/ Learning to sew

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Captain Gear - on 23 Oct 2012
Hello,

I'm interested in learing to sew. I'd like to make some of my own outdoor gear

Can anyone reccomend a good, simple book on sewing? Preferable one that deals with using thick fabrics?

Also can some one reccomend an inexpensive and simple sewing machine. It does need to be able sew multiple layers of cordura and webbing though.

Cheers,
Mr Powly - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:

Got a pretty decent sewing machine from here that will do what you need http://www.sewing4everyone.com/
Tall Clare - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:
Talk to Captain Paranoia who posts on here. He's an expert in homemade gear.
gcandlin - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear: Hi I taught myself to sew mainly from Youtube videos and trail and error. I now use and industrial machine but I started with an old Singer 201k which is a really great machine and can easily sew through multiple layers of cordura/webbing.

If you plan on making clothing then I would maybe also look at a machine with a zig zag stitch as it will mean you can finish your raw edges without having to shell out for an overlocker.

Do an ebay search for semi industrial sewing machines and the type of thing you should be looking at will appear. Stay away from modern home machines as they will just not go through heavy weight fabrics

If you need any advice about where to source outdoor fabrics or anything else then just let me know .

Cheers
Gareth
mkean - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:
If you want to sew thick fabrics and don't want to spend a bomb you could always look at an old singer machine, they are tough as anything and available reasonably cheap if you hunt around.
captain paranoia - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Tall Clare:

> Talk to Captain Paranoia who posts on here. He's an expert in homemade gear.

<cough, splutter...> expert? Hardly. Or is this a touché for my gentle ribbing re. repairing the down jacket ;-)

Basically, I borrowed a sewing machine. It's a machine. I'm a man. I figured out how to use the machine... I'd had a little prior experience from my early school days. As for constructing seams, etc. again, I sat down and thought about it, but then, being of an engineering bent, I'm quite good at that sort of thing, and quite good making things generally. I've since bought my own, but got flustered into buying something sub-optimal by the old ladies in John Lewis who treated me as if I was 'Bufallo Bill'... Depends what you're after sewing; for webbing or thick tent/pack fabrics, etc, go for an old industrial machine as suggested above. If you're looking at a domestic machine, look for one with adjustable foot pressure, and that will sew an edge-lock seam right to the edge (useful for fleece items). Oh, and get one with a metal frame, even if it has a plastic body.

There are a few 'sewists' on UKC; Wingnut, Carolyn, Gingerkate, err.. err...

Given that there are now 100k+ members, I'm sure there are more, but I'm thinking of UKC old guard...

I've dug through my favourites list, and these come up:

http://sewing.about.com/
http://thru-hiker.com/materials/index.php?PRODUCT_ID=MG113

Quite a lot of threads (excuse pun) about sewing machines, etc, on BPL:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/display_forum.html?offset=-1&for...
Sarah Louise - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:
Hi Captain Gear,
I am a designer and product developer of outdoor apparel and have many years experience making outdoor kit out of the Far East.
What is your budget?
Thanks
Sarah
marsbar - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear: I don't know of a book, but I think that sewing is something best learnt from someone who knows and can help you as you try. You might be able to find a beginners class locally, or maybe someone's mum or something? An industrial overlocker might be what you need machine wise.
Captain Gear - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to gcandlin:

Hi Gareth,

I was looking at the old singer machines? Is a 201k an electric machine? Would you recommend an electric machine?

I'm planning make rucksacks to begin with.

Any idea where I can source the following:

Dimension Polyant VX21 fabric
Good quality 1" and 2" webbing - ideally in red
National molding buckles
YKK zips - I'm after the really thick ones

Who makes good quality foam for back systems and shoulders straps?
What type of thread do I want to use?
What type of material do I want to use for valance and insider of the back system? Would coated nylon work fine? 2oz or 4oz?

How do I bind seems? Do I need a special machine?

Will a singer machine sew through closed cell foam and material?

Cheers,

CG
Tall Clare - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:

Point North, based Chester way, supply all sorts of outdoor fabric, buckles etc - http://www.profabrics.co.uk/ as do Pennine Outdoor in Bentham http://www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk/
Billy the fish - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear: My top tip is not to buy a sheet of fleece then lie on it while contorting to draw an outline around you. Chopping out and stitching together the pieces results in a most unusually tailored garment consisting of mirth and fabric with an interesting appearance. Apparently.
Doug on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Tall Clare: Its been out of print for many years but I learnt quite a bit from an old book published for Scouts called something like 'Moor & Mountain' which had instructions & patterns for making tents, rucksacs etc - all very dated now but the stuff on seams, etc is still valid.

And Pennine Boats (now Pennine Outdoor ?) used to sell patterns
gcandlin - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear: Right then....deep breath....

Yes the 201k is an electric machine, I think it was originally made as a hand machine but they then added an external motor (double check any version has this!!). It only does a straight stitch but it really is a greta machine, I had much less trouble with it than my current industrial brother!. Try to buy from a dealer who will have serviced it rather than privately.

In terms of sourcing fabric... The first thing to know it that we have quite a rubbish selection of specialist outdoor fabrics available in the uk and you will often have to look to the USA or Europe to get the more out there ones. Good site to use are:

http://www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk/
http://www.profabrics.co.uk/
http://www.extremtextil.de/index_en.html
www.shelby.fi

Dimension Polyant VX21 fabric , never heard of this (sound like a US brand name) but assume it is some type of nylon with reinforcing mesh... this may be similar and is certainly good for back backs.http://www.extremtextil.de/catalog/Gridstop-Nylon-Dyneema-Ripstop-210den-Nylon-140g-sqm::1776.html Alternativly you could try and 500d cordura.

Good quality 1" and 2" webbing - ideally in red, for the best quality webbing stay away from Polyester and polyethylene and look for Nylon, it has a much higher abrasion resistance and just feels much more classy. For some reason getting Nylon webbing in anything other than black in the UK is hard unless buying large quantity... try this http://www.profabrics.co.uk/shop/show_product_info.php?id=WN225-09. It is only back but is a very good webbing. If you don't mind using a lesser quality webbing (polyester) then multiple colours are easy to find on ebay.

National molding buckles, this is just a brand name of a buckle manufacturers, good quality buckles are easy to find on ebay, ITW NEXUS are a good name to look out for.

YKK zips - I'm after the really thick ones, I get all my zips from here, if you want the really thick ones then you want the No.10 http://www.kayospruce.com/index.asp?selection=detailed&uid=17943&catref=Fixings%20and%20Fast... Ignore the picture, for some reason it has the same pic for all their zips. You need to buy the sliders seperately. There not YKK but are very good.

Who makes good quality foam for back systems and shoulders straps? You want to be looking for a EVA foam for the straps, buying it in small quantities is not easy and bear in mind that sewing through anything thicker than 3mm plus your fabric wont happen easily on a normal machine. For the back system I would go for a closed cell PE foam. This place sells the PE stuff http://www.efoam.co.uk/indexm.html I get all my foam from http://www.paulamar.co.uk/foam/materials.aspx but they only sell in bulk.

What type of thread do I want to use? Bonded Nylon 60's easily available on ebay, you want to avaid the cheap stuff as it is not good to work with, you should be looking to pay abut 10 -15 for a 3000m spool.

What type of material do I want to use for valance and insider of the back system? Would coated nylon work fine? 2oz or 4oz? Hmmm not really my area of expertise but I would go with a 4 or 6oz depending on if you are after weight saving or durability.

How do I bind seems? Do I need a special machine? You dont need a special machine but it will make your life a 1000 times easier and the end result much more professional. Have a look at these http://www.sew-europe.co.uk/folders.htm

Will a singer machine sew through closed cell foam and material? To a point. Anything more than about 3mm of foam + fabric will start to result in broken thread/skipped stitches.

Hope this is of some help.






nowler - on 23 Oct 2012
My advice would be to buy the best quality machine you can afford. I use Bernina machines.... it's worth searching out a quality machine. You'll find it sews a lot better, is faster and more efficient to use and will give you a better quality to your garments.

oddtoast on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:
Some great advice above, main things to add is don't freak out when it goes wrong - machine sewing is a motor skill, as well as requiring 3d visualisation. you will make mistakes so make em on cheap fabrics when learning and don't give up.

internet best source, books are more usually focused on home stuff or women's clothing. try more advanced techniques early before you gain a fear of them :p jump in at deep end.

Buy a machine second hand from a dealer who will let you play with a couple (take sample swatches of what you want to sew) and answer questions + service it later (v important if you plan on making money from sewing as it will need maintenance + repairs so local-ish bricks and mortar shop beats interweb) Industrial type is way to go for anything heavier than a couple of layers of denim, but you'll only get 1 or 2 stitches. Don't be surprised at the cost, good machines are complicated and can be expensive.

Try and acquire the manual! Mine is my main sewing ref book :) Oh and find out about different needles and make sure you use the right ones for your task.

good luck and have fun. Sewing makes you see things inlots of things in a different light, you can make stuff cheaper and improve bought stuff easily.
captain paranoia - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear:

As I said, the BPL MYOG forum is very useful:

"Where do I get Dimension Polyvalent VX21?":

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=...
Captain Gear - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to gcandlin:

Thanks you for getting back to me.

Demension Polyant is sail fabric, with big distinctive ripstop diamonds. It's used by Cilo Gear and various other companies.

Any idea what thickness closed cell foam I need to make good quality shoulder straps? Looking at my bags I would imagine at least 6mm.

Can those seam binders be attached to most industrial machines?

Does anyone know a good second hand sewing machine dealer in the North Wales/Chester area?

Would this be good for £50? http://tinyurl.com/czlkr4f

Cheer,

CG
cb294 - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to nowler:

+1 for the Bernina machines.

cb
Captain Gear - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to cb294:

Which Bernia machine would you recommend?

Would something like this be good: http://tinyurl.com/bnmxr9p
ads.ukclimbing.com
gcandlin - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to Captain Gear: RE shoulder straps its depends, if you indend to make them with a bound edge then you will struggle to go and thicker than about 4mm, if you make a shell so to speak that you insert the foam into then you can go as thick as you like. Really depends on the type of bag you are making, I use 4mm on my bouldering mat straps but if I was making a pack for backpacking etc I would probably use a 12mm or similar.

Yes most indurstial machines have set holes that attachments can be screw too.

Google Alans alterations and look at his ebay page, they are good for machines and will be able to advise of suitable ones

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