Forums > Sailing General

Learning to sew

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Created by Toph 6 months ago, 12 Apr 2018
Toph
WA, 1272 posts
12 Apr 2018 10:20AM
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I consider myself fairly good with my hands, and I have enough sewing jobs to do that it may be worth learning this new skill, but have a few questions (at this stage)
1. Is it really as easy as the sailrite videos make it out to be (I will assume not)
2. What machine is just as capable of the job without spending 2k on an industrial machine (or even 1k for that matter)
3. Anyone in WA got a machine and willing to show me the way over a few beers (obviously I will get the materials)

oldboyracer
NSW, 189 posts
12 Apr 2018 2:34PM
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It depends on what you want to have a go at and what your happy for the professionals to do ( read pay for ) What I save I spend on time off for sailing. I use a very old singer 99k . It does 4 layers of sunbrella with no problems. It was my mothers. You need an early model singer,pre 60s I think as they have steel gears ,newer ones have plastic gears. I got a roll of da bond v92 ( get v68 as it's a bit smaller and easier to work with) . I wouldn't use it for sail work. Hunt around ,you should get one for less than $100 ,they are not collectors items as some would have you believe. Pull it apart ,clean ,oil , adjust. Get size 18 or 20 needles ( do a net search lots of information on these.)
Start simple , maybe a nice table cloth for the boat . I recovered the bimimi ,Sail covers and dodger next.




Toph
WA, 1272 posts
12 Apr 2018 1:17PM
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Thanks Oldboyracer.
I won't be doing any sail work. I am not that ambitious
First job would be some weather cloths and then redo the bimini. After that, the stitching world may be my oyster

Jolene
870 posts
12 Apr 2018 2:10PM
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Just finished making weather cloths and various other items for my boat. I used my old Singer 201 that i found down at the dump.
Although I fumbled my way through the jobs, and made items from the Weather Max material that look like the items that I required, the stitching is rather poor and untidy,, and the whole exercise was punishing for the machine and consumed alot of down time continually untangling ,re-threading and unpicking simply because the machine wasn't to the capacity required.
I even borrowed an industrial sewing machine but found it was worse than my Singer 201 because it was designed to sew clothing at full speed and not heavy duty stuff.






The biggest problem I found is the small domestic machines cannot handle the heavy bonded type thread that your sailmakers use.
I have just bought a Sailrite machine and are awaiting delivery of it

samsturdy
NSW, 1246 posts
12 Apr 2018 4:26PM
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In my opinion you can't go past a Necchi Supernova Ultra. Missus has had one for decades and made our
superlative lazy jack stackpack with it. Our machine must be more than fifty years old and it sews
brilliantly.

Microbe
WA, 44 posts
12 Apr 2018 3:48PM
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Hi Toph,

I used my wife's Grandmother's old singer to do some upholstery. It worked OK once I worked out how to set it up with bobbin tension and foot tension etc. I taught myself how to do it by reading a few web pages, then just trial and error. I've even managed to do some sail repair, but it won't handle anything too thick.

My tip, in case you are getting a Sailrite kit, is to not use the double-sided sticky tape they recommend to hold the seams in place before sewing. It gums up the needles and causes all sorts of problems.

If you are looking for an industrial sewing machine to use I know that the Men's Shed in Mosman Park have one. It is only $100 to join, so cheaper than any sewing machine - and as a bonus you will get to use all their woodwork and metalwork machinery :-) The only downside is that they are only open during the week and Saturday mornings - not so convenient for wage slaves like me.

If you want to get together and get some pointers about sewing I'm happy to help out a fellow sandgroper. Get in touch.

Ramona
NSW, 4391 posts
12 Apr 2018 5:55PM
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Use the sailrite web page to select the needles you require then buy them locally. The correct needle and the correct size is critical. I have my Mum's old Singer foot operated machine with the belt tensioned up a bit and the correct needle and will straight stitch through about 5mm of cloth. Have to use the wheel to hand crank on occasions.
I have an industrial Singer 20U set up in my sail room which does zig zags and is ideal for sail repairs and building sails. Even with a heavy duty motor it does not have the power of the treadle machine! I bought the 20U off eBay a few years ago off a lady that was manufacturing bras. I have lots of pastel coloured threads available!. Zigzag is nice for sails but straight stitching is probably more serviceable. Any of the non computer quality domestic machines will work brilliantly with the correct needle. Choose one that has plenty of help videos on youtube.

saintpeter
VIC, 66 posts
12 Apr 2018 6:52PM
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At the risk of getting seriously off-topic: if you would like to see some truly beautiful sail craftsmanship, look up "Carol Haase" at "Port Townsend Sails" on you-tube. And her sailmakers are gorgeous too!

These heirloom products are for serious cruisers, so hi-tech racers should look away now. And as for price, I suspect that "if you have to ask .. .. .. .. ".

Jode5
QLD, 638 posts
12 Apr 2018 6:59PM
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I have a sailrite and it's the best thing I ever bought. Great for all sorts of odd jobs. Takes a little practice but not hard. My stitching is probably not as straight as a pro, but good enough. The only problem is every time I want it, one of my kids has borrowed it and i've got to get it back. When buying get a zipper foot and a 25mm binding guide as well.

FreeRadical
WA, 760 posts
12 Apr 2018 6:00PM
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My co-owner has made heaps of Sunbrella stuff for us. Hatch covers, window covers, wheel covers, cockpit table covers, all sorts of things as well as repairs to boom bag etc. Watches the sailrite videos and has a go. May not be professional standard, but pretty good.

Check out this one Toph.

www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/safety-bay/other-appliances/sewing-machine-industrial-singer-20u/1177550716

crustysailor
VIC, 596 posts
12 Apr 2018 8:57PM
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and if you want help sewing straight, either buy a sewing machine magnetic guide (often too lightweight though if you get into sewing heavier stuff) or use a welding magnet on the base to set your hem margins.

makes it easy

Jode5
QLD, 638 posts
12 Apr 2018 9:30PM
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Select to expand quote
crustysailor said..
and if you want help sewing straight, either buy a sewing machine magnetic guide (often too lightweight though if you get into sewing heavier stuff) or use a welding magnet on the base to set your hem margins.

makes it easy


Basting tape ( double sided tape) is a must to make life easy and keep things in place while you sew it.
www.sailrite.com/Seamstick-3-8-for-Canvas-60-Yds

Jolene
870 posts
12 Apr 2018 7:52PM
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Select to expand quote


Just be careful with the definition of "industrial sewing machine"

Like I mentioned in a previous post,, the industrial machine I used to try to sew Weather max was useless when using a decent uv bonded type thread that a typical sailmaker would use to sew a typical stack pack or binimi. But the same machine with its huge under table mounted continuous running motor will spit out hems on bed sheets out at the speed of sound.

Ramona
NSW, 4391 posts
13 Apr 2018 8:50AM
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The industrial machines will sew slow very well which is important for the sort of stuff we are interested in doing. The style and size of the needle must suit the thread and the material.
My Singer 20u is set up between two tables, one is a dining room table and it will happily drag through a rolled up mainsail.
I use different thread sizes for different materials and have separate bobbins with the tension set for each thread. The Singer 20u is made in Japan and China with the Japanese made one supposedly better. The sailrite machine is a rebadged Chinese unit. Not sure who makes them but the cruiserforums had a discussion on them some time ago.

Jolene
870 posts
13 Apr 2018 8:02AM
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Select to expand quote
Ramona said..
The industrial machines will sew slow very well which is important for the sort of stuff we are interested in doing. The style and size of the needle must suit the thread and the material.



Again,, depends on what you call an Industrial Machine, Not all industrial machines will sew slow, not all industrial machines will have the capacity to carry a needle large enough for thread required for thick heavy materials, not all industrial machines provide adequate stitch spacing as to not weaken the material your sewing.
If you go to the trouble to by a second hand Industrial sewing machine to sew heavy material and sailcloth, be sure to buy one designed for the material you plan to sew (large needles and heavy threaded) and not an industrial dress making machine.

samsturdy
NSW, 1246 posts
13 Apr 2018 10:29AM
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BTW, missus says, if you intend to sew large pieces then you need a free-arm.

LooseChange
NSW, 1772 posts
13 Apr 2018 5:41PM
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Select to expand quote
samsturdy said..
BTW, missus says, if you intend to sew large pieces then you need a free-arm.


And probably a walking foot as well for the heavy material that you know you are going to want to sew.

sirgallivant
NSW, 1203 posts
13 Apr 2018 6:02PM
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The 'industrial machine' is a misnomer. A machine which can saw fast is usu. called 'industrial' for it saves time.
The peccant part is the "walking foot" or free arm.
This type as it's name suggests, steps over the material passed, not trying to drag it like the 'normal' sawing machine. I had a leather business, sawing leather wests, pants, jackets and we used an 'industrial walking foot' machine.
It handled all the heavy duty sawing with aplomb.
Never tried a sail be sawn on it thou, but the idea is the same.
The machines down at the local loft are all so called 'walking foot' machines.

The old Singers are a class on their own as in those days they did not have the walking foot invented yet and all the machines were built like they should have built today, using metals not crap plastic.


Sam and LC beat me to it by minutes but it's the same, nevertheless !

dkd
SA, 131 posts
13 Apr 2018 7:00PM
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I find the best way of getting sewing done is the easiest, I give it to my son ...... ohhhh he is a sailmaker, easy for me, job done.

Jode5
QLD, 638 posts
13 Apr 2018 8:39PM
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Most sail makers and industrial canvas joints don't usually have free arm machines, they are usually mounted in a flat deck which makes it easer to get large products through the machine. I have never had a need for a free arm, maybe cause I don't make dresses. You definitely need a walking foot and zig zag stitch though, which is what the Sailrite has. The Sailrite is only a portable machine so the throat can be a bit small to get large items through it, but if something is that big I'm better of taking it to a professional who has the room to spread it out.

Stockie
NSW, 26 posts
13 Apr 2018 9:41PM
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I looked for ages for a second hand machine, the words Walking Foot seems to put even 25 year old sewing machines from the old Sydney suburban sweat shops into some mythical status, re the money they command! One night, I pushed the PayPal button on a full spec Sailrite
im ashamed to admit I've only unpacked it and inspected it, I am not an expert sewing person, but I do subscribe to DIY in most of my endeavours and the quality and robust build of the blue Sailrite give me a confidence that when I do crank it up, it will only be my inexperience that lets the project down! @ around $1300 landed, and withSunbrella fabric prices, you may as well make a good go of it! If you can knock up a Bimini or a Dodger, well you are most likely already in front?

cheers Richard

Ramona
NSW, 4391 posts
14 Apr 2018 8:13AM
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This sewing caper can be a bit addictive once you start. Apart from those sail repairs and building sails just to try something out there is all those little jobs on the boat. Cushion covers, winch covers and rope bags etc. Trailer winch straps and all manner of stuff about the house and workshop. Ditty bags for all that stuff that did not need a bag previously.

Wander66
QLD, 171 posts
14 Apr 2018 8:39AM
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What type of machine would you need to make a wigwam for a goose's bridal? My mum always had one but I never saw it .

cisco
QLD, 10699 posts
14 Apr 2018 11:23AM
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Wander66 said..
What type of machine would you need to make a wigwam for a goose's bridal? My mum always had one but I never saw it .


I bet there is a goose's bridle in your tool kit. Come on 'fess up.

Toph
WA, 1272 posts
14 Apr 2018 10:21AM
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Select to expand quote
Wander66 said..
What type of machine would you need to make a wigwam for a goose's bridal? My mum always had one but I never saw it .



While the phrase 'wigwam for a gooses bridal' was intentionality absurd, I once actually did manufacture a makeshift bridal for a Chinese goose and walked it down the Main Street and beaches of Kings Cliff.

I was was living on the Sunshine Coast at the time and had two Chinese geese. I had to go to Lismore and one of the geese had just died. I didn't want to leave the other one at home so took it with me and stopped at Kings Cliff for a break.

Some me of the looks I got were just as absurd as the saying

cisco
QLD, 10699 posts
14 Apr 2018 8:56PM
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Oh !! So you do have a goose's bridle in your tool kit. So that makes two of you.

Anybody else got a goose's bridle in their tool kit?? No shame in admitting it unless you have the wigwam too. That would make you very suss.

Jolene
870 posts
19 Apr 2018 12:01PM
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Sailrite machine arrived yesterday. Unpacked it and 15min latter had it sewing.
So far pretty awesome and no malfunctions.

BlueMoon
524 posts
19 Apr 2018 5:59PM
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Select to expand quote
Ramona said..
This sewing caper can be a bit addictive once you start. Apart from those sail repairs and building sails just to try something out there is all those little jobs on the boat. Cushion covers, winch covers and rope bags etc. Trailer winch straps and all manner of stuff about the house and workshop. Ditty bags for all that stuff that did not need a bag previously.


Yeah it can get a bit addictive, I like doing little jobs like making hatch covers, lee cloths, rope bags, sun shades etc etc.
Tip: Don't bother with the sticky joint tape, just fold the fabric (I like the WeatherMax) where you want to stitch it, and run the back of your good quality dress making scissors along the fold, this will hold it until its sewn.
I just use the wifes normal domestic sewing machine with whatever needle & its fine through 4 or 5 layers of WeatherMax.
cheers

Stockie
NSW, 26 posts
19 Apr 2018 9:29PM
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Jolene,
what model Sailrite did you get?
i need some motivation to get my Blue one pressed into service so please update us on your sewing endeavours
cheers Richard

Jode5
QLD, 638 posts
19 Apr 2018 9:37PM
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Select to expand quote
BlueMoon said..

Ramona said..
This sewing caper can be a bit addictive once you start. Apart from those sail repairs and building sails just to try something out there is all those little jobs on the boat. Cushion covers, winch covers and rope bags etc. Trailer winch straps and all manner of stuff about the house and workshop. Ditty bags for all that stuff that did not need a bag previously.



Yeah it can get a bit addictive, I like doing little jobs like making hatch covers, lee cloths, rope bags, sun shades etc etc.
Tip: Don't bother with the sticky joint tape, just fold the fabric (I like the WeatherMax) where you want to stitch it, and run the back of your good quality dress making scissors along the fold, this will hold it until its sewn.
I just use the wifes normal domestic sewing machine with whatever needle & its fine through 4 or 5 layers of WeatherMax.
cheers


BlueMoon, I used to use the misses machine the same as you until I broke it. Then it cost me for 2 machines, a Sailrite and a new machine for her and guess what, I think she bought the dearest one she could find. Be warned

G30ff0
NSW, 103 posts
20 Apr 2018 2:24AM
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Select to expand quote
Stockie said..
I looked for ages for a second hand machine, the words Walking Foot seems to put even 25 year old sewing machines from the old Sydney suburban sweat shops into some mythical status, re the money they command! One night, I pushed the PayPal button on a full spec Sailrite
im ashamed to admit I've only unpacked it and inspected it, I am not an expert sewing person, but I do subscribe to DIY in most of my endeavours and the quality and robust build of the blue Sailrite give me a confidence that when I do crank it up, it will only be my inexperience that lets the project down! @ around $1300 landed, and withSunbrella fabric prices, you may as well make a good go of it! If you can knock up a Bimini or a Dodger, well you are most likely already in front?

cheers Richard


Hi Richard, where a bouts did you get your sailrite? Direct from the us or an Aussie reseller?

thanks

Geoff



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"Learning to sew" started by Toph