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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 07-16-2003
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erl18 is on a distinguished road
Sail Repair- sewing machines

Hello-

We are preparing for a cruising life and are in the market for a sewing machine to make sail repairs, cushions, etc. Any suggestions folks have as to simple, portable machines that have served you well, we''d be most appreciative to hear. Thanks!

Ellen Landrum and John Broussard
Alberg 30 ''Rubicon''
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Old 07-16-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

We got the Sailrite machine. It takes some getting used to. But once figured out, it seems to do all right. And factory support is very good. But it is not cheap.
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Old 07-16-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

Husqvarna Viking! Bet you can find one cheep on e-bay or something.
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Old 07-22-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

I own a sewing shop and also collect sewing machines. my advice is to use any machine that will sew what you want to sew. Don''t spend money on an expensive "sailors" sewing machine.
Go to a yard sale and get a $10 older home type sewing machine. pre- electronic era. These were real workhouses. Adapt a heavy flywheel
or a bolt a heavy round slab of steel to the current flywheel. Add a hand crank. Do not consider not having a hand crank.
A heavy spinning flywheel turned by hand sews smooth and beautiful. You can also put the belt back on and use the motor if you like.
If you''re going cruising NOTHING is more important than dollars. I''m sure there are numerous places the money for a sewing machine can be better spent on items for your boat.
I''ve made a couple of these for cruisers.
They work well and the cost is free with scrounged parts.
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Old 07-22-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

This seems like very good advice after spending $1500 on sailrite products and having the thread bleed and stain my mainsail and deck (sailrite''s response was tough luck). Nothing is more important to sailrite than getting your cruising dollars!

Another alternative is to find a reasonable canvas shop or find a sewing machine repair shop and look for an old machine. I would suggest trying the machine on at least 6 layers of canvas/sunbrella. Happy Cruising.
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Old 07-22-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

A lot of people feel that a home type machine is adequate, and maybe it is for them.

My experience has been that the home type machines need a heavier flywheel to give them the inertia to push the needle through several layers of fabric. Converting to a heavier flywheel was mentioned earlier, but finding one may be elusive unless you are in the business. The other problem I''ve experienced with home type machines is the feed dog(the part that pushes the material through the machine), just isn''t up to pushing heavy/slippery material through the machine in a nice even manner that will give you neat stitching. You must help the machine feed the material (not too fast/not too slow, or you''ll break a needle!) It can be very discouraging!

Just imagine trying to feed your mainsail (rolled up tight so you can get it under the machine arm) keep the stitching going in a straight line, and being careful to help the machine feed the material at just the right speed so you don''t break a needle...it ain''t easy!! In fact it can be downright discouraging!

Home type machines that have been converted to handle heavier materials are well worth the extra cost if you really want to sew properly. If price is a major issue, keep your eyes open for a used one... the''re out there.

After giving up on my wife''s machine, I bought a well used Pffaf that had been converted. Bought it for $325.00. Used it for several years until I bought a new, better machine. Sold the old one for what I paid for it so it really didn''t cost me anything! The new owner was delighted to find it as he had gone the same route I had with home type machines.

Just my experience.

Jim
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Old 07-22-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

A lot of people feel that a home type machine is adequate, and maybe it is for them.

My experience has been that the home type machines need a heavier flywheel to give them the inertia to push the needle through several layers of fabric. Converting to a heavier flywheel was mentioned earlier, but finding one may be elusive unless you are in the business. The other problem I''ve experienced with home type machines is the feed dog(the part that pushes the material through the machine), just isn''t up to pushing heavy/slippery material through the machine in a nice even manner that will give you neat stitching. You must help the machine feed the material (not too fast/not too slow, or you''ll break a needle!) It can be very discouraging!

Just imagine trying to feed your mainsail (rolled up tight so you can get it under the machine arm) keep the stitching going in a straight line, and being careful to help the machine feed the material at just the right speed so you don''t break a needle...it ain''t easy!! In fact it can be downright discouraging!

Home type machines that have been converted to handle heavier materials are well worth the extra cost if you really want to sew properly. If price is a major issue, keep your eyes open for a used one... the''re out there.

After giving up on my wife''s machine, I bought a well used Pffaf that had been converted. Bought it for $325.00. Used it for several years until I bought a new, better machine. Sold the old one for what I paid for it so it really didn''t cost me anything! The new owner was delighted to find it as he had gone the same route I had with home type machines.

Just my experience.

Jim
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Old 07-23-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

sailingbob is carrying a grudge and it may be that it should be against himself and not Sailrite. I have used them extensively for many projects for 10 years.

My first (ever) sewing was canvas on the boat and I bought a used Pfaff from a reputable dealer and had good experience with it. As I improved and my projects became more sophisticated (and I had more money) I purchased the Sailrite Sailmaker and have been very happy with it. I have a friend who has the blue walking foot straight/zig zag machine and she is extremely satisfied.

Sailrite is always there to help you with the machine.
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Old 07-23-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

Please believe what I''m telling you here.
ALL SEWING MACHINES ARE BASICLY THE SAME
They all sew the same stitches.
these are facts
Older singer home machines are often the same as commercial machines
Phaff machines are great but parts and attachments are expensive and harder to locate. Some interchange.
Feed problems- needles breaking. Operator problems. learn to sew. Don''t expect a machine to do what you can''t.
Singer machines have very inexpensive feed dogs, needle plates and attachments that can sew anything and can be located almost anywhere in the world.
For the other than arm chair cruiser that''s a big issue.
Ya you can probably get a feed og for a singer machine in Borneo
New machines- less corrosion problem since the gears are plastic instead of bronze. (sarcasm intended)
Who cares if they''re expensive, don''t last and strip faster than a hurried hooker.
sail cloth???? You''re afraid of sail cloth?
A light weight, very easy to sew material.
Come on people. That''s the least of your sewing problems.

Major fact
Feed is a matter of friction. The right amount to sew ANYTHING can be easlly regulated with feed dogs, feet, teflon gadgets. . All easy to find singer parts. Also stuff you can get at Wal Mart. But go to the dealer if you feel 10 times the price makes it better. A simple piece of paper can solve a feed problem a lot better than spending $1000 on a machine. Ask anybody in a sewing message board if you have a problem. Lack of knowledge not machinery is the only problem you''re likely to have.
Remember this. COMMERCIAL- INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH etc. Is often a marketing scheme.
Everything you need to know about sewing and machines is easy to get from a simple sewing group just like the one we''re reading now.
Any problems you feel I might be able to help with.
Please e-mail me. Sailing people have been so great to me with all the information I can handle. I''d be more than happy to be as helpful as they were to me.
After thought.
Do you really want a NO NAME machine?
Sail rite means nothing to anybody in the sewing business-
Singer- juki- brother ok that''s a machine
The sewing industry in the US collapsed. It''s gone. All the machines we sew on are manual machines. They''re obsolete. So is sewing. Sewing is now an unskilled trade done by anybody on automated machines.
Interesting point.
Commercial sewing machine dealers, a few are still here, most went bankrupt, have warehouses of used industrial machines just
collecting dust. I added a few to my shop for pennies on the dollar.
If you have a serious interest in doing a lot of boat realted sewing keep in mind that loads of great machinery are actually being trucked to the dump. It''s not hard to find a good machine.
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Old 07-23-2003
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Sail Repair- sewing machines

I have three sewing machines...an expensive Singer machine that breaks down alot, a less expensive Sears Kenmore machine that has needed repairs twice in 24 years...and a six dollar very old no name treadle machine that I bought at a yard sale 30 years ago. It has never needed repairing... just cleaning and oiling. When I am making sail repairs or sewing canvas tarps, I use that $6.00 machine everytime.
Sometimes expense and brand do not necessarily mean your needs will be met.

However with fabric it is often better to go with the best quality, which sometimes means more cost. Often it is a cheaper dye that is used to cut cost which means there may be bleeding or rapid fading. I have access to all grades of canvas and I choose the best quality everytime for that reason.

Kokopuff
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