Getting Started in Sewing – PART I OF II By Linda L. Moore
n order to realize our dream and afford full time cruising, I knew that I needed to be self-sufficient. That meant, after 30 years, I had to relearn how to use a sewing machine. I learned from reading books and magazines dedicated to the cruising lifestyle that I needed a sewing machine that would be easy to use, conservative on space, and have a zigzag stitch capability (for sail repairs), capable of sewing through many layers of heavy material, and not be a power drain. I also wanted a machine that could handle smaller projects, such as repair torn clothes, make curtains or even clothes. The machine had to be relatively maintenance-free, and sturdy enough to live on a boat. So I had my criteria but still wasn’t sold on the idea yet. Then while on the hard at Sea Love Boat Works, in Ponce Inlet, FL, I met Brenda, of TBBG, an Endeavor catamaran. Brenda told me about her Sailrite sewing machine, and showed me some of the projects she had completed, including shade screens, and a cover for the dinghy. She showed me that the machine took up little space and lived as a “cocktail table” when it wasn’t working on sewing projects. I was impressed with her work and with how little space the machine took up. Making a choice Soon after, the captain and I visited the St. Pete boat show and stopped at the Sailrite booth. Matt Grant demonstrated Sailrite’s LSZ-1 for us, and made sewing look easy. The machines from Sailrite are made with the DIY sailor in mind, and so for a total of $1,000, I became the proud owner of a “LOADED” Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Straight Stitch/Zigzag machine. (I purchased my machine directly from Sailrite, which has its headquarters in Churubusco,
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A lee cloth is a small, simple, easy and practical starter project for the sewing amateur. (Design found in Good Old Boat magazine, “The case for Lee Cloths” May/June 2009.) Linda sewing onboard in Troubadour’s saloon.
IN. You can also find its machines used online (look at http://forum.sailrite.com, on Craig’s List, even eBay.) Other machines will meet your sewing needs as well. Just ask Marianne Smith, a self-described amateur, who along with husband Gary, sails and lives aboard Gallant Fox, their 2002 Malo 39. “I have used a Pfaff 1525 ($800) for over 5 years now, and it’s still going strong,” she says. “It’s a basic model but includes all the equipment and sewing options an amateur like me can figure out how to use.” Marianne had been using a 40-pound domestic brand sewing machine she had inherited from her aunt. She said it was not only difficult to stow and maneuver on a boat, but it was also inadequate for sewing boat canvas and multiple layers of incompatible fabrics (such as Sunbrella layered on top of vinyl). She describes the Pfaff 1525: “It is sturdily built, weighs only about 20 pounds and is compact enough to stow under one of the easy-access seats in our saloon. I have used it several times at anchor, and we have been pleasantly surprised at how little battery/inverter power it draws. We have a 2500-watt inverter aboard, and when the Pfaff is running on it (converting DC to the AC that the Pfaff must run on.), we see that there is minimal amperage drain from the batteries.” She continues, “We briefly considered other brands of sewing machines such as Sailrite’s, but they weren’t a good fit for us or our 40-foot sailboat. Other brands were generally too large and heavy for us to stow conveniently, and/or demanded too much battery/inverter power.” The Sailrite LSZ-1 comes with a sturdy black carrying case and weighs 44 pounds. Although not much heavier than a scuba tank, its dimensions (21 3/8” W x 14 1/4” H x 10 3/4” D) allow it to store easily in Troubadour’s saloon. Karin Nason is a Sailrite convert. Experienced with many boat-related sewing projects, she loves to share her knowledge with others starting out. Like me, she owns an LSZ-1, which she chose after online research. “It has zigzag and a walking foot and can sew through 10 layers of heavy canvas.” Although the machine will run off the inverter at 1.5 amps, Karin also owns the Sailrite Monster Balance Wheel, which allows for hand-cranking when electricity isn’t availwww.southwindsmagazine.com