Skills for Dirtbaggery

One crucial life skill that I have unfortunately learned very late in life is the ability to fix, or otherwise repair busted or worn out stuff.    Not having a job, or other sources of income coupled with the outrageous amount of money needed to replace outdoor gear has required that I learn these skills.   With that in mind I figured I would break from the thoughts in my head and give all 5 of you a bit of a lesson.  With that I present the first installment the new SKILLS FOR DIRTBAGGERY series.

First up is a much needed, not so ghetto, repair of my beloved Cilogear 30 litter work sack. The extension on this pack has been shredded a couple times, and I’ve replaced it at least 4 times…maybe this is the fourth….SHIT curry’s ready.  Be right back….

mmmm… food.  Where were we … Oh yes extension.  This fix\mod would also work to lighten the weight of your pack.  With the exception Cilo’s bags, most pack companies use the same material for their extension as the rest of their pack.  So if you’re a counter of grams, then this mod is for you.

What you need:
seam ripper (even though some think they’re for amateurs.)
A huge amount of patience.
A sewing machine or some one with one.
Nylon or Poly thread.
Material to be used for extension
Large Grommet and grommet press.
Grosgrain ribbon
Flexible measuring tape

Step one: Carefully remove the old material.  I don’t have any pictures of this because it didn’t occur to me to do this a series until I had already removed the old one.  Trust me.  It was GHETTO as all hell.

The way to do this is to take your seam ripper and slowly remove each stitch.  An even better way is to take a razor blade and CAREFULLY(!) work it underneath the ribbon until you’ve gone all the way around.  Once the ribbon is gone toss it in the trash.

Once you’ve done that actually separating the extension from the seem obvious after getting rid of the ribbon.  Now your pack should look like this:

Your pack is now headless.

2) This probably should have been step zero (Sorry Graham) make sure you HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED BEFORE STARTING THIS PROJECT.   Be sure to measure the circumference of the bag.  This will tell you how much fabric you need to cut.  Be sure to leave enough fabric for seam allowance.  I used 1 centimeter.  My piece was pre cut for height (thanks Graham) I just had to trim a bit based on the circumference of my 30L.

****Note*** if you are going to go with something lighter than 110d you will need a small strip of heavier fabric capable of holding the grommet.  As my I’m using 70d ripstop my strip is made out of  210d nylon with dyneema ripstop pattern.   Make sure to add that to the length of extension so it fits the pack body.  ****Note****

70d and 210 d nylon

3) Add grommet to the material.  I don’t have a picture of this because I didn’t know if it was a Cilogear state secret.  That being said, I did figure it out for myself which means you are also capable of figuring it out.  Hint:  you want the hole smaller than you think.

4) Now its time to join the fabrics.
Place fabrics right side together and stitch them together.  Next fold the fabric back so you’re looking at the right side of both fabrics.  Now do a top stitch.  It should look like this when you’re done.

This is What it should look like
Close up. Hopefully you can sew a straight line

5) The next thing I did was fold over top  edge 1 for a cleaner look.

6) Then I join the ends together to make a loop.  Put right sides of the fabric together and run them through the machine.  Next, turn the your loop right side out and lay down your top stitch.  This can be a bit tricky, but it can be done.  Here’s a pic

The second topstitch. Be sure you don't sew the front and back together.

7) Next I took my drawstring laid it in long the seam I stitched at the top, then folded it over creating a clean hem finish.  Make sure you cover up the grommet and leave enough room so you don’t try to sew through it.  Its easier to do this part with the drawstring already threaded.

Sewing in the drawstring

This is what it should look like when you’re done.

Finished extension

Now its time to put the head back on your bag!!!

8. Turn the extension inside out, and place it over the bag matching up the bottom of your new extension and your old pack.

9) This is where things starts to get tricky.  You can’t use pins, because you’ll put holes in your pack that won’t be plugged with thread.  The tricky part is keeping the pack lined up with the extension material and sew a straight line at the same time.  Good luck.

10) Good work!  However, you aren’t done yet.  Now you need to cover up that junk show of seam nastiness.  Now its time to apply grosgrain ribbon to cover up your ugly ass seems.

Like that girl you wanted to date in High school, nice on the outside...
Ugly on the inside

When your pack was originally made, the kind soul behind the sewing machine had an attachment which folded the ribbon.  You aren’t so lucky, you must use your hands.  It requires intense focus, patience and luck.

Intense focus
Hold, Fold, and Sew
A much cleaner look

11) Now its a good idea to seal that seam.  Otherwise, water might seep through, soaking everything inside.
Apply with seam sealer with the brush supplied and let dry over night.   To facilitate this, I stuffed my bag with jackets and stood it up to let it dry.

Seam sealer
Drying out

12) Enjoy your work and use your pack.

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