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[pct-l] Sew what?

For heavy fabric like cordura, use a size 100 regular point 
needle. Anything smaller (90, 80...) may break thread and/or 
skip stitches. For a small project like you suggest, one 
needle would probably do fine, but buy a set of three or 
whatever, just in case.

For thread, one of the lightest, strongest polyesters I've 
found is available through rayjardine.com. It's extremely 
thin, though, and tends to coil a bit at its free ends, 
requiring plenty of extra "tail" at the start of each seam. 
Polyester tends to be more resistant to UV damage than 
nylon, although simply avoiding cotton (and any thread that 
breaks easily in your hand) is probably enough protocol for 
this project.

Source your materials over the phone with Outdoor Wilderness 
Fabrics or maybe Quest Outfitters. Tell them about your 
project, and see which materials they suggest. You'll 
probably want to use some type of elastic binding along the 
tops of the pockets, and sewing this will require that you 
stretch the elastic as you sew it to the mesh/nylon pocket 
fabric. First though, size the unstretched elastic to the 
pocket. And size the pocket itself generously enough so 
it'll hold a water bottle without reducing the effective 
volume of the main pack bag.

Gusset (fold at intervals and sew) the pocket fabric along 
the bottom seam as necessary.

Don't worry about aligning the edges of the pocket precisely 
over the pack's seams. Just make sure you don't sew 
_through_ the pack, effectively welding one side of it to 
the other! Remove your sewing machine's free arm and slide 
(awkwardly) the pack panel into position so that only one 
layer of fabric (plus your pocket material) rests between 
the sewing machine's presser foot and throat plate.

And don't let the terminology throw you. The act of sewing 
is fairly straightforward, and you can learn the basics by 
reading the manual that came with your machine, as well as 
by practicing on scrap material. The trickier part is the 
design phase, and also how to organize your sewing steps in 
logical fashion. Sewing bigger projects is a bit like 
playing chess. If you make strong moves at the outset, 
you'll avoid boxing yourself into a corner down the line.

- blisterfree

Simblissity Ultralight :: One-of-a-Kind Designs for the 
Great Outdoors