[QUOTE=MrDieselTwitch;855828]all though I get strange looks walking around Joann's!
They'll get used to seeing you there at JoAnns. Especially if you tell them you are looking for 'man fabric' it will earn you some respect. The sewing class teacher at JoAnns can provide a great deal of advice, with out your actually having to take a class if you happen to catch the person in the store. Some times there is an associate who knows how to sew, but, don't count on that.
Used sewing machines are not hard to find, thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Any thing from the 70's or earlier is better than anything now, at least the affordable machines made now. It's the best option, as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars for a new machine, just to sew hiking equipment.