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. 

Xakm0+cjTASyXgCze9+mtA
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!

IMG_3127
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. 

fullsizeoutput_2afb

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!

fullsizeoutput_2a91
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!”

marina hopping
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.”

susan on boat
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.

ultrafeed at marina
Ultrafeed mobile sewing station — what a view!