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03/06/2020 09:47AM  
After mulling over the idea for the last few years the bug finally bit last December and I decided I wanted to make a bridge hammock. I've used a gathered end one for a couple nights camping in shoulder seasons and it was alright, but I never really got a flat lay. Mostly my hammocking experience has been as a lounge spot while camping.

I've had my mom's Singer for about a decade now. She bought in the early 60s as her first real "adult" belonging after graduating college. When I was a kid she made costumes for school plays and Halloween using it, plus all the typical uses for a sewing machine like repairing clothing and such. It's a good machine, built during the transitional period when Singer was starting to introduce nylon and plastic components for the inner workings. This particular machine, a Touch & Sew 626, has all steel gears inside and with occasional maintenance will probably be one of my kids' someday.

I started with a bridge hammock kit with all the hardware from Ripstop by the Roll, plus some additional amsteel, a bugnet pattern, 7 yards of no see um mesh, zipper tape, zippers, thread, and an additional yard of the same fabric for the hammock to use for pockets. Eventually I'll place a couple additional orders for some shock cord, more zipper tape, and other sewing notions.

Sewing the hammock together was pretty straightforward although my construction skills are a little rusty from being limited to Scout patches for the last few years. I also quickly learn that rolled hems aren't nearly as easy as all the YouTube videos make them out to be. Despite my efforts to take care I have to redo a few seams because of mistakes.

I quickly discover that Amsteel is fun to make stuff with and after getting the proper sized yard needle the dogbones are quickly produced. I also realize that I'm going to need to hang test this thing eventually. Some research and a little math later I have some 3/4" holes in the floor joists above the drop ceiling spaced about 25' apart. Cam straps normally used for cartopping the fleet get run thru the holes to create loops that I can attach tree straps onto, then connect the hammock to the tree straps with carabiners. I also make some continuous loops out of the remnant Amsteel and larks head the suspension dogbones to it, and then larks head descender rings to the other side of the loop. The rings will make a good water break for the suspension.

I've decided that I want a more open net than what HikingDad/BIC shows in his videos. I ruined a couple yards of the no see um mesh making my first attempt at a net... My original plan for the net was to trace the head half of the pattern onto the foot half and cut that out. What I produced was a lovely looking net that ended up being about 2' short in circumference! Of course I didn't discover this error until I was sewing the zipper onto the hammock after first sewing it to the net. D'oh! At least I can salvage the zipper and I'm sure the remnant net will be good for something, maybe ditty bags or baffles for some maybe someday underquilt...... This throws a wrench into what's been steady progress to this point.

After some research and regrouping I realize that I'm going to need to make a pattern from scratch. Thankfully I ordered excess net and have enough on hand. I sketched out what was in my head and basically made a convex clone of the hammock body blank. The final draft of the plans called for an 10" rise in the curve between the head and foot ends, which would necessitate crafting the net from two pieces of fabric. After plotting out the pattern onto newsprint, tracing it onto the fabric, cutting, and sewing the pieces together I then used binder clips and clothes hangers to hang the net from a zing-it ridgeline I created for the net and added to the dogbone bundles on each end. This test showed me that a 10" rise was a good 3" too much and the net would have too much excess fabric once completed... not good, BUT the head and foot ends matched up with the hammock and the sides are the correct lengths!

Back to the newspaper pattern I re-plotted the curve for a 7" height, traced, and cut the excess netting off. I also crafted some grosgrain pads and loops for suspending the net & made a pair of zing-it continuous loops which got tied into prusiks for the head and foot ends. I painstakingly pinned the new zipper to the hammock body first then the net to the zipper. Finally, I pinned the pads with their loops onto the net & gingerly pulled up the net. Success!

I still have to sew it all together and make other finishing touches but I'm glad to be at the point I'm at. This hammock will be used at Scout camp this summer & in the BWCA when our Troop goes in July. Ultimately I will get or make a purpose built tarp to use with it and in the meantime have some Guide Gear tarps with which I'm hoping to get by.
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03/06/2020 12:26PM  
Nice looking hammock Mirth! Your design work on the bug net is impressive too. I like how much space you have. No claustrophobic netting right in your face.

Have you tried rolled hem feet? I got a cheap set off Amazon. It's kind of tricky to get the fabric looped into the foot when you start a stitch but they work really slick once you get going.

Have you had a chance to lay in it yet?
03/06/2020 12:38PM  
Yes, having space to be able to move around was a requirement & I wasn't too fond of the original design of having just the head end pulled up. I guess my design was somewhat inspired by the half dome air hammock that REI seems to be discontinuing... Maybe I should pick up the UQ as I understand that it fits the Ridgerunner so it should fit this too. For $50 its probably cheaper than I could make one on my own.

Re: rolled hem feet I haven't been able to find any for my machine.... My Singer is a slant foot that doesn't do the snap on feet. I did find an overcast foot recently that I'm considering, it would let you use a zig-zag stitch to do a poor-man's serge on fabric edges.

I have slept in it one night so far in the basement & my youngest (8) likes to read books in it. He also took an extended nap in it one afternoon after a late night at a Cub Scout overnight. Like any new sleep system I think it'll take a few times before it starts to be more comfortable. It definitely feels nice to stretch out in it for shorter periods of time.
03/06/2020 01:41PM  
I have a singer 328k from the early 60's that has the same type of foot as yours. I don't know what the sewing term is for it. I just asked at the local sewing store for a quick connect adapter. The lady was able to figure out what I wanted and got me one of these so I can use snap on feet with the old singer.

03/06/2020 02:56PM  
Thank you! I had no idea or even considered that such a thing existed.
03/06/2020 04:26PM  
Hopefully one of the more knowledgeable people here can tell you what the actual name of it so you don't have to sound like an idiot at the sewing store like I did. ;)
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03/06/2020 05:01PM  
Solid work! The net design is pretty cool: let us know how it performs when you take it out. No worries on getting the seams straight: you’ll get better after a few practice projects.

Also, yeah amsteel and zing it are super fun to splice! After learning eye splices and back splices I want ALL my tarp and canoe lines to have finished ends!

My advice for sewing outdoor fabrics is using “wonder clips”. So much better than pins and I consider them almost mandatory. They also have small measuring markings on them to help keep seams uniform.
03/06/2020 05:07PM  
I'm thinking on pulling the trigger on REI's synthetic UQ to go with this. It's just over $50 right now & have dividend to cover so it's basically $0. I figure worst case I can return it and then spend my dividend on something else, right? REI UQ It seems like it should work, maybe the underquilt will come up a little higher than desired on the sides?
03/07/2020 08:34AM  
Fine work! What's the finished weight of the hammock & netting? (w/out bars & suspension)? Is it a single layer or double?
03/09/2020 10:46AM  
I ordered the underquilt & will report on fit when it comes in.

I just finished stitching it together Saturday night. I'll try to get it weighed soon & post after I make sure all the seams are tight. I noticed that on one of the saddlebag junctions that the zipper tape's stitches are a little loose. This is a spot where the machine is going through 7 layers of fabric including the 1/2" webbing. I also made a bishop bag out of the material they sent for a stuff sack.

Where did you get the wonderclips from?
03/09/2020 10:55AM  
Also, I totally want to make all my ropes out of Amsteel now.
03/09/2020 11:54PM  
I just recently discovered how cool amsteel is too. I think it's the OCD in me, but spliced loops look so much cleaner than paracord with knots. I've been replacing all my tent and tarp tie outs with zing it. If you haven't discovered them already look up soft shackles on YouTube. It's a really cool way to make lightweight carabiners.
03/10/2020 07:34AM  
Beavers: "I just recently discovered how cool amsteel is too. I think it's the OCD in me, but spliced loops look so much cleaner than paracord with knots. I've been replacing all my tent and tarp tie outs with zing it. If you haven't discovered them already look up soft shackles on YouTube. It's a really cool way to make lightweight carabiners. "

+2; I started messing with Amsteel in the last few weeks...awesome stuff. Just ordered more - love all you can do with it, and may not have much of a use for paracord going forward.
03/10/2020 11:40AM  
It's a single layer hammock, made with RSBTR's Airwave fabric.

I've got a full 25' hank of silver and partials of silver and black leftover from the project, so there's definitely more playing with Amsteel in my future. When I made the 3" continuous loops out of zing it I also considered a soft shackle and see myself adding a few to the arsenal.

Here's the finished photos. I went back over one transition from body to pocket as I noticed the stitching was loose, Everywhere else is tight and I think I'm ready to test outside. I made the ties at the foot out of 12" pieces of 1/4" grosgrain. If I could do it over (and who says I can't?) I would have used 16 or 18" pieces to have a little extra to tie bows with. As it is now, I can really only get square knots tied which is fine but is a little more fumbly.
I also think adding a couple cat curves to the ridgeline of the bugnet would have helped to keep it a little more taut.

I closed up the foot end with a piece of 1" satin ribbon I had in my sewing table. Apparently I had no 1" grosgrain. It's a near color match, just a few shades lighter.

Finished weight of the hammock is 22.7oz with the descender rings. I kind of consider them to be part of the hammock & not suspension... With the pair of 36" bars it's 10oz heavier.

Not pictured - I made some simple tree straps with a boxed loop on one end. Each is about 12' long which I figure should work for most situations.
03/12/2020 09:24AM  
Again, great work.

Do you plan to use a pad or an underquilt?
03/12/2020 09:27AM  
I'm fairly new to hammocking so long term, who knows? For the time being I've used my Exped 9LW in it once or twice & grabbed one of REI's underquilts for the quarter dome air during the recent extra 25% off clearance. I figure $0 (dividend) was fair to gamble to see if it will work and worst case I can return it if it doesn't.

Something I pondered on Facebook that mostly went over people's heads - I think for future iterations of this hammock, should there be one, I would want to modify the bugnet slightly from how it is now. I feel that instead of a flat ridgeline, putting a couple gentle catenary curves between the mid & head/foot points will help to apply more even tension across the net & minimize loose fabric flop.
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03/14/2020 08:36PM  
Super nice looking hammock. I really like the looks. Hope it works well for you.
08/05/2020 02:59PM  

Hammock worked like a champ last week! Was comfy & slept like a baby every night. Did not wake up any morning sore.
My gamble on the REI Quarter Dome underquilt was a winner, it fits the bic bridge very well.
Grandma L
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08/05/2020 04:53PM  
Very nice - Glad it worked out so well!
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