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layout on silnylon
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steve ulrich
(botzinski) - MLife

Locale: minnesota
layout on silnylon on 05/23/2010 19:31:02 MDT Print View

so i purchased the quest outfitters tarp kit in an experimental and low cost stab at making a run at tarping it this summer.

first off - this stuff is insanely slippery. i've worked with heavier silnylon (from the corresponding G4 kit from quest outfitters) and it's proven to be reasonably workable. however, i found that i was resorting to chalk lines and sharpie's to lay things out for cutting. i was able to get things reasonably well cut out but i made a mess with carpenters chalk in the process.

is there a better way to do this?

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
working with silnylon on 05/23/2010 21:00:03 MDT Print View

I use either china pencils or sharpie ultrafine markers.
I work on an inexpensive Walmart table tennis table that takes thumb tacks easily.
Hope this helps.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
layout on silnylon on 05/23/2010 21:49:45 MDT Print View

Steve, Here's another suggestion.

Do all your layout on full size paper, cut out the pattern, pin it to your fabric then cut out the fabric following the pattern.

Some advantages are: you can draw directly on paper with pencil or ink, you can use a straight edge, swing angles and arcs, make corrections, stabilize your fabric for cutting and have a pattern for future use to boot!

Craft stores sell 36" wide paper by the foot. Tape two strips together for wider patterns.

I've tried transferring measurements directly to fabric and found it unsatisfactory (especially silnylon). I strongly prefer making a paper pattern first.

Help this helps,


Edited by Lancem on 05/23/2010 22:12:54 MDT.

Robert Logue
(robertlog) - F
layout on silnylon on 05/23/2010 22:25:40 MDT Print View

Dry-erase markers (for whiteboards) work well on silnylon ... and won't come off, so be careful where you mark.

steve ulrich
(botzinski) - MLife

Locale: minnesota
Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 08:10:33 MDT Print View

i think i'll be making a paper pattern for future runs at this. cleaning up the builders chalk on things has proven to be a royal hass.

thanks for the pointers folks. this silnylon is proving more challenging than i'd expected to work with.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 09:05:03 MDT Print View

Visit your local newspaper - they (at least here) often let you have the unused (or leftover - sorry, I won't pretend I know why they have leftovers) rolls of blank paper about 30' wide. T

ape pieces together or use it as packing material for boxes, or for drawing paper for the kids.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 15:12:03 MDT Print View

> Do all your layout on full size paper, cut out the pattern,

Even better - use 200 micron builder's plastic. You can see through it to check that the silnylon is flat and not creased. I use a lot of it.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 16:11:59 MDT Print View

Plastic doesn't work for me. My sil-nylon will still be flat, but it may be stretched one way or the other.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 18:44:50 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

How does your silnylon get 'stretched'? I have never run into that problem. I am working on a large flat polished wood floor though, with the silnylon just lying there.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 19:24:51 MDT Print View

I start with a commercial pattern. I lay my own paper over it and trace the parts that I need. Then I cut out the paper outline of those parts. I lay the sil-nylon on my work surface and tug on it a little to get all of the wrinkles and folds out. Then I lay my outline papers onto the fabric and orient them so that I can get everything on one piece of fabric. I hold each outline paper and try to trace a line around it onto the fabric. However, due to the slippery nature of the paper and the fabric, they slide with respect to one another. The net result is that the outline that I am tracing onto the fabric gets stretched. I use a sharp razor knife to cut the fabric, and that has a tendency to pull the actual fabric more, one way or the other, but the fabric does not seem to snap back after it is cut. None of this problem happens when I use ordinary nylon.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: layout on silnylon on 05/24/2010 22:43:25 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

Ah - I see what you mean now. I thought you meant that the silnylon fabric got stretched.

OK, what I do:
Make pattern on 200 micron plastic
Add *carefully measured* seam allowance around edge of pattern (because later on I work off the cut edge)
Cut out plastic pattern
Place plastic patterns on silnylon and arrange
Pin the patterns onto the silnylon with lots of very fine pins at the edges, through the seam allowance. The 200 micron plastic takes this very well.
Cut out around edge of plastic.

That way there is no slippage or stretching of the pattern. The pin holes are all in the seam allowances, so don't cause me any problems.


Edited by rcaffin on 05/25/2010 17:24:24 MDT.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
patterns and silnylon on 05/24/2010 23:34:38 MDT Print View

Silnylon is kept on a roll to prevent wrinkles. Ironing has been tried, but fear it will damage the sil coating, or even the nylon.

A piece large enough for the pattern piece is pinned on the pingpong table at the four corners, being careful not to stretch the sil fabric.

The pattern piece, if not already so cut, is cut along where the stitch lines will be. It is placed on the nylon, and weighted so it will not shift. Then a line is traced around its edges onto the nylon.

Then the pattern is removed and another line is traced outside and around the inner line with the seam allowance I want.

Then the the nylon is cut at the outer line. Everyone has their own favorite cutter. After trying every type of gadget, I reverted to well sharpened Fiskar scissors. Personal preference, I guess.

Might have mentioned before, that I pin the silnylon seams before sewing with short straight pins, pinned so that the pinholes will be on or inside the stitch lines, and easy to seal, on the face of the faux flat fell seam (faux, because one side of the seam has no overlap outside the stitch line). I sew slowly, holding the silnylon fabric both in front of and behind the presser foot so that it does not stretch or wrinkle. I pull the pins just before the fabric goes under the foot. If the fabric starts to stretch or wrinkle around the pins, it is time for a long break, and a restart later. Why do I suffer this way?! I suppose a shrink might say it is masochistic, like backpacking. But BPL has greatly improved the latter, and with experience, the sewing gets less tedious. And it is quite satisfying to weather a storm under your own handiwork.

Edited by scfhome on 05/24/2010 23:55:46 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: patterns and silnylon on 05/25/2010 17:25:37 MDT Print View

+1 on how Sam sews.


Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: layout on silnylon on 05/27/2010 10:17:40 MDT Print View

I lightly mark silnylon with either black or silver Sharpies and erase the marks with isopropyl alcohol. Test this on scrap, as the material and duration before erasing seems to be a factor in how well it erases.

Alec Farmer
(feltproductive) - F
Soldering Iron! on 06/28/2010 15:52:33 MDT Print View


Just make your pattern with newspaper, pin it onto the silnylon, and then use a soldering iron (used for electronics) to heat cut. It cuts and seals edges at the same time, so it wont fray and hence you dont have to hem! Saving fabric and weight!

Hope it works for you!

Frederick Maxfield
(fredmax56) - M

Locale: New England
Pattern Paper on 06/28/2010 19:26:15 MDT Print View

In the past I used 30" kraft paper that you can buy at most retail stores. The problem is what to do if you need to make a pattern greater than 30"? I use to tape 2 pieces together but that can be a pain. I searched the internet and found a company that sells sewing supplies. The one I use is South Star Supply. South Star sells 40# kraft paperup to 72" wide. A roll cost 120$. It seems like a great deal of money but figure there is almost 800' per roll. I figure I have many years supply of pattern paper.
Good luck,

Edited by fredmax56 on 06/28/2010 19:27:48 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: layout on silnylon on 06/28/2010 20:42:15 MDT Print View

+1 on the sharpie pens for marking. For holding things in place, I've had good luck with masking tape to hold the fabric in place on floor or table, and also to hold patterns in place when using a pattern. A nice long straightedge is also handy for lager pieces - I have used an old 78" long level, and also some 1/16" thick by 1 1/2" wide aluminum left over from a jobsite.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: layout on silnylon on 08/13/2010 08:30:48 MDT Print View


+1 for the fine point Sharpie marking pens.

I have also had great luck with Dritz Tailor's Chalk in blue and white, p.n. 642-66.

You can see what I am talking about at;

To a lesser degree I have used Dritz Dressmakers Marking Pencil, p.n.675-9 in white on darker colored fabric.

See it at;

Party On,