With my trip to Norway now impending, and the weather forecast looking decidedly dodgy despite the weather karma offerings in the form of Star Wars related skits, I decided last night to make my own mesh front pocket for the GoLite Jam I’ve been using now for the past year.
I like the Jam but miss having hip belt pockets after finding them so useful on my OMM Adventure Light 20L, and while it’s got a pretty large front pocket, it’s a zippered, fabric pocket. It's "OK" but I've seen how useful the big mesh pockets are on the front of so many packs so thought I want one. I couldn’t buy one in the short timescale left (see baz’s backpacking blog) as I’d recently been delivered Fraser’s failed Contrail, I decided to utilise some of the mesh from that.
Frankly I didn’t think it would be much cop so I didn’t even bother to take photos of my cutting and sewing, but basically I had a length of mesh fabric (the noseum type mesh with fine holes, but which I’d seen had been used on the product Baz had bought), some shock cord that I’d bought a while back on ebay, some mini line loks that I’d cannibalised off the contrail with a couple of bits of grosgrain ribbon, my inherited sewing machine and some ancient, still on a wooden spool, polyester-cotton thread.
First off the material wasn’t wide enough to cover the bag; I’d envisaged a full width pocket to overlap the side pockets somewhat, so had to sew two halves of what I did have together.
Because I didn't take pics, those interested will have to exercise their brain a little and follow my directions with a view at the end result photos I have bothered to take...
Basically the order of works were:
- Cut the fabric in two.
- Seam the fabric; this seam formed a middle join which you can see in the photo. I turned the seam over twice so there were no open edges and sewed along either side of the edge for strength.
- Lined the mesh up to the pack to guesstimate fit and how much seam/hem allowance to leave, and where darts in the mesh might be needed to allow for ‘bag’.
- Made a small hem along the top side to ward against fraying fabric.
- Made small hems on each of the raw edges along each side (I did this before creating the shock cord channel to make it easier).
- Folded over the top, seamed edge and sewed to create a channel for shock cord to run through.
- Re-pinned the mesh to the pack, aligned the centre mesh seam, and pinned 3 darts either side of the centre. This was just trial and error with no scientific calculation, just by eye.
- Sewed straight across the 6 darts before hemming, just to make that easier to do, too.
- Trimmed the bottom edge under the darts, again to make the hemming easier.
- Sewed a hem along the bottom edge. This done, all seams and hems were complete.
- To attach the pocket to the pack, the top channel had 2mm shock cord threaded through. This was then wrapped around the back of the pack, above the shoulder straps and tied in a basic overhand knot. Nothing more fancy than that.
- To attach the pack at the bottom I sewed a mini line lok on to the bottom, angled corners, using grosgrain ribbon, hand sewing the ribbon onto the mesh. I positioned these such that they angled upwards and over the hip belt rather than under it.Then I threaded the same sort of shock cord through the mini line loks, wrapped around the back and tied. I currently don't seem to feel this when wearing...
- Now assembled, fit it on your pack!
Let me know if you have a go. It was surprisingly easy. The biggest learning points for me were to keep measuring up against the pack and also that time spent pinning the seams down meant the sewing was a bit faster. Also, utilise any reverse stitch facility on your sewing machine or just turn the fabric around to sew over again as I didn't do this on the end of the channel and I've noticed it just starting to come apart.
I guess it took me about an hour and 15 to create this, which isn't bad in my book, plus I had a couple of 'in the zone' moments which are always welcome!