Tent Repair: How to fix a tear/rip in a tent!
You’re planning to go camping next weekend and you just remembered that on last years camping trip you noticed a small tear in your tent. If not repaired that small tear can quickly become a larger problem. However it really is easy to repair. (Even on the trail). So remember to always take your mending kit with you when tenting.
- Canvas tent: small scissors, sewing awl, strong T-pins, leather sewing needles (also called glovers needles) these will help get through the heavy canvas even if multi layered, canvas repair patches or tape (sometimes called taffeta repair tape), seam sealer made for canvas, waxed thread or heavy-duty cotton thread, optional thimble and mini pair of needle nose pliers, see #4 for details, ‘Kiddy blow-up-swimming-pool’ repairpatches & adhesive
- Nylon tent: small scissors, regular straight pins, sturdy sewing needle with large enough eye for use with waxed thread ‘rip stop’ nylon repair patches or tape, seam sealer made for nylon tent, (make sure you're using the right sealer; canvas sealer could damage a nylon tent) waxed thread, optional thimble, see #4 for details, ‘Kiddy blow-up- swimming pool’repair patches & adhesive
- Screen tent: small scissors, regular straight pins, scrap nylon screening, waxed thread, darning needle (not thicker then the holes of the screening) optional thimble, (only if your screen tent has flooring see #4 for details ‘Kiddy blow-up- swimming pool’ repair patches & adhesive)
- Tent flooring: Although mending doesn’t involve sewing I thought I would include it so that you’re prepared for all. Most tent floorings are made of fiber or fabric enforced ‘tarp-ing’. To mend it, you will need ‘Kiddy blow-up-pool’ repair patches & adhesive. To make the tent floor watertight again add patch from inside and out. Follow instructions of manufacturing company. Duct tape over the whole patch outside will give added protection.
Even though the patch kits say sealing is enough, I prefer to sew all the tears then cover them with the appropriate patch & sealer inside and out.
The following method has served me well. The old canvas tent has had a patch for over twenty years and is still in use. Our newer nylon two room tent has two patches, one large one which is near the front flap where it got zippered in accidentally. This one had to be fixed at the camp site fast as there was danger of us being carried away by the bloodthirsty jeep sized mosquitoes.
Large tears must be sewn closed before being patched with a patch or repair tape because the tension on the fabric etc. could eventually pull the rip apart again. You can do the ‘on-site fixit job’ then add a larger permanent patch once you’re home using the sewing machine. Give the patch a double topstitching all around then remember to run a sealer bead over the seams to make it water resistant again. (Reseal occasionally , once every year or two)
Tent Patch Methodology:
- Cut two patches, one that is at least 1½ inches wider & longer and one that is 2inches/5cm wider & longer than the tear.
- Pin the smaller patch on the inside of the tent.
- With your thread and needle using small back stitches sew the patch on securely.
- Working from the outside, gently lift the tent fabric at the tear and squeeze in a small amount of the sealer/adhesive all around the tear.
- Flip tent around so that you can work on the outside.
- Cover the larger patch with sealer/adhesive and center it over the tear from the outside hand press firmly in place. Wait ½ to 1 hour at least, then run a bead of sealer around patch. Check product description for the full curing time, usually about 1½ hours, then spread a bead of adhesive around the patch on the inside of the tent.
- It is important to wait at least the full curing time but 24 hours is best before packing the tent away. (if the circumference bead is not totally, totally dry it can adhere to unwanted parts during the transportation of the folded up tent)
Screen Tent Patch Methodology:
- Cut a patch of nylon screening at least 2inches/5cm wider and longer then the tear.
- Center and gently pin patch into place working on the outside.
- Stitch patch in place with small stitches using the screening holes for easy work. Give it a triple stitching starting very close to the outside edge of patch and one tacking down as near to the tear as possible.
Happy tenting…see you at the camp-site
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