28 February 2009

make your own gear: finding clothing patterns

I often enjoy looking at other people's packing lists. On some of the Ultralight (UL) and super-ultralight (SUL) backpacking websites, you can read really interesting articles about people's efforts to cut the amount and weight of stuff down so that they can travel REALLY light. I look at these lists and think "Yes, but how much does all this cost?" Beside the weight column, I often wish they had another column: cost!

Because a lot of technology and experimentation goes into the high-tech fabrics and gear that people use for these sorts of exploits, the dollars add up pretty quickly! BUT if you make your own gear, this can considerably reduce the cost.

However, one of the most difficult aspects of making your own gear for travelling light is trying to find patterns to use. If you're like me and are incredibly jealous of those people who can draft their own clothing patterns, but are not able to do it yourself, you're going to have to find a suitable pattern from somewhere. Most of the regular clothing pattern companies don't really do patterns that are purpose-designed for outdoor gear, so you have to look further.

In my online travels, these are the ones I have found:
  • Jalie patterns. Jalie make contemporary ultra-multisize sewing patterns (from child to adult) for outdoor gear, sportswear (cycling, gymnastics, skating, swimming, and ballet), maternity and casual wear.

  • Green Pepper Patterns. Adult and children's outdoor clothing, and acccessories such as hats and bags.

  • Shelby Extreme Materials and Gear. Outdoor clothing tested by the Finnish Scouts! Both shareware and retail patterns.

  • Thru-Hiker.com. Kits for outdoor gear, including materials needed. Not available as patterns only. Forum community to help with construction and any questions.

  • Sew-Go patterns. Bags, tents, bike bags, sleeping bags, clothing, etc.

  • Controlled Exposure Patterns. Hat, gloves, gaiters, pants.

  • The Rainshed. Books and patterns for outdoor gear.
If you know of other patterns for outdoor gear, please let me know, and I will add them to the list.

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