Why Choose an Ultrafeed®?

Item # X-HT-300330

We get this question a lot. There are several semi-industrial, walking foot sewing machines on the market, and you may be thinking, “What’s so special about the Ultrafeed®?” The short answer is: The Ultrafeed is unique with top-of-the-line features that are offered exclusively by Sailrite®. These features, combined with the assembly process in Indiana and the best customer support in the industry, make Ultrafeed machines more custom-made rather than mass-produced. From the moment you unbox the machine, you’ll notice its solid design and superior quality. Keep reading to learn more about Sailrite’s flagship product.

Ultrafeed LS-1 and LSZ-1

The Secret to the Ultrafeed's Success

Let’s talk about proprietary technology. Ultrafeed® machines have components that are exclusive to Sailrite® (Patents #6499415 and #7438009). The design objective for the Ultrafeed brand started with a few simple goals. Sailrite wanted to develop a sewing machine that could feed fabric extremely well (thus the name) and it had to have the power and durability to penetrate heavy fabric assemblies consistently. It also needed to produce the long stitch lengths that are common for sewing outdoor canvas, and it needed to be portable. Basically, we needed to create a portable, heavy-duty walking foot sewing machine — and we succeeded! Both the LS-1 and LSZ-1 Ultrafeed Sewing Machines deliver on what we set out to achieve. The LSZ-1 version carries the further distinction of being the first machine of its kind to offer zigzag and straight stitch sewing capability with a walking foot in a portable package.

The EZ Set™ Stitch Length Plate (Patent #6499415, Claim 20) enables Ultrafeed machines to sew longer stitches and allows for better control of forward and reverse operation. Two thumb screws enable you to restrict and set your stitch length in forward and reverse quickly and easily. The lever can then move freely between the posts, but not beyond them, ensuring a consistent stitch length every time. The spring-loaded lever will automatically return to its forward position when released for easier bar-tacking.

Both the Power Plus® Flywheel and the Monster® II Balance Wheel are proprietary to Sailrite. The Power Plus Flywheel comes standard on all post-2007 Ultrafeed packages. It is twice the size of a traditional balance wheel and provides twice the power too, allowing you to sew incredibly thick assemblies at slow, controlled speeds. The Monster II Balance Wheel is an upgrade made from 7 pounds of nickel-plated steel. It provides a quieter sewing experience, and its weight and balance create enough momentum that you can use the hand crank to sew even heavy fabrics effortlessly without electricity.

Providing 100% power transfer from the motor to the machine’s upper drive shaft, and ultimately powering the needle, is Sailrite’s patented Posi-Pin® Clutching System (Patent #7438009). The Posi-Pin solves the issue of the traditional slip-prone friction clutch on standard sewing machines. A specially designed pin fits through a hole in the balance wheel and into a matching hole in the shaft bushing to engage and disengage the drive. This creates a constant positive connection between the balance wheel and the shaft. It locks the components together so there is no loss of power at any time. This slip-free connection means that you get the most power possible delivered right to your needle, enabling you to penetrate heavy fabric assemblies, even at slow speeds.

You may be wondering why this new clutch system was even needed. Well, the problem with inferior friction clutches is that when sewing thick fabric assemblies and heavy or specialty materials such as denim, canvas, leather and multiple layers of Dacron® sailcloth, it’s common for a standard clutch to slip. Clutches exhibit slippage when the balance wheel rotates but the needle does not penetrate the fabric; you keep pressing the foot control harder and harder but nothing happens. That doesn’t happen with the Posi-Pin System. You get the full power and advantage of the drive system.

As an added safety feature, the Posi-Pin has a shear point that will break before your machine does. If your needle hits something hard like a snap, the Posi-Pin is designed to shear before causing internal damage to the machine. Pulling the pin out makes the machine stop working, another excellent safety feature.

Another bonus of the Posi-Pin is that it makes bobbin winding fast and easy without repetitively punching the needle through the same spot in the fabric. With a friction clutch system, you have to turn a nut that’s likely difficult to loosen in order to wind bobbins (overtightening is common to help reduce slippage while sewing). With the Posi-Pin System, it’s as simple as pulling out the pin to disengage the flywheel, and then using your foot control to wind the bobbin without the needle moving up and down.

Uncompromising Quality

When it comes to a quality sewing machine, the body casting is the most important and fundamental element. The casting is the foundation of the machine. If the casting on a sewing machine is poorly made, it can cause irreparable damage to the other parts. Internal components will begin failing, leading to a domino effect of other problems, ultimately resulting in an unusable machine.

The casting of Ultrafeed® Sewing Machines is exceptional in every way. The casting molds, along with all other internal component molds, were remanufactured by Sailrite® to produce a more robust bed and arm. Our new molds are used exclusively for Sailrite machine production, guaranteeing quality stitching and long machine life.

The top photo is a pre-2007 casting. You can clearly see the improvements and consistency in the casting borings in the bottom photo.

Stronger, more robust feet are seen in the photo on the right.

Improving the primary cast components of the machine is just one way that Sailrite shows commitment to continuous product improvement. Our Ultrafeed cast-iron bodies are very thick in critical areas and made of high-quality metal. If you cut into our casting, you’ll see solid metal with no visible air bubbles. And if you lay our machine on its side and inspect the feet and shaft bores, you’ll see that all shafts are properly supported and centered in the cast-iron appendages. Weak appendages can break, but that will not happen to an Ultrafeed.

With a strong platform to work from, Sailrite could design parts of equal quality and strength for the interior of the machines as well. We made them heavier and more durable. The result is the current Version 3 Ultrafeed (circa 2016), and it also comes with several nice cosmetic and functional improvements.

Upgrades to the Version 3 Ultrafeed:

  • Laser engraved hemming guideline on the needle plate (1/4-, 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-inch markings on LS-1; 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-inch markings on LSZ-1)
  • A strong and portable industrial carrying case with internal foam to support the machine
  • New metal label plates
  • Improved branding and appearance with black accents
  • Improved feed dogs for better feeding of material
  • Improved idler pulley for quieter operation and excellent belt tracking
  • Improved Integrated Thread Stand with a post for bobbin storage
Version 3 LS-1 and LSZ-1 Ultrafeed machines.

Notable Interior & Exterior Components

The Ultrafeed® must be tough enough to stand up to the incredible power supplied by our Power Plus® and Monster® II Balance Wheels utilizing the Posi-Pin® Clutching System. The following special design considerations and otherwise improved parts make the Ultrafeed one of a kind.

The Ultrafeed needle crank arm is designed to increase the needle bar stroke. This enables sewing thicker fabric assemblies with greater accuracy — no skipped stitches. This innovation is patented (Patent #6499415, Claim 19).

The zigzag mechanism has been improved to be smoother in both operation and quality. We’ve improved all the internal components that work together to produce zigzag stitches on the LSZ-1 machines.

Our improved oscillating shaft, made exclusively for Sailrite, features thicker, more substantial forks than your average machine’s oscillating shaft to eliminate breakage. Prior to this upgrade, we had to weld a reinforcement to this part. Now if the needle binds in the hook mechanism or strikes a metal snap in your fabric, you can count on the Ultrafeed to withstand the collision. This makes the machine more resilient to user mistakes.

Modifying the feed lifting rod shaft crank and changing the outer stitch length plate enabled us to claim a true 6mm stitch length, the longest in its class. Our technicians also set an industry-leading 3/8-inch clearance under the raised presser foot.

The shuttle race slide (generally known as the hook basket) was completely remade with part precision in mind, allowing the gib hook to oscillate smoothly. Proper motion of the hook reduces friction on the thread during loop formation to provide consistent stitch tension. It also allows for use of heavy thread.

Photo of the shuttle race slide for the Ultrafeed.

The shuttle driver is essential to machine operation. Ours is made of hardened metal, providing enough strength for continual use and preventing the part from bending under strain, which can lock up the machine. The arms are smooth and polished so the thread does not snag on the arm as it passes, which can lead to shredded thread and cause skipped stitches.

The presser bar actuator rocker is molded as a single component instead of a two-part press-fit assembly. It will not fail, as failure would cause the feet to skip along and not walk properly.

A properly grounded motor is used in combination with our deluxe electronic foot control for precise variable speed control, and the grounded wiring means you’ll never have to worry about electrical shock. When used with our geared drive system and Power Plus Flywheel, it sets the machine apart for speed and control while sewing through heavier fabrics.

The take-up arm guard is a safety measure that is not required in the United States, but which we have incorporated on all our models, both North American and international. It prevents fingers from being pinched by the take-up arm of the machine.

A sampling of notable interior and exterior components on the Ultrafeed Sewing Machine.

The outside presser foot is designed with more defined teeth to prevent fabric from slipping while sewing. We also include a proper piping groove to allow for larger piping and smoother feeding while maintaining the desired stitch length.

A quality powder coat paint finish is applied over a primer, ensuring our colors are unique and set our machines apart. We love the look and durable finish of our red and blue machines!

Sewing Capabilities

Here at Sailrite®, we always say if you can fit it under the foot, the Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine can likely sew it! The incredible capabilities of the Ultrafeed make it an essential machine for both beginners and professionals. It’s easy to use with straightforward controls and is built to perform.

Our red LS-1 model performs a straight stitch while our blue LSZ-1 model does both a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch. Both models are available in a 110V option for North American customers and a 220-240V option for international customers. Most sewing projects, including upholstery, home décor, canvaswork and awnings, only require a straight stitch. The zigzag stitch is commonly used for sail construction and repair, but also for some home sewing. We recommend the LSZ-1 machine if you have a sailboat, so you’ll have the zigzag capability should you ever need it. A zigzag stitch provides more flexibility and stretch along its length, which is ideal for stretchy materials. For sail seams it also distributes stress more evenly across the seam, which is helpful for simple overlapping seams comprised of just two layers.

The Ultrafeed breezes through materials such as denim, sailcloth, heavy canvas, upholstery fabrics, vinyl, webbing, soft leather, window material, curtain fabrics, Sew Foam and more. The Ultrafeed is designed to power through just about anything you can throw at it. With proper tensioning, you can also sew home fabrics such as light cotton and polyester. For sewing silk, satin and fine leather, we have special delicate feet and feed dog options that won’t mar or damage your fabric.

The 3/8-inch foot lift allows for thick assemblies, and our best-in-class needle bar stroke means you’ll always get consistent stitches. Our mechanical walking presser feet are proprietary to the Ultrafeed and we’ve spent a lot of time engineering them (Patent #6499415, Claim 16) to ensure they are able to climb up fabric thicknesses with ease. This walking foot design eliminates uneven feeding and reduces fabric puckering.

Our standard foot also includes a built-in welting/cording tunnel so you can sew standard size marine piping without changing the foot. We’ve also designed several specialty feet for the Ultrafeed to sew leather/delicate materials, oversized cording, narrow zippers and more. All of our presser feet are proprietary to the Ultrafeed and you can only find them at Sailrite.

The molds for one of our proprietary presser feet.

Our Assembly Process

Every Ultrafeed® is assembled, fine-tuned and calibrated at our Indiana manufacturing facility. As soon as we receive the head casting and other key components from our manufacturing partners, our technicians get to work preparing the machines for our customers. The process starts with a roughly assembled head casting. In Sewing Room 1, the technicians build the machines, adding components like the EZ Set™ Stitch Length Plate, the motor, the Power Plus® Flywheel and idler pulley. Each Ultrafeed component is manufactured by partners exclusively for Sailrite. At this stage, the machines are also evaluated for smoothness of rotation. Every machine must turn over freely and have feet that walk smoothly during operation. It’s here that polishing of shafts and forks is manually done to ensure quality.

One of our highly skilled Sewing Machine Technicians tunes an Ultrafeed LSZ-1.

In Sewing Room 2, technicians begin the fine-tuning process, calibrating every machine to our exact specifications. Each machine is sewn-off in a variety of materials and assembly thicknesses. This is a pass or fail test, and only machines that pass the test make it to the packaging room. If something seems suspect on the machine or it does not perform to our very high expectations, it is moved back in the process for correction(s) before it’s timed and tuned again for sewing.

Ultrafeed machines being fine-tuned.
Ultrafeed machines being fine-tuned.

Our assembly and quality control process ensures that Sailrite machines function to their highest capabilities. At Sailrite, we make sure that every machine not only sews but that it’s performing perfectly before it leaves our facility. We put in the time and effort so that you have little setup on your end. We want you to start sewing and enjoying your machine as soon as possible.

A table full of finished machines are ready to be packaged and shipped. Note the sewn-off samples of material and the hand-signed tag signifying the machine was inspected, built and tested at our Indiana manufacturing facility.

Service & Support

If all the information above hasn’t sold you on why Ultrafeed® Sewing Machines are the best portable, walking foot sewing machines in the industry, you should know that our dedication to our customers is unparalleled. Sailrite® sets the highest standards for our Ultrafeed machines. When we build a machine at our Indiana manufacturing facility, we follow a standard procedure so that our Chief Technical Advisor knows the quality of every Ultrafeed that ships to our customers. In fact, every Ultrafeed is thoroughly examined and signed off by one of our senior technicians who has worked in our sewing department for at least six years and has passed a rigorous training program. There’s even a hang tag on every machine with a handwritten signature of the technician who personally built your machine.

The Ultrafeed includes a comprehensive, in-depth guidebook. This thorough, extremely detailed manual contains all the setup and maintenance information you need, from oiling to timing to troubleshooting. We also provide dozens of free online videos to help you with setup and use. Not only do we have free online videos, but we also keep a library of support videos should you need more one-on-one assistance. Call or email us with any issue and we’ll start a support case for you. If we have a video that solves your problem it will be emailed to you directly. And if we don’t have a support video that addresses the issue, we will work expediently to get you sewing again. Ultrafeed Sewing Machines come with a five-year limited warranty, (two-year prior to January 1, 2019) and we keep all Ultrafeed replacement parts in stock and ready to ship should you ever need them.

Ultrafeed Sewing Machines lead the marketplace of portable heavy-duty walking foot sewing machines. They're extremely high quality, they utilize proprietary technology, and they are supported by Sailrite — a company with a long history equipping DIY enthusiasts to sew. When you buy an Ultrafeed, you don’t just get a sewing machine, you become part of the Sailrite community.

Sailrite is the only place you’ll find a new Ultrafeed; we’re also your one-stop shop for everything related to sewing projects. Whether you’re looking for fabric, tools, notions or helpful how-to videos, we truly have everything you need to make your DIY dream a reality! The convenience, quality and customer service that comes from shopping with us is unsurpassed. You simply won’t find it anywhere else. The excellence found in our Ultrafeed Sewing Machines can also be found in all the products and instructional videos on our site, so go ahead and get inspired.

Meet inventor and designer of the Ultrafeed Matt Grant, Vice President and Owner of Sailrite.