Camped along the A.T. during Ray's 2nd thru-hike.
Pg 9: More Info
A problem sometimes made during the construction of our tarp kit, is to lay out the material as it comes in the kit, measure the tarp panels, cut them out, and only then discover that the remaining material is too short for the beaks, by a few inches. The discrepancy is caused by not properly laying out the material flat when measuring. Woops!
This tarp can still be sewn together, and it will be just as serviceable despite the shorter beaks. This is because the stress runs through the tarp panels, rather than the beaks.
A better solution is to avoid the problem to begin with, by laying out the raw fabric as it comes from the kit, then measuring the tarp panels AND the beaks, before cutting anything.
Along the same lines, when starting our net-tent kit, lay out the netting as it comes from the kit, then measure and mark all the pieces before cutting any of them.
Sewing the flat-felled seam
The flat-felled seam comprises two rows of stitching, and these are easily sewn, even with lightweight fabric. However, if the sewing machine's thread tensions are out of adjustment, the seam can be a challenge. The material may seem too slippery or too stubborn. But the real problem is that the sewing machine's thread tensions, top and bottom, are not balanced. If one thread pulls tighter than the other, then this will distort the fabric and produce frustration and unattractive results.
Before sewing your actual project, we suggest you adjust the machine for even top and bottom thread tensions, while practicing on a few silicone nylon scraps. Examine these practice pieces to ensure that the stitching looks identical on both sides. If not, refer to our directions in our Sewing Tips
for adjusting the machine. If you cannot achieve a balanced stitch, you might consider taking the machine to a sewing machine repair shop and ask them to try making the adjustments. Some machines, usually the cheaper ones, cannot be adjusted properly. You can often force them to do the job, but the results may be less than satisfactory. For a professional finish with no frustration and very little effort, make sure the thread tensions are balanced.
If you would like to simplify the tarp's construction, you may cut the lifter patches square rather than round. Square patches are not quite as strong as round ones, but still they are plenty strong enough, and much easier to sew.
Whether the lifter patches are round or square, you must cut the slits parallel to the weft or weave, not at an angle. Cutting them at an angle, known as "on the bias," severs the threads running in both directions, and can result in a marked loss of strength.
Also, cut the slits very short - something like 1/8". They need be long enough only to accept the lifter lines.
We have developed a alternate method
of attaching the lifter lines to the lifter patches without cutting slits. In testing this new method, we pull on the lifter lines until something breaks. The pull is typically in excess of 100 pounds - far more than the tarp would sustain in normal use - and yet the lifter patches are not damaged. Those wishing to try this new method may proceed as follows:
Cut a lifter patch to size. It could be round or square. Mark the patch with four small dots, as shown. Points "A" and "B" are about 1/2" apart. Thread a length of ray-way flatline into a sewing needle. Run the needle through the lifter patch at point "A" and using a pair of pliers pull it out the other side. Move over half an inch to point "B" and run the needle back through the patch. Move over to point "C" and run the needle through, then to point "D" and run it through.
Remove the needle from the flatline. Check that both free ends of the line are on the same side of the patch. Adjust the line so that both loops are about 1" in diameter, then tie the two ends together. Remember that if this knot fails, so does the lifter line. So make sure the knot is very secure. The result is a short, doubled loop of flatline attached to the patch, as shown at left. To this loop you will later tie your lifter line. But first, place the patch on the tarp with the knot against the tarp (hidden under the patch), and sew the patch to the tarp in the usual manner.
How to feed the micro-cordlocks
The micro-cordlocks we supply for the stow bags are very small. Here is how to feed the white cord through them:
Insert one end of the cord into the cord lock and pull it through. Melt the tip of the other end of the cord with the flame of a lighter, and quickly draw it through a rag to produce a sharp point. Insert this sharpened point into the cord lock and work it through, pulling the first end along with it. If this second end won't go, that means its point is not sharp enough. So re-melt and re-sharpen. If the point is sharp enough, it will go right through.
Camping under the stars.