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#1 MommyofSeven

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:40 AM

OK ladies, I'm not sure this fits in the DIY topic, but I wasn't sure where else to put it either. Moderators, feel free to move it to a more appropriate area if I've placed it wrongly.

I'm a pretty good sewer with a machine, but I've contracted to do some government work and it could lead to some really lucrative future contracts so I want to make sure I get this right, so I'm coming in here in hopes of some advice.

I'm repairing a pair of nomex wildland fire pants with a rip in the crotch. Nomex is thick material, like denim, and is fire resistant. They have to be patched with nomex material and sewn with nomex thread, or they are no longer fire resistant. As you can imagine, the material and thread are quite expensive, and while I'm not so much worried about the bottom line, because this is a safety issue, I do want to make sure the agencies that are paying for the materials are getting the best use of their funds.

These rips are not along a seam line. I can either sew the rips directly, which I would probably do by hand, or patch the rips. Sewing the rips directly would probably be best in terms of material usage and decrease the likelyhood of them ripping again, but is going to decrease the "roominess" in the crotch area, which is an important consideration when a man is working on a wildland fire line. You don't want chafing in that situation.

If I patch the rips, it will leave the roominess in place but leave the possibility open of snagging the patch on something. These pants get used hard, and are worn while packing in while carrying 40 pounds of water on your back through trees and bushes.

These pants go for $80-$120, and more if you have to have them custom fitted. I already have pending contracts for alterations on several pairs if this job goes well. So it's well worth the time involved to repair them.

Suggestions?

Mo7


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#2 themartianchick

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:06 AM

Given the situation that you've described, I'd still go with the patches. If the pants are just stitched and the wearer loses the roominess, then they WILL rip (due to the amount of stress that they will be under) and the firefighter will be at risk of a burn. If they are patched, the only risk to the the pants will be IF they are snagged. Is there any way to patch them on both sides of the pants? This would make that area twice as strong and would provide additional protection in the event that the outside patch is snagged off.

#3 MommyofSeven

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:26 AM

Given the situation that you've described, I'd still go with the patches. If the pants are just stitched and the wearer loses the roominess, then they WILL rip (due to the amount of stress that they will be under) and the firefighter will be at risk of a burn. If they are patched, the only risk to the the pants will be IF they are snagged. Is there any way to patch them on both sides of the pants? This would make that area twice as strong and would provide additional protection in the event that the outside patch is snagged off.


I could absolutely patch both sides. I had kind of tossed it around in my head, just wasn't sure which way to go.

Thanks!


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#4 zophiel

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 10:40 AM

As someone who works on the other side of gov't contracting. . . have you asked your point of contact if they have a preference? I'm in the R&D area, so our engineers are picky about their specifications. If the contractor/ vendor comes to me with this sort of question, I generally refer them to the requester-- sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn't.

It may be that the folks who've contracted to you have no preference, and trust your abilities. But I don't think it would hurt to ask them: Present the pros and cons of each side, and see if they have a preference. Make a point that you can do both, that you just want to know if they've a preference to how this is done. Also, depending on the person, if you're sending an email, you may want to add "I'm leaning toward X solution right now-- if I don't hear back from you by __date__, I'll go ahead with that approach." Again, I deal with engineers who sometimes care, sometimes don't-- giving a default with a date keeps you from waiting forever to hear.

Otherwise. . . I'd also lean toward martianchick's suggestion. Around here, we deal more in kevlar than nomex, so once something is "no longer whole", patching doesn't happen. Busted kevlar gets recycled for myriad other experimental purposes . . .


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#5 MommyofSeven

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 11:59 AM

As someone who works on the other side of gov't contracting. . . have you asked your point of contact if they have a preference? I'm in the R&D area, so our engineers are picky about their specifications. If the contractor/ vendor comes to me with this sort of question, I generally refer them to the requester-- sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn't.

It may be that the folks who've contracted to you have no preference, and trust your abilities. But I don't think it would hurt to ask them: Present the pros and cons of each side, and see if they have a preference. Make a point that you can do both, that you just want to know if they've a preference to how this is done. Also, depending on the person, if you're sending an email, you may want to add "I'm leaning toward X solution right now-- if I don't hear back from you by __date__, I'll go ahead with that approach." Again, I deal with engineers who sometimes care, sometimes don't-- giving a default with a date keeps you from waiting forever to hear.

Otherwise. . . I'd also lean toward martianchick's suggestion. Around here, we deal more in kevlar than nomex, so once something is "no longer whole", patching doesn't happen. Busted kevlar gets recycled for myriad other experimental purposes . . .


Yes, I've asked. They want it to "not have holes anymore" :P But your suggestion is a good one, especially for future use, and I appreciate it! Especially as I will be dealing with a lot of volunteer Fire Departments on limited budgets if my current client is happy with my work-not only the pros and cons of different methods, but cost, will be a factor, and letting them make the choice rather than making it for them will make them feel like their money was spent well, because they are involved in the decision.

I'm not sure of Kevlar's uses other than bullet proof vests and gloves. "Experimental purposes" sounds like it might be fun!

Thanks!


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#6 sassenach

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 01:01 PM

Hey what a great opportunity. I used to do industrial sewing in the navy and fabicration and there is not even an upholstery shop around that is open, but this is an important money saving situation for the FD, especially volunteer FD's which are all we have here in my area too.

I would think a patch on the outside and one on the inside is correct and more durable if there is enough room to work with to prevent the chafing.

Good idea to present your ideas on how to resolve the repair issue in the crotch area. From what I have seen , the pants usually fit very loosely , which gives them ease of movement anyway, usually a couple inches worth so you probably have plenty of space to work with anyway.

Great way to support the local FD too and benefit from it. With all the budget cuts and people who might have helped their services with generous donations being difficult to find, I think any thing reasonable you choose to do is a wonderful help.

With all the emergency disaster work around here in my region I bet our own FD's are trying to find a solution like that! One of them had the Ausable River decide to visit in a very rugged way right smack through their FD building and precious gear was lost and it inhibited their rescue and EMS work alot. Anything we can do if we are capable of assisting these departments is fantastic. I am so glad you got the opportunity and have the proper sewing gear for this work! KUDOS to you!

I know how to do it, but I don't have transportation to go help if someone locally is doing that. I also don't know if they even thought of it and I know not far away, there was a closed up business with military strength machines just sitting there collecting dust, so it might be worth looking into. Who knows.... if I make some queries it could be something to do here too if it could be arranged.

Its been amazing how much people have been ingenious around here to repair and replace things for people affected, and these guys work so very hard and do a great job. I bet there is a lot of wear and tear after three major disasters in my surrounding counties that support each other as well as the local towns, this year.

For me I would bargain my time if they supplied the money for the orders needed and maybe it would amount to a better dwelling for me? If I were to figure out how to get something like that done. ( Just thinking how that could be a bargaining chip and provide something decent for us both, if there was enough work that could be arranged, were it my own situation and I had the opportunity. )

~~~~ Previously known as Arby . :americanflag:


#7 Amishway Homesteaders

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 01:22 PM

I hope you are not using your 'home sewing machine' to repair these?
It will kill it in no time!
You need an old machine that can take a betting and also heavy gauge needles not the ones for 'everyday' sewing or you will be going through lots of broken needles.

Also sew the patch on the inside then turn over and 'sew' back and forth on outside to get 'smooth' finish to patch. IF you patch both inside and outside you will NEVER get the needle to go thought fabric.

I have a heavy duty treadle matching I use when repairing denim, canvas or leather.
By the way do they have any suits that can't be fixed?
That would make some nice patches and cheaper the new fabric. Also they would 'fit' better -ever put new denim with old denim jeans/ Never works well until they are washed.
Good Luck!
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#8 Amishway Homesteaders

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 01:26 PM

= = just thought of another thing for you to do-
If the place is close by, repair one and take it to them and ask "is this what you wanted" That way if not you don't have to go home and rip out all your work and start over.

I have done this a few time when working with the schools and handicap items - save a lot of time and money.
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#9 MommyofSeven

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 04:05 PM

Heavy duty needles for denim and a newer sewing machine, but I'm on the lookout for an industrial one. arby, if you manage to score anything in that building, let me know, I may want to buy one from you. I'll PM you my contact info since your laptop is sketchy.

AH, my mom has an old treadle machine...think that would work?

I can sew second patch by hand if need be, but we'll see what happens. If it won't go through, then it won't.

Can't use old suits. By law, we can't use fire gear that is more than ten years old. That's not to say we don't, because of budget issues, but it's no longer covered by replacement insurance at the ten year mark; we can't use the old material to repair newer material-then the newer gear isn't covered by insurance anymore, so if it's damaged or lost other than normal wear and tear, it won't be replaced by insurance funds. I may take some of our junk gear to practice on tho.

Arby they are bringing gear to me. If this goes the way I hope it does I may have contracts for multiple counties, and they will have to come to me, as transportation is an issue here as well. Still cheaper than buying new gear or the four hour drive to a major metropolitan city to get it done (then having to go back and pick it up). Repairs I can probably do by mail, too, but fitting for hems and such will have to be done in person. I make them bring their gear clean, too, as it often has particulates on it from the fires, which I don't want in the house. I don't even let my husband bring his fire gear in the house. They wash them at the station.

Thanks all!

Mo7


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#10 Annarchy

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:06 AM

Congratulations on your contract.

I do not mean to make your job harder.

Just a little food for thought... The needle holes become a weak point.

I can not remember where I learned that.... but I think it might be important.... :shrug: ?


If you go with the two patches, make one side slightly larger than the other, to minimize the bulkiness of the seams.


Edited to add: I remember where I learned that... waterproofing. It probably does not apply to fireproofing.

Edited by Annarchy, 22 October 2011 - 11:34 AM.

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#11 MommyofSeven

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 12:49 PM

Congratulations on your contract.

I do not mean to make your job harder.

Just a little food for thought... The needle holes become a weak point.

I can not remember where I learned that.... but I think it might be important.... :shrug: ?


If you go with the two patches, make one side slightly larger than the other, to minimize the bulkiness of the seams.


Edited to add: I remember where I learned that... waterproofing. It probably does not apply to fireproofing.


Well it does and it doesn't. Obviously, the material is not fire resistant at needle holes, but...if you're close enough to the fire that the ambient heat will burn you through needle holes, the fire resistant nature of the fabric is not going to help you anyway. It is fire resistant, not fireproof, and not heat proof. They make fire shelters that are deployed when you're going to be overtaken by the fire. It doesn't always work but I have heard/seen where firefighters have walked away after shelter deployment. Every training focuses on how NOT to get in the situation where you have to deploy your shelter.

Thanks for the food for thought, though!


"Why do you have so much ordnance?"
"Some women buy shoes..."
Ecks vs. Sever

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