Why a basic knowledge of sewing will come in handy

Home Forums DIYs Sewing and Needlework Why a basic knowledge of sewing will come in handy

This topic contains 25 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  Wolphene Howlett 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #613

    Lavender Field

    What are you going to do if you tear a pant leg or get a hole in a sock after SHTF? Even if it’s only a short term emergency you’re not going to be able to just run out and buy new stuff. At least not for a while. This is where some basic sewing knowledge could come in useful. I recommend that every prepper consider adding a basic sewing kit to their supplies. This should include not just needle and thread, but extra buttons, patches, and a good pair of fabric sheers. It’s a good idea to have a variety of needles including leather and upholstery needles for tent and gear repair. Likewise a variety of thread types and colors is a good idea. It doesn’t require a lot of skill to patch pants or darn a sock but it will make things more comfortable and last longer. There are plenty of sites on line where you can learn the basic stitches and methods. It’s a good way to use up some of that down time at night too.

  • #623

    Bill B.

    Couldn’t agree more. I took it a step further and rehabilitated an old hand crank sewing machine. Between it and some leather / canvas tools there isn’t much I can’t stitch up. The machine’s easier on my arthritic hands, and fast too!

  • #625


    Good point!

    Pople often are not aware how things detorieate when something serious happens, especially in prolonged period of time.

    We forget that things like getting new clothes become not possible, and repairing it is completely on us.
    One more point here is that when SHTF everything is harder and gets more stress, that include clothing.

    Clothes that usually lasts for month gets damaged in few weeks because you use it a lot in hard everyday work.

  • #639


    Sewing supplies will be great items for trading in a SHTF situation. Packets of needles are quite inexpensive, and I often find other supplies (thread, patches, buttons, even sewing baskets) for next to nothing at yard sales and estate sales. Knowing how to repair things is a great barter skill. It’s a good idea to know how to darn socks, as well.

  • #647

    Manuel Lisa

    make sure you include some glovers needles for sewing leather.

  • #657

    Red Carnation

    If you read books such as Little House on the Prairie, the ladies always had button baskets. It’s a good idea to remove zippers and buttons from clothes you may be throwing away.

    Also, use 40% off coupons at Joann’s, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby for any sewing supplies. Black Friday may be another good time to get those items for a fraction of the price. 🙂

  • #766


    I have a basket of socks with holes beside my chair in the living room. When watching Netflix with the kiddo, I darn socks. I know it’s weird, but I always found darning socks to be relaxing. If I run out of socks, I have yarn and a crochet hook. I’m the kind of person who can’t just sit still and watch a movie – I have to keep my hands occupied.

  • #770


    Sewing —UGH. I know how to sew, but it has never appealed to me. I do keep all the things I need but my husband does more sewing than I do. Probably because he tears up more stuff than I do while he is working. My daughter however has taught herself to sew by hand, she took my machine as her own, which is good cause I wasn’t using it ;). She taught herself to sew, make repairs, adjustments and is currently tracing a pattern for something she found in a library book. She has the energy and drive I only dream of LOL. I really need to get on the ball because I don’t know a 10th of what she is talking about anymore!

  • #1233

    Wolphene Howlett

    Sewing is a must have, must know-how, must do whether its pre- or post-SHTF. Learn and practice now while you have the materials and supplies on hand. A few years back, I had some bricks of beeswax and a metal super-mini muffin baking tray to melt down that wax for small sewing aids to wax the thread or cords that I’m working with. (I still have a brick and probably a life-time supply of the small ones) The wax helps the fibers of the thread/cord to last longer and it’s small enough to fit in a sewing kit. An alternative to the metal tray could be a silicone candy-making tray. Also, add a small needle-nose plier to your kit for pulling a needle through a difficult material such as heavy or multiple-layered cloth or leather. Thimbles will give good protection to your fingertips. I’m not a fan of the full metal caps for handwork that I have to put some force behind as they tend to slip; I prefer the Clover leather coin thimble. I’m not too keen on using a thick piece of leather in place of a thimble as I’ve had the eye-end of the needle go through it under strong pressure… scary! Have items in your sewing kit to keep your pins and needles sharp and your scissors sharp. You could get by with a folded up piece of aluminum foil to cut on with your scissors, but in post-SHTF it might be whittled down to aluminum dust. Have a pin cushion with an attached emery sand bobble to sharpen the pins and needles. I use a very compact Sewsharp scissor sharpener by Fiskars; it’s like holding a large coin in my hand, very convenient! Don’t forget to load up on a stash of heavier thread like “button and carpet”, “upholstery” or such like that. I found heavy thread used in model ship building at a hobby store. After figuring out it was cheaper and stronger than the heavy thread at my usual fabric store, I cleaned out that sale bin and those spools are really compact. It will become good as gold when you’ve discovered an inconvenient tear in your tarp, tent, bedroll, heavy coat, etc. after SHTF. These are just a few suggestions that I hope will help with your sewing preps.

    • #4566

      Olivia Green

      wolphene howlett, thank you for the many suggestions about sewing. i’ll be adding some tools to my sewing supplies..  hawthorne

  • #1527

    Lavender Field

    One more thing about sewing. Clothes that are too worn to wear any longer can be cut into squares and made into quilts. Stitch the squares together , layer with a blanket,and a used sheet. Put the blanket in the middle. There are many good books and web sites that explain the process.

  • #1722

    Valerie Stonecypher

    I took Home Economics classes back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and learned to sew and mend both by hand and machine. This was also the era of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

    Which is why I’m continually saddened by evidence of the complete lack of basic sewing skills among younger people. Personal story: on my last job before retirement, I encountered a Millenial crying in the lunch room. Seems she popped a button on her silk blouse and was scheduled for a job performance interview after lunch. I patted her arm and asked for the button. With her wearing the blouse, I took thread and needle out of my purse sewing kit and whipped the button back in place. She watched in silence and then looked at me like I’d just spun straw into gold. “Where did you learn to do that,” she asked in a puzzled voice. I smiled and mentioned YouTube (since she might never have heard of Home Ec) and then asked her how she would have repaired the blouse. “Oh,” she said brightly, “I just donate them and buy another one.”

    <face palm>

  • #1734


    Face palm indeed. Yikes!

  • #4003

    Ozark Mama

    It is scary how that so many people have no sewing skills at all. I have recently pulled out my tiny kit from my purse twice at peoples home’s because they had nothing. First time was to fix the hem of my granddaughters dress, DIL has not even got one needle.  Second time was at an outdoor wedding and one of the bridesmaids need a quick stitch.  Amazes me.

  • #4558

    Nw Prepr015

    I have genuine interest in learning to sew. I bought a secondhand machine at the thrift store and I’ve been buying basic supplies little by little. However, I am going to have to rely on YouTube and books to learn how to sew by hand and machine because I cannot seem to find anyone in my area that has the time to teach me. It’s terrible that women no longer value cooking, gardening, or mending. I mention these skills to the millenials and Gen Z people I am in school with and they look at me like I have three eyes. They have no desire to be self sufficient and its sad.

  • #4569

    Atypical Sapien

    My wife is currently teaching me how to sew. It’s one of the new skills to learn this winter  We purchased a used Thompson light commercial model pw  301 and are both learning how to use it.  Not much help on YouTube. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  • #4574

    Wolphene Howlett

    @Olivia Green

    You are most welcome, Olivia. Glad I could help!

  • #4575

    Wolphene Howlett

    @Atypical Sapien

    You didn’t mention if you have the machine’s instruction manual. So I went on a search and found this: https://www.sew4less.com/product/9609/Thompson_PW_301_Instruction_Manual_and_parts_list

  • #5502

    Old Goat

    I keep a bucket with sewing supplies in it and just keep adding to it when ever I have a few cents to spare. I couldn’t believe how much it cost to get a non power driven machine (that is the foot peddle variety) so its just going to be by hand as usual. When did home ec get such a bad name! I can’t believe how many kids can’t cook or wash these days. I’ve had to wash on a wash board its no fun and sewing get a bit harder when your hands don’t work so well any more.

  • #5516


    Learn some basic skin sutures life savers

  • #6272

    Atypical Sapien

    Thanks for the link Wolphene.! I neglected to click the notify me box and just found your reply!


  • #6874


    Bill B, Where did you get a hand crank sewing machine. I also have arthritic hands and also concerned that if we were hit by an EMP, an electric sewing machine might be useless. I have been making baby blankets that are simple and can be used to put on floor to lay baby on to play.

  • #7461


    A comment on needles- there are needles well made, the old ones made in US or England, and there are new ones made in China that are not nearly as good.  Perhaps you can find good old ones at garage sales.  People just don’t use or know what they have anymore.

  • #7462

    Crow Bar

    Ok, can anyone recommend a book on how to sew?

    No links to YouTube, or pdf.  I am a more of a I like to have a book in hand to read from than some electronic device.

  • #7467


    Reader’s digest put out a book called “Complete Guide to Sewing”.  I have it but hardly use it because I know how to sew.  The most important book would be the manual to your particular machine unless it is a treadle.

    Many years ago when I was in high school, I had moved to a new school and had never sewn before and the kids in the new school had had two years of sewing.  My mother didn’t sew so when she bought the pattern it was a complicated blouse and another girl in the class who had sewn since she was seven years old bailed me out over and over.  I am still grateful to her whenever I think about it.

  • #7956

    Wolphene Howlett

    I recently finished up darning some socks and realized that I had a tiny treasure in my hand! Years ago, I was going to toss out some things that the kids were no longer interested in. One of those things was a hollow plastic egg that came apart in the middle to hold Easter candy, nuts or small edibles. I decided to keep it and have used it as my darning kit ever since. It holds my darning needles and spare strands of darning thread (wrapped on small pieces of heavy, stiff paper) from the nearly-empty thread spools. I use the egg inside the sock I’m repairing to have a surface to work against. This egg is stored in a drawstring bag that I made out of an old sock that was beyond repair; I just cut across the edge at the point of the heel and stitch the edge so it won’t unravel. Then I basted a narrow ribbon around the top as a drawstring, about 1/2-inch from the stitched edge, and finished with tying two large beads at the ends of the drawstring to keep it secure. I added a couple of extra spools of darning thread, too. If I find more socks to repair, I just look for my ol’ sock bag and I’m ready for work!

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