SOURCES & TOOLS
The question I get asked most often: where do you get X (X = fabrics / zippers / buckles etc.) and what sewing machine you’d recommend. Then sometimes I’m also asked about books.
So here I will keep a list of places to get materials from plus tools and books recommendations.
FABRICS, TRIMS & HARDWARE:
Extremetextil.de - great source for high-end tech fabrics, they source them as left-overs from manufacturers, so the colors and quantities are limited and won’t be restocked. They do carry standard stock items that is always available, more basic tech fabrics. 90% of fabrics I use are from them.
Great variety of buckles (including lots of Fidlock ones), zippers, cords etc. However some items (like two-way YKK zippers) are pricey.
Currently they can’t ship to UK and Norway due to new customs regulations (as of Oct’21).
Based in Germany, the have a physical store in Berlin.
Adventurexpert.com - huge variety of technical hardware at a good price. Solid basic selection of webbing and trims. Small selection of fabrics, mostly for bags/sleeping bags/hammock, not for clothing.
They ship worldwide, some minimum order requirements are in place for UK based customers.
Based in Slovenia.
Shelbyoutdoor.com - they offer a selection of materials for making your own gear. There are some interesting fabrics, but I always found it pricey, so haven’t yet ordered from them. They offer some ready products as well as sewing patterns.
Based in Finland.
Neomagnete.de - my go-to place for magnets. They aren’t specific for sewing, so you’d have to create your own way to incorporate them in your project, but this store offers a big variety of shapes and sizes of neodymium magnets.
Based in Germany.
stoffbutikken.no - fabric store specialised in jerseys, they have a wide variety of merino. Haven’t ordered from them yet, but eventually will. There is no English version of the website, but they have an instagram account and you can message them and they would help out with questions or shipping to your country.
Based in Norway.
profabrics.co.uk - Point North fabrics, haven’t ordered from them. They have basic tech fabrics and variety of buckles.
rope-source.co.uk - good place to get spools of elastic cord. Got 300m of 2mm elastic cord before Brexit, I still have around 150m left. Not sure if they ship to EU now.
Antrimm.co.uk - great source for full rolls of YKK zipper as well as custom ones (you choose length, type of zipper, type of sliders and color), all this includes water resistant zipper. Processing times for custom ones are 2-4 weeks at least, but it’s worth it when you know exactly what you need.
Ripstopbytheroll.com - best place for ultralight downproof fabrics for clothing and gear as well as for hammocks, shelters and bags (including DCF and VX). They carry a selection of essential myog hardware, like buckles, cordlocks, zippers etc.
They offer a unique custom printing option as well as laser cutting and diy kits and patterns.
Love them, however import charges when ordering from Greece are terrible (let’s say if order value is 1000 EUR I have to pay 500 EUR in customs and duties), so I rarely order form them any more, which is a pity.
therainshed.com - solid variety of fabrics, trims, hardware and sewing notions along with sewing patterns.
questoutfitters.com - another source of good variety of basic outdoor related fabrics and notions, they also offer 950 FP down.
seattlefabrics.com - you won’t find ultralight stuff there, but basic wpb, soft-shell, fleece and mesh fabrics are there along with hardware selection. I used to buy closed cell foam from them, it was the only source of it (I even carried some of it over the ocean, when moving to Greece and I still use it)
wearethefabricstore.com - huge variety of merino jersey fabric, in colors that you don’t easily find elsewhere. Haven’t ordered from them myself, but Abi of schusserthreads.com.au made few custom long sleeves for me from their fabrics and they are great.
They ship worldwide it seems.
eiderdown.su - amazing source of down, including eider down (extremely rare). Generally they ship to Russia by default, but I contacted their support team and they arranged it to be shipped to Greece. Now, I’m not sure if they’d speak English (I speak russian), but it’s worth trying.
Simplest sewing machine would work for most of your projects, only if you go for thick or really tough fabrics your machine could start getting choked. If you want something reliable and portable I’d recommend JUKI TL-2000Qi, it has an aluminum die-cast body, knee lever and extension table. It has only one type of stitch - lockstitch, and it’s good at it, it can make up to 1200 stitches per minute, which is nice and fast. It takes same lesser feet as industrial sewing machines, so if you are to transit to one you’ll already have all presser feet you love, it also has two screw slots that allow you to attach various fittings, like bias tape attachment, that are also compatible with industrial machines. It costs around 650 USD (I bought mine while living in US and hauled it all the way to Greece with me, it was too good to part with), which is twice as expensive as used industry lockstitch machine, but if you haven’t got enough space to have an industrial this JUKI TL-2000Qi is as close to industrial as you can get, while keeping it compact. In 5 years I’m using it nothing have gone wrong, never serviced it. I’ve sewn anything from ultralight nylons to triple folded webbing on it, DCF and VX, it can do it all.
For real heavy projects I can recommend a portable walking foot Sailrite Ultrafeeed LSZ-1. It’s a heavy duty one, it has straight stitch and zigzag, which I use to manually do bar tacks. It’s a bit noisy but reliable and will go through multiple layers of webbing and fabrics. I use it when making bags, never needed it for clothing projects.
Good scissors. No brand recommendations here, just get a higher quality one and don’t forget to sharpen it every now and then (better at a specialist).
Rotary cutter - extremely useful for slippery fabrics and intricate details, one downside is that you need a large cutting mat to work on. I haven’t found anything wide enough as the fabric, so I either have to move the fabric several times when cutting garments or I put few big mats side by side as close as possible to each other, when cut line crosses from one mat to another inevitably there is few threads left uncut. I’ve read that there is a tip in US that makes custom sized cutting mats, as big as you need, but unfortunately they don’t deliver outside US, so I don’t own one.
I have cut multiple layers, around 6, of very light fabrics with a rotary cutter just fine.
Stock up on blades (better deals could be found on eBay, regular sewing shops charge way too much for single blade packs) as when it gets dull it will start skipping a thread here and there and it will also require you to put more pressure, which causes fatigue. Now, if you cut using rotary cutter often and for prolonged time (an hour or more) you will get certain muscles in your arm and along the back overworked. Cutting with rotary cutter requires constant pressure and at the same time precise control of your hand movement, so some small muscles that are not used to be constantly engaged get too much concentrated non-stop work. If you overdo it you won’t be able to comfortably cut for some time. Just keep cutting time short and distribute cutting sessions if you need to do a lot.
Electric rotary cutter - when I overworked my right arm using manual rotary cutter I went and bought an electric one. It didn’t help unfortunately. It is good for long straight or lightly curved lines, but when you need to turn any sharper than 120 degrees you’d run into difficulties. So for a year this cutter is just sitting on the shelf unused. Not recommended.
Functional Clothing Design: From Sportswear to Spacesuits by Susan Watkins;
Bunka Fashion Series Garment Design Textbook, first 5 parts exist in English edition - I don’t own this ones, but always wanted them (they are hard to find and expensive), something tells me it’s good though.
Design Approach (non clothing specific):
'Have Fun Inventing' by Steven M. Johnson (the author of the picture)
Design & Business philosophy
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
The Wild Black Yonder by Jared Leidich
Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux
If you want to share your recommendations for good sources of fabrics and hardware or relevant books please send them to me at email@example.com and I will add them to the list here.