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  1. #1
    SteveJJ's Avatar
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    How to learn these different fabrics?

    I'm taking stabs at DIY projects and when I read about what others have done and what materials they use, I'm at a total loss as to that the fabrics are. I've wiki'd things like denier and so on, but even those presume a certain level of knowledge. Is there a swatch book of synthetic fabrics 101 that could get a person up to speed more quickly?

    Thanks!

    Steve

  2. #2
    MAD777's Avatar
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    I knew absolutely nothing about fabrics when I started making gear. Don't worry, you'll learn. I had to learn to sew without any help also. The discovery is all part of the fun.

    The short answer to your question is that 99% of the fabric we use is nylon, almost of of that is ripstop nylon. The thickness varies. The most common weights for gear is 1.1oz/sy (30 Denier), 1.4 oz/sy (40 Denier), 1.9 oz/sy (70 Denier). There are lighter, more expensive nylons for experienced DIYer's and heavier ones used in packs and gaiters.

    To waterproof nylon, either it is impregnated with silicone (the lightweight option) or coated with polyurethane (the heavy option).

    To assure down-proofness, the fabric is calendared. Basically rolled between two hot rollers to squish the fibers and close up the pores a bit.

    Folks do make hammocks out of polyester, but it is heavier.
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  3. #3
    fallkniven's Avatar
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  4. #4
    Senior Member XSrcing's Avatar
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    Look up Joann Fabrics and go to the nearest store. Ask them to show you the different fabrics you are curious about.

  5. #5
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Why do you care what the fabric is? I know that sounds flip... but I maen it seriously in terms of use. If you are making practice projects you really don't need to care about the fabric. Buy cheap. Buy often. Stitch your little fingers to the bone.

    Now on to the good practical projects. Research the use and characteristics of the items you are making. Buy from a known outdoor supplier. There are a bunch represented on the forums. Follow their recommendations and pay attention to the purchase. You want known fabric for top quality products. After a while, you will get to the point where you can go into the Wally World bargain bins and say to yourself "This looks like it would do." But even then, if I was building something I really wanted to be top knotch, I would buy only known fabrics from known sources.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAD777 View Post
    I knew absolutely nothing about fabrics when I started making gear. Don't worry, you'll learn. I had to learn to sew without any help also. The discovery is all part of the fun.

    The short answer to your question is that 99% of the fabric we use is nylon, almost of of that is ripstop nylon. The thickness varies. The most common weights for gear is 1.1oz/sy (30 Denier), 1.4 oz/sy (40 Denier), 1.9 oz/sy (70 Denier). There are lighter, more expensive nylons for experienced DIYer's and heavier ones used in packs and gaiters.

    To waterproof nylon, either it is impregnated with silicone (the lightweight option) or coated with polyurethane (the heavy option).

    To assure down-proofness, the fabric is calendared. Basically rolled between two hot rollers to squish the fibers and close up the pores a bit.

    Folks do make hammocks out of polyester, but it is heavier.
    Thank you for another rookie

  7. #7
    SwinginIt's Avatar
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    OK here's what I've managed to learn since I've been here, and someone feel free to correct me if I have any of this wrong.

    Hammocks, stuff sacks, Quilt and bag shells:
    Ripstop nylon, 1.1 (for up to about 200lbs) or 1.9 The numbers refer to the weight per square yard. (i.e. 1.1oz sq yd) It's not waterproof but is breathable (NWP/B) If it has a DWR (durable water repellent) then it's some what water resistant. That's good for quilt/bag outer shells.
    Polyester taffeta (tablecloth from tableclothsfactory.com) Heavier, stretchier.

    Tarps, snakeskins, stuff sacks:
    SilNylon(silicone-impregnated nylon) It's waterproof and nonbreathable (WP/NB)
    Cuben Fiber WP/NB(although there is some breathable stuff making its way into the market now). This is the lightest option out there. And the most expensive.

    I wouldn't worry about denier. But the lower the denier the thinner the fabric, the higher the thicker the fabric. So lower deniers will be lighter, which means 1.1 ripstop has a lower denier than 1.9. You'll be fine just going by fabric weight unless you start gettin into some serious projects.

    There are other fabrics to be used that are lighter, softer, more wind resistant, but they are also more expensive. So for starting out stick with these fabrics and you'll be fine then you'll learn about the rest as you go.
    "As a well spent day brings happy sleep, a well spent life brings happy death." -Da Vinci

  8. #8
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwinginIt View Post
    Polyester taffeta (tablecloth from tableclothsfactory.com) Heavier, stretchier.
    Be careful with these kinds of generalization. Taffeta is a weave, not a specific fabric. I'm not familiar with the tablecloth blanks but taffeta comes in extremely light weights and very heavy weights. While it is true that taffeta will weigh more than _some_ nylons they can be very comparable to most of what we use. I also find polyester has almost no stretch at all. The crinkle taffeta sold by the table cloth folks is going to stretch, but thats because of the built in "crinkle" pattern, not the polyester content. It can get very confusing and very technical. But the fact is, you can make just about anything out of just about any fabric if you are will to live with the results.

    Want a hammock out of 1000 D ballistic nylon? You can do it. You won't like it for backpacking but it will take the entire neighborhood in the back yard and come back for more.

    The D rating is worth understanding because you will come across it more often in the outside fabric world. It refers to the size of the threads used to weave the fabric. It is only tangentially related to weight, in that larger thread weighs more than thinner threads. But it can be useful in comparisons.

    You can get training for all this in various technical settings, or you can dabble around and learn by mistakes. Either way is a legitimate way to learn. I won't make a hammock out of satin ever again. It was beautful. It was heavy but satin is not a substantial weave. It abraded on the concrete floor and split in two. Shazbot.... Oh well it was free cause we had the fabric laying around. But I don't recommend it.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  9. #9
    PuckerFactor's Avatar
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    I was once in the same boat as yourself, Steve. I got a couple of mystery bargains at Walmart, got a few knowns from outdoor fabric places. The Burn Test Chart helps some in determining the content, but for weave, it's mostly just knowing what they feel like.
    My first couple of orders from The Rainshed, I added a few swatch sets. They're a card with a bunch of fabric squares stapled to them, and a decoder sheet that tells you what colors and types they are. They have been indispensable in learning the different types of fabric I come across. They're good for referencing too, now that I know what things are. If I'm deciding what kind of material I want in a certain spot on a bag or pack or whatever, I can pull that card out and feel a few types to help me decide.

    Welcome to the addiction,
    PF
    It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    Formerly known as Acercanto, my trail name is MacGuyver to some, and Pucker Factor to others.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member GrayDog's Avatar
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    I'm just learning to sew and have found cheap Wallyworld sheets to be a great source of training material. $3 goes a long way and I'm not upset if I mess up.

    Now I just need to figure out what to do with twenty-five cotton stuff sacks
    hammock [ham-uhk] noun
    Man's successful attempt to sleep on a cloud

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