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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 04-07-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Does anyone have experience with a mainsail sail kit for a 30+ foot sailboat? I am building the courage to attempt sewing a mainsail from a kit provided by Sailrite. It would be my first attempt of this project scale. I now own the type of sewing machine necessary to do the work. I would appreciate hearing about good (hopefuly many)and bad (hopefullly few) experiences.
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Old 04-08-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Paul,

I have not done a complete kit, but have done sail work including converting a genoa for roller furling. I would not hesitate to take on a sail kit project (although since I race my boat, it would be nice to get a properly and efficiently shaped main for my boat, which I think is less likely in a self-made kit. This won''t be an issue for most cruiser/weekend sailors). I also added patches for two sets of reef points to my old main. When I brought the sail to our local loft to put rings in the patches, the owner was impressed with the quality of my homemade job done with an old Kenmore machine in my basement.

Aside from a good machine, the main thing you really should have is a large flat area that you can lay out the pieces to tack them together prior to sewing (and also having a big flat workspace makes sewing easier). Have you done any sort of canvas work? Have you been able to resasonably balance the spool and bobbin thread tension so that the interlock between the threads lies in the fabric layers? Can you feed large pieces of canvas fairly steadily through your machine and get reasonably evenly spaced stitching? With the right needles and a good machine with a heavy pulley, you can do trouble free seams through four or five layers of thick sailcloth. If you''ve got all these tools, what are you waiting for? Just imagine how great it will feel the first time you hoist your homegrown main!

Allen Flanigan
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Old 04-08-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

What type machine do you have and what oz cloth is being sewed?

A big part of this depends on how big the sail is. Folding the sail and sliding through the machine can be challenging if the arm is small. Dacron is slippery and presents problems if the material isn''t tacked first. The right size needle and thread make a huge difference. Use bonded dacron thread. Buy a pair of expensive 12" shears.

You may want to experience making the sail but money wise you can buy a mint used name brand sail from a broker for same or less money than doing the Sailrite.
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Old 04-09-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Sailrite appears to be top, top top retail pricing for everything. Considered it years ago, found it cheaper to have someone else who knew what they were doing make stuff. I''ve found life much simpler to buy used from Bacon Sails. A friend just ordered Hong Kong sails for his Endeavour 40 and several people in Coral Bay swear by the sails. Saving a lot of money, but I dunno about not being able to get to the sailmaker if something fucks up.
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Old 04-11-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Ditto with Bacon. I bought name brand sails from them that looked like they were never hanked on for less than half of new price.
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Old 04-11-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Thanks Allen and everyone else for the replies. In answer to Allen''s questions, I have done some canvas work and sail repair with a home machine - very frustrating. I also tackled (actually my wife) replacing the fabric on all interior cushions with sunbrella cloth. I now own a Sailrite type sewing machine that can go through multiple layers of material. So, I am intrigued with a bigger project to save some $''s but also to see if it can be a decent home project.

In response to the other replies about pricing, this is exactly my dilemna. If the cost differential is not significant enough, why do it? And, in my case, I can find a new sail, same weight cloth for about $400-500 more than the cost of doing it myself. So, it is worth the difference??? If I do decide to sew it myself, I will update the message with my experience. Thanks again to everyone. I''ll also look at Bacon again for a sail.
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Old 04-13-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Paul,

It''s likely the next "big" canvas work project I tackle will be a custom dodger/tent arrangement for my popup cabin top. There is not likely to be a source of "ready made" dodgers that could fit my boat like there are ready made biminis (I got one from Overtons). Doing it custom will allow me to make it fit my boat, not only in terms of dimensional fit,but also in terms of having features suited to how I want my boat set up(i.e. being able to connect the dodger to the bimini, deciding whether I want to integrate the poptop into the dodger, or make it so that the pop top can be raised or lowered independent of the dodger, installing pass throughs for any lines led to the cockpit that need access to cabin top winch, etc.) I agree that if you can find a decent set of used sails or a new bimini for less than what a sailrite kit would cost, your time and energy might be better spent on other projects, like wind scoops for your hatches, custom covers for your tiller, winch, sails, rub rail bumpers, seat cushions for the cockpit, sail covers integrated with your lazy jacks, etc. There''s lots of stuff you can try out your new sewing machine on with a little imagination. Plus, if you find a nice main from Bacon that doesn''t have reef points, there''s another project for you.

Enjoy your sailing machine and your boat!

Allen F.
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Old 04-15-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

Allen F: Well, I decided to give it a try and the new mainsail kit is on it''s way! It should arrive in 7-10 days. The Sailrite folks are very helpful and pledge their help and knowledge during the project. In the meantime, I am sewing a "fly" made from an older sail. (We don''t have a dodger or bimini yet) And, I intend to replace all the carpet sections in the boat by binding new carpet sections with the sewing machine. I will update the discussion as I move ahead with the sail.
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Old 04-15-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

You will find that the Sailrite kits are quite accurately shaped. Take your time and do a good job and your results will be much much better than from a mail-order loft.
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Old 05-26-2005
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Sail Kits - Sew it yourself sails

To bring closure to this message thread, I have completed the mainsail for our Pearson 32 and flew it for the first time last night. It was spectacular to note the end of sewing/hand stitching/production and beginning of it''s sailing life. I figure I had 50-60 hours total into this sail but enjoyed it all the way. The hand stitching was the most physically challenging of the whole project followed by managing the size of the lower panels in the limited room in my garage despite using every table we own for surface! The actual sewing was the least demanding of the project. All in all, I''ve learned a lot about sailmaking and found a whole new respect for the work sailmakers do in their lofts. Neophytes like me can get thru this if you have the time and space. I wouldn''t hesitate to sew another sail now having completed this first, more difficult one. The instructions and real time support from Jeff at Sailnet were on target, and with great depth and experience. The sewing machine performed flawlessly punching thru as many as 5 layers of 7 oz fabric and luff tape. The batten construction is very solid and the boltrope at the foot and luff is easier than I originally thought possible. I want to thank everyone who responded to my initial message with your thoughts and encouragement. I hope I can offer the same when you tackle your next sewing project.


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