Sewing – Learn the Basic Sewing Skills You Need in a Survival Situation

What would you say are some important skills that one would need in a survival or disaster scenario? Finding and preparing water and food, being able to defend yourself, and having first aid and navigational skills probably come to mind. Well, have you ever thought of sewing as being a top survival skill that you should learn?


You don’t have to be a professional sewer by any means in a survival situation. Nonetheless, simply learning basic sewing skills is not only an important survival skill to have, it’s an important life skill. With sewing skills, you can repair clothing, fix a tear in your tarp or tent, and suture an open wound.

In this article, we are going to outline some basic survival needs that require sewing, and then discuss how you can use sewing to fulfill those needs. At the end of this article, we will cover the necessity of a complete sewing kit as part of your large survival kit and what specifically needs to be in it.

Repairing A Button

Clothing fasteners today come in the form of Velcro, snaps, zippers, and buttons. Fasteners are necessary for keeping your clothes on, but should any of them become in need of repair in a survival situation, the button is the best substitute for any of these things.

Start by passing your sewing thread through a piece of beeswax in order to wax it. Waxing your thread will make it more thick and durable, meaning that the buttons can be secured for longer periods of time.

Run your needle and thread through the fabric via the back side and then exiting through the front side. Repeat this at least two or three times so that the thread is fully anchored, and then bring it through the button’s holes. Run the thread through the button’s holes at least two or three times each.

Run the needle back through the fabric and to fully anchor it, run it around the existing threads at least twice. This will be your best defense against the thread unraveling and the buttons becoming loose. Bring the needle back through the inside of your garment. Use at least two stitches to finish the job.

Repairing Clothes With Patching


Clothing naturally wears down overtime, and it is guaranteed to wear down even faster in a survival situation because of the heavy duty tasks that you will be completing. Fortunately, you can extend the life of your garments as long as possible by placing another piece of fabric over a worn or torn part of the existing garment, and securing it with stitching.

Many people believe that patches should be sewn onto the outside of the garments, but the reality is that they will be more secured and last longer if they are sewn to the inside. If you want your patches to look as low profile as you possibly can, the color and texturing of it will need to closely match that of the garment.

Start by using a knife to cut a patch into your desired size. It needs to be larger than the actual site of damage on the garment.

Fold the edges of your patch and pin them to the garment’s inside. Again, your patch needs to be larger than the actual damage site, so the edges will need to go beyond the damage even when folded in this manner.

Stitch down the patch with your needle and thread, starting by pushing it through the patch on the inside of the garment and then exiting through the outside. Use a zigzag pattern for the most durability. Complete this all the way around the patch and clothing.

Repairing Seams, Tent Tearing And Open Wound

Seams are what hold your clothes together, and if they fail, the entire piece of clothing will fall apart. That’s why it’s vitally important that you hold your seams together if you want your clothes to be of any use. Fortunately, you can use your sewing skills to repair any unraveling or damaged seams.

NOTE: the same process for repairing seams on clothing can also be used for repairing tears on tents, ripped seams on backpacks, and for suturing wounds.

Keep the edges of your garment as flat as possible, so that the edges of the seam match up with one another. Start where the stitching in the seams is solid, and then work your way up the torn seam line by passing your way through the no empty holes. Once the seam has been repaired, make a knot to secure the thread.

You would follow this same principle with repairing a torn tent or for suturing a wound. Suturing a wound is really a different topic on its own, since you also need to keep the victim conscious, keep a cool compress on their head, and stop or slow down the bleeding before beginning the process.

Sewing Kit

No true survival kit is complete without a sewing kit. It gives you a means to repair clothing, tents, and backpacks, and to suture up a wound. But the real beauty of a sewing kit is how small and light it can be. The following items can easily be kept in a light case that won’t add much weight or mass to your backpack:

  • Buttons (various sizes)
  • Duct Tape (for added strength, especially on tents and tarp)
  • Needles (various sizes)
  • Patches (color and material of choice)
  • Scissors (small)
  • Thimble
  • Thread (preferably nylon, but fishing line works too)

Take the time to practice your sewing skills on any ripped clothing that you have right now. The last time you want to practice your sewing skills for the first time is in a survival situation where you can’t afford to waste time messing up and trying again. Instead, sewing should already be second nature to you once you actually find yourself in a true survival or disaster scenario.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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