susan on boat at marina

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 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!


Who We Are

Sailrite is your one-stop DIY shop! We are a passionate crew of do-it-yourselfers who strive to equip you with the supplies and how-to knowledge you need to tackle your next project. Do you want to learn upholstery, leatherwork, canvaswork, hobby sewing, bag making or more? We have the fabric, tools, hardware, sewing machines and notions you need to master any DIY. And even if you’ve never sewn before, our tutorials and how-to videos are designed for beginners and experienced crafters alike.

Start your DIY journey today:

8 thoughts on “Marina Hopping With the Ultrafeed®”

  1. What a great story. I admire you for taking the plunge and getting those lessons in the first place to start your own business. Well done. Adrian (UK)

  2. Can you tell me if I can use any of your thread in my Bernia sewing machine? If so what oz do I use? I just have a small project, a few sling back chairs! Thanks!

  3. I am interested in learning more about Sailrite. Do you sell one type of machine or are there multiple machines for different sewing tasks?
    Please let me know.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Yes, we sell our own brand of proprietary Sailrite sewing machines — the Ultrafeed, Fabricator and Professional. We do recommend the different machines based on what type of sewing you do and whether you need a portable or industrial machine.

      The Ultrafeed is our only portable, yet still heavy-duty, machine. It comes in two versions: the LS-1 is a straight-stitch only machine and the LSZ-1 is a straight/zigzag stitch machine. The Ultrafeed is great for canvaswork, sailmaking, upholstery, denim, soft to medium leather, awnings and even drapery material. Here’s a fantastic blog with everything you need to know about our most popular and best-selling machine:

      The Fabricator is a straight-stitch only industrial machine. It’s not portable and is ideal for small canvas and awning shops and serious DIYers. It’s a full production machine and is designed to run all day long. It can sew through up to 16 layers of Sunbrella canvas and 20 layers of denim! We recommend the Fabricator for heavy canvas, awnings, leather up to 16 oz., upholstery, denim, vinyl, Sew Foam and batting, drapery and more. Here’s a link to our blog all about the Fabricator to learn more:

      The Professional Sewing Machine is a full size, industrial straight/zigzag stitch sewing machine. We recommend the Professional for sail lofts and people sewing for boats up to 60 feet. It offers more underarm space than a portable machine (needed for large sails) but is much less expensive than industrial sailmaking zigzag machines found in the next sewing machine bracket. The Professional sews both 2-point and 4-point zigzag stitches. Here’s a blog all about the benefits and uses of the Professional:

      Hopefully, this information and the links provided help you learn more about Sailrite and our unbeatable lineup of sewing machines. Let us know if you have any additional questions. We’re always happy to help our customers. You can call us at (260) 244-4647 or email

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I am also working in a corporate position and I am just miserable. I grew up boating and when I think of boating and how distant I’ve been from it since climbing the corporate ladder. It feels like a part of my life is missing. I love sewing and have been playing with the idea of entering the boating/RV industry but I am not sure I should make the leap. I would love to learn how to reupholster and take more sewing classes. Especially marine upholstery! Can’t seem to find that specialized course near me. Any advice would be great because my current career is drowning me.

    1. Hi Sabrina,

      While Sailrite doesn’t offer classes, our free how-to videos are a great resource for people wanting to get into sewing! We don’t cut out any steps of the sewing and upholstery process, so our videos are great for beginners as well as experienced sewers. Our customers tell us all the time how detailed and well-explained our tutorials are. If you’re interested in marine upholstery, we just completed a 6-part pontoon upholstery series. I think this would be a great place for you to start. Here’s a link to the series, and good luck with everything!–AND–Tips?order=custitem_popularity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *