Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
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I have to agree with the eBay suggestion, we just recently bought 10 yards of 60 inch wide sunbrella for $125.00. Also, you can buy the super expensive Tenara gore-tex thread online from a different vendor for $158.00 for 16 oz, it's $138.00 for 8 oz. at sailrite. They are definitely helpful and knowlegeable people over there, but definitely do not have the best prices.
As for sewing machines, check out the older Pfaff machines on ebay. We bought one locally on craigslist, it was used by a professional seamstress who worked for the J.L. Hudson company but is now retired. It's an absolute marvel of mid 20th century German engineering, the mechanism is so brilliantly simple (belt drive, and the belt is a piece of leather), that anyone who appreciates that sort of thing will love it.
They usually come mounted to a table and are belt driven by an external motor; the motor is absurdly oversized, I swear if you put the pedal down the thing will walk across the room. This beast will stitch together any two objects you can wrestle under the needle, just to test it my wife sewed 4 pieces of leather together. It's frickin' unbelievable. I haven't tried it but I swear you could sew a turtle to the back of a porcupine if you really wanted to.