Sewing Machine Advice Needed - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-19-2009
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Walking foot

From Wikipedia,

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Feed dogs are the feeder mechanism in a sewing machines which is typically used to pull fabric through a sewing mechanism.

A set of feed dogs typically resembles two or three short, thin metal bars, crosscut with diagonal furrows, which move back and forth in grooves slightly larger than the bars. The type of motion used (forward, then down, then backwards, then up) serves to pull the fabric through, since the "dogs" are in contact with the material on the forward stroke, and are pulled down below the main plate on the backward stroke by the sewing machine's mechanism. The result is that, between stitches, the fabric is pulled along in discrete steps.
Feed Dogs work from underneath the fabric. A Walking Foot provides a similar coordinated feeder mechanism from the top, so that the two layers of fabric feed through without slipping out of alignment. This is useful for boat sewing, since much of the fabric is stiff and/or slippery, and does not like to STAY PUT unless strongly spoken to and dealt with.

I have a $300 Singer I bought new; seems to be working ok, but is struggling to feed the heavier fabrics. I've done alot of sewing, so I've got strategies to make the thing work; however, I have an older Singer model (Golden Touch & Sew), that is gear driven (as opposed to the newer belt driven models) that I suspect would feed and handle the fabric better.

If you decide to go for an older Singer, I'd look for the gear driven ones.
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-19-2009
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Makes sense, now I get why SailRite recommends it.

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post #13 of 20 Old 06-19-2009
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At risk of repeating myself, I think one will find the new Casey book worth the price of purchase just for the information on finding a used but capable machine for sailmaking, all on it's own. The treasure trove of other information on matters of boat restoration is similarly priceless.

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post #14 of 20 Old 06-19-2009
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We've got a new Sailrite and an old Kenmore (from the days when Kenmore was all-metal). LOVE the Sailrite! 8 layers of Sunbrella, no problem. Isinglass, no problem. And as MMR explained, the walking foot makes all the seams flat and sturdy. Can you consider buying a Sailrite (new or used) for your project and then selling it when you're done? I'm pretty experienced at sewing and the sailrite has improved every boat project we've done. (bimini, upholstery, and (attention CD) a cover for our barbeque grill.
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post #15 of 20 Old 06-20-2009
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Both of my parents are upholsterers and I've done plenty of cushions and canvas. You will probably never use zig-zag on cushions, canvas, or curtains. You will use it on sails.
To sew several layers of heavy material you must have a walking foot or it will be miserable.
You can sew up a pair of undies for granny without the walking foot, but that's about it.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-20-2009 Thread Starter
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Today we're driving down to Annapolis to check out the sailrites in person.

Thanks for the tip on the Don Casey book, I need to try and dig up a copy somewhere.

Jim
1973 P33-1 s/v "Tipota"
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post #17 of 20 Old 06-20-2009
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Hi all

Last week got a quote from the "dodger making guy" for a price to replace the Sunbrella on my dodger. This morning I spent some time with the owner of "Sewing World" here where I live.

Bottom line:

He says - I (me only):

do not need zig zag
do need walking foot
do need a good strong machine
used is fine - especially pre-1965 - mostly good metal parts then

(According to him (his opinion only) Sailrite is good but over priced for what you get.)

I have seen Sailrite on-line for about $500.00 or so.

My good news is I expect the dodger and bimini to easily get me through at least one more season after this one so I have 18 months to find what I want.

Good thread.

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post #18 of 20 Old 06-20-2009
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When I took stock last year I found that to buy all the canvas projects I wanted for my boat would be somewhere in the 12 to 15 thousand dollar vicinity if ordered retail. That was scary. I instead opted for buying the Sailrite zig zag machine. Over the winter I made all new cushions (six large for sleeping and countless others for comfort/storage), a mainsail stackpack cover, a storm jib, all the cones for a jordan series drogue, a parachute storm anchor, FWG locker cubbies, sheet bags and some fender holders for the cockpit lockers. I'm not half way through my list of to-do's, which still has - rebuild dodger, new bimini, storm trysail, binnacle cover etc, etc, etc......

I recommend sailrite as a great place for supplies. As someone who has done a fair bit of hand sewing (rebuilding spinnakers on long ocean races after taking the lead in blowing them out was a specialty of mine - especially the blowing them out part!) but I was completely innocent of sewing machine work. I found their instructional videos invaluable, the ones on how to use their machines and the ones that were project specific. They are great if you are starting from zero, as I was. There is a confidence quotient that comes from actually seeing something being done, as opposed to reading about it or trying to reinvent the wheel by not getting any reference.

Sailrite is a bit more expensive than you could probably find on the internet if you know what you are looking for, but I love the convenience of looking at their catalog, finding exactly what I need and then ordering the part or the kit, complete with instruction and having the thing arrive a few days later.

I am no expert on sewing machines, having only used two in my life, my wife's home machine and my Sailrite. I can say that when working on large projects the walking foot feature makes life easier and I like the zig zag feature that has permitted me both to make and to repair sails. I'll post some pic soon (camera is on the boat and it's raining on the east coast for a change)

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post #19 of 20 Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archis View Post
Today we're driving down to Annapolis to check out the sailrites in person.

Thanks for the tip on the Don Casey book, I need to try and dig up a copy somewhere.
Hey, Archis! Was just in Sailrite this am. Busy there today, with all the rain we're having!
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post #20 of 20 Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMR View Post
Hey, Archis! Was just in Sailrite this am. Busy there today, with all the rain we're having!
In Sailrite... I'm jealous! Raining again in RI now too.

Looking forward to the pics, genieskip. Perhaps we need a "show me your recent canvas and cushion work" thread.

Hylas 47
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