Monday, 29 November 2010

Desert gaiters, v3

Since last year's Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, I've been cooking up modifications to make to my previous desert gaiter designs (2009 version).

Although my design last year worked really well, the main problem was getting to the laces and also the hassle of getting your shoes on and off. The thing is that the gaiter was stitched to the shoe - by hand. There was a velcro-sealed 'window' to access the laces. But, the design needed work.

This time I've gone with a more traditional approach of having the gaiter around the whole shoe, attached by velcro. We've had the velcro stitched around the base of the upper, by a cobbler.

In additon the gaiter has some neat innovations to accommodate different shoe sizes (we've made two patterns - the smaller one is good for up to a UK8.5 or so. The bigger one is from a UK9 and up) and to tighten the neck, especially for going down big dunes.

We've made four sets; for us (Team AR, white), for Cyanosis (cyan blue), Msanzi (a kinda chartreuse) and GRM Loggerheads (Abu Dhabi team of Aussies; a fun floral pattern).

On Saturday I went to my mom's place to help her finish off a new modification to the shape of the front. We were having such a nightmare because the sewing machine (a new one!) kept seizing and wouldn't sew a stitch. We were in a panic because we had so many to finish off.

We dismantled the holder that the bobbin goes into. Like the needles, which we were chaging regularly, it gunked up with adhesive from the velcro. We cleaned it up with turps and tried again. And then it seized again.

We couldn't figure it out because we'd been sewing these before without this amount of hassle. We wondered whether this was a different brand of adhesive velcro that our local store was bringing in? This whole headache took about two hours. I then got the idea to put the gaiters in the freezer to chill the adhesive, thinking that it was nothing more than the heat causing all the problems. It worked! The problem was that in the heat the adhesive was more sticky so it was gunking up everything and we could barely force the machine through a few centimetres.

We modified and completed 10 pairs in the next two hours with me cutting, pinning, sticking and running up and down the stairs between the freezer and the sewing machine. Hahaha ;)

Desert gaiter sewing is definitely best suited to winter.


Alastair said...

I hope these gaiters reach sufficiently high...
Lots of people had trouble in the Marathon des Sables with designs like this.
I used ones that came up above my calves -

adventurelisa said...

Me too! Last yearI made gaiters up to my knee. Worked well. I've made an additional velcro tab on these to tighten the neck for when we're going down big dunes. I think they're going to rock. These come up quite a way - kinda between ankle and bottom of calf.