Why Sew?

Ray-Way Products

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Why Sew?

By Ray Jardine


"Most people believe they lack the ability to use a sewing machine. This is nonsense."


Why make your gear rather than buy it commercially?

Contrary to common belief, you do not need to equip yourself with store-bought gear. You can make your own. And when you do, you gain a tremendous sense of freedom from today's consumer mentality and it's influence on your life. Making your own is about making it right, saving money, and owning and using outdoor gear that you can be truly proud of.

Sewing is Easy!

Most people believe they lack the ability to use a sewing machine. This is nonsense. The sewing machine is automatic, and is extremely simple to use. Driving a car is far more complex, and nearly everyone can easily do that. Like a car, the sewing machine has a foot peddle for speed control. The operator "drives" the materials through the work area, while "steering" them to the left or right by hand - just like using a car's steering wheel. Like the car's engine which produces motion, the sewing machine's motor pulls the materials through the work area. And like the pistons in the car's engine that go rapidly up and down, the sewing machine's needle does the same thing to produce the line of stitching.

Since I began to encourage people to sew their own outdoor gear - in my books dating back to 1991 - I have received a huge amount of extremely positive feedback from those who have tried it - and succeeded. Many of these people also expressed a personal sense of amazement that they were able to make such nice looking gear themselves, saying that they had not imagined it possible.

Believe in Your Abilities!

No matter how strong our beliefs in our own INabilities, they work against us. They prevent us from doing what we can, and becoming who we really are, rather than who we only imagine ourselves to be. For example, people believe they cannot sew because they are "all thumbs," or they "lack coordination." Yet these same people can easily drive cars, which often requires a great deal of coordination. We all have various wrong beliefs to some extent, and where did we get them? From our parents when growing up, our teachers, friends, and the list goes on and on. This type of ill-conditioning can be extremely limiting. But once we realize that, we can easily abandon it, and move ahead.

Don't have Time? Make the Time!

Some people believe they lack the time for sewing. Yet these same people will spend hours watching tv, browsing the internet or playing games. And what do they have to show for all those hours? Not much. But were they to devote even a fraction of that time to constructive projects, like for example sewing, they would have many nice projects to show for it, and some very fine skills learned and practiced. One approach is essentially a waste of time, while the other is enjoying quality time and using it to best advantage.

The Hype of Commercial Gear

Along the same lines, people will spend hours studying commercial gear in magazines and on the internet. What do they get for that? Heads full of hype, closets full of superfluous gear, and depleted savings. Again, were they to spend a fraction of that same time making their own gear, they would spare themselves the hype and the loss of hard-earned money, and would produce gear that is every bit as serviceable, and much more satisfactory and rewarding.

Envision Success!

Some people believe that if they begin a sewing project, they would make a total mess of it, wasting all the materials. They imagine the sewing experience would be a "battle" and that they would "butcher" the project.

Throughout life we have been taught - again by poor examples of our parents, teachers, friends, scout masters, military commanders, bosses, radio, television and movies - to think and talk in this type of self-defeating manner - to greater or lesser degree. Often this self-defeating thinking is supposedly only a type of joking. But the negative results it can produce are no joke.

"Any type of thinking is a form of envisioning. Whatever we envision, we tend to manifest in our lives."

Any type of thinking is a form of envisioning. And whatever we envision, we tend to manifest in our lives. The creative process uses our mental pictures like blueprints. If those pictures are of battling and butchering, then we are attracting that.

Change the Thinking Channel

Often our thinking is like a radio that tends to play the same old songs all by itself. That is not our true selves doing the thinking. It is only our mental programming. So when demoralizing music starts playing, we can change the channel. For example we might think - "I hope I don't butcher this quilt ki ..." Then we catch ourselves mid-sentence, realizing that we are merely playing the same worn-out song, and the real us takes control and we think "You know, I am going to do a great job with this quilt!" Then that is what will manifest.

Taking this concept a step further: Let's say we order a quilt kit, for example, and when we open the box we pull out the materials, insulation and so forth, and while looking at them we envision ourselves doing a great job with the sewing - in the end even surprising ourselves. We see in our mind's eye other people looking at our finished quilt and raving about it. We envision these people saying to us "I can hardly believe you made this beautiful quilt yourself!" This process of envisioning is incredibly powerful, in terms of the results it can, and will produce.

I am going to do a great job with this Project!

Once again I am using the quilt kit only as an example. The same principles apply to virtually everything in our lives. Remember the radio inside us playing the mental programming. Remember that the radio has a dial.


"Using a sewing machine is like driving a car. It is automatic and very simple."


Using a sewing machine is again like driving a car. It is automatic and very simple. To accommodate various thicknesses of fabrics and threads, the sewing machine has a dial that adjusts the tension of the top thread, and another small screw, usually, that adjusts the tension of the bottom-feeding thread. When both are set correctly, the line of stitching sewn along the fabrics is "balanced" meaning it looks identical on both surfaces. Making these adjustments is important, and normally very simple. See the details.

Shift Your Paradigm by Making Your Own Gear!

So go ahead and break out of that old mold of imagined inabilities. Shift your paradigm by making your own gear rather than buying it. The gear you make yourself will be far more meaningful and rewarding, and your time spent sewing will be quality time away from the mindless tv and opinionated social networks. You will learn new skills and work with your hands, and so take yourself to a whole new level in your backpacking, hiking and camping adventures.


"Wow! I read through your essay and the "butchering and battling" comments and thought how much they apply to my own hesitation about ordering a backpack kit. It seems as if I haven't had too much confidence in my abilities as a sewist even though I've already produced the coolest quilt and stuff sacks I can imagine. Your dialog with Chris finally made me realize that my fears are entirely in my imagination, and that I am indeed capable of producing a superior product. Anyway, I'm now ordering a ray-way backpack kit, and I certainly appreciate you making these designs available to us. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to putting together a new pack." -Jeff D.

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