Sewing for Hackers

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This page is dedicated to a list of resources for people interested in sewing as a means of assembling awesome stuff.

Information Resources:

 - Ray Jardine's Book: There's a copy of this in the space next to Sam's sewing machine. 
   -If you have any interest in hiking/camping it's great for that alone... 
   -...and at the end of this book there's a whole chapter on how to start machine sewing, what simple seam types to use, 
   -...and a bunch of simple - and not so simple - projects you can do yourself. 
 - Ray Jardine's sewing tips: this page has a lot of additional good information
 - - ask me anything, I'll do my best to help or direct you to a better source

Material Resources:

 - Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics
 - Joann Fabrics


1. Please post the Backpacking book references, Adan. Done!--Adan 12:55, 7 September 2012 (EDT)


Review of Session:

Jeff Nichols, Posted to email group on Sept 5, 2012.

After last night's class, I'm interested in sewing for the first time. So interested that I'm bidding on an old, all-metal Singer Industrial Sewing Machine like the one Keith has. Keith had the machine with him last night. They were made in the 1950s. It can sew leather! Today I also bought the service manual for an old Singer that we have in order to try to repair it. (A part was broken when it was being refurbished; it's worked erratically since.)

The idea of making one's own lightweight, hiking equipment was a great motivation. Adan sewed his own lightweight backpack which he had with him last night. It is 12 years old, but still looks great. (Finding out that we have an AT Through-Hiker in our midst was also interesting. My daughter was saying afterwards that she wants to hike the AT someday.)

The class had several of us sitting around the table with experts around teaching us how to thread the machine and uncovering the mysteries surrounding bobbins. I'd always thought the machines worked a different way than they do. Afterwards we learned about tearing out stitches (by first doing it the wrong way). Some tried their hands at repairing some items. Much knowledge and sewing wisdom was exchanged. My wife, who has sewed for 30+ years, learned some things last night.

Adan started a wiki page at

We had a couple visitors, Ed and Debbie, come in who were guests of Andy. Ed is a co-worker. They plan to return for the Grand Opening later this month.

Followup Ideas Combining Sewing, Leather, and Laser Cutters

Thanks for the report!

Sewing leather is an interesting prospect for sure. Combined with the laser cutter, and drawing upon the leather working skills of those in our midst, one could conceive of some pretty cool projects.

Last weekend Syd and I went to Muddy pond which is a Mennonite community over near Cookville. There is a leather / tac store there, and we scooped up a huge bag of leather (some pretty large scraps) for $12. You can get tanned hides (mostly bull and buffalo) in various thicknesses and sizes and in an array of colors for incredibly reasonable prices (e.g. $8 - 12 for ~10 sq. feet, etc.) The are also things such as leather belts for $10, harness leather, etc. The place is a gem.

Also for sewing project ideas there are some cool youtube videos for threadbangers - some Steampunk and other ideas, etc.


Leather and Lasers and Sewing Machine in the Space

Times like this (and a thousand others/day) I'm glad I'm just vegetarian, not vegan. Leather as a material remains unequaled. I love the idea of laser cutting it, especially using the laser to cut (and sear!) holes to save awl time/pain and tearing. You could also perforate for flexibility, ventilate for breathing, etc.

Definitely, thanks so much for the report, Jeff. I was delighted people had a good time and learned a little too. That's awesome that you're sourcing a 'real' sewing machine! Keith's is a way more serious beast than mine.

Oh, and let's make sure the record's clear: Keith was the AT thru-hiker, not I! Someday, I still say, someday I'll do it. Or at least the GSM portion. That's most of it, right?

Here's lookin' to the next sewing event... but don't wait until then if you're curious: Sam has very generously left his machine in the Space (marked with a big "WORKS" post-it), and it's indeed fully functional. Bring some fabric, sew it together, feel free to ask me or one of last night's new experts for a hand if you're not completely certain.