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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

I contributed to another post and to keep it from being permanently high jacked I figured I would start a thread for folks to ask questions about sewing machines seeing as it is something that many of us venture into purchasing. One of my many responsibilities has been to purchase, maintain and upgrade sewing machines for a sewing sewing department that makes wheelchair seating. I have been trained on repair of machines and have a decent knowledge of the machines that are out there and I am an fair enough at sewing to get by. If you have a question feel free to leave a message here on this thread and I will answer it soon as I can. I am going to post a short write up of the different options for sewing machines out there and address some of the FAQ's about them as soon as I find the time to write it up. Hope this is a good help to you guys and please don't hesitate to ask.

All the best,

Gary
 

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I bought a sewing machine from SailRite. I found out after buying it that the triple stitch zig-zag is an important part of sail making/repair. I'm wondering if I should replace this machine with one that has the triple stitch zig-zag feature. Do you have any experience whether the normal zig-zag is good enough if you are just making things from canvas (Sunbrella) and just repairing sails?
 

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I bought a sewing machine from SailRite. I found out after buying it that the triple stitch zig-zag is an important part of sail making/repair. I'm wondering if I should replace this machine with one that has the triple stitch zig-zag feature. Do you have any experience whether the normal zig-zag is good enough if you are just making things from canvas (Sunbrella) and just repairing sails?
SailRite mentions that a triple stitch zig-zag is not a requirement for sail work. It allows you to do in one pass what a regular zig-zag requires two passes. Be happy with your regular zig-zag until you start building sails commercially.
BTW, canvas work uses straight stitching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I bought a sewing machine from SailRite. I found out after buying it that the triple stitch zig-zag is an important part of sail making/repair. I'm wondering if I should replace this machine with one that has the triple stitch zig-zag feature. Do you have any experience whether the normal zig-zag is good enough if you are just making things from canvas (Sunbrella) and just repairing sails?
Great Question. Let me start off by saying I am a big fan of the Sailrite machine. It is a very well built machine in a compact form. As far as the triple stitching zig-zag on the sails you are correct, that is the strongest stitch for the sails. Below is an example of the differences between regular zig-zag and a 3stitch zig-zag.

Typically the machines that do this stitch are going to be bigger and not very mobile. Not all sail-makers use this stitch either. The other way to get a strong seam is to run parallel zig-zag stitches to double the strength.
The Sailrite machine can do this, you just have to get good at running those zig-zags parallel to each other. The biggest thing that you can do to help you do that is make sure you are very consistent on your feed of the material. Let the machine do the work and pull the material just guide it and make sure that it feeds the same through the entire run.

As far as stitching on Sunbrella and other canvas type materials for covers the straight stitch is fine. I just suggest running at least two stitches and always using a folded seam. This will give you the strength you need and a good finished look.

For good Triple stitch machines you can try looking at CowBoy sewing machines. They have machines designed for sail making applications with double needle zig zag machines and triple stitch zig zag machines. Prices may be quite high for the hobby sewer though.

Heavy duty zigzag sail making machines

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you have any tips for maintaining a sewing machine while cruising? What kind of general maintenance should there be?
Yes, the three things that you can do to make sure the machine stays in good working order while cruising is as follows.

1. Keep it well oiled! A good oil coated machine using a heavy oil is going to help prevent rust in a salt environment. I is usually a good to keep it in a well ventilated area in stowage that will not have a great deal of moisture in it. Keep the belts with a bit of belt dressing on them to keep them from dry rotting.

2. Make sure you have the machine secured so that it is not buffeted about i while stowed and in heavy weather. All that knocking it around will cause it to get out of adjustment and out of time. Secure it upright and solid and that will save you tons of headaches.

3. Use it. Don't let it sit for 6 months pull it out and use it for something. it will keep the internals oiled and will keep it running smoothly.
 

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Is there a 'new' machine in the $300 dollar range that is ok for cruising? The intended use would be canvas (bimini, dodger, sail cover, etc.), re-doing the cushions both inside and out, & emergency sail repair (just to get to a sail loft and have it done right).

I'm of the assumption that a zig-zag feature would be just for sail repair, and not really necessary for quick 'get you home' repairs.

thx in advance!
 

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Hi-thanks for doing this. I have a red sailrite machine and would like to know if I could take it to my moored boat and sew with it running off a small red honda generator, EU200i. If so that would push me over the edge in buying a small gen.
 

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I was seriously thinking about buying a new Sailrite machine a few months back. About the time I was ready a friend was selling a wedding present to them which was a singer 160. It was brand new and retails for about $400 but I paid $175.

Over a couple weeks I made all new hatch covers for my boat and it did a great job. I don't think I would use it for sail making but for normal canvas it works great. I'm in the process of making an insulated companionway cover for my boat and am planning on making a new mainsail cover. I really wish I hadn't paid someone to make a new bimini for me early this year as it would've been easy with this.
 

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I have to say I am one of those guys with an older cast iron Kenmore with the steel gears and I can sew a mean zig zag as well as straight stich....

And I have made many boat related items, covers, etc as well as some major sail repair (there are several threads around)..

BUT..My buddy got a sailright machine, and let me play with it a bit and I hate to say it but I have to...

There is no comparison between the two The Sailright machine just grabs and pulls and stitches like nobodys business no breaking a sweat, or thread, or needles just hold and sew...multiple layers no problem...

I'll still fight with my old machine for a few minor projects I have, But High on my list of things to get is an actual Sailright LZ1 for any major projects I plan to do in the near future.

You gotta see one in action to really appreciate the ease.

(maybe I'll just go over to his house and "borrow" his) :)
 

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Tad off subject BUT I recently purchased the Sailrite LZ1 along with a jib and main sail kits. I have to say the sewing machine is a brute. It has gone thru 8 layers of 7.4 oz dacron along with 4 layers of nylon webbing. I do believe whatever fits under the foot it will sew.
I'm just about done with the jib.
 

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For those considering a straight stitch machine for marine canvas, some information on types of machines might be helpful. Almost all folks who sew marine canvas for a living use a rotaty-hook, compound walking-foot machines (aka, compound-feed, unison-feed, triple-feed).

A compound walking-foot has both drop-feed (bottom-feed) and needle-feed (top-feed) with an alternating presser-foot (walking-foot).

The following links might be helpful, and do click on "show more" on the YouTube video.

Sewing machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Sailrite LS and LSZ machines are drop-feed, walking-foot machines.

Canvas can be sewn with what are sometimes called semi-industrial home sewing machines and are drop-feed machines. Another limitation of these machines is clearance under the foot, and the number of layers of material can mount-up quickly. Just try hemming the inside flat-felled seam of a pair of Levis to get the idea which is fewer layers of material than is usually encountered sewing marine canvas.
 

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The Sailrite LSZ-1 has a similar compound walking foot to what you show. You can see it in action at 1:10 into this video:

My only piece of sewing machine advice is to buy a real Sailrite and not one of the similar machines like a Barracuda. I bought a Barracuda, but by the time you fix all of the deficiencies that the Sailrite has improved on you will have spent as much as what a Sailrite costs.

I bought the Barracuda for $500 on Amazon. Added the monster wheel (still not as good as Sailrite's wheel) for $100, Sailrite case for $125, and the Sailrite user manual for $20.
To really fix my machine to have the locking wheel that Sailrite has would cost another $60 in parts. That is about $800, the same price as the Sailrite and I don't get the benefits of Sailrite service or the small internal improvements that they've made.

Since I've bought it the Barracuda price has gone up $100.
 

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Alex W,

The Ultrafeed is a walking-foot machine but not a compound walking-foot machine.

Looking carefully, the action in the video shows the alternating presser-foot but no needle-feed -- the needle simply goes up and down, and does not follow an elliptical path pulling material through the machine. Sailrite's documentation does not claim compound feed for the Ultrafeed, but does for the Sailrite 111.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...1fa-KA0pTpqe8M0fq12xnNg&bvm=bv.57967247,d.b2I

 

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I've been researching machines for the past few months and am considering the LSZ-1. It is $75 off at the moment with free shipping. These machines easily sell used for $600 and go quickly if in good shape. If you run out of interest or projects you would have no trouble unloading it.

My projects will include a full winter cover, perhaps modifications to my Bimini for screens, hatch covers, cushions, etc.
 

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I run a one man sail repair and canvas business. It pays for my sailing trips!
The business is seasonal - there are currently ice boats on the lake - I do get a few ice boat sail repairs though!
I bought an LSZ-1 Sailrite machine in 2007 - it is the only machine I have.
I've just printed my 200th invoice. That's 200 sail repairs; UV stripes on genoas; companionway covers; boat covers; dodgers; furling socks etc., etc..
Most of the boats I do work for are in the 25ft to 30 ft size.
In 6 years the LSZ-1 has lost its timing once. I re-timed it myself by looking at the manual. Back in business in 2 hrs. This machine is bullet proof. Backup from Sailrite is always there if you need it - you probably won't!
you can cheap out on second hand, $200 machines, but the grief isn't worth the hassle. If you are new to sewing you won't know if it's you or the machine. All of my problems when I started were me! The machine just kept going. There is a learning curve to marine sewing, just like anything else. Having good, reliable equipment takes one unknown out of the mix.
Sam :)
 

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I have used the LSZ1 to make a kiteboarding kite and to repair kites. These fabrics tend to move relative to each other even though the machine has a walking foot. What ends up happening is that the fabrics don't feed at the same rate. This happens even when tension is maintained by hand when feeding of the fabrics. SailRite recommended taping the fabrics (double sided tape) when using these fabrics. Taping did the trick and made managing the fabric much easier. I am assuming that kite fabrics are lighter (i.e. thinner) than sail fabrics. Do sail fabrics also require taping? I think the issue is that nylon/dacron tend to be very slick thus causing the feed rates being different. Any insights into this by some of the more expereinced users?
 

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I use double sided tape a lot.
It takes the place of the pins my wife uses with her home sewing. I never use pins, they are very hard to use with even a few thicknesses of canvas.
I also use a stapler. A regular long reach office stapler. Will penetrate canvas and Dacron easily and the staples are easy to pull out with snips or small pliers.
Sam :)
 
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