Sew Your Own Outdoor Gear

How to sew sleeping bags, clothing and parkas from kits.

| March/April 1984

  • Sew Your Own Outdoor Gear Kits
    A sew-your-own kit includes precut and marked materials with detailed instructions for making outdoor gear.  

  • Sew Your Own Outdoor Gear Kits

Most of the "make your own" articles we've collected for this outdoor gear primer lean heavily toward the rustic and—in a few cases—the downright crude. And there's nothing wrong with that . . . we like rough-and-ready projects, or we certainly wouldn't be recommending them to you! However, what if you want something extra nice . . . like, say, a Thinsulate-lined winter parka with hood? Well, unless you are a seamstress (or seamster) extraordinaire, that project would entail a bite of work that might prove to be a little too big to chew. And if you tried to buy such a coat, you could expect to spend about $125!

So there you sit, perched uncomfortably atop the horns of a dilemma . . . damned if you do (try to design, cut, and sew the parka yourself, that is) and broke if you don't (and opt instead to buy the darned thing).

But wait! There is a solution: You could sew your own by purchasing a kit that comes with all the parts precut and marked so that all you have to do is follow a set of detailed instructions. And that $125 winter parka can be yours, in kit form, for $66.50. That's a saving of nearly half! 

Furthermore, for the moderately experienced seamstress or seamster, kits can offer more than economy: They can be downright instructive in the ways of the stitch-and-hem, putting you several steps closer to actually being able to make your gear from scratch. And too, a kit-produced garment can give you the satisfaction of having done something for yourself, of having climbed a little farther out of the consumer rut.

But—you may well be wondering—what potential problems lie in wait for the would-be kit completer?

Well, our collective hands-on experience says to take the "Anybody can do it, even if you have no sewing experience!" come-on with a grain or two of salt. Of course, each kitmaker's products are different. But you do need a basic knowledge of sewing and its jargon—and, of course, a sewing machine—to breeze through a-kit project.

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