I wanted to say a few words about a skill that could come in very handy if you found yourself having to start again, whether that be in an urban
environment that is already established, or a wilderness scenario where you are starting from scratch for your very survival. That skill is sewing.
Often regarded as the more "girly" of topics, this could not be further from the truth. For centuries the ability to stitch has been used
successfully by all races of people, and both men and women across the entire planet.
You could be called upon to stitch numerous items in a survival situation, clothing, animal skins, footwear, shelter fabric, even wounds. Tools that
have poor quality sheaths, could be protected better with the making of a leather one that could last a lifetime. Imagine the straps going on your
BOB, could you repair the straps with the kit you have or are you suddenly going to be left with armfuls of gear?
All this can be done using the most basic of stitching knowledge, and if you have the right gear to start with it could save you a whole heap of
hassle and failure.
Many people have sewing kits in their BOB's, but do you know how to sew with them? If not, get some advice about basic stitching. There are numerous
sites online that show you the basics, and many books too.
The best way though IMO would be to get someone to show you. Your mum, dad, gran or grandad, they are usually the best place to start. They can show
you, then watch you do it and correct any mistakes or answer questions there and then.
If theres a sewing or crafts group nearby, ask them if you can learn a few handy stitches. I have been involved in crafts for many years and they
would be only too willing to help you out. Sewing shops too, they don't just sell stuff, they will usually be very helpful if you are stuck with
I would start off with the basics. Learn how to sew a button, repair a rip, repair a hole, sew two pieces of fabric together....that kind of thing.
Then theres your needle and thread. I'll stick to the basic set you have in your BOB, as we don't need to be getting into specialist gear that will
take up room and you may never use.
Firstly, needles. The assorted sets you can pick up for next to nothing are ok, but make sure they are ok for what you intend to use them for. Many
needles are so flimsy they snap at the slightest bit of pressure, so investing in a few hardier ones will be a great investment when you are trying to
sew thicker fabrics or leather.
So buy a set of thicker needles for your BOB, they take up no space at all and will be invaluable when the time comes.
As well as straight forward needles, here's a typical set of the all thicker needles that would be very handy in your BOB....
They will go through the tougher materials that your regular needles will not.
As well as these, throw in a thimble and a set of mini pliers with your sewing set. Trying to push a needle through tough fabric with your finger tips
is a recipe for disaster, you'll end up with sore or punctured fingers, which could in turn lead to infections. Your fingers will be your main tool
in a survival situation, so look after them.
The pliers are for pulling the needle back out of the other side as you sew. Yes you can use your fingers, but if you are not used to sewing tougher
materials, it's either very hard on the finger muscles or just totaly impossible.
Thread should be strong, as the standard thread that comes in most sewing kits will snap at the slightest tug. Extra strong button thread is good and
there are few other stronger threads around which will not rot. A boat chandlery or saddler might be a good place for strong alternatives.
I have a few reels of Kevlar thread in my BOB, this stuff is stupidly strong and as some may know, is fire and chemical resistant and has an
equivelant strength of about five times higher than steel. I've reinforced my BOB shoulder straps with this stuff.
If you want to include a few buttons in your kit, it will certainly save you the hassle of making them when needed. Toggles and bottons can be
fashioned easily out of wood to fasten clothing if needed though. This may seem like an petty item to have on hand, but if it's cold at night you'll
be glad of something to do your clothes up with.
Make sure your thread can fit through the eye of your needles too, sounds like a stupid mistake to make, but i've seen many a person buy the
strongest thickest thread out there, and struggle to get it through the eye of their small needles. Thats where the stronger, larger needles come in
handy. If you're really bad at threading needles, get a threader, it will save you a lot of time and frustration.
So theres a few pointers to improve your sewing kit. Although i've hand sewn for years, i am still very much a novice, so i welcome any other tips
and advice on thie subject.
I learnt to sew at school, learnt more in the army and especially since living on my own with two young daughters, i have kept these skills in use.
Even got myself a machine and do household repairs, make the girls the odd item and basic furnishings like curtains when i need to.
Last year i started learning to knit, ok i struggle with it, the needles have been launched out of the window more times than i can remember and i
have a lot to learn, but i know if push comes to shove i could make something to keep me warm.
Like i said at the start, whilst often regarded as the more feminine of subjects, many guys have to realise that there won't always be a woman around
to help, and also, not all women know how to sew.
So take a just a little time out to practice using your sewing kit, and you won't be stuck when the time comes.
Thanks for reading....
PS: Stitching of wounds will require more specialist stitching techniques and materials, which i believe is covered in other threads on this forum.