If you can sew in a straight line you’re ready to make your own camping gear! That’s right, you can make sleeping bags and more with your limited sewing abilities. And, when you’re finished, your talent will have improved even more! You’ll get in plenty of practice while turning out impressive camping stuff and you’ll receive the extra bonus of compliments from your family and friends when you try any or all of the following simple sewing projects.
Make your own sleeping bags by using old sheets and blankets. Lay a full-size sheet out on a clean floor. Position a blanket over the sheet then another sheet over the blanket. The sandwiched blanket will give the sleeper great warmth. Start by pinning all four of the corners together. Make sure, as you pin, that you get the top sheet, bottom sheet and blanket all within the grasp of the pin. If the blanket is larger than the sheets cut it to size before pinning. If you’re making a child’s sleeping bag now is the time to trim the entire thing down to size. After pinning the four corners continue to pin all the way around the perimeter.
While the arrangement is stretched out on the floor use a yardstick to draw lines from the top to the bottom of one sheet. Do this all the way across, spacing the lines a few inches apart. Go to the machine and stitch around the perimeter of the sheets, removing the pins as you go along. After you’ve sewn all the way around you can then sew down the straight lines you’ve drawn. These lines will keep the blanket in place as the sleeping bag is laundered.
Fold the sleeping bag in half, and stitch across the bottom and a few inches up the side. Back-tack and remove the sleeping bag from the machine. Position velcro pieces up both sides of the sleeping bag and pin them in place. Stitch down both sides of each velcro piece to secure. This makes it easy to close the sleeping bag without having to put in a zipper.
Use a cloth belt to make a cool utility belt for kids. If your child doesn’t have a cloth belt you’ll usually find many of them at a secondhand store. Pockets and sections for the utility belt can be made from many different things. Use old cloth eyeglass cases, pockets from garments, and similar items to create the belt. Eyeglass cases can be stitched directly onto the belt, going all the way around with them, or just putting some across the front and sides. These pockets can hold a compass, small flashlight, whistle, energy bar, utility knife (for older kids), and many other things. Sew two same-size pockets together and create pockets for the utility belt. Just tack the corners of the pocket sets to the belt and kids can carry small rocks they’ve found, acorns, interesting plants and more.
Make a tablecloth that protects your silverware from bugs and dust. Create the tablecloth too long on one side. Hem all the way around the perimeter of the cloth. Now cut long, rectangular pieces to sew along the side of the cloth. Cut each rectangle the same size or each one slightly smaller than the previous. The rectangles will form pockets for your knives, forks, spoons, and other implements. After cutting the rectangles, hem them all the way around, then stitch three sides of each pocket to the tablecloth. Align the pockets along the bottom of the cloth, three inches away from the very edge, and stitch them so that the right or left side of each pocket remains open. Stitch a piece of velcro right next to the edge of the tablecloth, just under the pockets. Fold the velcro over and mark a spot just above the pockets. The second piece of velcro will be stitched across that area. Place clean silverware in the pockets, fold the velcro over, and you’ll protect the silverware. Simply undo the velcro, drop down the pocket flap, and you’re ready to eat. Instead of stitching on the pockets, velcro them on, and you’ll be able to move the pockets – and excess silverware – out of your way while eating.
Make camping bags for everyone by sewing two cloth place mats together. The mats should be rectangular and the cloth should bend and move easily. Before stitching the two mats together get a piece of roping – or something similar – and stitch the ends to the top corners of one of the mats. Position the second mat over those and align it with the first mat. Stitch down one side, across the bottom, and back up to the other side. The bags are perfect for holding dry clothing, health and beauty items or even toys.
Fold an old sheet into a square then place it in a pillowcase. Cut off excess pillowcase material to form a square. Stitch the end of the case shut and you have cushions the family can use for sitting on the ground or even inside the tent. Want it to last even longer than it normally would? Use fabric glue to attach a piece of rubber shelf liner to the bottom. The rubber will protect the sheet from tearing during use.
Make a carry-along play set for little ones by starting with two equal-size pieces of fabric; they don’t necessarily have to match. The fabric should be long and wide but the exact dimensions are up to you. Place the two pieces together, right sides facing each other, and stitch around one short side and both long sides. Turn the material right-side out and stitch the end shut. Lay the material on a table so that the length runs from left to right. Fold the bottom of the material up towards the center. Pin it and stitch across the edge and down both sides. Now you have one large pocket that goes across the length of the material. Stitch vertical lines down the long pocket to form sections. It’s up to you how many sections and how large or small to make each one.
Kids can use the finished sections to tuck in crayons, paper, kid scissors, a flashlight, dolls, and many other things. Roll the sewn pocket set as you would roll a sleeping bag, starting at one short end and rolling it to the other. Tie a ribbon around each end, and one in the center, then mark a place on each ribbon where it meets the fabric. Sew the ribbon to the fabric in these areas. Now the child can easily fill the bag with many things, tie it shut, then carry it by the center ribbon. Ribbons should be wide enough to make it comfortable to hold. Or, hold the rolled bag up to a child’s back and mark two areas for wide straps. Mark each end where the straps would go, unroll the bag, and sew the straps in place. Camping is so much fun for the entire family but it’ll be even more fun when they see all the new gear they have! You’ll get in lots of practice with these easy sewing projects and soon be ready to move on to bigger and better projects – if there is such a thing. After all, what’s better than making camping equipment for next to nothing?