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Survival sewing.

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CX

posted on Aug, 30 2009 @ 12:49 PM
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Hi all,

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 something.

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....


CX.

PS: Stitching of wounds will require more specialist stitching techniques and materials, which i believe is covered in other threads on this forum.




posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 06:11 PM
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good stuff, thanks for posting it!

i'll be comparing this sort of stuff for my "practice" kit...something to do to pass time while i'm out there, or waiting for flights, etc...

seeing a 220lb bearded man sewing should freak some people out


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 12:22 PM
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Originally posted by patrickhatch

seeing a 220lb bearded man sewing should freak some people out


Lol thats what i thought at first


Now and again i do go into a sewing show for supplies and you can see the little old ladies behind the counter almost reaching for the panic button under the counter lol, but you'd be suprised at the types of guys who are proficient in this type of thing.

I know of one website that has the most beautiful examples of sewing work, all done by serving prisoners.

I was taught a lot of my sewing skills by...wait for it....a leather jacket wearing tatooed granny in hospital who used to get regular kickings off the police because she'd give them the finger as they went by.
Bless her lol.

So yeah, it takes all sorts. I'll try and dig out some good examples of making clothes for survival so this fits better with the forum.

Just being able to repair your own though will be a major bonus should they need it.

Remember that you can strip paracord down to it's core if you want really strong thread for sewing. Most of us have tons of paracord on hand, so it can double as a thread supply.

CX.



[edit on 2/9/09 by CX]



posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 12:39 PM
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reply to post by CX
 


Where'd you get that kevlar? I always wanted to get some...


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by havok
reply to post by CX
 


Where'd you get that kevlar? I always wanted to get some...


I get mine off Ebay....but there are tons of shops that sell it. Just type in Kevlar thread in Google, should get you plenty of results.

Kevlar Thread

There are different strengths though, but even the weaker stuff is very strong and won't rot.

Be warned though, don't try and snap this stuff with your fingers, whilst it looks like normal thread, it will do a nice impression of cheese wire on your fingers.


CX.



posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 01:10 PM
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reply to post by CX
 

Thanks CX. I figured ebay.

Now I know the patch of sewing will be stronger than the clothes.


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 01:14 PM
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An after thought.....most people have fishing line in their kits, this can double up as sewing thread too.

Just be aware that when you tie off a knot with any thread/line thats plastic, like fishing line or the clear invisible thread, the knot can sometimes "bounce undone" again or at least loosen.

You can get over this by gently melting the knot with a flame so the knot cannot be undone, or squirt a drop of superglue on the knot. (You may have some superglue in your first aid kit for small wounds).

CX.



posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 01:35 PM
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There is an old sail maker technique (I cant remember the name) where you have a shaped bit of leather for the palm of your hand, sometimes with a strap to hold it in place, the idea being that you use it to push a very strong needle through the sail material over and over comfortably.

Now I'm thinking about my leather wallet and how I could use that - just remove all the cards so they wont get damaged, the leather is soft though it won't last very long - maybe other materials that I can find lying around - wood?.... Whatever you really don't want it to fail when your putting a load of pressure on it! - a pierced hand when your out in the sticks would ruin your day


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 02:14 PM
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reply to post by Now_Then
 


Now thats a thought! They sell them in the chandlers in the next town to me (big boat building place), these are them i believe...a sailmakers palm..




That would save your hands a bit.
Thanks for that.

Funnily enough i am getting together a couple of pics of my kit, and in there i have a couple of heavy duty needles that would easily double as a harpoon lol.

Sail and sack needles, and like you say they would seriously spoil your day if you slipped with one.

CX.


[edit on 2/9/09 by CX]


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 04:02 PM
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Ok heres a couple of pics for you, just in case you weren't bored to tears with this thread already.


Heres my sewing kit for my BOB, very basic, but the contents are enough to sort me out with most repairs that will be thrown my way.



A close up of stripped paracord that you can use as strong thread...i know most people are aware of this trick, but there maybe be some that are not...



Now you'll notice i have two thimbles in my kit, thats because if i lose one i have another. Sounds obvious but i am like a bear with a sore head when i repeatedly stab my fingers when sewing tougher material, so a back up thimble will keep me from a bad mood and everyone getting a bit of it.


However....should i lose that one
......and after all this is a survival forum, you can always carve your own one out of a piece of wood. Here you'll see i just knocked up a very basic one for you to see....

I used a piece of dowelling for the demo, but obviously you'd just hack a piece of branch off, just slightly thicker than your finger....first CAREFULLY dig the blade down into the wood, cutting your outline...



Then just carefully dig and scrape away until you have bored out the inside. I left about 1mm around the edge...



Heres the finished rough thimble...modeled by moi!




This was made entirely with a knife, a Frost Mora, but of course any knife will do.

Yes it's rough, yes this one can be improved and it will take up about half an hour of your time, but as i said before, it will stop you puncturing your fingers and risking possible infection.

If you're still awake after that...thanks for looking.


The things we do for ATS eh?


CX.

[edit on 2/9/09 by CX]



posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 04:56 PM
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reply to post by CX
 


Pretty good but I would throw at least 2 yrds of elastic in there. Trust me on this one. Its probably the one sewing item I buy more than anything.


CX

posted on Sep, 2 2009 @ 04:58 PM
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Originally posted by calstorm
reply to post by CX


Good point, or if needed you could cut up a bungee cord if you have one.

Probably best to just get some elastic though.


Thanks,

CX.

[edit on 2/9/09 by CX]



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