Making your own gear -- is a sewing machine good to have?

Dan_Millsip

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For some time now I've been considering purchasing a sewing machine to make some of my own gear (dry bags, fleece wear, etc), and make revisions to some of my existing gear, but know very little about what to purchase or where to learn.

Any advice on what might make a good starting out point? Any idea of what kind of money it would take to get started?

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Dave_Barrie

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Get in touch with Darren's friend Johnathan. He makes a lot of his own gear including a killer set of Gore-Tex pants. He really knows his stuff.
 

Dan_Millsip

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Dave_Barrie said:
Get in touch with Darren's friend Johnathan. He makes a lot of his own gear including a killer set of Gore-Tex pants. He really knows his stuff.
I looked up "Johnathan" in the phone book but couldn't find a listing that indicated that he knows Darren. :wink:

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Andy_Ferguson

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Dan_Millsip said:
Dave_Barrie said:
Get in touch with Darren's friend Johnathan. He makes a lot of his own gear including a killer set of Gore-Tex pants. He really knows his stuff.
I looked up "Johnathan" in the phone book but couldn't find a listing that indicated that he knows Darren. :wink:

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No "h" in Jonathan. :lol:
 

DarrenM

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LOL
He is more of a mountaineer then a kayaker... But I will send him a link to this thread. :lol:
 

Dan_Millsip

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Thanks Darren. Sounds like he might be able to point me in the right direction. Hopefully, he'll join this discussion.

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Steve_Fairbairn

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As far as sewing lessons are concerned, if you buy your machine from someone like Masons then they will throw in all the free lessons you want. They also sell used industrial machines which might be what you need for the heavier fabrics, etc. I'm basing this info on hanging out with my wife at Masons a couple of times when she was shopping for a new machine and serger. I personally know nothing about sewing although I'd like to learn.

I have an ancient (40+ year old), extremely well maintained Singer machine that I inherited from my mom that currently sits in a closet. It was a top of the line machine in its day and relatively heavy duty by today's standards. Once I get my new shop built I hope to drag it out and learn to use it.
 

Astoriadave

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In days of yore, I made a lot of my own outdoor gear: sleeping bags, parkas, down jackets, tents, gaiters, wind pants, yadda, yadda, yadda. And, if you have more time than money, you can do OK on simple things or using kits (does Frostline still function?). But, the sad fact is that the slave labor wages in the Far East combined with the economy of scale of manufacturing make many outdoor garments and gear for sale on the market cheaper than the cost of materials at retail to make them yourself. Yeah, I know, makes me sick, too. That's not a reason to avoid making your own stuff, but it may put you off.

This lady has a wealth of good advice and a superb collection of links if you are going to pursue this: http://www.specialtyoutdoors.com/

As to sewing machines, any decent home machine will probably suffice. I used a Singer vintage 1970 for a lot of my sewing, and now own a Husqvarna which is tougher and better ... but Husky's are expensive. An older, used Singer, if reconditioned, might be your best bet. Emphasis: older Singer. My longtime paddling partner was in the repair biz for 15 years, and he quit selling Singers about 1993. The name was there, but the quality of previous years was not.

One item which is worth making is your own dry bags, custom tailored to fit your own gear (especially items which are odd sizes: Thermarest pads, tents, tripods, etc.). These are most easily fabricated using heat-sealable nylon from Seattle Fabrics (or similar). Chuck Holst has published a detailed how-to article on this, which I used to make bags for my VHF's, for example. The sewing is simple, and a home iron will do a bang-up job on the sealing.

If someone is interested, I will search around for Chuck's article.
 

Dan_Millsip

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Thanks for the info Dave. I'm not looking at ways to get cheap gear -- as you've stated, I want to make custom gear for myself that is not available in the retail market.

My first project will be a cockpit cover for my SOF, then some dry bags, and then, who knows...

Thanks to Mark, I've become aware of the Janome 423S at an extremely good price using our points from a major supermarket chain. A bit of web searching is finding some very postive reviews of this model and the manufacturer. I'm pretty certain that this machine will suit my needs but it would be nice to hear from someone who's got some experience with this stuff to let me know if I'm on the right track.

http://www.janome.com



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greg0rn

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Dan, consider thickness of the fabric and thread. I'm just trying to finish a cockpit cover for my Klondike. Original foot switch for Pfaff circa 1950 (simple but solid) burned out half way through the project. Replaced it with my wife's Singer switch, which burned out as well. So I'm 60% complete, two machines kaput, and afraid of using third one (Sears model), which looks quite delicate for the task.

I think it would be much simpler to pick up the phone and order a cover from Feathercraft. For other items I would follow Dave's recommendations and go oriental. You cannot beat their prices and aestetics.
 

Dave_Barrie

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Yeah, once you realize all the stuff you'll be able to make or fix you'll want an industrial strength machine I think. Domestic machines are fine for light fabrics, but once you get into cordura, thick neoprene or things like that you need a solid machine. Thread is another important consideration. I often use a good dacron which costs more but stands up much better than cheap stuff.

I have a handheld battery powered one that I can bring on the next trip if you want to make and field repairs :p
 

Mark_Schilling

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I've had a breif discussion with one half of Divorceboat about this; she said she's successfully sewed everything from vinyl to leather and upholstery fabrics with a good 'domestic' machine. You'd need a variety of good needles and thread to match the type of fabric you're sewing, and there are some special little bits that will make the job easier and give your machine an easier time of it.

I admit, I put Dan on to this... I found the Janome in the rewards catalogue for the 'major supermarket chain' (can we not use names here?!) and I'm thinking of getting one. For now, I have an old Mason machine (looks similar to many of the old Singers) but it may be on its last legs.

I'm going to try it out today and hopefully I'll have some degree of success...
 

Astoriadave

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Mark_Schilling said:
I've had a breif discussion with one half of Divorceboat about this; she said she's successfully sewed everything from vinyl to leather and upholstery fabrics with a good 'domestic' machine. You'd need a variety of good needles and thread to match the type of fabric you're sewing, and there are some special little bits that will make the job easier and give your machine an easier time of it.
This jives with my experience. Sharp, larger size needles, and one of those special feet that helps move the top layer. [Can't recall the name.] Check out that link I posted a few messages back. Penny has a host of good tips for sewing outdoor gear.
 

Jill

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I'm on machine # 4, just a basic model from Sears,a Kenmore. Its nothing fancy just basic straight stitch and zig zag. It can pretty much sew all types of fabrics. I also think choosing the right needle size ,thread and tension helps alot. a zipper foot is good if your sewing lots of zippers. Alot of new machines have extras like embroidry, applique, ect. you might be buying extras you will never use. just my thoughts . Jill
 

Dan_Millsip

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The Janome machine is from the Save-on Foods points catalogue. After using some of our "good customer" points, the price of the machine is $135 which doesn't seem bad to me. This particular machine does 23 different stitches -- but no embroidery.

As far as sewing through heavier fabrics, from what I've read so far, it's quite possible and as a few have mentioned, needle size and thread seem to be very important.

I'm not planning on making a lot of stuff using heavy fabrics. I think mostly I'll be doing retrofits to things like tents, etc. (I've got a list of light nylon sacks and stuff that I want to make).

Dave, I've been to Penny's site before but have now finished a very thorough reading of it -- there's tons of good helpful info there -- thanks for posting the link.

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Mark_Schilling

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Darren_McQuitty said:
Jill said:
Alot of new machines have extras like embroidry, applique, ect.
Really? Can they embroider logos?
There are quite a few machines out there that allow you to design, download or even scan in things to embroider, then upload them to and program the machine to do them. I don't know a lot about them other than that they're quite expensive (up to a few thousand dollars). The Janome we've been discussing has an MSRP of $649 but sells locally for about $350. As Dan mentioned, it will handle 22 different stitches plus an automatic botton-hole setting (common to most machines these days). Most are 'basic' stitches with some zig-zags and loopy styles of stitches; perhaps an overcast stitch (for edges of the fabric) and that sort of thing.
 

andreas

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hi guys,

GUYS???? 8O
are you all alright? :wink: are you really talking about sewing?
hope you are not starting a nitting topic ....... :D
just kidin.



see you at the crafts store,
andreas
 
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