, stamped with the name of the city where I used to live. I feel like I’ve seen similar keyring coin purses in airport gift shops all over the US, so you don’t need to go to Guatemala to pick one of these up. Now, the whole kit in the picture weighs 0.9 oz, and 0.4 of that is the pouch alone. I’m sure there are lighter options, but the aesthetic of it, the toughness of the leather for protecting the needles (and protecting me from the needles!) and the memories it calls forth are worth those 0.4 oz to me.
At the time of writing, the only sewing I’ve done with it has been replacing Velcro on a pair of thrift-store Keens I found for my daughter's summer adventures. It pushed easily through the webbing and the sandal body. The whole kit fits into the coin pocket on my jeans and I find that more often than not, I leave the house with it on me.
EDIT: Can't embed the Amazon link for some reason…it is http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Chuck-Keyless-Drill-Electric/dp/B000RB7BN6/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1365907521&sr=8-7&keywords=3+quick+chuck+keyless+drill+bitApr 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm #1976986Jim ColtenSpectator
Can't embed the Amazon link for some reason
Happens from time to time here. It usually works to create a bit.ly shortened URL and imbed that … as seen here bit.ly URL to pin viseApr 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm #1980118
I started acquiring the parts to build one of these a few months ago and at the same time decided to create an updated version of the instruction sheet that was included with Yvon's original kit. You can download it from my site here:
There seems to be a rendering error on the file I have on my site so PM me with your email if you'd like me to send you it and perhaps there won't be that issue.Apr 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm #1980147Stephen HoeflerBPL Member
@talusterrapinLocale: Happily wandering
This is exactly what I've been looking for! I made the awl a long time ago but have always wanted some instructions to go along with it. Thank you for posting this :DApr 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm #1980149
It's a very cool kit. Nice to see the community come together and open-source it.May 31, 2013 at 10:50 am #1991795Curtis WareBPL Member
Sam thanks for the email.
Just read an article (May 2013 INC) where Yvonne Chouinard mention they are going to sell a sewing kit. An email from Patagonia confirmed, but no deails or release date. Hope it is a similar kit!May 31, 2013 at 11:07 am #1991803
You're welcome, Curtis. And thanks for sharing the news from Patagonia.May 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm #1991836Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
"Just read an article (May 2013 INC) where Yvonne Chouinard mention they are going to sell a sewing kit."
Here's the article, it's pretty interesting:
Yvon is like a MYOG tinkerer, who happens to have a $500 million company downstairs to turn his ideas into products.
"Right now, I'm developing a superefficient camp stove that weighs a few ounces and burns little sticks. "
"Before that, I created a fly-fishing boot with aluminum bars on the sole that works well on slippery rocks."
"We're producing a series of videos to show customers how to fix things themselves. We're even going to make a little sewing kit."
"I've gone back to the fly-fishing that was done in the 15th century, with just a pole and a line on the end with a fly–no $1,000 graphite rod or $500 reel. I love the idea of adapting myself to a situation rather than buying a lot of stuff. People don't need fancy stuff–they need gear that lasts and that works well. I've built my company based on that."
— RexAug 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm #2013674
This is very cool. I just saw the sewing kit at the Patagonia store, $30! Will be making my own, what thread do you all use for the heavy duty thread?Aug 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm #2013682Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I carry about ten feet of a very strong black nylon thread, and about ten feet of a clear monofilament line. One sewing needle.
All I ever use is black duct tape.
–B.G.–Aug 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm #2013768
On a little plastic card, I wound strong black polyester thread and waxed dental floss. The waxed dental floss is to approximate the waxed thread in the original Chouinard kit. The poly thread is for clothes, tarp, quilt, and non-stress areas of the backpack. I've never used the dental floss, but I could imagine using it for tears in my shoes or backpack straps. But Bob's post has me thinking maybe the floss is overkill for LW/UL gear? Maybe someone who's a firm believer in floss for repairs could weigh in on its use?
Edited to add: Also, Bob, could you explain what you sew with the monofilament line? Thanks in advance.Aug 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm #2013777Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Also, Bob, could you explain what you sew with the monofilament line?"
I don't know. A friend of mine once gashed open his leg when he stepped into a hollow snow bank with a sharp rock underneath. He sewed up his own skin using monofilament line.
–B.G.–Aug 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm #2013784Robert MeurantBPL Member
My original Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit came in mighty handy in Zanskar-Ladakh in 1984, when the shoulder strap on my UltraLight daypack disintegrated, some days from the road-end.
I sewed up a replacement pack using a stuff bag and two straps I had, and it worked well enough for the 18 day trek.
Now its worth over $100? (I still use it, and it ain't for sale!)Aug 9, 2013 at 12:10 am #2013815
I ordered some #69 and #92 bonded Polyester thread. Will report back on how it seems when I get it.Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am #2013900Curtis WareBPL Member
From Patagoinia Customer Service:
The Expedition Sewing Kit, Style 12000, is expected to be available on the website on 08/29/13. The kits are available at our retail stores now or you can call Customer Service at 800-638-6464 to place an order. Its retail price is $29.00.
Please find below the description for the item:
For repairs in the field, our Expedition Sewing Kit (with carrying case) equips you with everything from a 7075 aluminum alloy awl to thread in ten colors
Forget the ten essentials. Survivalists know you need four: food, water, a good knife and our Expedition Sewing Kit (a revival of our original Chouinard Equipment Sewing Kit). Front and center to the kit’s utilitarian burliness is the all-everything awesome awl. The awl isn’t just any awl: It’s machined from high-quality 7075 aluminum alloy – think climbing hardware and hang glider frames – that sews anything from broken pack-straps to the sole flopping off your boot (the stealthy and creative can probably use it to hunt or fish for dinner, too). Heavy duty needles and thread fix the fussy items, while buttons, pins and colored thread mend the easy stuff; and the Tenacious Tape™ adhesive patch seals together everything from torn down jackets to bleeding wounds (not medically approved).
Included in the kit are:
– 2-piece, machined awl made of high-quality 7075 aluminum alloy
– Two heavy-duty needles, nylon thread, waxed polyester thread and cotter pin
– Tenacious Tape™ adhesive patch
– Thread (ten different colors), two sewing needles, two buttons and two safety pins
– Two-pocket, recycled polyester faux suede carrying case
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let us know.
All the best!
Patagonia Customer Service
Patagonia Customer Service Reps are available for inquiries weekdays from 6am to 7pm, and weekends from 8am to 4pm (PT). Phone orders are accepted 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekAug 9, 2013 at 9:35 am #2013901
Cool to see this rebirthed.Aug 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm #2013945
by the way, I saw the new kit at the Patagonia store the other day. Was pretty neat, and inspired one to make your own!Aug 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm #2014743
My 69 and 92 polyester thread arrived. Either looks great for outdoor sewing. Will see if the 92 works with the size 16 needle and probably use that if so.
I got a ton of thread, if anyone wants 25 feet or so, pm me with your mailing and email address and I'll send you some (reserving right to cut it off in the unlikely event of an overwhelming response ;-))Sep 1, 2013 at 8:20 am #2020642
How many 3 inch cotter pins ya need ?
Mine are cadmium plated unlike the zinc plated cheapos from china.
These are mil-spec, used for jet aircraft wheel nuts.
Drop me a PM and I'll get some coming.
DanSep 1, 2013 at 10:45 am #2020685
Patagonia has their new version of the sewing kit up on their site now:
Daniel, thanks, I'll PM you.
-GregSep 2, 2013 at 3:17 am #2020870
I found 18 of them, 3.25 inch counting the staggered end which can be cut off.Sep 4, 2013 at 10:48 am #2021732Kevin BeedenBPL Member
7075 aircraft spec aluminium, mil-spec, cadmium-plated cotter pins…
Isn't this all just a bit OTT for a sewing kit…?Sep 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm #2021932
There is no such thing as a Cad plated aluminum anything.
Cad is for steel. Anodizing and Alodine is for aluminum.
There are no aluminum cotter pins used on any aircraft that I know of,
and there is no mil-spec for aluminum cotter pins.
Sorry to go off topic.Sep 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm #2022005Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I have one of the original kits. Carried it in my pack for years and never used it once. It is now in my museum (the garage) with all the old stuff — you know, analyze your gear and remove anything you don't use.Sep 5, 2013 at 3:25 am #2022018Kevin BeedenBPL Member
> There is no such thing as a Cad plated aluminum anything.
Excuse my poor punctuation; it was meant to be a list of two items that had been mentioned in the thread, only I used a comma instead of a semi-colon….
7075 aircraft spec aluminium; mil-spec, cadmium-plated cotter pins…
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