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Thread: Making a custom dark cloth?

  1. #1
    Jeff D. Welker
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    205

    Making a custom dark cloth?

    I'm returning to LF after a long hiatus and need a new dark cloth. I'm extremely picky about such things, so using a black t-shirt just doesn't feed the bull dog for me. I've been researching numerous posts/threads on this forum regarding the subject of dark cloths. Based upon my reading and others comments, I've concluded that a "GnassGear™ Dark Cloth" would be just what I'd want. Of course, I'm late to that dance and Messrs. Gnass appears to be long out of that business. Accordingly, I'm going to either have one made that is similar or make it myself.

    Just to be clear on my level of pickiness, I've played with friends dark cloths and don't like either the BTZS or Harrison offerings - too stiff, feels plasticy (sp?), and did not work well with my Arca.

    Here are my desired spec's:

    1. A light weight material that is close-woven and feels like cotton - soft, pliable, drapes well.
    2. Tape all edges.
    3. Light tan on the outside and dark grey/charcoal on the inside.
    4. 38"x42" in size.
    5. 1lb or slightly over in weight.
    6. Details: A little loop for hanging it off the rail of my Arca. Snaps, velcro, and a bit of elastic on the business end to hold it around the rear standard.

    Any recommendations on materials and/or individuals that could help me get this made would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Salmo22; 25-May-2017 at 09:55.

  2. #2
    4x5 rookie
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    21

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    I am currently having one made by a local tailor. Been there a few times now to discuss exactly what I want and to do some trial fitting. This weekend I hopefully have one that is perfectly tailored to the camera and my needs. I think any decent tailor can help you on that front. Less than one block from the tailor is a fabric wholesale. They helped me pick the right fabrics. Perhaps you have something similar near you? Actually feeling and seeing the fabric was very helpful.

    Roy

  3. #3
    Jeff D. Welker
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    205

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by RocketScientist90 View Post
    I am currently having one made by a local tailor. Been there a few times now to discuss exactly what I want and to do some trial fitting. This weekend I hopefully have one that is perfectly tailored to the camera and my needs. I think any decent tailor can help you on that front. Less than one block from the tailor is a fabric wholesale. They helped me pick the right fabrics. Perhaps you have something similar near you? Actually feeling and seeing the fabric was very helpful.

    Roy
    Terrific idea on the tailor angle Roy - thank you. I recently found my Dad's old dark cloth and it has just the right light weight material. Unfortunately it isn't nearly big enough and it is over 60-years old, so somewhat fragile for regular work. There is a Jo-Ann's fabric store near my home that has a very large selection of fabrics. There is also an REI Outdoors store in the area that sells light weight fabric for a variety of outdoor uses. I'll pay both a visit soon and see what I find.

    If anyone has a GnassGear dark cloth and could post a photograph, that would be both appreciated and very helpful in my layout of the "details" such as the loop for hanging, snaps, velcro, etc.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Brookfield, Vic., Aust.
    Posts
    418

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    Jeff, I made my own sometime in the 80s and use it to this day. I just used plain medium wright cotton, one piece black, the other white. It's so long ago that I can't remember the exact specifications, but I remember choosing the thickness based on optical density - the black layer being almost opaque on its own. I sowed the two pieces together on three sides, then turned it inside out and finished the remaining side by turning the edges inward and sewing them closed. I didn't tape the edges, but there is no reason not to. I can't tell you the weight of it as I'm not at home at the moment. The beauty of making your own or having one specifically made, is that you can get what you want. The interesting thing with mine is that I prefer to use it in preference to a commercial one I picked up in an equipment purchase, even though my sewing is not a patch on the commercial one. Good luck, I hope you end up with exactly what you need.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    381

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    My wife has made a few for me over the years. Like Barry, mine are white on the outside and black on the inside, and the fabrics used were determined based on their ability to retard light. It was years ago now, but I remember carrying bolts of fabric over to large windows at our local Jo-Ann's and holding each up to see how much light came through the fabric. Thinking about it now, anyone in the store must have thought we were a little strange!

    No idea of the weight--my 8x10 cloth is quite a bit bigger than my 4x5 sizes--but they're each as light as we could get while still maintaining decent density of the cloth. I don't like zippers, velcro, etc, for any of my darkcloths, but I do like small drapery weights in the corners to help in the wind. To ensure a very dark environment for focusing after composition considerations, I simply wrap the cloth around under my face to block light from the bottom; I use magnifying eyeglasses rather than a loupe, therefore both hands are free.

    Anyway, IMO it's better to make your own (or have it made) because you can design exactly what you want.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Madisonville, LA
    Posts
    1,402

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    I had Daniel Stone make me a great, large Dark Cloth for my 11x14 to my specs. He was fast and reasonable. If I needed something special, I'd be contacting Daniel. He also makes great camera wraps. You can find him through this list. L

  7. #7
    Jeff D. Welker
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    205

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    I had Daniel Stone make me a great, large Dark Cloth for my 11x14 to my specs. He was fast and reasonable. If I needed something special, I'd be contacting Daniel. He also makes great camera wraps. You can find him through this list. L
    Terrific idea Luis. I have sent a PM to Mr. Stone via this forum and his Facebook page. No reply yet, but I hope to hear from him soon. Looks like he could help me achieve my goal. BTW, what material did you use for you dark cloth? What were your other specs?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Location
    Oregon and Austria
    Posts
    1,918

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    My dark cloth I made from white GoreTex fabric lined with a lightweight black material (chosen by feel at a fabric store). Velcro is sewn along the edges so I can close it around the camera. Doubles as a reflector, rain poncho and Superman cape. My sewing machine was not up to the task, so I had a pro do the actual sewing. I got my GoreTex from an online vendor. REI might have something similar. Waterproof is good; it has saved my camera from getting soaked a couple of times now (I didn't fare so well thogh).

    Best,

    Doremus

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Posts
    89

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    My dark cloth is made by Paramo to the specifications of a well known landscape photographer in the UK.

    It's soft, light and waterproof with an elasticated collar for holding it the the camera.

    Mike

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Madisonville, LA
    Posts
    1,402

    Re: Making a custom dark cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Salmo22 View Post
    Terrific idea Luis. I have sent a PM to Mr. Stone via this forum and his Facebook page. No reply yet, but I hope to hear from him soon. Looks like he could help me achieve my goal. BTW, what material did you use for you dark cloth? What were your other specs?
    He sometimes takes a little time to answer, and he sometimes travels out of the country. He's incredibly reliable and will work with you. If you need his Email, just PM me. L

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