Jan West: A Seasoned Sewist

With a little help from Sailrite® and the Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine, Jan West felt like she could tackle just about any project. As an experienced sewist, she was no stranger to the world of DIY projects, and she was kind enough to share with us her most recent sewing successes. She is proof that there’s always a plethora of creative projects to create if you have just a little time, patience and determination.

Q: What’s your story? How’d you start sewing?

A: I started sewing when I was a young girl, probably 8 or 9 years old. Both of my grandmothers had a big impact on my love for sewing and crafting. I spent a lot of time with both of them, and they taught me to hand sew and allowed me to sew on their machines or work on crafts. As I grew older, my career and family didn’t allow me much time to sew, but recently, I’ve had free time again and gained inspiration to sew and work on different craft projects.

Q: What’s your most recent sewing accomplishment?

A: A few weeks ago, I decided to order fabric to re-cover my patio chair cushions. I had re-covered some a few years earlier and knew that I could tackle the job, but I wanted to refresh my memory by watching some YouTube videos. While watching these, I ran across the Sailrite video instructions on how to reupholster golf cart seats. The video was so easy to follow and understand and, knowing that I had sons that needed their seats reupholstered, I was convinced that I could do this. 

I immediately started to search Sailrite’s website for the vinyl fabric that I would need. I was concerned that I didn’t have a walking foot upholstery sewing machine like Sailrite showed in their videos, but I did have an older metal machine with a walking foot. With the Sailrite video at my disposal, I was able to sew the vinyl on my old machine and the golf cart seats turned out very well. 

At the same time, I knew that my stitching was not as perfect as it could have been due to having to coax the fabric through at times. Soon I realized that if I was going to continue these kinds of projects, I would need a Sailrite machine. It would take my next projects from looking good to looking great! Plus it would make the project so much easier to sew. By this time, I had already watched almost all of Sailrite’s videos and had convinced myself that I could re-cover an armchair, a bimini and much more.

I actually looked at different machines online, but after reading reviews, I always came back to the Sailrite website. I purchased the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 BASIC and am currently sewing new covers for some wicker patio furniture. If you’re accustomed to a regular home sewing machine, it might take a little getting used to the walking foot on the Ultrafeed, but I have been very pleased with it so far. No more coaxing the fabric through the machine and no more inconsistent stitches! I can’t wait to reupholster the next golf cart seat. I have my Morbern® vinyl from Sailrite ready and waiting!

Jan West

Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about your golf cart project?

A: My golf cart seat project went right along with your how-to video series. Luckily, the seats on my golf cart were exactly like the ones that you upholstered in your video. I started by removing the seat backs. I measured the lengths, widths and edges of them and also marked where I wanted the coordinating fabric to be centered on the backs. I used these measurements, along with the seat cushion measurements, to diagram out on paper how I would lay the pattern pieces out on 54-inch wide vinyl fabric. Then I decided how much fabric I would need to order from Sailrite.

I added a 1/2-inch seam allowance to all the measurements except the boxing pieces, marking the end boxing pieces as described in the video. Then I removed the staples holding the existing vinyl on and cut out the end boxing piece to be used as my pattern. With measurements from the plywood backing, I cut out the vinyl pieces for the front of the back cushion, including the coordinating fabric and allowed about 3 inches in length on each piece to wrap around and staple to the plywood back. I sewed the fabric strips together with a 1/2-inch seam and top stitched a flat-felled seam. I then stitched the boxing to each end and top stitched again, by watching your exceptional video. 

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My husband helped me by replacing the rusted tee nuts in the plywood and I used contact cement to reattach the foam to the plywood. I had purchased a pneumatic staple gun and my husband helped me to staple the vinyl to the plywood seat backs. I’m not very strong in my hands, so having someone to help you staple and stretch the vinyl is great. We attached the newly covered back cushions to the golf cart and transferred where I wanted the coordinating fabric to match up on the seat bottom and marked the old vinyl with a sharpie marker. I basically did the same process with the seat cushion as with the backs. 

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with this project. It was much easier than I expected because of your instructional video tutorials that I kept referring to. The biggest setback was having to cut off the old screws and replace the tee nuts without damaging the plywood. Even though I used fabric from Sailrite, at this time I didn’t have my Ultrafeed and I really wish I did. It would’ve turned out much better.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the most rewarding part about sewing your own DIY projects?

A: I think that the most rewarding part of sewing my own projects is the self-satisfaction of knowing that you can accomplish something that you’ve never done before, along with saving the money that you would have paid someone else to do it for you. And I can use my talent to help save my family money too!

Now that I have the Sailrite machine, I am already using it to sew some new patio cushions. I am thrilled with it, and I can’t wait to finish this project and use the machine on the next golf cart seat waiting in the wings. I even have plans to re-cover an armchair when I decide on the fabric I want. I’ve been so inspired by your video tutorials and I truly believe: “I can do that!”  

Please keep the videos coming!

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Sewing & the Mainsail: One Man’s Passion Project

Marc Weiner has always been the creative type. Born in New York, his mother gave him her sewing machine when he was around 23 years old. From there, his love of sewing and creativity took off. Over the years and throughout his different career paths, Marc has used sewing in unique and interesting ways. Now, he’s using it for the greater good. Marc volunteers for the Clearwater Sloop, a nonprofit environmental organization based in Beacon, New York, dedicated to cleaning up the pollution in the Hudson River and educating their community about conservation and environmentalism. Read the inspiring story of how one man is making a world of difference in his community through his passion for sewing.

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The Sloop Clearwater sailing on the Hudson River, New York. Photo courtesy of the Clearwater Sloop Facebook page.

 

A History of Creativity

Sewing is just one of the many ways Marc shares his creativity with the world. He’s had a fascinating career over the years, working as an actor and puppeteer. He started out as a street performer clown and puppeteer. Then he later joined a street theater group and made the puppets and all their clothing. He’s even done some voice work for the movie and television industry. You might recognize him as the voice of Map and Swiper on the kid’s show “Dora the Explorer.” He joined Saturday Night Live in 1980 and performed on the show with his puppets.

“When I first moved to New York City, I would ‘dumpster dive’ in the garment district, and I would find lots of great scraps of colorful fabric. I loved sewing them together and making pillows. The idea of taking a piece of flat fabric and making it something that is 3D — making puppet clothing is a perfect example of this.”

“I started sewing my puppets’ clothing for my night club act. When I performed my puppets on Saturday Night Live, their amazing costume department made my puppets’ clothing. They did a much better job than I ever could. After SNL, I continued making puppet clothing for all of my puppet projects until 1992 when I got my own show on Nickelodeon called ‘Weinerville.'” On his Nickelodeon show, there was an entire crew sewing the clothing for his puppets, but that didn’t deter Marc from finding other avenues to continue his sewing pursuits.

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Marc washes the Clearwater’s mainsail in preparation for sewing bags.

Sailing & Sewing

Growing up, Marc’s parents had a 12-foot sailboat on Lake Mahopac, New York. “My father taught me how to sail on that boat,” he recalled. The family also owned a 15-foot powerboat. Marc enjoyed a childhood of time spent on the water, enjoying the peacefulness and quiet of sailing or zipping around on the high-speed powerboat. Years later, his parents bought a 41-foot Morgan yacht. “They lived on the Morgan down in the Bahamas for 12 years. I would visit them and go sailing.”

Now, Marc owns his own sailboat and enjoys sewing projects for it. Five years ago, he bought a 34-foot Beneteau and jumped right into DIY work. “When I was working on projects for my boat, my home machine was struggling when I was making my cabin cushions. I found Sailrite on the internet, and I knew I would need the Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 for my next project — restitching my bimini and dodger.”

Marc named his boat the MelAdele in honor of his parents and their shared love of sailing and enjoying life on the water. Marc was excited to get to work sewing for his new boat. “I found Sailrite’s amazing DIY videos and started sewing new cabin cushions, winch covers and cockpit seat cushions. I made new curtains, restitched the bimini and dodger, made a companionway cover, made side window panels for the bimini, repaired the sail cover and so many other projects.”

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Educational programs are a fundamental part of the Clearwater’s mission. Here, children participate in a “Sailing Classroom” which promotes hands-on engagement learning.

Sewing for a Cause

Marc has been volunteering for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization since 1973. “I crewed for one week, and then became the weekend cook for a month. They then took me on as the permanent cook, which lasted for two years. I was a vegetarian cook, and the captain loved eating meat. He couldn’t put up with my cooking any longer and made me the first mate during my third year on board.”

He has had various other roles during his many years with the nonprofit. He’s worked in the front office, worked on the boat, and helps out with the annual folk festival. Most recently, Marc has been sewing bags and totes from the Clearwater’s retired sailcloth as a way to raise funds for the organization.

“For our 2020 Clearwater restoration fundraising campaign, I made almost 100 assorted bags that we sold to raise money.” Clearwater’s mission is to protect the Hudson River and the surrounding wetlands and waterways through public education and environmental advocacy. Clearwater’s award-winning programs have grown consistently over the years. In 2004, the Clearwater was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its groundbreaking role in the environmental movement.

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Marc’s mainsail bags on display at the Clearwater Fundraiser. Photo © Bruce N Murray 2020

Environmental protection is a cause close to Marc’s heart. “When I went to college, I became more aware about the need for environmental advocacy. My years of service on the Clearwater Sloop have reinforced this belief. Air and water pollution, global warming, smog, acid rain, deforestation and wildfires — these are just a few of the environmental issues we are facing right now. It’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of our precious and beautiful planet and make it a safe and wonderful place to live.”

Recently, Marc mentioned taking a trip into New York City. He was walking down the street with one of his Clearwater mainsail bags slung across his shoulder with the ship’s original reefing lines acting as straps. A sudden gust of wind struck, and the bag said to him, “I think we should reef.” Marc felt the reefing lines tighten across his torso. In that moment, the spirit of the Clearwater mainsail was reawakened after being retired for six years.

Once a sail, always a sail.

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If you’d like to learn more about the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization and its mission, please visit https://www.clearwater.org/the-sloop/.

Leather Craft & Creativity With Jennifer Parker

Brimming with a can-do attitude and an innovative spirit, Jennifer Parker has always been a fan of the arts. From an early age, she was actively participating in local theater productions and soon found herself enamored with the costumes. Her pursuit of creative expression eventually led her to Sailrite® and the Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 Sewing Machine. Jennifer was kind enough to share her incredible DIY journey with us and explain how Sailrite became a small, yet crucial, facet of her unique artistic endeavors.

In an effort to expand her artistic ability, Jennifer began teaching herself leatherworking as a way to recreate the costume of a beloved video game character. The results were just the start of her journey into cosplay! “I started teaching myself leatherworking three years ago, simply because I was interested in making a cosplay of the character Ciri from “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” a visually gorgeous video game. They designed a strong, skilled, smart and capable heroine with a handful of awesome outfits and I thought, ‘Yep, I want to make that.’ Buying all the pieces was going to be crazy expensive, so I sought to learn how to do it myself.” 

By the time the project was done, Jennifer had enough motivation to tackle another project, then another and then another. Before long she had created several costumes that featured bags, sword sheaths, belts, corsets and more. With her experience and confidence growing, she eventually decided to do the leather accessories for a Captain America costume for her husband. This meant sewing gaiters, a utility belt, gloves and a shoulder harness. 

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Captain America, ready for action!

Soon after that, Jennifer realized she would need a high-quality sewing machine to sew through the myriad of materials used in her costumes. Living in a one bedroom apartment at the time meant that her sewing space was limited and a portable machine was a must-have. While there were many household and light fabric projects on her radar, the machine in question also had to be equipped to sew through the occasional thick pieces of leather used in cosplay attire. But could there possibly be an industrial sewing machine out there that didn’t require a large, stationary setup and was versatile enough to meet Jennifer’s needs?

“I started doing research and came across leatherworkers who were recommending the Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine as a very versatile option. I went to the website and was immediately hooked by the entire culture and history. My dad was a sailing instructor before he moved into the aviation industry, so I have a very strong foundation in maritime culture and fond childhood memories of learning how to sail. So not only did this machine have everything I needed, it was beautiful and affordable and I thought, ‘Well, this is a perfect fit in every way!’”

The Stitcher Becomes The Witcher

With her new machine in tow, Jennifer began making boot covers and emblems, journal covers, dog collars and even Christmas ornaments. With those projects under her belt, she once again decided to delve into the wonderful world of custom costumes. Everything she had learned up until that point would prepare her for her most complex project yet (and the one she is most proud of to date). She was going to create an exact replica of the costume for the main protagonist, Geralt, in “The Witcher” video game series and Netflix show of the same title. 

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Geralt (right) and one of his many real-life clothing pieces sewn by Jennifer.

“I dusted off my costuming skills and wrote a production schedule for myself — including not only the insanely complex armored jacket, but also all the accessories, velvet jacket, linen shirt, leather and chino pants, boot covers, and all the leather straps that attach his armor throughout. Planning, engineering, patterning and constructing every single garment had its challenges. I used a total of three machines, but the Ultrafeed (whom I have affectionately christened ‘Big Blue’) made her mark somewhere on them all, and exclusively on the armored jacket. It was so much more difficult than I expected. Creating something real and wearable from a rendering is immensely challenging. I found entire weekends completely scrapped because something I tried simply did not work out — more than once!”

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We’re endlessly impressed by Jennifer’s dedication to her work and her patience to make sure every last detail was perfect, even the most minute ones. She went on to explain, “The jacket took nearly two weeks just to plan and over 100 hours to build. It weighs over 10 pounds, is fully lined, fully adjustable, and features removable rerebraces (sleeves) and armored mantle top piece. I used 20 square feet of five different leathers, 4 yards of canvas, 2 yards of cotton pique, 2 yards cotton batting, 5,000 aluminum chainmail jump rings, 2 pounds of hardware (rivets, snaps, buckles, spikes), 5mm foam for pauldrons and over 700 yards of nylon thread.”

Jennifer’s hard work speaks for itself and has garnered attention on Instagram and the admiration of friends and family. It’s certainly caught our eye! But for this creative connoisseur, the journey is just as important as the destination. “The most rewarding thing about all this has been discovering an art form that I love — and watching each project yield measurable progress in my overall craftsmanship.” 

Future Forward

Now that she’s taken her sewing skills to the next level, what advice would Jennifer give to someone ready to start their DIY journey? She was eager to share with us. “Start small and just jump in and do something. I got some leather and basic starter supplies to start and just rolled with it until I was sure I wanted more from the hobby. I watched HUNDREDS of YouTube videos on everything from saddle-making to foam-smithing and worked on scraps while I watched. I spent a day playing with my machine, seeing exactly what it could do. Make friends with your tools and you will get to know their limitations. I talk to myself A LOT and have different playlists (and alcohol pairings) for every mood and project.”

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“You will feel like your first project is totally awful. You’re going to make mistakes and do things inefficiently and take the long way and get super frustrated. In the end, you may not even be ‘doing it right’ but who cares because look at what you’ve just made! Just like anything, to become good, it takes study and practice — years of it.”

We can’t wait to see what you sew next, Jennifer! 

 

How to Sew a DIY Medical Hood

We were recently contacted by a Sailrite customer who created his own design for DIY medical hoods that are used in conjunction with PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) machines to keep medical workers safe when treating a COVID-19 patient. George Warner was generous enough to take time out of sewing hoods to answer our questions about his hood design, share his instructions and drawings, explain his motivation to help, and how he’s hoping other DIYers will join in the fight against COVID-19.

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One of George’s early hood designs made from Tyvek material.

Q. What was your reasoning or motivation behind wanting to design these medical hoods?

A. Our daughter is a third-year resident at one of the larger Boston, Massachusetts, hospitals in internal medicine. Her friends, who are our friends, are Emergency Room doctors, pediatricians and anesthesiologists. 

They will be intubating people for ventilators and are very at risk during some of these procedures. We are trying to produce hoods to fit positive pressure respirators known as PAPR units. PAPRs are a type of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) used by medical personnel to safeguard workers against breathing contaminated air. The low pressure, positive pressure keeps contaminated air from getting into the hood and potentially infecting the medical worker. These hoods have plenty of room in them. For added protection, you can wear an N-95 Mask inside of the hood and it is not going to get dirty.  They just came out with safe ways to re-sterilize these masks.

Q. Do you have a background in design work? Are you already familiar with these PAPR units?

A. I’m an architect and I have worked on building houses, boats and kiteboards. I have had two of these PAPR units for building and construction purposes for 20 years. Instead of breathing dust, you’re breathing clean filtered air, even when sanding or grinding metal with carborundum (silicon carbide) discs that produce very fine dust.

A few companies make these PAPR units, but there is no reason to expect that production will be ramped up in time to meet the impending surge. In the United States, we have the advantage and luxury of a small head start on the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the medical outlets and industrial outlets will be scoured and empty in short order. The units have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters.

Q. What is your goal in making these DIY hoods for PAPR units?

A. To get these PAPR hoods in the hands of frontline medical workers who are at risk of contracting the coronavirus when treating COVID-19 patients. I am hoping that by sharing my design and story, other DIYers will help out and start sewing these hoods to donate to local hospitals in need.

For anyone interested in sewing these hoods, please be aware that they are not up to medical protocols, neither are they CDC approved as PPE. However, in a very short amount of time, no emergency room or ICU in the United States will be able to fully meet the PPE standards of a normal day. When that happens, medical professionals will get sick as they have in China, Italy and Spain. There are thousands of sick doctors in Europe right now. They can’t treat anybody. They are the ones needing treatment. My goal is to make these hoods in order to keep medical workers healthy so they can continue to treat the sick without getting sick themselves.

Q. What materials are required to make these medical hoods?

A. I have been using a medium duty white tarp that is easy to clean and not so difficult to sew. We have experimented with Tyvek® polyethylene dumpster bags and with Tyvek house wrap. The commercially made hoods made by 3M use a fabric called tychem, that is very similar to the Tyvek paper that is used for post office envelopes. My latest prototype using Tyvek house wrap worked well and sews easily.

I’ve also experimented with Stamoid™ Light and clear vinyl window material from Sailrite. The window material from Sailrite is excellent. It is strong and cleanable and still flexible enough to fold inside out in the sewing process. The 30-gauge vinyl is great if you have a Sailrite sewing machine that can easily handle it, which I do. A 20- or 12-gauge clear window vinyl might be better for home sewing machines. I’ve used an old windsurfer window and it worked great. Others are using clear file folders.

The Stamoid Light fabric is really great in many regards but a little stiff and difficult to maneuver in the tight turns. It is strong and will be easy to clean. Again, my Sailrite sewing machine was able to handle this vinyl material, but I’m not sure how a home sewing machine would do. Hoods can also be made from Dacron® sailcloth, which is easier to sew.

Q. Are you making your medical hood design available to the public for anyone who wants to make and donate them to hospitals? If so, where can people find your instructions and design illustrations?

A. We created a hood tutorial on the Instructables.com website. If anyone needs additional help, they can contact me through the website. The sewing is an intermediate skill level I would say. I would say that most Sailrite sewers should be able to do this. There will be a short video of the most difficult section. You can test this on a piece of scrap material and see how you do. You’ll get it quickly enough!

https://www.instructables.com/id/Protective-Hood-for-Powered-Air-Purifying-Respirat/

 Note: Neither Sailrite nor George Warner makes any claim that this medical hood design will protect the medical worker from contracting the coronavirus. Positive airflow is a safe procedure, but there are many elements that only the user can control. We are not an authorized medical or health safety authority. Use at your own risk.

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If you would like to help sew medical hoods for your local hospitals, please use the link above to George’s written instructions and drawings. Please check with your local hospitals that they are accepting DIY medical hoods and other protective gear beforehand. Sailrite would like to say a big thank you to all DIYers out there who are donating their time, talent and sewing supplies to help provide their communities and medical facilities with face masks, shields and other protective equipment. Together we can save lives and help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Weathering the Storm: Sewing & DIY

Bruce Carlile is a lifelong boater. He grew up in California’s San Diego Bay Area sailing, racing and enjoying life. From participating in the Junior Sailing Program at his local yacht club to racing a variety of sailboats, including Sabots, Lasers, Hobie Cats, Star keelboats and more, to speeding along on his family’s powerboats, Bruce can’t imagine his life without a boat of some kind in it. In 2018, he obtained his late father’s Duffy boat. It was in rough shape, having been devastated by a freak November storm, but Bruce was determined to save it. With time, hard work and his Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine, he was able to restore his father’s boat to its former glory.

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The first surrey top Bruce sewed, including vinyl window panels.

A Cocktail Cruiser

Bruce’s lifelong love of boats was inherited from his parents. “My parents had a place in Coronado Cays, a residential marina in the south end of San Diego Bay, and there was a dock behind the house. It was the perfect setting for a cruising boat, and my father saw one cruising by one day.” Bruce’s father asked the owner what type of boat it was and that’s how he was introduced to the Duffy boat. Soon after, he bought one for himself — first an 18-foot Duffy and then he upgraded to the 22-foot Duffy Classic.

As soon as Bruce’s father purchased the Duffy, Bruce immediately fell in love with the boat’s laid-back design. The first electric boat, a Duffy glides slowly and silently on the water and is designed for the cruising lifestyle. Nicknamed a “cocktail cruiser,” this slow-moving vessel maxes out at about 5 mph. For owners of this boat, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Giving DIY a Try

The Duffy was a 2005 model and came with the original surrey top. It was worn out and needed to be replaced. Bruce contacted local shops inquiring about a commercially made replacement top for his father’s Duffy and was shocked by the quote. “Commercial and factory-made surrey tops were priced at about $6,000! I then started researching how to make them and came across the Sailrite website. After watching the DIY videos, I figured that I could make it myself.”

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Patterning and measuring for the surrey top using Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material.

Bruce didn’t let his complete lack of sewing experience deter him from tackling the project. He purchased the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine as well as Sunbrella® fabric and binding, patterning material, zippers and all the other tools and accessories to sew a new surrey top. “Using only Sailrite materials, I successfully completed the project for less than half of the price of a commercially available Sunbrella top, even including the price of the sewing machine!”

In addition to purchasing all his supplies and sewing machine from Sailrite, he also relied heavily on Sailrite’s inventory of how-to videos and tutorials. “The DIY videos were key,” Bruce explained. “I’m a visual learner, and had it not been for those instructional videos I don’t think I could have done it. I found the Ultrafeed incredibly easy to learn how to use and I quickly became proficient at sewing with it.”

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Sewing the surrey top with his trusty Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

When his father passed away in 2014, the boat went to Bruce’s sister. Unfortunately, his sister’s family didn’t use the boat and from 2014 to 2018 it fell into disrepair. “In the fall of 2018, they put it up for sale and I offered to buy it,” Bruce said. However, that Thanksgiving, a catastrophic storm rolled through the San Diego area. The high winds and heavy rains did terrible damage, ripping the Duffy’s surrey top to shreds. “Winds were estimated at over 60 mph with even higher gusts,” Bruce recalled.

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A Passion Project

Due to the storm’s damage and the years of neglect, just about everything needed to be fixed. Bruce was dutifully up to the task. The boat needed a new surrey top, new vinyl side curtains, new upholstery and carpeting. “The hull had oxidized badly, the boot stripe had worn away from rubbing against the dock, and the running gear was horribly corroded. So I set about restoring it, completely refurbishing every inch. I made a new surrey top (my second one) and replaced the engine belt, shaft, cutlass bearing, propeller and new bottom paint.”

“Nothing went untouched. I had to buy a used trailer and retrofit it to take the Duffy. I towed it to a storage yard, bought a portable generator to provide electricity for the power tools, and relaunched her 6 months later.”

What began as a cost-cutting measure has grown into a true passion for sewing and DIY. “It started out as a way to save money but grew into the challenge and accomplishment of making it myself. Not only that, but I also taught myself a very useful trade, especially being a boater.” Bruce and his wife also own a 21-foot Yamaha ski boat and two Yamaha WaveRunners®. “I will be making new covers for the WaveRunners this summer to prepare them for next winter.”

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Bruce working hard on the second surrey top for his Duffy boat.

Duffy Sewing & Beyond

Bruce’s uses for the Ultrafeed haven’t stopped at his Duffy boat. “I’ve found myself venturing into new areas where I can utilize my sewing skills. I’ve repaired a jean jacket for my niece. I sewed a custom canvas cover for a high school basketball scorekeeper’s table. I’ve even made safety barriers for a deck that leads down to a dock. All of these projects were produced using Sailrite as my material supplier. It’s exciting to think of new projects for this ever-expanding hobby!”

For Bruce, enjoyment of his Duffy boat comes down to living the cruising lifestyle. “I love the classic look of the boat and the fact that it’s electric. My Duffy Classic seats about 16 people and has a built-in refrigerator, which makes it the perfect cocktail cruiser.” Bruce particularly enjoys taking his family out on the water and spending time together. Bruce and his family launched the boat on Lake San Marcos in the northern part of San Diego County just before July 4, 2019, in time to enjoy the patriotic festivities and show off the new surrey top.

What sewing projects are on the horizon for Bruce? “I’d like to make a new full-boat cover for the Duffy.” In addition to canvaswork, Bruce wants to try his hand at upholstery. “I’m going to tackle reupholstering the seats in the Duffy with the help of Sailrite’s videos and materials. Through sewing and DIY, I’ve learned that I can tap into my creative side, something I never knew I had. I now have the confidence to attempt just about anything that can be made with fabric and the Ultrafeed.”

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It’s all smiles as Bruce’s family enjoys the brand-new surrey top — version two.

Sewing a Labor of Love

Kathy Roberson is no stranger to the sewing world. She’s been sewing as a labor of love for members of her family for years. But when her granddaughter wanted a complete revamp of her bedroom, she knew she would need a well-equipped sewing machine to get the job done. After some research and coaxing from her husband, Kathy embarked on her DIY journey with a little help from Sailrite®. And she’s here to share her heartwarming story with us!

Q. What’s your history like with sewing?

For years I dreamt of having an industrial sewing machine. In my young adult life, I worked at three different sewing factories and knew what they were capable of. When I was 40, my husband and I refurbished a 1978 Toyota Corolla for our then 16-year-old daughter’s first car. We borrowed a portable industrial machine from a friend to sew the covers for the seats. 

From that time on I searched for a machine that would compare to it. (Wish we had the internet then!) I found a few cast-off factory machines, but there was always something to keep me from buying one. I’ve had a couple of well-known machines that worked on regular home materials fairly well. But they struggled to sew pillows, curtains and light upholstery projects. They would also break multiple needles with each project. 

My very expensive computer machine quit a couple of years ago and for a few months, I didn’t have a machine for the first time in my life. I finally bought a $100.00 machine to do simple mending jobs with. I have two sergers also that I enjoy and thought I would be fine with them. 

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Some of Kathy’s sewing work.

Q. What led you to choose Sailrite?

Our granddaughter wanted her room updated because it was a little girl room and she is now a college student. We could have hired someone else to make the Roman Shades, but she wanted Gran to make them. So here I sat with yards of material and a sewing machine. I wondered whether the machine would make it through the simplest seams that the curtains would require. 

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the Sailrite website. I was so mesmerized with the videos and products I found! I read tons of testimonies from people who were so happy with their machines. My dilemma was this: I will be 75 years old soon and my husband is 79, and I am wanting a new sewing machine! When I approached the subject of the machine, his response was, “YOU WANT WHAT?” I said, “It is a wonderful machine but if you are not on board with me getting it, I understand.” I didn’t cry and beg him to understand, but I wanted to!

I could not quit watching the videos on the Sailrite website. Like I said before, the videos just mesmerized me! I guess he caught me watching the videos one too many times because one day all of a sudden he came into my computer room and said, “Kathy if you want that machine, just order it!” I excitedly asked, “Are you sure?” You see, in our 55 years of marriage, we never buy anything that costs over a couple of hundred dollars without being in agreement. He answered, “Yes, you have wanted a machine like that for a long time.”  Happy is a calm word for the excitement I was feeling when I ordered my Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1!

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Kathy’s custom Ultrafeed table sewing space!

That very day I ordered the machine and two days later it was here. When the delivery truck pulled into the drive, I hurried out to meet the driver, which happened to be a lady. She opened the back doors of the vehicle and pulled out the first box and then the second and as she was helping us get them out, she said, “You are going to love this machine! I have one just like it and I love mine.” I asked her what type of things she sewed on hers and she replied, “Everything!  After a week of working, when the weekends come, I am sewing. I love it! It will sew anything. I sew for myself and my grandchildren! I just love it! I am here to tell you that you will not be sorry for buying this machine!” She sure eased any qualms that I could have had in buying the machine!

Q. What was your experience like using the Ultrafeed for your project?

We had no problem putting the machine together. I put the Monster® II Balance Wheel on it but thought that the handle was supposed to stay on the balance wheel. When I began using the machine, it shook more than I thought it should. I had watched the videos and thought I knew everything! My husband told me that the handle might be causing the machine to shake, but I wouldn’t listen to him. I contacted the website and they wanted me to film a video while sewing to see the shaking. I did that and then they told me that the handle was not supposed to be left on the balance wheel while sewing. It was only for sewing when you were sewing manually! Uh-oh! But how nice to have my problem solved so quickly. The Sailrite customer service could not have been any nicer to me. I took the handle off and have not had any problem with it shaking. Just injured my pride a little!

Sewing the Roman Shades and pillows on my Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 was like cutting soft butter with a sharp knife. I never broke one single needle! It went over the thickest parts with no effort at all and made the project so much fun to sew. I have made curtains with welting the bottom before, but I’ve never ever enjoyed it like I did when I made these curtains. I watched the Sailrite videos for making welting and it was so easy with the LSZ-1. I didn’t have any issues or broken needles like I’ve had with the other machines in the past. I love it!

The way the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 feeds the material to keep both top and bottom even is wonderful. The larger window shade had to have a seam in it. I had cut the material so that the pattern would match when seamed. My experience in the past is, no matter how close you cut to get the pattern right, the real test comes with how the machine feeds the material. 

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In the picture where I am pointing to the seam, you can see that the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 fed the material really well. I was so pleased after I got the seam finished and opened it up and the pattern was perfect! Unless you are close to the shade, as I am in the picture, you cannot tell where the seam is!  That seam was only sewn once. I was amazed because in the past I have had to rework things multiple times until I got it right. 

Q. What’s next for you in the sewing world?

My husband took a folding table we had and cut a hole in it and made a box so that the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 would set down in it. That way I have a larger table area and if I need the machine to be portable it will just lift out. I made the skirt at the end of the table and the pockets at the front so that my notions would be handy as I need them. Under the table, I can store other sewing notions, thread, material, etc. Now when I need to sew, all my “stuff” is in one place! I LOVE IT!

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Kathy’s granddaughter loved her new and improved room.

I haven’t decided what project I will try next, but I am confident that whatever it is, I have the machine that will sew it! I love my Sailrite LSZ-1 machine.

Marina Hopping With the Ultrafeed®

If you’ve ever been dissatisfied working in the corporate world, you’re not alone. Susan Oschmann left her job at a stuffy law firm to rediscover a life that she loved and that would bring her joy, fulfillment and a much-needed sense of accomplishment. With ingenuity and great determination, she set out to start a new life and career in DIY. Keep reading to find out more about this adventurous and free-spirited sewer.

Seven years ago, Susan quit her job at a law firm and never looked back. “The day came when I decided to put my energies into myself instead of making my attorney boss look good,” she said. Susan was itching to find work that she enjoyed and that incorporated her love of boating and the marina lifestyle. One day, the idea suddenly came to her. She started her own small business traveling from marina to marina sewing canvaswork and upholstery pieces for customers’ boats.

In order to be mobile or “marina hopping,” as Susan refers to it, she needed a sewing machine that could tag along for the ride. “I found Sailrite online,” Susan explained. “I needed a machine to match my livelihood and lifestyle and was drawn to the Ultrafeed’s portability and its commercial-grade strength. I needed a machine that I could wheel down a dock to work on the back of a customer’s vessel with ease. The Ultrafeed does all this and then some! I have used it on small repairs dockside including large cockpit covers complete with binding, zippers and gaskets. It goes through all the layers seamlessly, pardon the pun!”

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Susan’s Ultrafeed ready for some marina hopping!

Susan loads up her Ultrafeed LSZ-1 in her Jeep and off she goes marina hopping. “I service Buffalo, New York, all the way to the Thousand Islands.” The Thousand Islands are a group of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, part of an archipelago that straddles the U.S.-Canada border. The Ultrafeed is the perfect sewing machine for Susan and her nomadic lifestyle. It combines the mobility and easy portability required for her work, as well as the strength and dependability to power through marine canvas and upholstery fabrics.

Before she could start her business and hit the road, there was just one thing standing between Susan and this new career path: She didn’t know how to sew. So she enrolled in sewing seminars at a marine canvas sewing institute in Florida. The intense, hands-on training courses taught her everything from how to sew boat covers to biminis and dodgers, and even interior and exterior seating upholstery.

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After the rigorous marine sewing courses, she was ready to put her new skills to use and start working for herself. Her mobile sewing business, Susie’s Boat-tique, specializes in fabrication and repair of marine canvas and vinyl, as well as fiberglass and gel-coat repair. Susan’s business partner, Chad Beach, handles all the fiberglass and gel-coat work. “People are really surprised at what my business does. From fiberglass and gel coat to canvas, vinyl and marine carpet, you might say we handle a boat from bow to stern and all points in between.”

Susan’s major career shift has given her the opportunity to do something she truly loves and to reconnect with her roots. “I grew up on a marina owned by my parents,” she explained. “I am a marina girl through and through.” Though her livelihood is in sewing for other people’s boats, Susan does take time to enjoy the water for herself. “I have a 1987 Baja 18-foot runabout,” she commented. “I am an avid boater and love the water. I would love to travel by boat, but my Jeep will have to do for now.”

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Susan enjoying some time on the water.

Sewing has given Susan the opportunity to broaden her love of boating in a new and exciting way. “I love that I can make a customer’s project fit their particular need, be it cutouts around the rigging or the thickness of the foam in the cushions.” Sewing and DIY give you the ability to make a one-of-a-kind project that meets all your requirements.

Susan’s most creative and challenging project for a customer was designing a helm cover that didn’t require snap fasteners to secure it to the dash. She was working on a new boat that didn’t have snaps already drilled into the fiberglass. To avoid having to install hardware, she came up with a very clever workaround. “I made a helm cover and added dried beans in the hem to weigh it down. A helm cover is only used when the boat is docked. I call my creation the Susie’s Boat-tique Happy Helm!”

“I love being mobile, visiting all the marinas and traveling from place to place. Always traveling to fun places — I love my life on the road, or should I say on the docks!” Susan rigged up a clever portable sewing station so she can sew anywhere the wind takes her. “My rigid rolling tool case lets me roll my machine, table and tools right out to the customer’s boat.” It’s nothing but blue skies and calm seas ahead for Susan and her trusty Ultrafeed.

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Ultrafeed mobile sewing station — what a view!

Jessica Roush: Horses & Hobbies

With passion, patience and persistence, anything is possible. When it comes to the world of DIY sewing projects, this statement still rings just as true. Sailrite® customer Jessica Roush has blended her impressive sewing skills with her love of horses to create something special. With her industrial Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine in tow, Jessica has started her own small business selling custom bareback pads for avid horseback riders like herself. And she was kind enough to share her inspiring story with us!

As any animal lover knows, the fascination with furry friends begins early on. Jessica’s interest in horses began at age 4 when she begged her parents for a four-legged friend. It was around this same time that her fascination with sewing began, and the two hobbies would develop side by side in the years to come. At age 5, Jessica received a toy sewing machine for Christmas that sewed with glue instead of a needle and thread. But she wished for a pony and a real sewing machine every year.

At 11, she finally got one of her wishes: her very own pony! “His name was Tony and he was so good for me. I was able to escape life while I was with him, pretending to be a cowboy or an Indian while riding him. I soon became tired of saddling him up and learned to ride bareback [without a saddle].”

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Jessica and one of her previous horses, Seeker.

But riding a horse for hours without a saddle creates a lot of sweat on both the legs of the rider and on the parts of the horse’s back that are in direct contact with them. To remedy this, a bareback pad is often needed. This pad secures to the horse in a similar way as a saddle but is made of lightweight material (regular saddles can be quite heavy). These pads don’t always have stirrups, which are not necessary to ride a horse bareback.

Jessica began riding bareback so often that she was given a bareback pad for Christmas one year. “It did not take long for me to get super frustrated with the bareback pad moving back, so much so that it got the point that I was not sitting on it properly. The rigging was in the wrong location and there was no wither relief.” For those readers who aren’t equestrians, the withers on a horse are the highest part of a horse’s back, located at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. If a saddle or bareback pad does not fit properly on this part of the horse, it can cause soreness for both horse and rider.

It was also around this time that Jessica started sewing for a home economics class, for which she had an immediate talent. Her teacher was so impressed with her skills that she asked Jessica to hem all of her class curtains, which Jessica did with great joy. This was only the beginning of her foray into sewing.

After high school, Jessica moved to Indiana and got a job at a factory sewing boat cushions and other boating necessities. Later, she moved on to sewing at several sewing shops, working on anything from canvas toppers for boats to bedspreads for RV factories. She moved once again to Sandpoint, Idaho, where she found a job sewing for a company that made everything from saddle pads to Kevlar® bulletproof vests.

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Jessica’s current horse, aptly named Silver.

Even during that busy time, her passion for horses was never extinguished. “Over the next 40 years, I owned horses. For most of those, I rode bareback, still not finding a well-designed bareback pad. When I did find a good bareback pad, the price was way out of my range starting at $350! I barely had two nickels to rub together and no money to spend on such a luxury.”

So Jessica did what any crafty DIYer would — she began to work on her own bareback pads! “My first supplies were purchased at a local store. That was all I needed to make my own bareback pads. To my surprise, it turned out very well, which had me thinking … why not make these for other people just like me? I knew there was a huge need.”

Being familiar with Sunbrella® canvas from her long sewing career was a huge help in the construction of these prototypes. “I still did not put together the idea of searching for marine canvas, but one day I went to an upholstery shop and saw the name Sailrite. I memorized it and that’s where it all really took off. Sailrite offered me most of the materials I needed to make my bareback pads. I was shocked and delighted! Since they also offered such excellent customer service and video tutorials, I was hooked. I make every effort to be loyal to Sailrite out of gratitude to them for what they offer. Sailrite is such a blessing and I don’t even think you know how grateful I am for them.”

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Jessica and “Batman” her trusty Fabricator.

Jessica went on to purchase the Sailrite Fabricator Sewing Machine, a full-size, straight stitch industrial sewing machine with incredible speed control and the ability to power through multiple layers of fabric. And although Sunbrella canvas was good for bareback pads, it also became clear that Jessica’s bareback pads needed fabric with a slight bit of stretch. So began the hunt for the perfect material! She tried several options and first settled on Naugahyde® Universal vinyl. She purchased many of the colors until she saw that Sailrite was offering Sunbrella® Horizon and EverSoft Indoor/Outdoor vinyl. Being intrigued, she ordered a sample of both and finally had an epiphany.

“My mind was totally blown when I saw and touched the EverSoft! This was it! That was what I’d been looking for!” This soft, supple, waterproof vinyl is fantastic for indoor and outdoor projects, making it well suited for Jessica’s bareback pads.

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After arduous work and numerous less-than-perfect attempts, Jessica finally discovered a sewing system and a bareback pad design that was ideal for her small business. Early on, it took her six hours to make one pad, but now she can easily make two in a day if the mood suits her. Since 2016, she’s sold hundreds of bareback pads with many, many return customers. “I work very, very hard to put out only the best work I can do and use only the best materials I can afford. These pads can have about 1200 miles put on them and still have life left!”

To make her bareback pads the best they can be, Jessica utilizes many high-quality products from Sailrite. Along with the Fabricator, these include the Sailrite® Edge Hotknife, YKK® zippers, stainless steel clips, D rings, webbing, binding, thread and more! And our comprehensive customer support is always a plus whenever she has questions or concerns.

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Rescue pony Kricket uses Jessica’s custom bareback pads to trek hundreds of miles. Photo courtesy of Jen Joines.

So what does Jessica think is the most rewarding part about sewing for her own business? Well, to fully appreciate the answer to that question, you’d also need to understand Jessica’s previous experiences sewing in a much less artistic realm. Her story is proof that there’s always a silver lining if you look for it.

“I love creating. I create in my dreams and wake up in the night with ideas. If I see colors, fabrics or notions, I will probably think of something to do with them. Figuring things out is my passion. That’s probably why I hated every job I ever worked at. They want you to put piece one and piece two together over and over again. It’s a miracle I survived that! I really thought there was something wrong with me. I could not hold down a job and I had horrible anxiety issues. Now I love what I do. I wake up excited to work.”

A Sailing Saga: Crafting the Perfect Sail

Bob Johnson is an avid and enthusiastic sailor. He built his own small planing scow years ago and enjoys taking it out during the summer where he lives in Oregon. One day, as he was trying to sail upstream in light wind, he had the idea to put a large spinnaker sail on his boat to catch the wind and really make it fly. After some trial and error, he realized that to get exactly what he wanted, he’d need to make it himself. Keep reading to find out how Bob put his sewing skills to use and invented his own sail design, which he rightfully named “Bob’s Sail.”

Originally, Bob’s 12-foot sailboat had two sails. The mainsail was 72 square feet and the jib was 16 square feet. Bob’s first attempt at upgrading his sail and speed potential was to rig a 100-square-foot spinnaker on the boat. The spinnaker is connected to the top of the mast and two places on the sides of the boat. “A spinnaker is a great big sail for sailing with the wind. All of the larger boats use them,” Bob explained.

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Bob sailing his planing scow on a lake in Oregon.

A Valiant First Attempt

When he tested out his new oversized spinnaker, he quickly realized a flaw in his plan. “I came to the conclusion that my planing scow would ‘submarine’ if the wind picked up. For you land lovers, a ‘planing scow’ is a nearly flat bottomed boat that is meant to sail in strong winds and to rise up out of the water and skim across the water like a speedboat does.” So, in effect, Bob’s idea would have the exact opposite effect he intended. Instead of his boat gracefully skimming across the water at high speeds, the spinnaker would cause the boat to nosedive bow first into the water!

The spinnaker was out, but that didn’t deter Bob. He put his thinking cap back on and came up with another idea. Bob’s solution to the spinnaker “submarine problem,” as he called it, was to make a sail that would pull the bow up and not down into the water like the spinnaker did. Bob’s plan was to make a large genoa sail to replace his 16-square-foot jib sail and sail wing on wing. “With a large genoa, I would be able to have the mainsail on one side and the genoa sail on the other (wing on wing). This would create a sail wall in front of my boat, just like a spinnaker would accomplish when sailing with the wind.”

Solving the Submarine Problem

“My thought was that the pressure on the genoa would help to lift the bow because of its angle on the jib stay.” A jib stay is a piece of standing rigging that keeps the mast from falling backward. But Bob’s creative juices didn’t stop there. “But wait!” he thought. “Why not make two genoa sails by making it just one big sail attached to the jib stay in the middle. This sail configuration would act, when fully open, as a spinnaker. I can also close both sails together to make it act like one genoa sail.”

With this new plan in hand, Bob set out to sew his clever sail design. “I used Sailrite’s sail material and sewed it on my sewing machine. I placed two super magnets, one on each side of the clew (the bottom rear corner), to aid in the closing of the two halves.” This unique sail design worked great, and Bob named it “Bob’s Sail.”

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Bob thought about patenting his sail idea, but others had the same idea a few years before him.

After two sailings with his new sail, Bob ran into another small issue. “I realized that when I had the Bob’s Sail fully opened I couldn’t see where I was going. I watched Sailrite’s instructional video on adding windows to a sail but decided I couldn’t do it on my machine.” Bob had two circular windows professionally installed. “The sail was made so that I can sail the boat with just this one sail or use it with the mainsail. Since it’s a furling genoa (‘furling’ means that I can roll this sail up around the jib stay), I can adjust the size to fit the wind conditions. I can use it fully open, partially closed or fully closed.”

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“My boat, when sailing at you, now looks like a big white monster with two round eyes!”

Sailing on Land

Bob doesn’t just enjoy sailing the Oregon lakes and rivers, he also sails on land. He owns several landsailers that he built himself from PVC piping. He also sewed the sails for his landsailers. “I have built several models and have tested them on blocked-off roads, vacant lots, the beach and one unused area at an airport.”

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A closer look at Bob’s two-seater PVC landsailer cab.

Land sailing, or land yachting, is a recreational activity that involves moving across land in a wheeled vehicle powered solely by the attached sail. “Sail wagons,” as they were called in the early 20th century, have been around for hundreds of years but have grown in popularity in recent times. There are even land yacht competitions around the world.

Designing a Landsailer

Over the years, Bob has drawn up multiple sets of plans, trying to design the perfect landsailer that met all his specifications. It’s been a trial and error process, but he’s determined to get it right. “Steering was a big problem,” he confessed. “I started out wanting to make the landsailer just like a sailboat with a tiller and mainsheet line. I found out that I needed one hand to hold the sail line and the other hand just to hang on, so then I had no steering control.” After that attempt, he developed a foot steering design, which was more successful.

Bob loves taking his landsailers for a spin on the beach. However, with no brakes on the vehicles it can turn into a potentially dangerous situation. “Our beaches usually have too many people on them, and I’m afraid of hitting someone. I have invented a spinnaker sail for one of my landsailers. It has a pull-down sock to close the sail with, but I haven’t tested it yet.” A spinnaker sock is a sleeve of material that is rigged to the spinnaker. Pulling a rope pulls the sleeve down, closing the sail and reducing your speed.

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Whether on land or water, Bob’s love of sailing knows no bounds. What does he love most about the sport? “Sailing is great because you can make only the wind move you without the noise of a motor. And DIY gives me the ability to make something that I can use on my boat.” Bob looks forward to many summers of enjoyment with his unique sail designs. We wish him fair winds and following seas.

Hawaii or Bust: Mike Raymond’s Story

At Sailrite®, the words sailing and sewing are often grouped together. Our Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine has a long-standing reputation of helping sailors sew and repair sails no matter where they are around the world. And Sailrite was the first American company to offer custom sail kits, providing even more flexibility to those who love the open water. Mike Raymond, a part-time sailor, has first-hand experience with everything that Sailrite is known for, and he was generous enough to tell us his story of sailing, sewing and self-reliance. 

Q. How did you get started sailing? How long have you been doing it?

In 1980, I was living in Seldovia, Alaska, and had finished the previous year crab fishing. It was around this time that I decided my family and I would take a vacation to the Caribbean for six weeks. We chartered a Swan 48 sailboat with both a captain and a cook for a week. Following that week, we stayed for Antigua Sailing Week and then planned to return home. However, the captain wanted one more crew member for the return trip to Connecticut and asked me if I wanted to go. I agreed, so my wife and 10-year-old daughter flew home and I followed about two weeks later.  

We then moved to Port Townsend, Washington, in early 1981. That’s where I crewed for several years on a C&C 39 in the Puget Sound races. I also made four more deliveries on the Swan 48 (my wife made three trips) between New England and the Caribbean. By 1986, I began building houses for a living and wasn’t able to take the time to sail very often.

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Mike’s floating home away from home.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about your foray into sewing and the Ultrafeed?

In 2015, I bought an Express 27 to enter the 2016 R2AK race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska (no motors allowed). My hope was to then complete a solo sail to Hawaii. My brother-in-law had recently bought a Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine and he decided to buy one for us. My wife was a sailmaker at Port Townsend Sails for six years in the late 1990s, so I could get advice from her. I decided to make three additional sails (all from Sailrite kits) for the boat prior to the race. This included a jib, asymmetrical spinnaker and a storm jib. I really enjoyed sewing the sails and it helped that I could use our community center for the expansive open space to work.

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The Ultrafeed LSZ-1 is perfect for sail repair.

Q.Can you tell me about the time you sailed to Hawaii all by yourself? Where did you start and how long did it take you? How did the Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine play a part in your sailing journey?

I completed buying the additional electronics for the trip to Hawaii and departed in June from Port Townsend in early 2018. Unfortunately, I encountered several gales near the California/Oregon border that severely damaged two sails and compromised an additional one.  That one further deteriorated and I was reduced to my second main and the storm jib. Additionally, the autopilot was damaged and there was no reasonable way to rig tiller steering with that sail combination, thereby having to heave-to whenever I had to sleep. That sail combination is also not very effective for heaving-to.

It basically took me six weeks to arrive at the North Shore of Oahu, which is at least twice as long as normal. None of the local sail lofts would fit me in to repair the damaged sails and it became obvious that I needed to bring the three damaged sails home to repair. I also needed to sew a new jib. Thankfully, I was able to order a Sailrite kit before leaving Hawaii, so it came in the mail shortly after I arrived home. [To clarify, Mike flew back home to Washington and left his boat in Hawaii, then flew back to Hawaii and sailed back to Washington.] The repairs and sewing the new jib took a few days and I was then able to return to Hawaii and prepare for the return trip. I had also purchased spare autopilot rams for the trip to be safe.

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Mike encountered a humpback whale on his journey.

The return trip took longer than expected also (same six weeks) due to the outboard motor failing and so could not travel in no-wind situations. Also, there became a charging issue between the solar panels and the batteries that led to no power for several days to the electronics and autopilot. At that time I was about 1,000 miles from the U.S. coast, so that was a nervous time for sure. 

I did have enough power to use my Iridium GO! to contact various sources to do a work-around with the charging, but the main batteries were somewhat compromised and provided erratic power to the autopilot. I was within less than 50 miles from the Washington coast when another gale caused damage to the sails and I needed to stop at a Canadian port to make some rigging repairs. I was then able to make the final return to Port Townsend, Washington. It was the most memorable sailing adventure I’ve had and would definitely do a few things differently if I ever considered repeating the experience.

Q. Do you still sail? And do you still plan on sewing with your Ultrafeed?

I’m not sure what other projects I’ll pursue with the Ultrafeed, but I definitely plan to keep it to do a broad range of projects. I’m currently remodeling our house and that’s taking all of my time for now. I’m open to helping friends deliver their boats to other ports or countries. I helped deliver a boat from San Diego to La Paz in Mexico last year. I’m 72 years old now, so I’m only considering interesting sailing trips.

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The Ultrafeed has been a must-have tool for sailing.

Calm Seas Ahead

No matter what your next sailing adventure requires, Sailrite is there for you every step of the way. You can sew your own sails, sail covers, bimini, enclosure and more with our high-quality products and free tutorials. We’re proud to have been part of Mike’s journey, and we love hearing stories from everyday customers who make incredible projects with our help. Happy sailing and sewing!