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Epside 61 S2-26

Fabrics: What and How to Store


Special Guest:

Without Land Ch 26

Sara F. Hathaway

In chapter 26 of the Without Land story, Erika and her team enter the town in Colorado to  scavenge goods and run into a gold mine of useful fabrics. Unless you plan on weaving your own fabrics in a post collapse society having fabrics on hand will be a serious consideration. Today, I will explain which types of fabrics to store, how to prepare them for storage, how to store them, and how to waterproof them once you are ready to use them.

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Preparing Your Fabric for Storage


If the fabric is new there is no need to clean it first. To prepare it you will want to roll it up on a cardboard tube. Do not fold your fabric! If you don't have a cardboard tube you can use a stick, a wooden pole  or preferably a cedar pole (if you can get a hold of one). Do not use a pressure treated pole or sappy wood!


To store clothing you want to make sure it is clean before you store it. If you have a dress or a fancy piece of clothing that you can't part with and want stored make sure you pack it with tissue paper and store it in a cedar chest or closet if possible. Clothes can be stored in plastic bags with as little air as possible. Vacuum sealing it is recommended because it removes air and saves space. Store these bags in a cool, dark place. You can add a pest repellent into the bag if desired (see the pest deterrent section). 


Storing your Fabric

The big metal storage units or cold storage areas store fabrics well. Include some mothballs or mothball alternative with your fabrics. Rolls of fabrics should be stored flat, never store them on end! Quilts, sleeping bags, and any thick bedding should be hung if possible. If it is not possible to hang your large bedding store them flat. 


Special Notes for Hides and Leather


Hides are like your own skin. You should never use funky oils, like mink oil or saddle soap on them. Treat it like you treat your skin and use lotion on it. Store hides in a dark area that is about 75 degrees. The room should not be too dry or the hide will crack. If you are in a dry area put a bowl of water in with your stored hides and refill it when empty. You want the hides to stay moist but not too humid so if you live in an area that has high humidity you may want to dehumidify the room to avoid mildew on your hides. Hides should be stored rolled up inside a cardboard tube or hung. If you have it stored in a tube you will want to hang it for a few days before you use it. Never fold it!


Pest Prevention


Fabrics are best stored in cedar, whether that be a chest or closet. Cedar is a natural pest deterrent. Mothballs are the classic additive to storage areas for pest control. They are small balls of chemical pesticide and deodorant that ward off pests and molds. There is a carcinogenic concern when using moth ball because they turn from a solid directly into a gas that is toxic to moths and molds. Moth balls used to be made of naphthalene but this chemical is highly flammable so they started to make them out of  1,4-dichlorobenzene. 


There is a natural alternative to moth balls that you can make yourself. Erin Boyle explains how to make them in her article DIY: Modern Mothballs (No Chemicals Included). It is actually a simple process! You start with some small muslin spice bags or sew your own sachets. Using herbs like lavender, spearmint, thyme, rosemary, cloves, cinnamon, tansy, ginger and citronella, you fill the bags with herbs and red cedar shavings. After you tie the bag up and squeeze, it starts releasing a blend of the herbs and cedar which works as a pest repellent. This bag lasts about a season so it will need to be replaced each year.


The final deterrent against rodents is to own a cat. Cats will hunt down those pesky rodents and keep them away from you stored fabrics.


Recommended Fabrics to Store


Synthetics and synthetic blends are recommended for long term storage. They are less susceptible to pests. Light to medium weight canvas with at least a 50% polyester blend are recommended for clothing use. For tents and tarps you will want a heavy duty material, like Sunbrella.  Sunbrella is a solution dyed acrylic produced by the Sunbrella Company that stands up to sun and weather very well. 


Waterproofing your Fabric


Cotton canvas is highly susceptible to mildew and has been replaced by a woven acrylic (like the Sunbrella material) or a vinyl coated polyester. However vinyl coated polyester does not breath and has to be ventilated to prevent mildew. 


For acrylic materials a silicone water proofing solution is not recommended. Instead use a fluoropolymer based product. This product is available in the paint section of any hardware store. Clean your material and spray the product evenly across the fabric. Wait for it to dry and submerge the fabric in a bucket of water. If the water absorbs into the fabric the solution has not taken and the fabric must be dried and the product applied again. You can also brush this product on but either way make sure you are in a well ventilated area when working with it.


To apply to your tent, set up the tent and use a ladder to apply the sealant. That way you are sure to get all of the surface area. Pay special attention to the seams.


For bags, clean the item thoroughly. Apply a rubber sealant to the seams to provide extra protection and then apply the sealant to the rest. For zippered areas use an acid free packing tape to help keep the water out but you will never 100% waterproof a zippered area.


There is a way to make your own sealant and save a ton of money while you are at it. Surj-outdoors explains in his video Homemade Waterproofing...Cotton, Leather, Wood, Metal or Whatever!! exactly how to make and apply this solution. 

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Without Land Ch 26

Sara F. Hathaway

Author Sara F. Hathaway is an individual with an insatiable urge for learning. She grew up in the woods of Michigan, fishing, hunting, gardening, canning, and horseback riding with her family. She loved to learn about the stories of times past from her great grandparents and grandparents. She learned about a time much different from our own when a trip to the grocery store was not all it took to make sure your family was fed. She delighted in the outdoors and learning how to survive there without the trappings of modern life.


After moving to the rural mountain landscape of California, she attended The California State University of Sacramento and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in General Business Management. She managed many businesses, all while working on the manuscript for her fictional novel, Day After Disaster. Eventually she realized that her passion for the outdoors and learning about survival techniques outweighed her passion for the business world. She took her marketing skills and applied them to launching a successful platform for her first novel, Day After Disaster and its sequel, Without Land.


Sara still lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons where she is at work on The Changing Earth Series. She delights in helping other authors find the same marketing success and enjoys her time that she gets to spend honing her survival skills while teaching these skills to her sons. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit:

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