Monday, August 3, 2009

the Wake Up Call (part 3)

Silnylon lightweight backpack made by my wife.

This was the first piece of ultralight gear that we made.

This was a learning process, not only in making the pack, but in purchasing the specialty fabrics needed to make it with. These fabrics are typically not carried by craft stores like JoAnn Fabrics. We found this out by stumping several employees with our inquiries. We did find several online retailers. We selected Seattle Fabrics. I bought 2 yards of maroon 1.3 ounce silnylon fabric, and 1 yard of 330 denier coated nylon in navy blue for the side of the pack that goes against the back, and for the bottom of the pack that touches the ground. The mesh fabric for the 3 pockets also came from the specialty fabrics. For the padding in the straps, we found a thick spongy green 3/4" foam at JoAnn Fabrics.

Using the pattern from the "Beyond Backpacking" book, I cut out the pieces for the sides, front, back, straps, pockets, and top extension cover. I didn't have a real sewing pattern to work from, I just used the dimensions suggested in the book and eye-balled it. The pack roughly measures 24 inches height x 12 inches width x 9 inches depth, with a 12 inch tall extension collar at the top. My wife, an experienced sewer, shook her head at my rough cuttings but was able to make it work. I had made 1/2" allowances at the edges for sewing the seams. But I did not cut the extension collar piece correctly. She made it work by adding an additional piece of the silnylon fabric. I also screwed up with the mesh pockets. She said it would have been better for her to sew the pockets on the side pieces and the front piece first, THEN sew the big pieces together to form the pack. My other rather glaring error we found out after the pack was sewn together. I had her put the coated side of the fabric, which is supposed to face the internal side, on the OUTSIDE! Oops...

Pictures of the finished product can be seen above. It turned out very nice, thanks to my wife's expert skills, and despite my errors with rulers, scissors, and getting the fabric wrong side out!

More on the loading and carrying of the backpack in the next posting.

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