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First MYOG project
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Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
First MYOG project on 11/23/2013 17:39:58 MST Print View

Hi guys,

My girlfriend and I fancy having a go at making some gear for hiking but we really aren't sure where to start.
We have a sewing machine (so far it's only made cushion covers) and plenty of time to kill.

What do you all think would be reasonable first projects?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: First MYOG project on 11/23/2013 17:45:00 MST Print View

One idea is to purchase a sewing pattern, purchase some fabric and thread, and have a go at it. For my first one, I got a hooded rain jacket pattern. My first try was poor, but that was OK since I had used some very cheap fabric for the learning experience. Then I made a second try with the same pattern and some decent fabric, and it turned out OK, and I still wear it.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: First MYOG project on 11/24/2013 09:43:05 MST Print View

You might start with kits (RayWay Products, others). They may be more ambitious but with good instructions it should go well. My first project was a synthetic vest (Mountain Adventure Kits, for those old enough to remember).

Some fairly easy projects, in no particular order:

- stuff sacks (standard first project)
- silnylon tarp (careful on the ridge seam and pullouts)
- synthetic quilt, one- or two-person
- wind jacket and pants (use a pattern)
- gaiters
- pack cover

More ambitions projects:

- synthetic or down vest or jacket
- cagoule or anorak
- heavy wind/rain parka/pants, WPB or Taslan
- tent or tarp-tent
- fitted clothing in general
- down quilt or sleeping bag
- etc.

Edited by ewolin on 11/24/2013 09:45:20 MST.

Thomas Conly
(conly) - F

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
Re: First MYOG project on 11/24/2013 09:49:45 MST Print View

I would definitely suggest you go with a kit for a first try. There can be a lot of small details in making gear that you have to figure out with trial and error when making stuff from scratch and that can be frustrating for someone who's just starting out. The Ray Jardine kits are extremely well laid out and the thru-hiker ones are a close second. I'd also really recommend doing a piece of gear first before venturing into clothing. Gear tends to have straight, easy to sew seams whereas clothing has funky curves which can be a pain, especially with lightweight nylon. Also, it's more embarrassing to wear clothing with flaws than to sleep under a tarp with flaws.

My first item was a quilt and it turned out great. All the seams get tucked inside by the time it's done so it looks great no matter how bad you sew. Don't start with a pack. They take a lot of stress along the seams and my first one fell apart pretty quickly. And don't start with mitts. Worst thing to sew. So many curved seams in such a small space.

Edit: The previous post got posted as I wrote mine. That's two votes for Ray Jardine kits. :)

Edited by conly on 11/24/2013 09:50:57 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: First MYOG project on 11/24/2013 11:46:40 MST Print View

Kits or patterns are definitely a good way to start. Thru-hiker also has some nice kits.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: First MYOG project on 11/24/2013 11:48:40 MST Print View

An even easier place to start (than a kit) is to modify an existing garment. Maybe even do a total practice piece. Buy a puffy parka for $10 at Goodwill and customize it. Take in the waist. Add a tunnel hood, add pit zips. Whatever. Brainstorm and play around. Thrift store finds also make a cheap source of ripstop nylon, zippers, down and fiberfill. Your skills and knowledge will improve quickly at first. Then try using the more expensive, lighter fabrics.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
MYOG on 11/27/2013 13:15:53 MST Print View

Gentlemen, thank you for your replies.

I have ordered 5 metres of 30g/m^2 rip stop parachute nylon along with some polyester thread with the hope of making something!
I ordered a pattern for "rain/wind pant" with the thought that I could try that at a later date.
Before doing something that complicated would anyone recommend following the "5 yards to SUL" articles or is that going to leave me a little out of my depth? The stuff sack could perhaps be a realistic first attempt with plenty of spare material ordered to keep trying until I can sew?

My, rather lofty, goal is to make a down quilt (pun intended)!

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Quilt on 11/27/2013 13:39:54 MST Print View

I made a rayway syn quilt as my first real project. Because my sewing machine's presser foot tends to stick up, it was harder than it should have been. If you know how to operate a sewing machine and can sew a straight line something of that level is not too much. If you have never used a sewing machine before, start real small. Stuff sack it good. Alterations to existing gear even better.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: MYOG on 11/27/2013 14:48:06 MST Print View

I think the "5 yds to SUL" would give you a lot of good experience, and starting with the stuff sack is a great first step.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
rayway kits etc on 11/28/2013 10:04:00 MST Print View

I seriously considered ordering a rayway kit but I didn't follow through because I was worried about postage and customs duty (+20%, sometimes more) to get the package to the UK.

I'm hoping that articles on here, other sites and UK/EU bought patterns and fabrics will be enough to get started.

I'm sure I can make lots of stuff sacks for the time being, Christmas is coming after all and I'm SURE my family would all LOVE a bright red 30gm^2 ripstop nylon stuff sack made with some awful sewing skills.

extremtextil emailed me today to let me know that the fabric has been dispatched so I shall post some very proud photos of a nylon murder scene when I get off work next week.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: First MYOG project on 11/28/2013 17:50:59 MST Print View

kit smit...!

read any of the articles here and try one

a bag is always the easiest project because it's so small

tarps are easier because they have straight seams, although it's tricky keeping long seams aligned so the top layer doesn't slip relative to bottom layer. They use more fabric which is expensive.

clothing can be trickier because there are little pieces that are curved that you have to sew together. Maybe that's a case where a kit has some advantage.

probably insulated clothing or quilt/sleeping bag is most difficult, dealing with the insulation

Anthony Huhn
(anthonyjhuhn) - F - MLife

Locale: Mid West
First Project on 11/29/2013 19:55:30 MST Print View

I think a great sequence would be
Stuff sack with felled seam
Bathtub Ground Cloth
Large Rectangular Tarp
Two person synthetic quilt (the thru-hiker kit seems really economical)

Have fun sewing and hiking together!


David Roach
(DRoach) - F

Locale: North America
What do you need? on 12/01/2013 07:50:06 MST Print View

I started with a hammock, tarp, and stuff sacks. Do you need any specific gear that you could easily make? Or could you lighten up a piece of gear by remaking it? The hardest part of sewing so far for me was figuring out how to get the thread into the machine so it worked right. Once I got that figured out via some youtube video's it's been pretty easy going.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
What to start with on 12/01/2013 08:06:27 MST Print View

The thru-hiker Liberty Ridge Shell kit (wind shirt) is amazing. I made two of those in M50. One for me, one for my wife. We used them for a season of hiking in Montana, Thru-hiked the AT and it will be on the PCT with me this spring. This was one of my first projects and I would highly recommend it as a project once you have the basics down.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: What to start with on 12/01/2013 08:11:24 MST Print View

How waterproof is M50? Breathable?

I'm making wind/rain jacket and will find out.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
MYOG projects on 01/10/2014 18:04:33 MST Print View

Jerry, how did you get on with the M50?

I have successfully made a few stuff sacks with some ripstop nylon mentioned above.

My next "project" was an attempt at a bathtub groundsheet (I used the tips from this link I got a few metres of some coated nylon for cheap (£2) off ebay to give this a first try.

I'll post some photos later.

I got 10 metres of ripstop with a "silicone finish" - anyone have an idea what that might mean? (link to ebay:

I hope to attempt the floorless pyramid from Jerry's article. I will give it a try with the stuff I have but only because I don't want to lay out £90 for black silnylon (from Sean @ Oookworks) or €130 for blue from

Jerry - your article is three years old now, is there anything you'd do differently now?


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: MYOG projects on 01/10/2014 19:33:57 MST Print View

With M50 I made bivy - very waterproof, not supposed to be real breathable but I haven't noticed a problem, very flimsy but I was able to sew it okay and it hasn't ripped or anything. Very downproof.

I also made rain jacket. I'm waiting for opportunity to test it. Tomorrow's supposed to be good opportunity.

I keep using my pyramid - works good. Quite a few people have made something similar. I'de probably do the same today.

One thing is, for solo, I've been experimenting with "half pyramid". You leave one half of pyramid as is. For the other half, turn the rectangular area into a triangle (or beak, or vestibule). Saves a little weight. Put a zipper on ridge of the triangle.

You can buy 2nds silnylon here from many sources. Maybe that's what you have. It's a little less waterproof. When I've made a pack, and had something inside like puffy, water wicks through a little. Or when I sleep on it, water wicks through a little. If you coat it with mineral spirits:silicone it makes it much more waterproof. For a tent, it's fine. Pyramid never leaks. Except I get a little "misting". When it rains hard and I'm sleeping underneath, I feel a very slight mist. But it's not enough to get anything wet. Really just aesthetic.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: MYOG projects on 01/10/2014 20:12:52 MST Print View

Oh, one thing I do a little different is the zipper.

Now I hem the two sides, then just sew on the zipper. I try to get the edge of the fabric (hem) so it exactly touches the zipper teeth. This minimizes open area for wind and rain to penetrate, and avoids any snags.

I have the zipper go all the way to the top, so that top, circular, peak reinforcement piece covers the very top of the zipper. Nice clean finished look. Keeps water out.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
RE: MYOG projects on 01/13/2014 05:25:50 MST Print View

I took the materials out last night to get cutting and realised it's only 52 inches wide. I think I'm going to try to use it for the 'mid' anyway, even if it's just good practice sewing long straight seams and some experience in cutting cat curves in.

Thanks for the tips on the zipper, I'll make sure to use your last post as a reference when I get to that point of the project.

I think I'll have to order some sil 2nds from one of the USA suppliers when I start a final version of the tent. Thankfully that can wait until I've made a mockup with this cheap ripstop from eBay.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: RE: MYOG projects on 01/13/2014 07:50:12 MST Print View

Rather than running fabric vertically, you can run it sideways. Then you'll have a sideways seam, 52 inches up.

I forget who does that, MLD? A number of posts doing that.