Survival Bootcamp: How to Sew, 'Cause You Never Know

Welcome to our first Survival Bootcamp post! I'll be sharing some of my top survival tips, tricks, and need-to-know skills for the end of the world. I can't say I'm a hard-core prepper, but when you grow up in the middle of nowhere, you learn some things. 

First up—sewing! I know, I know, you may not have been any closer to a sewing kit than seeing one in a store, but next time you do, pick one up! You never know when it'll come in handy. Below, I'll link a few tutorial videos to show you the basics of sewing, but first, let's chat about sewing for survival (or just because you really like this shirt and don't want to chuck it.

Sewing Supplies

So, what do you need in your sewing kit? Well, as I mentioned above, it doesn't hurt to have even a cheap little sewing kit, which should have a packet of needles, some thread in different colors, a thimble, a needle threader, safety pins, maybe even a basic button. But if you want to be prepared for the worst, here are a few things I recommend:

  • Thread. This includes cotton thread, fishing line, and unflavored dental floss. Between those three things, you're ready to sew anything.

  • Needles. You’ll want both fine and heavy-duty. Your basic cheap needles are great for light fabrics, but I recommend also having some heavier gauge needles for denim, leather, canvas, and sturdier fabrics. Bonus points if you have a suture needle in sterile packaging!

  • Safety pins. You need small and large sizes. A packet from your local sewing store or big-box store will generally contain a few sizes.

  • Buttons. Keep a few sizes handy. If you have a collection of spare buttons from clothing you own, awesome! If not, look for a variety pack.

  • Patches. Iron-on patches are great, since they can be ironed or sewn on. Spare fabric can do in a pinch, but most iron-on patches are designed for heavier fabrics and are pretty durable.

  • Scissors. Yeah, a knife can do in a pinch but like, go get some small scissors for your kit. They can be used to clip stitches, cut fabric, trim thread, and more

  • Super glue. Sometimes, there’s an easier solution.

Some optional things that can make sewing easier include:

  • Seam ripper/stitch picker. This sharp little tool is designed to cut through seams in no time. It’s easier to use than scissors for working on seams, but it’s not strictly necessary.

  • Thimble. Definitely makes sewing more comfortable, but a thimble isn’t necessary. However, you probably have one around if you have a cheap sewing kit anyways.

    • Apocalypse pro-tip: I have a bottle cap to use as a thimble in my event sewing kit. Why? Because I forgot my thimble and never bothered to put one in.

  • Sewing machine. I know, I know—it’s the end of the world and there’s no power. But hear me out, sewing machines are easy to use and fast. Better yet? Pretty much every sewing machine has a hand wheel, which you can use even when there’s no power.

  • Needle threader. This small wire tool can be amazing when it comes to threading needles, but it may be challenging to use with smaller needles. All you need to do is stick the wire loop through the needle’s eye, thread the wire, and pull it—and the thread—back through. Boom! Threaded needle.

  • Straight pins. These are used to hold fabric together and can be really handy to like things up for sewing. You can also substitute safety pins, too.

Recommended Sewing Tutorials

Below are a few of the sewing tutorials I recommend to get you started! These cover some basic sewing skills that will get you pretty far.

For further reading, check out this detailed guide from Wilderness Arena!

Anything you want to see a tutorial on? Let me know in the comments!

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