Sewing Machine onboard... Which one? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 79 Old 01-12-2016 Thread Starter
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Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

Hi, I've been sewing for sixty years and for the very first time am planning to purchase a sewing machine of my choosing (I've always used hand-me-downs). I'm looking for some input from people who sew while living on their boats. I want to buy the right sewing machine to be able to do minor sail repairs and work canvas for both myself and others.
Also if you do own an onboard sewing machine, where and how do you store it for reasonably ready access on your boat? We have a J37, which isn't particularly large, but I think of a sewing machine as somewhat of a necessity.
Many thanks! Cande
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post #2 of 79 Old 01-12-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

I have a Sailrite long arm... It is heavy duty enough and can be driven with a 12v motor at least on canvas work and has a hand wheel. I bought it used (almost perfect) for $300...a veritable steal for a $2000+ machine. I bought this on recommendation of a full time canvas/cushion/sailmaker friend. I store it under my settee...suitable because of weight...not the best...good luck!
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1

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post #4 of 79 Old 01-12-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

I've done quite a few projects with the LSZ-1, and it really has been great. The design was, after all, intended to occupy exactly the niche you are looking for : a compact but powerful machine that can be kept on a boat. Having said that, if I saw the big brother for sale for $300, I'd buy one of those too!

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post #5 of 79 Old 01-13-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

Almost any of the metal armature Pfaff machines will do a good job. I got mine from a Goodwill store for $25 a few years ago Yes it was a steal.

I have used a Janome HD1000 and it did the job too.
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post #6 of 79 Old 01-14-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

Not much of a sewer but I picked up an old (1960's) all metal drive Singer for 25$ with a transport case. Did a fine job of re-stitching my dodger.
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post #7 of 79 Old 01-14-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

I am a huge proponent of using the all metal domestic sewing machines from the 50's, 60's, and early 70's. Some of my favorites are Kenmores, Singers, Brothers, Pfaaff (as previous poster mentioned) or just about any of the all metal machines from Japan made during that era. I contributed a lengthy post on this site, about choosing a domestic sewing machine.

I just got done sewing a sail cover for my Catalina 28 using my 1968 Kenmore. It came out very nice.

That said, for what you describe, a domestic machine, no matter how robust is not going to serve for what you intend. For one thing, you'll have a hard or impossible time using anything heavier than V69 thread, and you definitely want to be able to use heavier thread for what you describe. Also, you really should have a walking foot machine. Yeah, I was able to do my sail cover on the Kenmore, and I'm also able to do hatch covers and so on, but there quickly comes a point where you need a walking foot machine to feed multiple layers of tough fabric.

The minimum would be the Sailrite Ultrafeed zig-zag machine. It has only a slightly larger motor than the vintage domestics, but is also geared down more to punch through heavy fabrics, albeit at a slower speed. And it has a walking foot. And, it takes heavier needles. There are other sewing machines similar to the Sailrite, at about half the price, but they aren't nearly as good as
the Sailrite.

The Sailrite machine is diminutive, which is good on a sailboat. If you find that you want to do a lot of work on sails, it's small size will be a problem, as you'll be unable to feed the rolled up portion of the sail through the machine.

The next step up over a Sailrite is going to be any number of true commercial or industrial machines. I really liked my Consew 206 rbi, but I wouldn't/couldn't have it on a sailboat. The motor is the size of a toaster and mounted underneath a heavy duty table. That's pretty much going to be the case with any industrial machine.

As sailors, we're lucky that Sailrite exists, as IMHO, there really isn't a similar, competitive product. Plus they have excellent customer service. Visit their site and check out all their how-to videos if you haven't already.

IMHO, there is no similar or competitive machine to the Sailrites.
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post #8 of 79 Old 01-14-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

I picked up a $139 sewing machine at BJ's Wholesale Club that was primarily purchased to replace an antique we had at home that finally, after 75 years, bit the dust. I never figured on using it for repairing sails or sewing heavy canvas. However, one afternoon I noticed some stitching had pulled out of my main where the batten pockets were sewn in. Additionally, my 35 year old bimini needed to be resewn and there were lots of rotted stitches that had broken free. The machine advertised that it would easily sew through four layers of denim so I gave it a shot.

I was utterly amazed at just how easy it was to repair the sail and bimini. The machine never struggled a bit and I was able to do some fancy stitching on the sail that was superior to the original stitching. Same was true with the bimini. I used UV resistant thread that I purchased from Jo Ann Fabrice in Bel Air, MD.

Good luck on whatever you decide upon,

Gary
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post #9 of 79 Old 01-14-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

What kind of sewing machine was it?

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post #10 of 79 Old 01-15-2016
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Re: Sewing Machine onboard... Which one?

It's a Euro-Pro model 605D, which I believe has been replaced by the Shark model since I purchased mine. Euro Pro Shark 60 Stitch Sewing Machine - Overstock Shopping - Big Discounts on Shark Sewing Machines

Good luck on whatever you decide upon,

Gary
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