So, You Want to Sew... - ITS Tactical
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So, You Want to Sew…

By Joel

IMG_4435As I’m sure ITS readers understand, having the right gear for the mission is absolutely critical. The problem is, sometimes the right gear just isn’t out there.

We’ve all had that moment. One day inspiration strikes and you’re sure you’re sitting on the latest, groundbreaking design for a magazine pouch, plate carrier, backpack, whatever. It’s time to give it a shot and start sewing!

First Step

First thing’s first, you need a sewing machine. You can’t sew through multiple layers of Cordura and webbing with just any home use machine, though.

For professional work, we use heavy duty, industrial sewing machines that can cut through layer upon layer of heavy fabric and webbing like butter. Unfortunately, these machines will usually run you in the thousands of dollars.

This is quite an investment to make just to try out a new hobby. Lucky for us, while the plastic wonders of today are far too weak, older models are surprisingly capable.

Back in the day they built these things like tanks! Better yet, those venerable old Kenmores and Singers are cheap and easy to find.

What to Look For

The machines you’re looking for will be old, used, and made of metal. That’s about all you need to know.

Seriously, though, the best way to find out if the machine is powerful enough is to simply try it out. Grab some scraps of the materials you will be using, the biggest needles you can find (size 18 or 20, the bigger the better) and give it a whirl.

Trial and error is the best method here. When testing your machine, consider the designs you will be attempting and how many layers of fabric and webbing you will need to be able to sew through.

If you’re not sure, just try adding a couple layers at a time and see how well the machine handles it.

Where to Look

The best place to start looking is with your own family and friends. Let them know you’re on the lookout for a used machine and I guarantee that you will have a free sewing machine in a month or less.

If you have no friends, your next best bet is to try searching garage sales. There is bound to be at least a few unwanted machines in your area.

You can also try sites like Ebay, although this can potentially be the most expensive route since you can’t test the machine before you buy and shipping will be expensive for such a bulky item.

What to Do With It

This is only a brief overview! You’ve got a lot to learn and the best way to go about that is to try it.

Patience and careful planning are critical skills here. If you’re really stuck or just looking for inspiration, check out the forums on DIY Tactical.

On DIY you’ll will find all kinds of fantastic information on tools, techniques, material selection, and more. The forums are populated by a great group of experienced individuals who are more than willing to help a fellow tactical stitcher.

We’d like to thank Joel of Zulu Nylon Gear for the great introductory article on sewing, let us know what you think, and if you’d like to hear more about this topic in the comments!

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