Eric: Ben's advice in making a smaller version is probably sound advice. I am learning as I go, and I'm at a spot that even if this one doesn't turn out like I want, the next one surely will turn out much better. A lot of the timing with this type of project depends on how well you know your sewing machine with silnylon and the processes you use in putting it together.
Ben: That is a massive tent! I sure hope the one I am making now can fit 4 guys with gear in the summer.
So last night I connected two of the eight pieces together and made a flat felled seam. I am VERY happy with how this turned out. But it was a rough start. Below are a few notes on what I learned in doing this:
1. I followed Jerry's advice in hand stitching at both ends and then two hand stitches in the middle. However, even doing this the bottom piece kept on dragging and the line was not matching up with the bottom piece. Part of the problem was that I am using navy silnylon. So the permanent marker is very hard to see and I can't see through the fabric unless I put it directly in front of a light (which is why I couldn't tell it was off until I put it at the light). I had to use a seam reaper twice on about 12-24 inches of seam each time. It is worth noting that this part would probably be easier if you got silnylon that wasn't a very dark color.
What I ended up doing after having to seam rip twice, was I used a massive amount of pins. I put the pins on top of the line with and made the sharp tip point towards the sewing machine every 3-4 inches. When the sewing machine got right up to a pin, I pulled out the pin. This turned out much more accurate (there was no sliding after this). I didn't have to seam rip to correct the line after I did this.
2. In Jerry's article, he mentioned cutting the eight pieces 0.5 inches beyond the marked line. I did this, but this ended up making the flat felled seam very difficult to work with. With the help of my wife, I was able to figure out how to use pins perpendicular to the seam that made sewing much easier (so I put in a pin every 4-6 inches so the material held the shape and I just sewed right over the pin). I had to put in a third row of stitching to not have any raw edges sticking out. With that said, once I got the pins in, sewing the two rows of stitches to complete the seam was very simple, because it was easy to follow the line that you are sewing next to.
If I was going to re-do this, I probably would cut the fabric at least 1" from the line to make the flat felled seam go much more smoothly.
On the next piece I am going to try the methods that I think work the best and time how long it takes to do it. If it works well again, on the next piece I will take photos of what I did and start putting together an article that should be a great companion to Jerry's article, but from the perspective of someone who is brand spanking new at MYOG.
At this point I'm very confident in my ability to accurately sew on the pieces. I'm a bit concerned at the accuracy of my cat curve...and if I am off, if the tent will still be usable or not. If it doesn't turn out, than I may go with Ben's suggestion in not going with a cat curve....or figuring out a different method in creating the curve more accurately.
All in all, there are things that are easier and harder with this project....especially when dealing with a cat curve. But I'm hoping that I won't be the only one who will learn from my experience! :) But I will say that the sewing aspect of this project, for someone who just learned how to use his wife's sewing machine, is going better than I thought it might.