Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lamé first aid

The start of the new season seems to be a good time to talk about lamé patching: the tools, the techniques, and when to give up and replace gear. Most of us have done this at one time or another, and I’m sure there are as many opinions as lamés, but this is what I’ve found works for me.

The tools:

Lamé fabric: usually taken from an old lamé, though I’m curious if anyone has ever tried to get plain yardage (it seems like it would be a useful thing for a club to have)

Thread: I’m told regular thread works fine but for extra insurance I prefer conductive steel thread. A few years ago all I could find was Lamé Lifesaver, but a search for “conductive metal thread” shows multiple vendors.

Needles and thimble: I’m a fan of hand sewing for greater control over patch placement, and use a thimble so I won’t wear my fingers to hamburger.

The stitches:
For hand sewing there are any number of hand stitches to use, but I prefer the plain overcast stitch. The catchstitch tends to lay flatter, but I find it takes longer/is more difficult.

Turn under the edges of the patch so they won’t ravel! It makes the patch a bit bulkier but also less likely to wear out or fall off.

I’ve darned small dead spots using the conductive thread, and this seems to work quite well. If there are several fairly close to each other, they can be connected with a few stitches.

By the time I got this nice embroidery going I decided it was probably time to replace the lamé.
So when is it beyond hope? In theory you can patch forever:

though I’ve heard that ultralight lamés tend to fail all at once. [Badger: "yes, that has happened to me! Very irritating."]

Armorers, what do you say? When can you tell that a lamé is about to go? Would the above patchwork/embroidery be barred from competition? Feel free to include your own repair techniques in the notes - I'd especially like to hear from anyone who has managed to do patches with a sewing machine.

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