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new to MYOG, new sewing machine. Project?
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
new to MYOG, new sewing machine. Project? on 04/11/2012 15:59:15 MDT Print View

Does anyone have an idea for a project I might take on to start learning how to use a sewing machine? I was thinking of maybe doing a shoulder water bottle pocket or something. Also maybe modding my pack a bit just to remove some excess fabric and stitch the ends nicer. Do those sound reasonable? Any other little "oh that's a good idea for a beginner" ideas?

Eventually I want to:
Modify my down jacket to be less billowy in the abs/waist sections, prevent air flow.
Maybe modify my 6'6" sleeping bag for my 5'6"-'ish girlfriend.

*edit: Maybe a stuff sack?

Edited by Trout on 04/11/2012 16:38:44 MDT.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Training projects on 04/11/2012 16:46:58 MDT Print View

Stuffsack and drybags are very good learning projects. Depending on how you make them there even is a slight variation in difficulty. One of the first projects I made was a seat like this (, which is very easy to do.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
IMHO on 04/11/2012 16:54:54 MDT Print View

Start small...stuff sacks/pillows and the like. Cheap and stable materials like cotton to begin. Rip up old clothes and just get a feel for the machine and the craft. Try sewing one old t-shirt on top of another, or cut one up to make patches and sew it to another for starters. Learn the nuances of that particular machine; how it feels, how it jams, comes apart, changing threads, starting/stopping seams, etc.

Make some small clothes/blankets/whatever for a kid's center (new cloth) and donate your handicrafts. They may not be commercial quality but they're much better than nothing and a better use than just throwing projects away or having them sit in a closet. Even "doll clothes" are hugely appreciated by the kids and help with the fine detail-work and working in small spaces.

Scale up from there into the more expensive materials. When you move to a new material, again, go back to small things until you see how that material "behaves."

The more you can do 'with a purpose to give away' the easier it is to stick with it because it's less about what you're getting out of it and more about the craft itself.

Also, people love gifts and it's fun to give stuff away. :)


David Scheidt
(dscheidt) - F
Re: new to MYOG, new sewing machine. Project? on 04/11/2012 17:08:11 MDT Print View

A lot depends on whether you have someone who can show you how to do things, or if you're figuring it out from the manual (and youtube videos, if you find them useful), and also on your personal ability to deal with frustration. If that's low, start with something easy: a stuff sack as you suggest is a good thing. I recently made a few grocery sacks out of 70d silnylon mostly to see how one of my machines would handle the material, but also because they're a useful thing (50 g for 1/6 bbl sack seams pretty shameful around here, but they do hold 15 pounds or so for the mile walk from the store.) If your tolerance for getting things wrong the first time is higher, you can start with someting more complicated. I wouldn't start with modification, because that can be difficult (sometimes more difficult that you think when you start), and screwing up can ruin a good piece of equipment.

Get some cheap fabric, some hardware, a good seam ripper and start messing around.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: new to MYOG, new sewing machine. Project? on 04/11/2012 22:14:07 MDT Print View

My girlfriend is very talented and experienced with sewing, and she taught me. So with her help my first project was a new pack. I've seen several other people do the same. Stuff sacks are one option. I really think that a hammock is a wonderfully simple project to start with. It gives you at least 4 very long stitches to do, making for good practice. It'll cost you something like $20 in fabric in nylon. I think it is a pretty hard one to mess up too.

One thing I'd suggest is use fabrics that you want to use while backpacking. I can't think of a project that I have made that I found to be completely unusable. However, if I made them out of some material like cotton, that may be a different story. 2nds fabrics are cheap and definitely worth it.

Some hobby stores offer sewing classes if you're interested in learning some in that manner. I know the Joann here does.

I'd agree that mods can be a bit more difficult than making gear from scratch. Well, I haven't really tried any mods, but the idea of it scares me. I normally would rather sell what I have and start again from scratch to make it to my needs.

Matthew Pullan
(Skyaddict) - F - MLife

Locale: Steiermark
First project on 04/12/2012 08:31:15 MDT Print View

If you have any old merino wool clothing that has developed holes, it is great for chopping up and resewing. The sleeves make good neck gaiters, and the body can be made into a balaclava.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
new to MYOG, new sewing machine. Project? on 04/14/2012 12:12:49 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the suggestions. I wound up making a few stuff sacks that I was reasonably happy with (I'm learning!), modifying my tyvek camp shoes, and trimming my hip belt. The next on the hit list is adding some mesh pockets to the small version of the REI flash pack. =) thanks all!

Mods have so far cut off 1.5 ounces to my kit. Woohoo!

Edited by Trout on 04/14/2012 12:16:13 MDT.