Wearing frustration on our legs

-or a story about Christmas past

It’s always nice to make one’s gifts rather than go to the store and buy them. You might save a few dollars and have the satisfaction of knowing you actually were able to complete a task. That was my thought when I decided to make gaiters for my wife and I to go with our new snow shoes. How difficult could this be? I had material and most of the hardware. Sewing, no problem, several machines to choose from. The ordeal started out when I got the fabric pattern.

The Green Pepper pattern company provided the pattern (for a small fee) and I carefully unfolded it and read all the instructions. This was my first time using a store bought pattern, for everything we make the patterns are things we have developed, not purchased. There were a lot of instructions, including one that was hidden on the back of a page stating that there was an error in printing the pattern and that one needed to fix that prior to cutting material. After finding this I felt confident going ahead and cutting my materials.

I admit that “home sewing” is not something I have had any training in. For that matter most of what I have learned about commercial sewing has come from trial and error, the internet and talking with others, basically no formal training. When I think about fabric cutting this is what I see-

Multiple layers of fabric all being cut at the same time. Little did I know that there is another way of doing this that is very common with home sewing.

Let me explain. If I need both a right and left hand version of a piece of material I cut the two pieces out using two different (handed) patterns or just flipping the pattern over. My patterns are not light paper, mostly they are made from plexiglass so you can hold them down and cut around them. This works great for simple shapes and that is what we use at work. The technique used by many home sewers is to take the material and fold it in half. Then they mark the pattern on the top piece of material and cut through both. Amazing, you end up with mirror images of the pattern (right and left hand) in one simple step. OK, it is simple if you know what you are doing and clearly I did not.

So I got through cutting all my pieces out, unaware of the folding trick, and went to put my first gaiter together. Guess what, It wouldn’t work. It was apparent that I had twice the number of right hand pieces needed, and no left handed ones. My first thought was the folks at Green Pepper had really messed up this pattern. There was the one error that they noted on the back of the instruction sheet, maybe they had made more. So I picked up the phone and called, getting through quickly to a staff member who told me that I had not read the small text where it said “FOLD”. It was explained to me that they try to keep everything as simple as possible and don’t expect people with only commercial experience to be using their patterns. This makes sense, I doubt that there are many out there who sew commercially that have not done some home sewing.

The good news is that I didn’t have to waste much material and quickly had both my left and right handed pieces cut out and ready to assemble. Everything went smoothly until I got to installing zippers. I carefully read the instructions, picked up one of the gaiters and installed the zipper. Then I picked up the second out of the pile and began thinking this was easy. I had been lucky the second time and had picked up a gaiter that was the same “hand” as the first. Then came the third and installed the first zipper half only to realize that it was on the wrong side of the gaiter and I had been foiled once again. Take the piece out and install the other half of the zipper in its place. I was on a roll and soon had them finished.

So what did I learn from this adventure?

  • Beware of “hands”.
  • Home sewing is quite different than commercial sewing. I have never had to deal with patterned/printed material and have trouble imagining how much more trouble that would add to making something.
  • The feeling of accomplishment when producing a present is great.
  • These gaiters keep our legs and feet dry!

 

Nylon web dyeing

How does nylon webbing get its color? There are a number of ways, each with its own good and bad points.

One can dye the yarn as it is manufactured. This is called solution dyeing and the yarn ends up looking like this:

solution-dyed

The color goes all the way through the yarn and you end up with the most colorfast product. Some strength is lost and solution dyeing requires large production runs.


Another way is to dye the yarn after it has been drawn. This is called package dyeing and the finished yarn would look like:

package-dyed

The color is just on the outside and the strength of the yarn is not affected which is important in load bearing applications like safety harnesses. However if the yarn is used in a high abrasion application like a carpet having the color go all the way through is a plus.


Both of the methods discussed above require dyeing the yarn prior to manufacturing the webbing. If you have red yarn, you are going to get red webbing but what if you need purple (for all those Husky and Tiger fans)? Back to the vat to dye some purple yarn and then manufacture purple webbing. The minimum quantity you want to make is quite large for either of these processes. As with most items there are popular colors and those you just have to have but don’t sell in huge quantities. So how do you get all the colors offered without having to produce a lifetime supply of a marginal selling color?

The answer is to manufacture nylon webbing with un-dyed yarn (often called greige goods). Then when the order comes in for purple nylon webbing you piece dye your webbing. The end result will be webbing with good colorfastness without loss of strength. Like with package dyeing the color will just be on the outside, like staining wood. Minimum orders are low enough to allow for a wide variety of colors to meet all your needs.

Can you specify what process is used for your webbing? Not easily. If your needs are large enough to purchase a whole production run and you are willing to wait I am sure the mill will be willing to take your money. We deal with manufacturers we trust and the materials they provide meet our (and your) needs.

Weird Webbing Words

It’s time for a bit of fun and after the last two years of election campaigning, we all can use some. Every industry has words that are unique to it and some times they leave you scratching your head wondering how they were ever adopted. The webbing world has a few to add to the list.

  • Crock– not a pot, oops being from Washington pot has other meanings here. This is not a device for cooking or a load of malarkey but a test for colorfastness.
    Determines the amount of color transferred from the surface of colored textile material to other surfaces by rubbing.

    • Sample is placed on crock-meter
    • A 100% cotton white fabric cloth is rubbed across the sample 10 times in the wet and dry state
    • The cotton cloth is evaluated for staining
      So in order to do crock testing you need a crock-meter and now I had better quit while I am ahead! Just in case you want to see a video of a crock test here you go. Be careful, it’s not very exciting.


  • Denier- yes this is the correct spelling, the word is not dinner or diner. Like tex ( see below) denier refers to the weight or thickness of yarn. I see it used mostly when describing fabric weights. Some of the coated fabrics we use are 600d (the small ‘d’ is the abbreviation for denier) and other heavier ones are 1000d.
    A unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured, equal to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of the yarn and often used to describe the thickness of hosiery.


  • Greige– possibly the worst looking word on the list. Some say it is a color that is between gray and beige. Most likely a relative of sepia, another one of those colors that is different to each individual. Don’t go telling a printer that you want sepia colored type on your business card. You will drive him/her to drink.
    In the webbing world it refers to unfinished goods; not fully processed; neither bleached or dyed.


  • Tex– obviously a misspelling by my grandson, it should be T-Rex but kids these days shorten everything.
    Or it is a way of measuring thread size-
    The Tex standard uses 1,000 meters of thread per gram as the starting point. This means if 1,000 meters of thread weighs one gram, it is Tex 1. If 1,000 meters of thread weighs 25 grams, it is Tex 25.
    On most of our straps we use Tex 90 threads when sewing, for some heavier jobs we use Tex 135 thread.


  • Warp– to move (a ship) along by hauling on a rope attached to a stationary object on shore or-
    (in weaving) the threads on a loom over and under which other threads (the weft) are passed to make cloth.


  • Weft– not a misspelling. While the Warp threads go lengthwise is a piece of fabric the Weft threads go left to right, or as I was taught- weft to right.

  • Woof– again this word has specific meanings here in Washington being the home of the Husky’s. Woof is what their mascot says, or a bunch of fans tailgating prior to a game. What does it have to do with webbing, nothing but it really sounds like it should be in the list.

DIY Para Cord Key Fob

After my last attempt creating something with parachute cord, I decided to try making a key fob using a snake knot and two different colors of para cord.

key1

My current fob was just a piece of cord tied together, nothing really fancy.

key2

End cuts of black and white para cord were lying around so they would be the materials of choice. The first, and what turned out to be the hardest, part of the project was joining the two pieces.

key3

Here I am heating and melting the end of the white cord.

key4

Then quickly heating the black. If we weren’t trying to take pictures doing both at the same time would make this much easier.

key5

Then stick the two melted ends together (while they are still melted) and push them together. You can wet your fingers and squeeze the joint to get it a bit smaller but be careful, the molten material will be hot! Now that the hardest part of the project has been completed, we can start making snake knots.

key6

Put the cord through the slot on the key.

key7

Notice how the black cord is on the left. When you start each knot, the cords will be in the same locations, black on left, white on right. Take the black cord and go over and around the white cord, then back under the black.

key9

Now take the white cord and go under the black, then over and through the hole created by the black cord. Tighten everything up and one knot has been completed.

One thing I learned is to keep the tension on the knots as you tighten them consistent. That will keep everything looking nice and even when you finish.

key12

Keep up the same routine. Black cord: over then under. White cord: under then over.

key15

Quickly you will see your fob taking shape. This is really a simple knot and using two colors of para cord makes it even easier.

key17

I just used my hot knife to seal the ends of the cord so everything would not come undone.

key18

Which gave me a key fob that looks like this. You can see that I was not really great at keeping the tension on the knots consistent, next time I will do a better job.

DIY Para Cord Camera Strap

I wanted a wrist strap for my camera and in looking around the internet I found that it would be easy to make one out of parachute cord. The only problem was the best description I could find was a video produced by a German photographer, Bo Ismono (link to his video) and I found that I was always having to start and stop it to figure out what to do. Also missing were lengths so I had to make a couple before getting it right.

My version of this strap used 12 feet of parachute cord and a 1″ split ring. I decided to forgo a carabiner to keep the assembly simpler and quietier. The cobra knot is what we will be tying.

camera-strap-1

First you need to find the center point of the para cord.

camera-strap-2

Then measure about 14″ from the center point

camera-strap-3

Like Bo, I secured the center of the cord to something I could pull on to make it easier to tighten up the knots.

The first pair of knots are the hardest. Below is the first of the pair-

camera-strap-4

Now the second of the pair-

camera-strap-5

Once you have figured out how to tie a pair of these knots you are on your way to quickly finish up the project. Below you can see how I am progressing-

camera-strap-6

Now all I need to do is cut the extra cord and melt it so it won’t unravel.

camera-strap-7

Here is a melted end-

camera-strap-8

All that needs to be done now is attach it to the camera and go take pictures!

Cam buckle straps

Cam buckle straps with heavyweight nylon webbing are just the ticket for securing luggage on your roof rack. Each summer we take a bicycling trip with a group of friends and usually our luggage carrier is overloaded. We have tried getting the group to pack less but that has had minimal success. It has been easier to pile the extra luggage on the roof and secure it with cam buckle straps.

IMG_1134Actually these are the same straps that I use when repairing chairs, heavy weight nylon webbing and metal buckles.

We sell these straps with several choices of webbing colors. They are all made to order so we can set them up to meet your needs. Just give us a call at (253) 883-5800 and we will work with you to get them just right.

If you need something stronger we have ratchet buckles although they are not as easy to adjust.

I am in favor of using more straps rather than one or two super strong models. The last thing I want to do is damage the roof rack.

Gear Wranglers

Looking for something a bit lighter than a strap, check out our Gear Wranglers. They are perfect for securing your light gear, attaching a plant to a stake or even keeping the bag of potato chips closed.

Gear Wranglers are made using 1/8″ elastic cord and a cord lock to adjust their length. The come in 12″, 24″ and 36″ lengths and are packaged 6 to a bag. Like our Rod Wranglers the elastic cord ends are secured using a zipper pull.

Order your Gear Wranglers now, if you order 3 packs (you choose the size) and put the code ROLLIE-PAYS in the comment section of our check out, Rollie will pay the shipping by US Mail. This offer ends November 30, 2016. Our shopping cart is not smart enough to pick up on this offer but be assured we will take care of it prior to your credit card being charged.

If you don’t need that many Gear Wranglers, but want a great way to keep your fishing rods corralled, check out our Rod Wranglers, you can even use them to make up the 3 packs for free shipping.

Rod Wrangler
Rod Wrangler

Reflective webbing

We now carry 1″ black polyester webbing with a 9/16″ reflective strip down the center. This material is thinner than the standard webbing we sell which makes it easy to sew on to bags, packs or even a coat. It is still sturdy enough to use for the adjustment straps on a backpack or with a buckle to fasten something to your bike rack.

Polyester webbing is great for many uses since it has minimal stretch and doesn’t want to adsorb water. It is also quite abrasion resistant although the reflective strip will get worn off due to abrasion. We sell this material by the foot and you can order it online or come by our shop to check it out.

The trend seems to be that all of our outerwear is getting darker and darker making it difficult for drivers to see us when we are walking or biking. Carrying a bag or pack with plenty of reflective surfaces will help you or your children stand out as our days become shorter and weather gets worse. This material is easy to sew so adding it to existing gear should not be a major issue for anyone with a sewing machine.

Here is a picture of our reflective webbing taken in a rather dark room without flash (there was a dim night-light to the left of the webbing)-

reflective-web-dark

And here is a picture of the same piece of webbing taken with the flash turned on-

reflective-web-flash

The webbing in these pictures was about 12″ long and the picture was taken using an iPhone from 15 feet away. It is pretty amazing stuff!

Hunting season is fast approaching

We have made it through the dog days of summer, back to school gear is in the stores so hunting season must be fast approaching.

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We have 1″ buckles and nylon webbing in Coyote Tan. Polypropylene webbing in brown, taupe (light brown) and a bit left in forest green if you are looking for earth tones.

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If you need to make a sling, this 2″ polypropylene webbing is perfect. It has two rubber strips, the lighter color in the image, which help keep it planted on your shoulder.

We sell components but will also sew whatever you can design. Our minimum order is 1 and if you are in the Tacoma area, stop in and we can discuss your project.

Battery box tie down kits

We have designed a battery box tie down kit that will work as a replacement on Boston Whaler’s™ along with any series 24 or 27 battery box. The webbing is polyester and and all hardware is stainless steel (although we do not supply the fasteners).

The combination of the over-center buckle and polyester webbing allows you to get the strap quite tight and it won’t come loose. Polyester is the most ultra-violet resistant webbing we sell so this assembly is perfect for use in open boats where the battery box is exposed to the elements. The sewing is done using A&E’s polyester SunStop thread which has advanced UV protection and is non-wicking to provide excellent service life.

Thanks to Eldon and his team at the Sea-Dog Line for the use of a battery box. The stainless steel footman’s loops come from Sea-Dog.

We have these in stock so you can order them for same day shipment.