John, I have a White home sewing machine that was advertised as "heavy duty." It's a very basic machine. I've made Sunbrella sail covers, tarps, winch covers, teak handrail covers, hatch covers of all sorts, tiller covers, fender covers, a cover for my inflatable dinghy, and other things that don't come to mind at the moment. Also, I've repaired other factory-made items. It's not terribly difficult, especially if you have an old one that you can take apart and use as a pattern. It takes me more time than it would a pro, but it saves a lot of money.
There are some things I haven't tried yet, such as a bimini top and a dodger. When they need to be replaced, I might have them done professionally, because they could look awful if you can't get them just right, and I might not be able to make them as strong with my lower powered machine. Nevertheless, if you have the patience, and a smidgen of ingenuity, it's well worth doing.
I'd say the most important thing is to learn how to use your machine. Most local sewing machine stores in my area offer free lessons, but you'll probably be the only man in the class, of course. If you act helpless, you'll get all the attention you need.