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Advice for working with Cuben
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Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
Advice for working with Cuben on 11/09/2011 22:37:38 MST Print View

I just got a new sewing machine over the weekend and started playing around with some cuben i recently bought. My machine has like 20 different stitch options. After practicing some different stitch types, i decided to make a small stuff sack and close the ends using a zig zag stitch. Now, maybe its just me getting used to a real machine (i am a novice in every sense of the word) but i find it difficult to control the speed of the machine, so it felt like sometimes the material would "get away from me" if that makes any sense. Then when i slow down, i feel like im messing up the stitch.
IS there a secret to working with cuben vs other materials?
Is there a particular stitch pattern you guys use? The zig zag looks to be inherently the strongest, but will add more thread to the project....
IDK just curious...

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
also.. on 11/09/2011 22:51:38 MST Print View

what do you use to cut cuben? maybe i need better scissors....

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Advie on 11/09/2011 22:54:00 MST Print View

Get a good thread tension long stitch length minimum stitches. And cut with a straight edge razor cuben will dull scissors quick

Michael Pappas
(Mpap89) - F

Locale: bay area
x-acto knife on 11/09/2011 22:54:29 MST Print View

i'm pretty sure most people use an x-acto knife when cutting cuben.

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
Cool! on 11/09/2011 23:28:19 MST Print View

Thanks guys!
Ill try out some of the longer stitch settings and pick up a new exacto knife or razor blade tomorrow!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Hot Knife on 11/09/2011 23:29:20 MST Print View

I've always used a hot knife, which is basically a razor blade but heated up super hot. It cuts thru really nicely...even when the blade isn't so dull. You can get these at craft stores for $20 or so.

Michael Ttrafton
(mtrafton) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
walking foot on 11/20/2011 00:42:16 MST Print View

Order a walking foot for you machine. You will be amazed at how much easer it is working with thin material like cuben. Get a roteree cutter to cut cuben.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: walking foot on 11/20/2011 08:45:51 MST Print View

Sorry to butt in here but with the walking foot, do you leave it on all the time, such as when you're sewing webbing, fleece, etc too? Also, will a walking foot make sil-nylon easier to sew as well or is that stuff going to be a pain regardless?

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Re: walking foot on 11/20/2011 11:57:58 MST Print View

I tried out a new machine at a local sewing shop which featured a walking foot. I brought a sample of 70D and I found it much easier to control than without a walking foot. I imagine any slippery fabric would benefit from one but they are very expensive as a standard option on a machine.

Samuel C Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Advice for working with Cuben on 11/20/2011 19:01:56 MST Print View

Not clear from your post if the speed control issue only happens with cuben or across the board. If the latter, you may need a better speed control pedal. You could pick one up at a sew+vac shop and wire and tape it into the the line that plugs into your machine. Also, the machine will operate more smoothly if kept clean and lubricated inside. Hope you don't need a new motor. Do not use a full-size presser foot for straight stitching - the thin two-pronged ones are good, and work much better for me on silnyon.

I have not sewn with cuben yet, but decided some time ago only to sew together edges that have already been hemmed by folding over and bonding. Too much on the forums about the stitch holes being pulled open by the thread, as well as pictures of puckered seams. Haven't decided yet whether to bond with one of the tapes or GE silicone glue. Will need to see first how the tape adhesive affects sewing, and how well the silicone glue holds. Would not go to the trouble of using a urethane glue unless there would be no stitching at all.

Edited by scfhome on 11/20/2011 19:15:24 MST.

a b
MLD on 11/20/2011 19:28:48 MST Print View

I would shoot Ron Bell an email. (he is a member of BPL)
The stitch work on my cuben gear from MLD is laser straight.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Suluk 46 video on 11/21/2011 08:48:58 MST Print View

video on making Cuben tarp

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
thanks! on 11/21/2011 17:01:06 MST Print View

so far the speed control issue seems to be caused by my own foot!!! and lack of experience with my new machine....sine i posted this thread ive been practicing and gotten a much better feel for the cuben in general. im cutting it much smoother and right now im just waiting to place my final order for materials to finish my wifes pack...the rder will be placed tomorrow and then the real test will begin.
Thanks to everyone who posted suggestions and comments, i take them all to heart!

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: OZ
Why on 11/21/2011 17:08:24 MST Print View

Nice to learn how to sew but not for Cuben. Seems people have translated skills and methods to the new material that are just not necessary?? Ive only made a few things but hot knife and bonding seem obviously superior methods for working with plastic???

Mike D.
(mpd1690) - F
Re: Why on 11/21/2011 17:51:14 MST Print View

One reason is that it is impossible to bond non cuben materials (i.e. nylon) to cuben with tape.

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: OZ
ok on 11/21/2011 19:42:07 MST Print View

Perhaps sinylon but many things bond surprisingly well given the right adhesive and techniques. I guess my point is, someone new to using Cuben should think of bonding first, sewing next (imo).

Ive had several dyneema X/ grossgrain nylon/ mesh bonds hanging weighted and swinging in a tree for months now (forgot they were out there lol). I'd probably find a material that does bond (if possible) before sewing the stuff (especially lighter weight styles).

I have limited experience compared to some here but just 2c advise wise.

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
bonding on 11/21/2011 20:36:38 MST Print View

well i have considered bonding some lighter weight cuben to make a rain jacket....but for a pack, using a stronger weight cuben, stitching should work just fine....also suben tape is like $30 a roll whereas thread is relatively cheap at around $5 and a little tlc and elbow grease...

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: OZ
Certainly on 11/21/2011 21:23:33 MST Print View

for a pack and heavy materials. I have some of the nylon backed cuben and heavy weights, i'm not convinced they are really worth the cost over alternatives.

Tape definitely for large panels (cubictech tape works well in shear, like velcro in peel) otherwise some cheap adhesives work equally well (if not better).


Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
which materials... on 11/21/2011 21:55:13 MST Print View

work as good if not better than cubic tape...if you dont mind sharing!

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: OZ
No, not at all.. on 11/21/2011 22:36:47 MST Print View

iv'e had some success with a couple of local contact adhesives but others on the forum would have a better idea of those available there (Ive also used aquaseal and hysol but they seem expensive and not especially easy to work with). I did play around with spray contact adhesive and masking, not as difficult and quicker than it sounds and leaves a nice even layer. For piece of mind i did my own testing, probably the best idea.

I would say that while i mention it here i'm by no means the only one on BPL with a preference for bonding lightweight cuben. I have sewn a couple of projects then seam sealed but it didn't offer much advantage (though the sew part was quicker and cleaner (until I worked out a few techniques for using contact).

Edited by bankse on 11/21/2011 22:38:26 MST.