01-26-2011, 02:30 PM
Not specifically bike related, but that thread on panniers (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?p=25462#post25462) and stitching reminded me of one of my favorite tools, the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl (http://www.speedystitcher.com/). Mine is in its third decade and going strong. For $10 (REI price) it will probably pay for itself the first time you fix something with it. I've fixed backpacks, stuff sacks, luggage, ski-pole straps, shoes and boots, dog leashes, car upholstery, sails, and - soon! - panniers. Use it on heavy denim, canvas, nylon including cordura, straps and webbing, leather including heavy & thick, vinyl, rubberized and neoprene fabrics, etc. The thread is wax-impregnated polyester for strength, durability and ease of handling. It's not blazing fast like a sewing machine but it is small and simple enough that it could even go on an extended trip (it's common expedition gear) and a few minutes of hand-crafting with it can often fix what might otherwise be catastrophic gear failures.