Nov 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm #1310164
My girlfriend and I fancy having a go at making some gear for hiking but we really aren't sure where to start.
We have a sewing machine (so far it's only made cushion covers) and plenty of time to kill.
What do you all think would be reasonable first projects?Nov 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm #2047516
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
One idea is to purchase a sewing pattern, purchase some fabric and thread, and have a go at it. For my first one, I got a hooded rain jacket pattern. My first try was poor, but that was OK since I had used some very cheap fabric for the learning experience. Then I made a second try with the same pattern and some decent fabric, and it turned out OK, and I still wear it.
–B.G.–Nov 24, 2013 at 8:43 am #2047619
Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
You might start with kits (RayWay Products, others). They may be more ambitious but with good instructions it should go well. My first project was a synthetic vest (Mountain Adventure Kits, for those old enough to remember).
Some fairly easy projects, in no particular order:
– stuff sacks (standard first project)
– silnylon tarp (careful on the ridge seam and pullouts)
– synthetic quilt, one- or two-person
– wind jacket and pants (use a pattern)
– pack cover
More ambitions projects:
– synthetic or down vest or jacket
– cagoule or anorak
– heavy wind/rain parka/pants, WPB or Taslan
– tent or tarp-tent
– fitted clothing in general
– down quilt or sleeping bag
– etc.Nov 24, 2013 at 8:49 am #2047622
Thomas ConlyBPL Member
@conlyLocale: Lots of canoeing and snow
I would definitely suggest you go with a kit for a first try. There can be a lot of small details in making gear that you have to figure out with trial and error when making stuff from scratch and that can be frustrating for someone who's just starting out. The Ray Jardine kits are extremely well laid out and the thru-hiker ones are a close second. I'd also really recommend doing a piece of gear first before venturing into clothing. Gear tends to have straight, easy to sew seams whereas clothing has funky curves which can be a pain, especially with lightweight nylon. Also, it's more embarrassing to wear clothing with flaws than to sleep under a tarp with flaws.
My first item was a quilt and it turned out great. All the seams get tucked inside by the time it's done so it looks great no matter how bad you sew. Don't start with a pack. They take a lot of stress along the seams and my first one fell apart pretty quickly. And don't start with mitts. Worst thing to sew. So many curved seams in such a small space.
Edit: The previous post got posted as I wrote mine. That's two votes for Ray Jardine kits. :)Nov 24, 2013 at 10:46 am #2047631
Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
Kits or patterns are definitely a good way to start. Thru-hiker also has some nice kits.Nov 24, 2013 at 10:48 am #2047632
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
An even easier place to start (than a kit) is to modify an existing garment. Maybe even do a total practice piece. Buy a puffy parka for $10 at Goodwill and customize it. Take in the waist. Add a tunnel hood, add pit zips. Whatever. Brainstorm and play around. Thrift store finds also make a cheap source of ripstop nylon, zippers, down and fiberfill. Your skills and knowledge will improve quickly at first. Then try using the more expensive, lighter fabrics.Nov 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm #2048664
Gentlemen, thank you for your replies.
I have ordered 5 metres of 30g/m^2 rip stop parachute nylon along with some polyester thread with the hope of making something!
I ordered a pattern for "rain/wind pant" with the thought that I could try that at a later date.
Before doing something that complicated would anyone recommend following the "5 yards to SUL" articles or is that going to leave me a little out of my depth? The stuff sack could perhaps be a realistic first attempt with plenty of spare material ordered to keep trying until I can sew?
My, rather lofty, goal is to make a down quilt (pun intended)!Nov 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm #2048670
Larry De La BriandaisBPL Member
@hitechLocale: SF Bay Area
I made a rayway syn quilt as my first real project. Because my sewing machine's presser foot tends to stick up, it was harder than it should have been. If you know how to operate a sewing machine and can sew a straight line something of that level is not too much. If you have never used a sewing machine before, start real small. Stuff sack it good. Alterations to existing gear even better.Nov 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm #2048682
d kBPL Member
I think the "5 yds to SUL" would give you a lot of good experience, and starting with the stuff sack is a great first step.Nov 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #2048836
I seriously considered ordering a rayway kit but I didn't follow through because I was worried about postage and customs duty (+20%, sometimes more) to get the package to the UK.
I'm hoping that articles on here, other sites and UK/EU bought patterns and fabrics will be enough to get started.
I'm sure I can make lots of stuff sacks for the time being, Christmas is coming after all and I'm SURE my family would all LOVE a bright red 30gm^2 ripstop nylon stuff sack made with some awful sewing skills.
extremtextil emailed me today to let me know that the fabric has been dispatched so I shall post some very proud photos of a nylon murder scene when I get off work next week.Nov 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm #2048918
read any of the articles here and try one
a bag is always the easiest project because it's so small
tarps are easier because they have straight seams, although it's tricky keeping long seams aligned so the top layer doesn't slip relative to bottom layer. They use more fabric which is expensive.
clothing can be trickier because there are little pieces that are curved that you have to sew together. Maybe that's a case where a kit has some advantage.
probably insulated clothing or quilt/sleeping bag is most difficult, dealing with the insulationNov 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm #2049204
Anthony HuhnBPL Member
@anthonyjhuhnLocale: Mid West
I think a great sequence would be
Stuff sack with felled seam
Bathtub Ground Cloth
Large Rectangular Tarp
Two person synthetic quilt (the thru-hiker kit seems really economical)
Have fun sewing and hiking together!
AnthonyDec 1, 2013 at 6:50 am #2049541
@droachLocale: North America
I started with a hammock, tarp, and stuff sacks. Do you need any specific gear that you could easily make? Or could you lighten up a piece of gear by remaking it? The hardest part of sewing so far for me was figuring out how to get the thread into the machine so it worked right. Once I got that figured out via some youtube video's it's been pretty easy going.Dec 1, 2013 at 7:06 am #2049544
The thru-hiker Liberty Ridge Shell kit (wind shirt) is amazing. I made two of those in M50. One for me, one for my wife. We used them for a season of hiking in Montana, Thru-hiked the AT and it will be on the PCT with me this spring. This was one of my first projects and I would highly recommend it as a project once you have the basics down.Dec 1, 2013 at 7:11 am #2049548
How waterproof is M50? Breathable?
I'm making wind/rain jacket and will find out.Jan 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm #2062322
Jerry, how did you get on with the M50?
I have successfully made a few stuff sacks with some ripstop nylon mentioned above.
My next "project" was an attempt at a bathtub groundsheet (I used the tips from this link http://www.backpacking-lite.co.uk/diy/make-an-ultralight-tent-bathtub-floor.html). I got a few metres of some coated nylon for cheap (£2) off ebay to give this a first try.
I'll post some photos later.
I got 10 metres of ripstop with a "silicone finish" – anyone have an idea what that might mean? (link to ebay: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ripstop-Nylon-10-metres-seconds-/111240292606?pt=UK_Crafts_Fabric&hash=item19e67028fe)
I hope to attempt the floorless pyramid from Jerry's article. I will give it a try with the stuff I have but only because I don't want to lay out £90 for black silnylon (from Sean @ Oookworks) or €130 for blue from extremtextil.de.
Jerry – your article is three years old now, is there anything you'd do differently now?
ThanksJan 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm #2062331
With M50 I made bivy – very waterproof, not supposed to be real breathable but I haven't noticed a problem, very flimsy but I was able to sew it okay and it hasn't ripped or anything. Very downproof.
I also made rain jacket. I'm waiting for opportunity to test it. Tomorrow's supposed to be good opportunity.
I keep using my pyramid – works good. Quite a few people have made something similar. I'de probably do the same today.
One thing is, for solo, I've been experimenting with "half pyramid". You leave one half of pyramid as is. For the other half, turn the rectangular area into a triangle (or beak, or vestibule). Saves a little weight. Put a zipper on ridge of the triangle.
You can buy 2nds silnylon here from many sources. Maybe that's what you have. It's a little less waterproof. When I've made a pack, and had something inside like puffy, water wicks through a little. Or when I sleep on it, water wicks through a little. If you coat it with mineral spirits:silicone it makes it much more waterproof. For a tent, it's fine. Pyramid never leaks. Except I get a little "misting". When it rains hard and I'm sleeping underneath, I feel a very slight mist. But it's not enough to get anything wet. Really just aesthetic.Jan 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm #2062342
Oh, one thing I do a little different is the zipper.
Now I hem the two sides, then just sew on the zipper. I try to get the edge of the fabric (hem) so it exactly touches the zipper teeth. This minimizes open area for wind and rain to penetrate, and avoids any snags.
I have the zipper go all the way to the top, so that top, circular, peak reinforcement piece covers the very top of the zipper. Nice clean finished look. Keeps water out.Jan 13, 2014 at 4:25 am #2062926
I took the materials out last night to get cutting and realised it's only 52 inches wide. I think I'm going to try to use it for the 'mid' anyway, even if it's just good practice sewing long straight seams and some experience in cutting cat curves in.
Thanks for the tips on the zipper, I'll make sure to use your last post as a reference when I get to that point of the project.
I think I'll have to order some sil 2nds from one of the USA suppliers when I start a final version of the tent. Thankfully that can wait until I've made a mockup with this cheap ripstop from eBay.Jan 13, 2014 at 6:50 am #2062940
Rather than running fabric vertically, you can run it sideways. Then you'll have a sideways seam, 52 inches up.
I forget who does that, MLD? A number of posts doing that.Jan 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm #2063279
Sadly I've already cut into the fabric and wouldn't have enough!
If I made the triangles narrower, should I make them shorter too?
Perhaps I should scrap the project for now and use the material for something else.Jan 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm #2063288
52 inch wide should be fine. Subtract 1 inch for seam/hem allowance. 2 pieces. 102 inches wide = 8.5 feet. Unless you're really tall.
With a pyramid, it's narrow at the top so you can't really use all the peak height. If the center pole is less than about 59 inches, it's hard for me to sit upright comfortably and do things. That would be fine with 8.5 foot wide pyramid. Although a lot of people like it shorter and then it's more wind resistant.Feb 23, 2014 at 2:00 am #2076191
After having only made a few stuffsacks, this project feels a little ambitious.
I'm not sure I got the cat curve quite right (I'm almost sure it's completely wrong!)
I've decided to pop the material in a stuff sack and wait until I've had a little more sewing practice with more basic projects.
I have some sil 2nds which I'd like to make into a flat tarp. I ordered some 3/8" grosgrain ribbon for tie outs and I have plenty of 1.5mm dyneema for guylines – is there anything else I may need to make a good rectangular tarp?
I'm hoping this project will help me to learn the flat-felled/french seam which seems (pun intended) to come in quite useful in making shelters. I've also never tried stitching anything like tie outs so that will be a new experience. Any tips there?
I have 3 metres of the following fabric which I will make a rectangular tarp with;
I have ordered some of the following which I'm planning to make a cat cut tarp with after I've made and tested the rectangular one;
Thanks!Feb 23, 2014 at 6:21 am #2076215
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Yup. I agree that a flat tarp will be a fine first try. It is really hard to get it wrong. The flat seams also allow you to add a third fold. This adds strength much like a wire framed mock-up. This lets you do away with internal supports and reinforcements. For example, used only on the four corner seams, it adds quite a bit of strength for minimal weight at the cardinal, or primary, guy-out points relieving stress from the fabric. You end up with a more durable tarp.
Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensile_structure for information on cat curves. Likely more than you wanted to know. Basically, you can approximate the curve with a large single radius. Usually, a 1" in 72" is enough. Most manufacturors way overdo it.
Attaching guy-outs is basically just adding a small reinforcement patch for cardinal points. It really depends on your staking stress. A LOT will depend on whether you want a solid anchor, one that flexes a bit, or, a loose anchor. Almost all UL tents use a loose anchor. The stakes will usually pull loose before the tarp will shred itself. This can vary a lot depending on soils, rocks, etc, though. A typical tarp, staked every 3 feet with a shepherds hook in moderate soils will withstand about 35-40mph. LONGER guylines can improve staking power. Tying off to trees is an example of a solid anchor. Something will be destroyed before it will come loose. Tying off to a low hanging branch is an example of a flexible anchor.
I use UL strapping, often with reflective coloring about 8"-10" long. Leaving just an inch hanging out, this has been more than adequate. I then tie a short loop of bungie or shock cord(doubled hair-tie) that I stake to. This helps to relieve wind hammer on the stakes, provides some cushion for gusts, and, supplies some take-up for soaked fabric…usually silnylon. I was using elastic strap, but this wore out after a few years.Feb 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm #2076765
Thanks for the reply James, lots to remember when my fabric arrives!
Can I reinforce with almost anything stronger than silnylon? Such as 2oz PU nylon? Or is something stronger better?
Anyone know a good size tarp to make for using with a cuben/momentum bivy? Do note that I'm in the UK, it likes to rain and this would be for a first time tarp user.
Would grommets come in useful for poles or am I fine using the grosgrain ribbon for that?
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