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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sewing Survival Skills: Guest post by Julie Anne Eason

Sewing Survival Skills


Guest post by Julie Anne Eason

Maybe dressing snappy isn't at the top of your list of things to do in an emergency. But basic sewing skills like hand-stitching a seam, mending holes and creating makeshift garments are a necessity for survival. Here are a few skills you may want to brush up on now before an emergency strikes and things get out of hand.

Learn some basic hand stitches.
If you're not able to get your hands on a working sewing machine, you're going to have to break out a needle and thread to stitch up a seam. Get acquainted with the running stitch, backstitch, whipstitch and blindstitch, and you'll be able to tackle just about any sewing project without the need for electricity.

Learn to mend both knitted and woven fabrics.
The days of darning socks may not be dead after all. In a survival situation, it's important to keep your clothing, bags and shelters in good repair. Learning to mend means understanding how different fabrics unravel when they're torn. You should know how to darn, patch, applique and repair different seams on apparel fabric, leather and canvas.
Almost all stretchy fabrics are knit. They are made of one long strand knotted over and over. It will unravel by pulling just one string. Darning is the best method for repairing a knit fabric.
Wovens are generally not stretchy and made of hundreds of threads interlaced over and under each other to form a fabric. A tear in a woven fabric can mean quick unraveling if you don't repair it. Patching is usually the best method for fixing a torn woven fabric. The one exception is a felted wool fabric, which won't unravel at all.
Learn how to quilt insulation into garments and blankets.

Quilting involves stitching a fluffy filling in between two layers of fabric. Any quilted fabric will be warmer than a non-quilted one simply because the fluff traps air in between the fibers creating warmth. Quilted blankets are the most obvious use of this skill. But there's also quilted pants, shirts, jackets, socks, petticoats--you name it. You can buy polyester fiberfill for quilting material, but natural sources are much warmer. And they're free if you gather them in the right season.
Wool and cotton are common fillings for traditional quilts, and can be used for garment quilting as well. If you don't raise your own sheep, you may be able to barter for wool from a neighbor.
Goose down is a great insulator, but you can use any fluffy feather as a filler layer. It's easiest to gather the down from nesting areas in the spring after the birds have molted. You can also save feathers from any fowl you kill for food.

Milkweed floss is another great quilting material. Some reports say it's even warmer than feather down, and it has a waxy layer that helps repel water. Gather milkweed in the fall when the pods are dry and open. Or pick the pods just before they open and dry them out in the sun or in a dehydrator.
Take the time to learn these sewing skills now and you'll be rewarded with warm clothing and dry shelter in the years to come.
Julie Anne Eason is a full-time freelance writer. She spends her days creating various crafts, working on her Bernina 950-Tacsew 950 industrial sewing machine, and helping people find the best beginner sewing machine for them. You can contact her through her website SeriousSewing.com