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Sewing (It's Not Gender Specific)

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Brokor, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    In light of recent developments, and due to the fact that so many of us here at the SM Forums have acquired multiple skills over the years, and sewing being one of them, I thought it would be nice to start off with a discussion about sewing. Feel free to discuss how you started sewing and why it is important for you. Any ideas you may have along the way will always be appreciated --your projects and troubles, if any are welcome.

    DSC00007.JPG This is my sewing machine. It's tough enough to handle most tasks, and relatively easy to use. The Singer 44S is not one of the most expensive machines you can buy, and I do prefer an old Singer with a treadle, being in favor of off-grid self sufficiency. Perhaps one day I can acquire one of these wonderful machines.

    DSC00006.JPG This is a small carrier I made for my seam rippers and to test out some thread patterns. You can see that I have tested a button loop and attachment, which is one feature I like about this sewing machine.

    DSC00005.JPG Various materials can be acquired to assist in helping you make excellent garments and utility items. In this photo, I have Heat-Bond (iron on) adhesive for a quick way to cheat and make those important projects hold tight, especially on high wear edges where you do not want any separation, or to simply fasten two pieces of fabric smoothly before sewing. The green fabric you see is a canvas waterproof fabric used for lawn furniture --it's excellent for making light weight outer shells for your winter kit.

    DSC00009.JPG There are plenty of sewing patterns you can buy online or locally, and they are very inexpensive. In fact, most materials for sewing are not costly at all. I tossed a couple of zippers in the photo to show you one example of an affordable item, each ran me less than $3.00 and can be easily sewn onto my projects.

    I first started sewing as a child, having several sisters does help facilitate the process, but sewing was also a standard course in my elementary education. I also took sewing electives in college, and I wasn't afraid at all for doing this, even if I was the only male in the classroom. I find sewing to be one of the necessary skills in the realm of self-sufficiency, and encourage anybody to take it up.

    Another idea, is to carry a small sewing kit in your get home bag or bug out kit, or any field kit. You can make repairs outdoors and keep your clothing and equipment in top condition. It's all good practice!
    3M-TA3, RightHand, stg58 and 9 others like this.
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    An excellent post, Brokor....I hadn't realised you were so domesticated. You'll make some lucky woman a fine housewife! ;)

    I have a Vietnam vintage housewife, which I still use from time to do running repairs, replacing lost buttons and so forth.

    this is an example of a military sewing kit (aka housewife), though it wouldn't be too difficult to fashion one from scratch using bits of an old shirt, or a patch pocket from old army fatigues that are now beyond wear or repair.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
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  3. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    I concur, sewing is a good skill to have, actually a very good skill. Conceptually, the pattern work and construction is not unlike sheet metal work in its creating 3 dimensional items from flat sheet materials, just easier.

    A basic machine that does straight stitch and zigzag is all that is really required for garments. I have purchased several at garage sales for 30-50 bucks. If lucky, you might happen upon a name brand unit which do sew more smoothly and consistently. Leading names to look for are Bernina, Janome, Brother and Husqvarna which are generally sold through dealers at fabric stores that will provide training and service. Kemore and Singer are fine for basic machines and are sold through discount retailers and they may not have some of the assessories available if you get serious. The Berninas from 30+ years ago are super and can sometimes be found cheap at estate sales and many parts are still available.

    When sewing with heavier thread and materials like heavy canvas, webbing, etc. then an industrial machine is generally required. My big machine is like this one.

    Basic garments and repairs for work cloths are easy and Brokor gave good intro stuff. JoAnn Fabrics is a good place to start for patterns and material. The employees can give help. There are tons of books, videos, classes, etc. To get you going. I think a good place to start is just learning to change needles, thread the machine and adjust the stitch. Then experiment and play. You won't break it. Practice making straight stitches, sewing around curves, etc. Make some simple bags, pillows, etc. before doing a garment.

    Basic dresses, shirts, ponchos, ties, etc are easy and can often be constructed in just a couple hours. Master those before trying pants, coats, collars, etc. If you really get the bug, then you can get into tailoring, drapping and flat pattern making, pattern alterations (things like pivoting darts, fitting a pattern to a person, etc.) and machine embroidering.

    There are several ancillary items pretty important to seeming.
    - Iron and ironing board. It's pretty hard to sew without these.
    - Work table to lay out fabric to cut pattern. Fabric often comes in widths of 48, 54 and sometimes 60 inches. You need either hard floor space or table to lay out the fabric.
    - Sewing measuring tape
    - Straight pins and cushion or box for them
    - Hem gauge
    - Seam ripper
    - Sharp pair of fabric sissors/shears
    - Needles; assorted sizes for machine plus hand sewing needles

    Once you get into it a bit more you'll want
    - Rotary cutter and cutting mat
    - straight edge
    - tracing paper and tape

    I personally started sewing in college when much of the outdoor gear I wanted was too expensive. We're talking like 40 years ago before most production had moved overseas to cheaper labor and computer controlled cutting tables.

    Constructing fine clothing is another realm than basic garments. Good technique constructing is absolute but understanding and selecting fabrics, the differing interfacing methods and products (interfacing gives a fabric body so sleeves on a suit coat don't droop) and balancing that stuff with custom pattern or draping takes some experience and study.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
    chelloveck, Brokor, stg58 and 2 others like this.
  4. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    I learned basic sewing skills back when I was a kid. I can repair a popped seam, replace a lost button, (Ever notice how a new shirt always seems to lose a button?) and make minor tailoring changes to my clothes if need be.

    One important thing I learned was whenever one of my shirts gets beyond repair is to cut off all the buttons and save them before cutting the shirt up into rags.

    I might be able to make a shirt from a pattern but it'd be a PITA. [tongue]
    stg58, Ganado, ghrit and 2 others like this.
  5. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

  6. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    An important skill to learn is to sew without a pattern. A good way to do this is to get some cheap used items from a thrift store and deconstruct them then try making your own using some cheap muslin. I haven't bought a pattern in a good 20 years because I either cut to fit or make a pattern out of newsprint or freezer paper.
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    One thing I noticed is all those sewing kits come with regular thread. I always have floss in my kit. I separate a few strands out for sewing jobs that will require something stronger then thread. IMO floss has multiple purposes and is a must. I also think people should learn to do a few different hand stitches.
  8. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Suturing is just sewing body parts together instead of joining fabric.
  9. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Except if you do it wrong somebody's getting a nasty scar &/or septic shock. [OO]
    Brokor, Ganado and chelloveck like this.
  10. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    That is true. However, every skill has its techniques necessary for doing a competent job, and in the arena of medical treatment, I would prefer to allocate those jobs to skilled professionals. Unfortunately we may not have the luxury of doing that, particularly if medical help is unavailable due to isolation, or being in an area with primitive facilities.

    Prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, soviet gulags and Japanese prisoner of war slave labour camps frequently had to improvise suturing instruments and thread. The results may not have been pretty, but it helped keep people alive in primitive, hostile circumstances.

    On the Burma railway, medics improvised suture thread from the gut of water buffalo.
    Prisoners of War of the Japanese 1942-1945
  11. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    No wonder most of what I sew comes out looking like Frankenstein (Frankensteen!).

    Probably best to test any new floss you buy before you commit it to your kit. I think they've changed the material. The last floss I tried to knot was slicker than a greased politician.

    It would pull out a triple square knot with ease.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2016
  12. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Sapper John likes this.
  13. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    I learned to sew at an early age, probably around 7. My mom is a master seamstress (don't know if that's actually a "thing" but it's the term she uses) and actually had her own clothing line for a few years. I did my own patches in Boy Scouts and even sewed clothes for my Cabbage Patch Kid (yes, I had one). I learned how to (and can still) thread and run a 4-line surger.

    When my wife and I were dating I altered my father's tuxedo pants to fit me for a party (by hand, no machine available) and when my brother in law was married, I altered the bride's dress neckline with a 1.5 inch strip of ribbon because it was "too revealing"...about 45 minutes before we had to leave for the wedding!

    We have a Singer machine now that I use to fix, whatever, including the son's patches...need to teach him to do his own and to this day I hate round patches.

    Buttons, zippers, popped seams, you name it I've probably fixed it and done so within the last couple of years.

    The one thing I haven't ever done was "industrial" sewing with leather or canvas or something like that. I also have a couch that has a split seam but it's sewn from the inside. Been looking at it for a couple years thinking how I could fix it without disassembling the couch.
    Brokor, T. Riley, chelloveck and 3 others like this.
  14. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    Here's how to stitch a seam from the inside:

    Use a doubled thread, and start by anchoring the thread at the far end of the rip, on the inside, beginning a few stitches before the start of the rip.

    Sew the entire length of the rip with a simple edge stitch (the one where the thread runs in a spiral with no locks in it), keeping the stitches loose and the rip fully open.

    Carry a couple of stitches past the end of the rip, keeping everything loose, and then return the needle & thread back thru the center of all the stitches, and up & out just past the first stitch.

    Loop a second doubled thread around the last loose stitch and bring its ends straight out of the rip. That thread is the locker. It should be nice and long.

    Have someone hold a gentle but firm tension on the return thread as you start tightening all the stitches in sequence with needle nose pliers or good tweezers from start to finish, as tight as you can.

    When you can't tighten any more stitches because the rip is almost entirely closed, close it the remainder of the way by pulling alternately on the locker and the return thread.

    That will gradually take all of the slack out of the last few stitches. The ones you can't reach.

    Then just pull the locker thread out of the closed seam, and pull the return thread fully tight.

    Cut the return thread off flush and massage the fabric a little to pop the ends inside, out of sight.

    There's no locking knot with this fix, but the combined frictions of all the stitching on the return thread should lock it rock solid.

    And if you want to be dead sure that the seam won't come open again, just put a little dab of fabric glue on the last few stitches just before the rip closes.

    Once that sets, nothing short of destruction will make it come loose.
    arleigh, chelloveck, Ganado and 3 others like this.
  15. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    I never travel without a small sewing kit and it has served me well. I also made a lot of backpacking/mountaineering gear and improved clothing back before it became an industry, and that included my own version of MOLLE for gear attachment almost 20 years before it was introduced.
  16. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    I'll see what I can do about giving this a try. The opened seam is only about 2 inches long (maybe 3) and doesn't open very wide. It's on the top/back of the couch. I may try to duplicate it (on a non couch entity) and give that a shot.

  17. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    IMG_20151007_211223131_HDR. IMG_20151007_211216635_HDR. I bought a used sewing machine, when I wanted to build a boat top duck blind. The wife said "hell no!" When I asked about using the one she has from her grandmother, and as old as it is, it was the right answer.
    This is an old Italian machine that only does a few stiches well, but that suits my needs. I am sewing Deneer (the jump surface from trampolines), that I pick up as scrap and recycle. The fabric takes little or no damage from the weather, and should last nearly forever as the blind.
    Blind is built like a manual convertible roof, and can be configured is several versions with the movement of a couple quick release pins.

    When I stich by hand, it is usually waxed linen, and is very strong.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  18. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    33 Awesome DiY Projects for Preppers | Survival SherpaHere are some self sufficiency / prepper sewing projects to get started with...all have practical applications...and are ways of making do without buying off the shelf.

    Via:Food Storage and Survival – 23 (mostly beginner) Preparedness Sewing Projects

    Here's an idea....a drinking straw sewing kit.

    Via:DIY: Drinking Straw Sewing Kit | Survival Sherpa


    Via:Miniature Haversack Stitching Sets : Survival Sewing Kit

    Via: Survival Sewing Repair Tool and How To Use It!
    Witch Doctor 01 and Yard Dart like this.
  19. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++ Site Supporter++

    We closet seamsters are coming out now!
    Brokor, chelloveck and Ganado like this.
  20. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    We have 2 sewing machines. The one is a modern Brother CS6000i and the other is an old Service treadle machine with all the attachments; patented in 1897.
    I have extra round rawhide for the treadle machine.
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