A Stitch in Time: Mending Tears With a Herringbone by Tamia Nelson

Hand‑stitching is becoming a lost art. And that’s not a good thing. A single tear in a sprayskirt or tent fly can spoil a trip, but sewing machines are few and far between in the backcountry. So it pays to master the rudiments of sewing, and this week Tamia revisits an earlier article describing one of the most useful tricks in the seamster’s (or seamstress’s) ditty bag: the basic herringbone stitch.

RIP! What canoeist or kayaker hasn’t cringed when a favorite tent, pannier, or jacket suffered a seemingly fatal tear? The world is full of sharp ends, after all, from errant nails in fences you may lean your bike against, to beaver‑gnawn alders to hawthorn branches to the spiky tangles of “spruce hells.” Of course, many of the resulting rents would be easy to repair at home — if you have a sewing machine handy and know how to use it, that is, or if you know someone who does. But what happens when you’re away from home? Most of us don’t carry sewing machines in our packs. When a pointy poplar stub pokes through the weathered canvas of a Duluth pack, or the sawtooth edge of a kayak seam‑tape (the bit that the builder neglected to sand down) slices through the sleeve of a paddling jacket, we’re on our own. Even if the tear is small, ignoring it isn’t an option. Small tears don’t stay small for long.

Fortunately, stitching a tear closed needn’t be difficult, even in a world devoid of current bushes and Singer portables. But you’ll need to know how, and you’ll also have to have a few simple tools. Read more…

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