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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 03-14-2008
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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.
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John,
I've been repairing my own canvas for years on three of our past boats, starting back in '85 by restitching a full-camper canvas, replacing isenglass and zippers. The project came out surprisingly well for my first boat-canvas attempt.

Essentially, the old panels were used as a template and I simply followed the stitching patterns of the original. It was fairly straight forward work, with a shallow learning curve for me. Initially, only a couple of short runs went off course a bit. This was corrected by pulling the bad stitches and resewing.

I did have some upholstering experience a few years before, during a project I designed and built for us involving entire sets of living/dining room furniture, still have the sofa/chair and end table in the family room. I cut and stitched all cushion covers - after doing much reading on the subject. We still get comments on how well-made the set is.

I did not purchase a Sailrite, or commercial grade machine dedicated for heavy duty sewing. Instead, used a '60s era all metal, Singer sewing machine - a family hand-down. Amazingly heavy duty machine, but still limited to 4-5 layers of canvas weight material.

It was used for a custom sun awning I designed and fabricated for the last boat, which came out very well. We saved a ton of money through the years by doing all the work myself. I would say though, a certain amount of talent is necessary - especially with layout, design and eye/hand craftsman skills.
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Old 03-14-2008
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Thanks for the feedback, Sailormon and TB.

Quote:
I would say though, a certain amount of talent is necessary - especially with layout, design and eye/hand craftsman skill.
I hesitate a bit here, as I am not particularly gifted in the fine motorskills department. I'm better with big hammers and the larger powertools.
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  #14  
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I have a heavy duty all metal Bernina machine, this is a home machine not a true commercial machine. The machine is up to the task and easily sews thick leather or 6 layers of sunbrella. I however am not very talented with cloth and found getting good results on the projects to be more difficult than I thought they would be. I've pulled off tiller covers and salon cushion covers and similar projects but I paid to have a new dodger made last year. I have found repairs to be pretty straight forward and things like leather chafe gear very easy.

My advice would be to borrow a machine and try a simple project before making the investment in a nice machine of your own. See if you like it and see if you have the aptitude.

Allthough I got a Berninna machine instead of a Sailrite I have bought a ton of stuff from Sailrite and have found them to be a first class shop with excellent inventory and helpful staff.

Good luck

Last edited by Lion35; 03-14-2008 at 05:51 PM. Reason: spelling
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I recently got involved with doing some sewing work myself and have really enjoyed it. I've helped with making a mainsail for a Soverel 30, a spinnaker for a J29, and an assemblage of seat cushions and whatnot. In general, it's work that anybody can do, but there are definitely some tricks to it that are not obvious.

What I found to be really helpful in getting started learning about doing sewing work was to take a course at the local technical college. It cost me about $30, but having an experienced upholsterer and sailor teaching the class was invaluable. Also, the access to heavy-duty sewing machines was very nice for working on difficult portions of the project, such as the reinforcement patches near the head, tack, clew, and reef points.

Finally, to keep this post on topic, the instructor was a great resource for sewing machine advice. She was able to explain what manufacturers had repair shops in the area, what features to look for in sewing machines, etc.
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Good advice. Sewing machines are like radars: everyone thinks "how hard can it be? I'll just sit down and get to work"...but the reality is that even basic training yields huge dividends.
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Old 03-15-2008
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Azura - I am *SO* sorry that happened to you. I use eBay often for purchases. Paypal should be able to help you, but the time limit may be past. I had to go through them a couple times to resolve stuff, took a long time though. As well - we have KP44 #153 (used to be Aurora), haven't been on the KP group much since the refit has slowed due to work, but still around. When I saw your sig I just wanted to say hi from one KP to another.

JohnRPollard - I just purchased the Sailrite LSZ-1 (blue one)... it arrived 2 days ago. I have been watching the videos and I am even more impressed now than when I purchased it. Solid metal (except wheel and knob covers, but those are automobile plastic - solid) parts, and HEAVY. I like the posi pin design and I can actually see how things work since everything is accessible underneath. When I ordered it all, I also got the CD collection and the 'Utrafeed Set-up & use' DVD and the 'Adv. Maintenance' DVD as well. When it shipped Sailrite sent me the usual email, but they also said they didn't send the two DVDs I ordered - they were included free with the new machine. It's a little thing, but I thought that was real nice of them. Saved me $40.

I have yet to sew anything on the machine though, since my sunbrella doesn't arrive until Tuesday (got it someplace else). But I am taking measurements and making plans so I can get started as soon as it arrives.

I had been using an old Husquvarna machine to make up some handrail covers for Sand Dollar. I did it to show my hubby I can actually sew, he heard rumors but never saw anything I had done. But since they turned out great, he let me get my new LSZ along with the 'loadit' option. I wanted this machine not only for the thick projects that my machine struggled with but to take with us on our future cruising plans.

I count at least 14 projects I want to do on Sea Monkey ranging from tiller cover to dodger. I am doing these as practice (esp. the dodger and bimini) for the projects I want to do on Sand Dollar. I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of doing a dodger (I don't have an old one to copy), but I got the CD's and they look fairly straight forward. I would start with the simpler projects and work my way up to the more complex ones, but you should do just fine. By the time I'm all done, my hubby will have plenty of proof I can sew... still won't hem his pants though, too much work.

Lori
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  #18  
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I just picked up a Pfaff 360 today for $200. Nice solid machine. Got some canvas projects planned for this season.
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Old 03-15-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I just picked up a Pfaff 360 today for $200. Nice solid machine. Got some canvas projects planned for this season.
You must have missed this sweet deal on a vintage Phaff 360 for only $15.00 . . .

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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