Okay – so I decided to try an experiment. I was ordering some stuff from these guys:
Because I wanted to try making some camping gear. I don’t really need anything right now, but it’s way too butt-hot for me to go hiking. And, with weird scheduling and mandatory weekend stuff coming up at work, I’m pretty screwed until September 3rd when our hiking group’s next AT trip comes up.
So I figured why not stay inside the nice cool A/C of the house and make some crap. I could always loan it out on noob hikes If it came down to it. I had previously improved on my hammock chair from a the great guys at Trippy Gear. Find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TripyHippyGear?fref=ts
By changing the suspension out, I cut their chair’s weight by 1/3. I figured I might be able to push the envelope a little more with a reduction in fabric weight, if only by a few ounces.
So when I ordered my stuff from the ripstop people, I got two yards of “robin egg blue”. I figured if the chair worked, I could send it over to trippy gear for a dye job. Its the closest thing they have to white in the 1 ounce fabric, and with such a light base color, it would probably handle dark colored dyes pretty well. Unfortunately, “robin egg blue” looks like a very light off-white color online. In real life it looks like a bad bridesmaid’s or prom dress in a sickly light blue-green. My wife asked me, “What the hell are you making? That’s the gayest color!” I told her it was an experiment, which might be the wrong thing to say, what with all the transgender stuff on TV right now.
No, not that kind of experiment. See, the first chair was made from 1.9 ounce fabric. This chair was to be made out of 1 ounce fabric. That’s 1 ounce per SQUARE YARD of fabric, some pretty light stuff. Take a Hefty bag out from under the counter and feel it. That’s sort of what this feels like. The experiment factor was whether or not it would even hold my fat ass off the ground without some seams ripping out, or the fabric ripping, and depositing me on the ground in an abrupt and inconsiderate way.
The worst part about making stuff is the measuring and sewing. I tend to eyeball stuff a lot. The nice thing about making hammock chairs is the fabric comes 5′ wide, which is about perfect. The long sides have a sort of doubled layer on the outside half-inch called the “selvedge” edge. (I learned that term when I was covering my airplane, the instructions always said to cut off the selvedge). That edge is great for making the outside hem – Roll over twice and stitch along the length. Nothing to measure, and it gives you a wide half inch ribbon to sew to parallel lines to help hold the sides. Most of the weight is off the sides and under your ass, but when sitting down or climbing out, the sides take a good weight load.
Unfortunately, The light fabric wants to bunch up in the damn machine, so you have to start away from the edge and let the stitch run out. In my first heavyweight green sewing test chair the fabric was dense and heavy and very easy to manipulate.
But this blue stuff was NOT the same. It was more like trying to sew a kitchen garbage bag (although way tougher, it felt the same thickness).
I finally got the sides done, after much cursing and swearing. Then I made the end channels, which have to be wide enough for the whoopie sling to pass through. I measured 1.5 inches in, flipped it over, then measured 2 inches and flipped it again. Pin it and sew twice along the inside edge, leaving a 1-1.5″ wide channel depending on how crooked my stitches are. I took the cords off the green chair (it was twice as heavy and bulky as my Trippy Gear chair. Good for the back yard but NOT for hiking), and re-used them in my new chair.
It was now dark outside and I didn’t want to be assaulted by the bugs, so I waited until the morning.
Not wanting to fall onto sticks and pine cones in my home made gear test area, I elected to hang the hammock from my daughter’s swing set in the middle of the yard. I hung it just off the ground, in case of a catastrophic failure, and lowered myself into the thing. It held up! There was some very brief settling of the whoopie slings on the ends as they tightened around the channels, but the thing held up and didn’t rip through. There wasn’t a hint of cracking or seam popping, my thread held up just fine.
So, using the same weight and size measurements from my Trippy Gear chair, I think I shaved 3 ounces off the other fabric version. Unfortunately, thats without the cool tie-dye look, and I’d be embarrassed to pull the blue chair out in the woods. So, I may just mail it off for a hippy treatment.
I was really pleasantly surprised it worked out so well. Not only did it hold me up, but there was that slight weight savings, and a big difference in bulk. The 1 ounce fabric is maybe half the packed size of the 1.9 ounce fabric (which sort of makes sense, because 1 is almost half of 1.9).
No photos yet, because its just a blob of blue fabric at the moment. I’d need to take it apart and show you how it works, but that’s not happening right now. Its a pain to get the whoopie sling in and out of the end channel.
The nice thing is, in case the 1 ounce fabric didn’t hold up, I have some deep purple 1.6 ounce fabric that I KNEW would work. So now I have this other fabric to mess around with, but I don’t know what to make.
My biggest problem is I’m not a 13 year Vietnamese or Chinese sweat shop kid. Which means I can do some pretty good cutting and measuring, but when it comes time to put pins in and actually stitch stuff together, I’m pretty bad at it. My stitches look like I’ve had a few shots of whiskey before turning the damn machine on. I have several yards of tie-dyed fabric from Trippy Gear, and the stuff looks REALLY awesome. I was thinking of making a kilt out of it, but I hate to ruin it with my nasty stitches. I’ll have to think about it before I start cutting it up.