Weathering the Storm: Sewing & DIY

Bruce Carlile is a lifelong boater. He grew up in California’s San Diego Bay Area sailing, racing and enjoying life. From participating in the Junior Sailing Program at his local yacht club to racing a variety of sailboats, including Sabots, Lasers, Hobie Cats, Star keelboats and more, to speeding along on his family’s powerboats, Bruce can’t imagine his life without a boat of some kind in it. In 2018, he obtained his late father’s Duffy boat. It was in rough shape, having been devastated by a freak November storm, but Bruce was determined to save it. With time, hard work and his Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine, he was able to restore his father’s boat to its former glory.

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The first surrey top Bruce sewed, including vinyl window panels.

A Cocktail Cruiser

Bruce’s lifelong love of boats was inherited from his parents. “My parents had a place in Coronado Cays, a residential marina in the south end of San Diego Bay, and there was a dock behind the house. It was the perfect setting for a cruising boat, and my father saw one cruising by one day.” Bruce’s father asked the owner what type of boat it was and that’s how he was introduced to the Duffy boat. Soon after, he bought one for himself — first an 18-foot Duffy and then he upgraded to the 22-foot Duffy Classic.

As soon as Bruce’s father purchased the Duffy, Bruce immediately fell in love with the boat’s laid-back design. The first electric boat, a Duffy glides slowly and silently on the water and is designed for the cruising lifestyle. Nicknamed a “cocktail cruiser,” this slow-moving vessel maxes out at about 5 mph. For owners of this boat, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Giving DIY a Try

The Duffy was a 2005 model and came with the original surrey top. It was worn out and needed to be replaced. Bruce contacted local shops inquiring about a commercially made replacement top for his father’s Duffy and was shocked by the quote. “Commercial and factory-made surrey tops were priced at about $6,000! I then started researching how to make them and came across the Sailrite website. After watching the DIY videos, I figured that I could make it myself.”

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Patterning and measuring for the surrey top using Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material.

Bruce didn’t let his complete lack of sewing experience deter him from tackling the project. He purchased the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine as well as Sunbrella® fabric and binding, patterning material, zippers and all the other tools and accessories to sew a new surrey top. “Using only Sailrite materials, I successfully completed the project for less than half of the price of a commercially available Sunbrella top, even including the price of the sewing machine!”

In addition to purchasing all his supplies and sewing machine from Sailrite, he also relied heavily on Sailrite’s inventory of how-to videos and tutorials. “The DIY videos were key,” Bruce explained. “I’m a visual learner, and had it not been for those instructional videos I don’t think I could have done it. I found the Ultrafeed incredibly easy to learn how to use and I quickly became proficient at sewing with it.”

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Sewing the surrey top with his trusty Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

When his father passed away in 2014, the boat went to Bruce’s sister. Unfortunately, his sister’s family didn’t use the boat and from 2014 to 2018 it fell into disrepair. “In the fall of 2018, they put it up for sale and I offered to buy it,” Bruce said. However, that Thanksgiving, a catastrophic storm rolled through the San Diego area. The high winds and heavy rains did terrible damage, ripping the Duffy’s surrey top to shreds. “Winds were estimated at over 60 mph with even higher gusts,” Bruce recalled.

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A Passion Project

Due to the storm’s damage and the years of neglect, just about everything needed to be fixed. Bruce was dutifully up to the task. The boat needed a new surrey top, new vinyl side curtains, new upholstery and carpeting. “The hull had oxidized badly, the boot stripe had worn away from rubbing against the dock, and the running gear was horribly corroded. So I set about restoring it, completely refurbishing every inch. I made a new surrey top (my second one) and replaced the engine belt, shaft, cutlass bearing, propeller and new bottom paint.”

“Nothing went untouched. I had to buy a used trailer and retrofit it to take the Duffy. I towed it to a storage yard, bought a portable generator to provide electricity for the power tools, and relaunched her 6 months later.”

What began as a cost-cutting measure has grown into a true passion for sewing and DIY. “It started out as a way to save money but grew into the challenge and accomplishment of making it myself. Not only that, but I also taught myself a very useful trade, especially being a boater.” Bruce and his wife also own a 21-foot Yamaha ski boat and two Yamaha WaveRunners®. “I will be making new covers for the WaveRunners this summer to prepare them for next winter.”

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Bruce working hard on the second surrey top for his Duffy boat.

Duffy Sewing & Beyond

Bruce’s uses for the Ultrafeed haven’t stopped at his Duffy boat. “I’ve found myself venturing into new areas where I can utilize my sewing skills. I’ve repaired a jean jacket for my niece. I sewed a custom canvas cover for a high school basketball scorekeeper’s table. I’ve even made safety barriers for a deck that leads down to a dock. All of these projects were produced using Sailrite as my material supplier. It’s exciting to think of new projects for this ever-expanding hobby!”

For Bruce, enjoyment of his Duffy boat comes down to living the cruising lifestyle. “I love the classic look of the boat and the fact that it’s electric. My Duffy Classic seats about 16 people and has a built-in refrigerator, which makes it the perfect cocktail cruiser.” Bruce particularly enjoys taking his family out on the water and spending time together. Bruce and his family launched the boat on Lake San Marcos in the northern part of San Diego County just before July 4, 2019, in time to enjoy the patriotic festivities and show off the new surrey top.

What sewing projects are on the horizon for Bruce? “I’d like to make a new full-boat cover for the Duffy.” In addition to canvaswork, Bruce wants to try his hand at upholstery. “I’m going to tackle reupholstering the seats in the Duffy with the help of Sailrite’s videos and materials. Through sewing and DIY, I’ve learned that I can tap into my creative side, something I never knew I had. I now have the confidence to attempt just about anything that can be made with fabric and the Ultrafeed.”

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It’s all smiles as Bruce’s family enjoys the brand-new surrey top — version two.

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. 

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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!”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Ultrafeed mobile sewing station — what a view!

Jessica Roush: Horses & Hobbies

With passion, patience and persistence, anything is possible. When it comes to the world of DIY sewing projects, this statement still rings just as true. Sailrite® customer Jessica Roush has blended her impressive sewing skills with her love of horses to create something special. With her industrial Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine in tow, Jessica has started her own small business selling custom bareback pads for avid horseback riders like herself. And she was kind enough to share her inspiring story with us!

As any animal lover knows, the fascination with furry friends begins early on. Jessica’s interest in horses began at age 4 when she begged her parents for a four-legged friend. It was around this same time that her fascination with sewing began, and the two hobbies would develop side by side in the years to come. At age 5, Jessica received a toy sewing machine for Christmas that sewed with glue instead of a needle and thread. But she wished for a pony and a real sewing machine every year.

At 11, she finally got one of her wishes: her very own pony! “His name was Tony and he was so good for me. I was able to escape life while I was with him, pretending to be a cowboy or an Indian while riding him. I soon became tired of saddling him up and learned to ride bareback [without a saddle].”

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Jessica and one of her previous horses, Seeker.

But riding a horse for hours without a saddle creates a lot of sweat on both the legs of the rider and on the parts of the horse’s back that are in direct contact with them. To remedy this, a bareback pad is often needed. This pad secures to the horse in a similar way as a saddle but is made of lightweight material (regular saddles can be quite heavy). These pads don’t always have stirrups, which are not necessary to ride a horse bareback.

Jessica began riding bareback so often that she was given a bareback pad for Christmas one year. “It did not take long for me to get super frustrated with the bareback pad moving back, so much so that it got the point that I was not sitting on it properly. The rigging was in the wrong location and there was no wither relief.” For those readers who aren’t equestrians, the withers on a horse are the highest part of a horse’s back, located at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. If a saddle or bareback pad does not fit properly on this part of the horse, it can cause soreness for both horse and rider.

It was also around this time that Jessica started sewing for a home economics class, for which she had an immediate talent. Her teacher was so impressed with her skills that she asked Jessica to hem all of her class curtains, which Jessica did with great joy. This was only the beginning of her foray into sewing.

After high school, Jessica moved to Indiana and got a job at a factory sewing boat cushions and other boating necessities. Later, she moved on to sewing at several sewing shops, working on anything from canvas toppers for boats to bedspreads for RV factories. She moved once again to Sandpoint, Idaho, where she found a job sewing for a company that made everything from saddle pads to Kevlar® bulletproof vests.

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Jessica’s current horse, aptly named Silver.

Even during that busy time, her passion for horses was never extinguished. “Over the next 40 years, I owned horses. For most of those, I rode bareback, still not finding a well-designed bareback pad. When I did find a good bareback pad, the price was way out of my range starting at $350! I barely had two nickels to rub together and no money to spend on such a luxury.”

So Jessica did what any crafty DIYer would — she began to work on her own bareback pads! “My first supplies were purchased at a local store. That was all I needed to make my own bareback pads. To my surprise, it turned out very well, which had me thinking … why not make these for other people just like me? I knew there was a huge need.”

Being familiar with Sunbrella® canvas from her long sewing career was a huge help in the construction of these prototypes. “I still did not put together the idea of searching for marine canvas, but one day I went to an upholstery shop and saw the name Sailrite. I memorized it and that’s where it all really took off. Sailrite offered me most of the materials I needed to make my bareback pads. I was shocked and delighted! Since they also offered such excellent customer service and video tutorials, I was hooked. I make every effort to be loyal to Sailrite out of gratitude to them for what they offer. Sailrite is such a blessing and I don’t even think you know how grateful I am for them.”

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Jessica and “Batman” her trusty Fabricator.

Jessica went on to purchase the Sailrite Fabricator Sewing Machine, a full-size, straight stitch industrial sewing machine with incredible speed control and the ability to power through multiple layers of fabric. And although Sunbrella canvas was good for bareback pads, it also became clear that Jessica’s bareback pads needed fabric with a slight bit of stretch. So began the hunt for the perfect material! She tried several options and first settled on Naugahyde® Universal vinyl. She purchased many of the colors until she saw that Sailrite was offering Sunbrella® Horizon and EverSoft Indoor/Outdoor vinyl. Being intrigued, she ordered a sample of both and finally had an epiphany.

“My mind was totally blown when I saw and touched the EverSoft! This was it! That was what I’d been looking for!” This soft, supple, waterproof vinyl is fantastic for indoor and outdoor projects, making it well suited for Jessica’s bareback pads.

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After arduous work and numerous less-than-perfect attempts, Jessica finally discovered a sewing system and a bareback pad design that was ideal for her small business. Early on, it took her six hours to make one pad, but now she can easily make two in a day if the mood suits her. Since 2016, she’s sold hundreds of bareback pads with many, many return customers. “I work very, very hard to put out only the best work I can do and use only the best materials I can afford. These pads can have about 1200 miles put on them and still have life left!”

To make her bareback pads the best they can be, Jessica utilizes many high-quality products from Sailrite. Along with the Fabricator, these include the Sailrite® Edge Hotknife, YKK® zippers, stainless steel clips, D rings, webbing, binding, thread and more! And our comprehensive customer support is always a plus whenever she has questions or concerns.

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Rescue pony Kricket uses Jessica’s custom bareback pads to trek hundreds of miles. Photo courtesy of Jen Joines.

So what does Jessica think is the most rewarding part about sewing for her own business? Well, to fully appreciate the answer to that question, you’d also need to understand Jessica’s previous experiences sewing in a much less artistic realm. Her story is proof that there’s always a silver lining if you look for it.

“I love creating. I create in my dreams and wake up in the night with ideas. If I see colors, fabrics or notions, I will probably think of something to do with them. Figuring things out is my passion. That’s probably why I hated every job I ever worked at. They want you to put piece one and piece two together over and over again. It’s a miracle I survived that! I really thought there was something wrong with me. I could not hold down a job and I had horrible anxiety issues. Now I love what I do. I wake up excited to work.”

A Sailing Saga: Crafting the Perfect Sail

Bob Johnson is an avid and enthusiastic sailor. He built his own small planing scow years ago and enjoys taking it out during the summer where he lives in Oregon. One day, as he was trying to sail upstream in light wind, he had the idea to put a large spinnaker sail on his boat to catch the wind and really make it fly. After some trial and error, he realized that to get exactly what he wanted, he’d need to make it himself. Keep reading to find out how Bob put his sewing skills to use and invented his own sail design, which he rightfully named “Bob’s Sail.”

Originally, Bob’s 12-foot sailboat had two sails. The mainsail was 72 square feet and the jib was 16 square feet. Bob’s first attempt at upgrading his sail and speed potential was to rig a 100-square-foot spinnaker on the boat. The spinnaker is connected to the top of the mast and two places on the sides of the boat. “A spinnaker is a great big sail for sailing with the wind. All of the larger boats use them,” Bob explained.

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Bob sailing his planing scow on a lake in Oregon.

 

A Valiant First Attempt

When he tested out his new oversized spinnaker, he quickly realized a flaw in his plan. “I came to the conclusion that my planing scow would ‘submarine’ if the wind picked up. For you land lovers, a ‘planing scow’ is a nearly flat bottomed boat that is meant to sail in strong winds and to rise up out of the water and skim across the water like a speedboat does.” So, in effect, Bob’s idea would have the exact opposite effect he intended. Instead of his boat gracefully skimming across the water at high speeds, the spinnaker would cause the boat to nosedive bow first into the water!

The spinnaker was out, but that didn’t deter Bob. He put his thinking cap back on and came up with another idea. Bob’s solution to the spinnaker “submarine problem,” as he called it, was to make a sail that would pull the bow up and not down into the water like the spinnaker did. Bob’s plan was to make a large genoa sail to replace his 16-square-foot jib sail and sail wing on wing. “With a large genoa, I would be able to have the mainsail on one side and the genoa sail on the other (wing on wing). This would create a sail wall in front of my boat, just like a spinnaker would accomplish when sailing with the wind.”

Solving the Submarine Problem

“My thought was that the pressure on the genoa would help to lift the bow because of its angle on the jib stay.” A jib stay is a piece of standing rigging that keeps the mast from falling backward. But Bob’s creative juices didn’t stop there. “But wait!” he thought. “Why not make two genoa sails by making it just one big sail attached to the jib stay in the middle. This sail configuration would act, when fully open, as a spinnaker. I can also close both sails together to make it act like one genoa sail.”

With this new plan in hand, Bob set out to sew his clever sail design. “I used Sailrite’s sail material and sewed it on my sewing machine. I placed two super magnets, one on each side of the clew (the bottom rear corner), to aid in the closing of the two halves.” This unique sail design worked great, and Bob named it “Bob’s Sail.”

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Bob thought about patenting his sail idea, but others had the same idea a few years before him.

After two sailings with his new sail, Bob ran into another small issue. “I realized that when I had the Bob’s Sail fully opened I couldn’t see where I was going. I watched Sailrite’s instructional video on adding windows to a sail but decided I couldn’t do it on my machine.” Bob had two circular windows professionally installed. “The sail was made so that I can sail the boat with just this one sail or use it with the mainsail. Since it’s a furling genoa (‘furling’ means that I can roll this sail up around the jib stay), I can adjust the size to fit the wind conditions. I can use it fully open, partially closed or fully closed.”

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“My boat, when sailing at you, now looks like a big white monster with two round eyes!”

Sailing on Land

Bob doesn’t just enjoy sailing the Oregon lakes and rivers, he also sails on land. He owns several landsailers that he built himself from PVC piping. He also sewed the sails for his landsailers. “I have built several models and have tested them on blocked-off roads, vacant lots, the beach and one unused area at an airport.”

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A closer look at Bob’s two-seater PVC landsailer cab.

Land sailing, or land yachting, is a recreational activity that involves moving across land in a wheeled vehicle powered solely by the attached sail. “Sail wagons,” as they were called in the early 20th century, have been around for hundreds of years but have grown in popularity in recent times. There are even land yacht competitions around the world.

Designing a Landsailer

Over the years, Bob has drawn up multiple sets of plans, trying to design the perfect landsailer that met all his specifications. It’s been a trial and error process, but he’s determined to get it right. “Steering was a big problem,” he confessed. “I started out wanting to make the landsailer just like a sailboat with a tiller and mainsheet line. I found out that I needed one hand to hold the sail line and the other hand just to hang on, so then I had no steering control.” After that attempt, he developed a foot steering design, which was more successful.

Bob loves taking his landsailers for a spin on the beach. However, with no brakes on the vehicles it can turn into a potentially dangerous situation. “Our beaches usually have too many people on them, and I’m afraid of hitting someone. I have invented a spinnaker sail for one of my landsailers. It has a pull-down sock to close the sail with, but I haven’t tested it yet.” A spinnaker sock is a sleeve of material that is rigged to the spinnaker. Pulling a rope pulls the sleeve down, closing the sail and reducing your speed.

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Whether on land or water, Bob’s love of sailing knows no bounds. What does he love most about the sport? “Sailing is great because you can make only the wind move you without the noise of a motor. And DIY gives me the ability to make something that I can use on my boat.” Bob looks forward to many summers of enjoyment with his unique sail designs. We wish him fair winds and following seas.

Hawaii or Bust: Mike Raymond’s Story

At Sailrite®, the words sailing and sewing are often grouped together. Our Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine has a long-standing reputation of helping sailors sew and repair sails no matter where they are around the world. And Sailrite was the first American company to offer custom sail kits, providing even more flexibility to those who love the open water. Mike Raymond, a part-time sailor, has first-hand experience with everything that Sailrite is known for, and he was generous enough to tell us his story of sailing, sewing and self-reliance. 

Q. How did you get started sailing? How long have you been doing it?

In 1980, I was living in Seldovia, Alaska, and had finished the previous year crab fishing. It was around this time that I decided my family and I would take a vacation to the Caribbean for six weeks. We chartered a Swan 48 sailboat with both a captain and a cook for a week. Following that week, we stayed for Antigua Sailing Week and then planned to return home. However, the captain wanted one more crew member for the return trip to Connecticut and asked me if I wanted to go. I agreed, so my wife and 10-year-old daughter flew home and I followed about two weeks later.  

We then moved to Port Townsend, Washington, in early 1981. That’s where I crewed for several years on a C&C 39 in the Puget Sound races. I also made four more deliveries on the Swan 48 (my wife made three trips) between New England and the Caribbean. By 1986, I began building houses for a living and wasn’t able to take the time to sail very often.

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Mike’s floating home away from home.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about your foray into sewing and the Ultrafeed?

In 2015, I bought an Express 27 to enter the 2016 R2AK race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska (no motors allowed). My hope was to then complete a solo sail to Hawaii. My brother-in-law had recently bought a Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine and he decided to buy one for us. My wife was a sailmaker at Port Townsend Sails for six years in the late 1990s, so I could get advice from her. I decided to make three additional sails (all from Sailrite kits) for the boat prior to the race. This included a jib, asymmetrical spinnaker and a storm jib. I really enjoyed sewing the sails and it helped that I could use our community center for the expansive open space to work.

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The Ultrafeed LSZ-1 is perfect for sail repair.

Q.Can you tell me about the time you sailed to Hawaii all by yourself? Where did you start and how long did it take you? How did the Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine play a part in your sailing journey?

I completed buying the additional electronics for the trip to Hawaii and departed in June from Port Townsend in early 2018. Unfortunately, I encountered several gales near the California/Oregon border that severely damaged two sails and compromised an additional one.  That one further deteriorated and I was reduced to my second main and the storm jib. Additionally, the autopilot was damaged and there was no reasonable way to rig tiller steering with that sail combination, thereby having to heave-to whenever I had to sleep. That sail combination is also not very effective for heaving-to.

It basically took me six weeks to arrive at the North Shore of Oahu, which is at least twice as long as normal. None of the local sail lofts would fit me in to repair the damaged sails and it became obvious that I needed to bring the three damaged sails home to repair. I also needed to sew a new jib. Thankfully, I was able to order a Sailrite kit before leaving Hawaii, so it came in the mail shortly after I arrived home. [To clarify, Mike flew back home to Washington and left his boat in Hawaii, then flew back to Hawaii and sailed back to Washington.] The repairs and sewing the new jib took a few days and I was then able to return to Hawaii and prepare for the return trip. I had also purchased spare autopilot rams for the trip to be safe.

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Mike encountered a humpback whale on his journey.

The return trip took longer than expected also (same six weeks) due to the outboard motor failing and so could not travel in no-wind situations. Also, there became a charging issue between the solar panels and the batteries that led to no power for several days to the electronics and autopilot. At that time I was about 1,000 miles from the U.S. coast, so that was a nervous time for sure. 

I did have enough power to use my Iridium GO! to contact various sources to do a work-around with the charging, but the main batteries were somewhat compromised and provided erratic power to the autopilot. I was within less than 50 miles from the Washington coast when another gale caused damage to the sails and I needed to stop at a Canadian port to make some rigging repairs. I was then able to make the final return to Port Townsend, Washington. It was the most memorable sailing adventure I’ve had and would definitely do a few things differently if I ever considered repeating the experience.

Q. Do you still sail? And do you still plan on sewing with your Ultrafeed?

I’m not sure what other projects I’ll pursue with the Ultrafeed, but I definitely plan to keep it to do a broad range of projects. I’m currently remodeling our house and that’s taking all of my time for now. I’m open to helping friends deliver their boats to other ports or countries. I helped deliver a boat from San Diego to La Paz in Mexico last year. I’m 72 years old now, so I’m only considering interesting sailing trips.

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The Ultrafeed has been a must-have tool for sailing.

Calm Seas Ahead

No matter what your next sailing adventure requires, Sailrite is there for you every step of the way. You can sew your own sails, sail covers, bimini, enclosure and more with our high-quality products and free tutorials. We’re proud to have been part of Mike’s journey, and we love hearing stories from everyday customers who make incredible projects with our help. Happy sailing and sewing!

Peace, Love & Handbags

Sometimes you get an idea for something and it takes off. That’s what happened to Laurie Carty. One day, she was looking online for purses and stumbled upon a crocheted fat bottom bag. She instantly fell in love with the classic hippie-style purse and thought the design and shape of the bag would look great in denim. Unable to find her dream bag in stores or online, Laurie set out to sew her own. What started as a purse for herself has now grown into a small business. Using her Sailrite® Ultrafeed®, she’s reintroducing these vintage-style bags to the world and reigniting her love of sewing.

The Start of an Idea

Laurie was excited to jump in and get going on her purse. She already had some basic sewing skills, so she knew she’d be able to sew the purse without a problem. However, she hit a speed bump early on. She didn’t know anything about pattern making or purse design. And since she couldn’t find a pattern for a denim flat bottom purse online, she needed a little help designing and patterning her purse. Luckily, her sister was coming for a visit. An accomplished seamstress, Laurie’s sister was able to help with the design process.

“I drew out my idea and we created the pattern together. Once I saw my dream come to reality, I was hooked! I got so many compliments on my purse that I started taking orders for them. For the most part, all the purses that I have sold have been local. Women stop me on the street and ask me where I got my purse. They are always surprised when I tell them I made it myself!”

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Laurie’s first purse made from an old pair of jeans and a bedsheet on her home sewing machine, before she upgraded to an Ultrafeed.

After that initial design, Laurie added fringe and beads to her bags as unique design elements. Since her fat bottom bags were inspired by the hippie era, the fringe fit right in with that style and aesthetic. “When I was in my teens and twenties, everything was fringe. I am 62 now, but back in the day, I was a complete hippie — with the clothes and hair. Everything was tie-dye and fringe, and we did it ourselves for the most part.”

Laurie upcycles used jeans that are still in good condition for her purses. She adds fabric panels, lace, beads and fringe to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. “I love every single one of the purses that I create. Each one has its own unique beauty.”

Finding Her Creative Process

Laurie lets her creative spirit guide her not only in her bag designs but in life too. A self-professed “avid student and seeker of personal change,” Laurie has a degree in behavioral sciences. She’s helped people with therapeutic stress and trauma relief, she’s taught dance classes and has even been a radio show host. “I’ve had a pretty crazy life!”

Laurie has always had a creative spirit. One of the things she loves the most about the DIY lifestyle is her ability to bring her dreams and ideas to life in a tangible way. She loves the process of taking an idea, a vision in her mind, and using fabric and thread to bring her idea to life. “Every purse I make I see fully completed in my mind, and then I know exactly how to create it. I have always been a very visually creative person. My brand-new idea is brought into reality, and now I am the only one on the planet who makes these bags. Every purse is uniquely different.”

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Laurie’s new Ultrafeed handles the thick layers of denim with ease.

Upgrading to an Ultrafeed

After completing her first two bags, her regular sewing machine was struggling to sew through the thick layers of denim. Laurie knew she’d need a heavy-duty machine capable of handling multiple layers of thick material. That’s how she found Sailrite. “I knew I needed something stronger and started searching the internet. I had never used an industrial machine before. In fact, I would not say I knew that much about sewing, really, but your videos made everything so easy to understand. I love that you also have troubleshooting videos on your site, which made it so easy to learn the machine.”

Her Ultrafeed has given Laurie the confidence to attempt sewing projects she previously had never dreamed of. Not only does she sew her hippie bags, but she is also branching out into projects for her husband’s motorcycle. “I have lined my husband’s riding chaps that he wears on his motorcycle and made a cover for his oil cooler on his Harley. I’m not afraid to tackle anything anymore!”

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Laurie’s Etsy shop, The Hippie Handbag Company, is a nod to her love of all things 1960s, especially the hippie lifestyle. “I grew up in that era. I was a little too young to go to the original Woodstock, but it was all about the lifestyle back then. It was a very creative time in so many ways — music, peace, love, rock ‘n’ roll, the hair, the dress styles. Upcycling was big back then too. It represented unique and individual creativity and expression. Just like my bags, every person is different and beautiful in their own way.”

Whether you were alive during that era or just have a fondness for all things boho, Laurie’s life philosophy is something we can all appreciate.

Sewing for Man’s Best Friend

Who doesn’t love our four-legged furry friends!? Not only do pets provide much-needed companionship and cuddle-time, but it’s been proven that owning a pet can help you live longer and have a healthier lifestyle. If you’re a sewer and dog owner, have you ever considered sewing dog toys? Bruce and Joan Calendrillo recently adopted Toby, an adorable terrier mix, from their local animal shelter. After Toby destroyed a store-bought toy in a matter of days, Bruce put his sewing skills to work creating better-made, more durable toys for his new pup. Read on to find out how Bruce uses supplies and how-to videos from Sailrite® to further his sewing talents and keep busy during his “semiretirement.”

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Meet Toby! He enjoys walks, playing with his toys, and annoying Mona the cat.

Old Dog, New Tricks

Bruce didn’t discover a love of sewing until later in life. Following a long and prestigious career in the medical field, his career took a sharp left turn when he bought a dry cleaning business. He took every opportunity to learn as much as he could — and that included learning how to sew. He dutifully watched his seamstress repair people’s clothes. “I honed my skills with practice, practice, practice. I learned new techniques through videos and books.” After Bruce closed the store, he took a job as a tailor at another local dry cleaning business and put his sewing skills to good use. “One year later that dry cleaner’s closed. I purchased all of their equipment and supplies and moved it all into my basement. I bought a sign and put it in my yard.”

Bruce is now semiretired and runs his own tailoring and clothes repair business from his basement. He’s only been sewing for about 10 years, but he has already amassed quite a reputation. “Tailoring is the perfect retirement job. I do as much work as I want while putting a few dollars in my pocket. A side benefit is that instead of working all day long away from home, I now get to meet all of my neighbors who quickly turn from customers to friends.”

His tailoring business allows him to keep busy and stay active while doing something he enjoys. “I love learning new things. Sewing lends itself to that passion in that there are always different techniques to learn and projects to explore.” Bruce’s sewing skills aren’t limited to just clothing repair and tailoring. He has made huge dock covers, reupholstered furniture, redesigned gowns and more.

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Through all his career changes, Bruce’s wife, Joan, has been the steadfast one. Joan is recently retired from a lifelong career as a preschool director and program developer. “She wonders how I can always be looking for such a dramatic change, while I will never understand how she could spend more than one day with a room full of 4- and 5-year-olds.”

Bruce first learned about Sailrite through a customer. The customer wanted a new bimini top for his boat. While doing some online research, Bruce found Sailrite. “I am a boat owner as well. As this was something that I had never done, and something I wanted to do for my own boat, I took on the job. When sewing canvas projects for customers, I always refer them to the Sailrite website. I have them choose and purchase their own material, always recommending Sunbrella®.” Bruce used the Sailrite bimini top video tutorial to guide him through the fabrication process for both the customer’s bimini and his own.

Bruce has also used Sailrite’s free video resources to sew new patio cushions for a friend of the family. “A close friend of my wife’s asked me to make new cushion covers for her patio set — about 20 cushions. This was a perfect winter job that I did last year and completed by the spring.” Bruce referred to Sailrite’s “How to Make a French Mattress Style Cushion” video to complete the mammoth undertaking. “I purchased Silk Film from Sailrite and, following the tutorial, I was able to easily stuff the foam back into each cover.”

Dog Days of Sewing

Bruce and Joan recently adopted a rescue dog, and that opened Bruce up to new sewing projects he hadn’t previously attempted. “My wife and I have taken on the challenge of adopting a terrier mix from our local shelter. When I am not walking or training Toby to sit and roll over, I am in the basement making him stuffed toys.” When they first adopted Toby, the Calendrillos immediately went to a local pet supply store and stocked up on food, treats and a stuffed toy. Two days later, the store-bought toy was ripped to shreds.

Bruce knew he could do better. He immediately set to work sewing dog toys from higher quality materials that could stand up to Toby’s canines. Using leftover Sunbrella from a recent sewing project, he got to work. “I felt that the toughness of the fabric would lend itself to the biting and pulling of the animal.” Bruce adapted the same French seam technique he learned from the Sailrite cushion video and applied it to the dog toy. He took two circles of Sunbrella and sewed them together with a French seam, stuffing the toy with fiberfill and a squeaker. “I have made several of these toys for family and friends with dogs. The French seam adds extra durability, and Toby has yet to get a tooth through the Sunbrella.”

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So many handmade toys to choose from!

He next adapted this simple design to make a Frisbee®-type toy. He added another circular stitch 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the fabric disk once it was completed, making a flatter, more disk-shaped toy. “It flies much farther than the first toy. And since it’s only cloth and fiberfill, I can throw it in the house without breaking anything (so far).” Bruce challenged himself yet again when he designed “Toby’s Big Ball” — a pentagonal-shaped toy similar to a soccer ball. “The ball is half as big as Toby, but since it is so soft and light he can easily grab and carry it around. And he looks absolutely silly doing it.” Bruce added a small rope loop when closing the toy that he backstitched over several times to secure it. The rope makes it easier for Bruce to throw the ball and turns it into a pull toy also.

Not stopping at toys, Bruce has also made dog and cat beds from leftover fleece and fiberfill. “I am always looking to hone my skills and learn different sewing techniques.” Bruce shared that he plans on making a PVC-style elevated dog bed soon using the Sailrite video tutorial. Toby sounds like one lucky pup to be spoiled with all these handmade goodies!

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A cozy dog bed made from fleece and fiberfill.

What does Bruce do when he’s not busy with his sewing business or making toys for the newest member of the family? “When I am not working on hemming pants, shortening curtains, taking in dresses or letting out men’s pants that ‘must have shrunk in the dryer,’ I am putting my scrap material to good use.” With all the projects he’s done for customers and his own sewing, Bruce has amassed a large amount of scrap fabric. “Too much to throw away but too little to use on a major project,” as he put it. He sews eye pillows and sachets for his daughter’s farm store that she fills with organic herbs. He makes doll clothes for his granddaughter’s and great-nieces’ American Girl® dolls. “I volunteer at my granddaughter’s 2nd grade class and made Christmas presents for each of her classmates — wallets for the boys and wristlets for the girls.”

With no signs of slowing down in sight, Bruce will keep putting his sewing skills to great use. Whether he’s sewing canvas, hemming pants and tailoring clothes, or sewing more toys and dog beds for Toby, he’s doing it his own way and on his own schedule. Semiretirement isn’t slowing Bruce down one bit, and Toby is sure to keep him in stitches for a long time to come.

Sewing & Shattered: Jeanie Shafer’s Story

Jeanie Shafer is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only has she been sewing for 30 years, but she’s also a creator in many mediums. Between painting, pottery, sculpture, nature photography and even cake decorating, her passion for creative expression cannot be tamed. This artistry also carries over into her love of boating, which is how she became acquainted with Sailrite and embarked on her most ambitious DIY adventure yet!

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Jeanie and Tim are lifelong sailors.

Jeanie and her husband, Tim, have been enjoying life on the water for 35 years. No stranger to buying boats, the pair have owned numerous boats, ranging in size from 16 to 35 feet — all found and purchased the traditional way. That was until their most recent boat, a 27-foot Catalina.

In Jeanie’s hometown, the 27-foot Catalina had been unused and was no longer on the water as her current owner was no longer interested in sailing. There she sat in her rented spot in plain sight so that many townsfolk knew both boat and owner. One morning, the boat had been moved, and much to everyone’s surprise, it was not done by the owner. The boat’s sudden disappearance remained a mystery until later that summer when someone spotted it hidden not far from where it had been stolen.

Jeanie went on to recount the details of the discovery, “Whoever had stolen the boat had been a very busy beaver! She had been stripped of all hardware inside and out. The name had been removed and her old numbers had been replaced with numbers registered to a different boat. The mast had been unsuccessfully taken down and had crashed down onto the bow. Newly covered cushions were damaged and the brand-new sails that had only been used one summer were missing. The boat showed all signs of being lived in all summer!”

Luckily, the boat’s hull was undamaged and the outside deck and cockpit were in very good shape as well as the teak below deck. The only thing that remained in the cabin was the head, sink and stove. Jeanie and Tim eventually decided that they wanted to purchase the wayward boat, and so the work began!

The first step was deciding on a name. Would it be “Phoenix” because the boat was rising out of its old ashes? No, that was too popular among boats. Jeanie and her husband finally agreed on “Shattered” as a reminder of what the boat had once been, but wasn’t any longer. It was also a nod to The Rolling Stones song of the same name.

Even before Shattered needed new sails (among many other things), Jeanie had a 35-foot Catalina requiring a new dodger. To accomplish this, a heavy-duty, portable sewing machine would be of the utmost importance. After ample research, this lead to the purchase of the Ultrafeed® LSZ-1. “Sailrite not only had the machines but seemed to be a sewist and boater’s paradise for fabric, hardware, lines and tools! We discovered many items that we didn’t know existed and these products would soon make our DIY lives easier. The detail in your how-to videos and your personnel’s prompt willingness to share their expertise shines above all. I could never have made these sails without [Sailrite Sail Designer] Jeff Frank being able to help me!”

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Shattered in her newfound glory.

“Please know that all of these attributes in your company keep people like myself returning for life, and we share our positive experiences with others who then call upon Sailrite for their needs. It’s a marvelous domino effect!”

After repairing her own dodger, Jeanie was able to start a marine repair business on her dock that quickly spread to the entire marina! Canvas repair businesses in the area were shutting down, driving Jeanie’s customer base up even further. Before long, the projects became so massive and so frequent that Jeanie couldn’t sew them on her dock or kitchen counter. In response, Tim built her a sewing table molded after Sailrite’s loft tables — a huge undertaking that took up the entire spare bedroom in her basement!

Since then, Jeanie’s been a creative machine, churning out project after project. Her projects ranged from dodger, canvas and glass repair to a total sail pack and bimini revamp. With the help of Sailrite’s tools, supplies and instructional videos, the list goes on to include:

  • Bimini repairs
  • New winch covers
  • Topside window covers
  • Custom helm covers
  • New sail cover for Shattered
  • Main and headsail from Sailrite’s custom designed sail kits
  • And much, much more!

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What lies ahead for Jeanie and Tim Shafer? They’ve already planned for a plethora of other DIY projects to revamp Shattered. More recently, the two added another boat to their collection, a rare 21-foot Martini — a model that’s no longer in production. And with the winter months rounding the corner, the projects requiring Sailrite materials and instructions just keep coming. On the agenda is a new companionway screen, track curtains, window coverings, lifeline covers and cushion covers with Moisture Prevention Underliner beneath them to battle the Florida humidity where the boats will be sailing.

In short, it seems as though Jeanie and her Ultrafeed are ready to take on the DIY world and anything that life throws at them, and we’re happy to be part of the creative process. Reminiscing on her past projects, Jeanie gushed, “The best part of making your own DIY projects is the learning process! The “aha” moment when you get it and feel more confident in the project. And then, of course, the satisfaction when the end result looks great!” We can’t wait to see what you sew next, Jeanie.

Sewing for a Greener Future

Do you think about your carbon footprint? When you see trash or discarded items lying around, do you ever wonder if they could be turned into something useful again? Enoch Cincotta does. A self-starter and small business owner, he turns trash into treasure — literally. He takes discarded objects and trash from local businesses and uses the materials to create one-of-a-kind bags, wallets, backpacks, fanny packs and more. With the help of his Sailrite® Ultrafeed®, he’s doing his part to clean up his community and give a second life to the things we cast aside.

One Man’s Trash …

The idea to create usable items from trash came to Enoch when he was living in Miami Beach. At the time, he was making the occasional bag for friends and for himself. He was ordering his materials from suppliers and spending a lot of money in the process. Suddenly, everything clicked. “I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to how much waste was being generated by my artistic process — finding the material online, purchasing it, getting it in the mail two days later. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore.”

He was walking along the beach one day and noticed all the trash and discarded goods left behind. Things like inflatable pool toys and rafts, shade sail material and bicycle tubes were still in good condition but had been tossed aside. “Being a part of such a beautiful environment and noticing an immense quantity of trash left behind by the waves of tourists… I would find broken sun shades lying on the beach, the inconvenience of fixing them ultimately leading to them being discarded.” And so, an idea was born.

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In Miami Beach, Enoch had “regular” dumpsters that he would scavenge. He’d sort through the trash and find usable items for his budding business. The process was tedious and time-consuming. “It would be a process of finding materials, cleaning them, and transforming them into something new. I like the ritualistic nature of the process and taking my time to appreciate the material for what it is. They just need a little love and patience to be transformed.”

When he relocated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he found a more direct and cleaner way to obtain his sewing materials. Enoch initiated relationships with local businesses, making deals to procure the discarded materials before they made their way to the dumpster. This made the cleaning process much simpler and saved him a lot of time. He was also able to get a larger quantity of materials with the same amount of effort.

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A collaboration with a local Harrisburg coffee shop produced these bags and wallets made from coffee bags, parachute webbing, bicycle inner tubes and convention center banners.

It’s in Harrisburg where his business really got off the ground and his business concept came to life. Enoch witnessed someone’s discarded plastic bag floating in the wind, and that’s how he came up with the name for his business: Reanimator Threadworks. He watched an otherwise lifeless object become transformed — reanimated if you will — into a moving, living thing. And that’s exactly what Enoch does. He takes lifeless, used up objects and reanimates them, giving them a second life and another purpose than what they were intended and created for. A torn sun shade becomes part of a backpack. An empty bag of coffee beans is transformed into a truly unique tote bag.

Sustainable Sewing Practices

Enoch learned to sew thanks to his mother’s teaching. A requirement of his homeschool curriculum, he started sewing as part of the home economics portion of his education. And now he’s taken that skill and turned it into not only a business but a way to do his part as an environmental advocate.

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Enoch uses the Monster II Balance Wheel to sew without electricity at farmers markets.

He sells his bags in local stores and hosts free sewing workshops at farmers markets. “The goal is to get out in the community and sew materials on the streets. The more people exposed to the power of sewing the more excited I get.” During the winter, when the farmers markets are closed, he collaborates with other environmental advocacy groups and hosts free sewing workshops for sewing panniers, bike bags, backpacks and more.

His bags are constructed using a wide variety of everyday materials. Everything from banners, inflatable rafts, bicycle inner tubes, parachute webbing, vinyl billboard material and more are transformed into “functional pieces of art,” as he calls them. It’s amazing the things you can sew with a little imagination and ingenuity. To sew through this wide range of materials, he needed a sewing machine that would be up to the challenge. And that’s where Sailrite came in.

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The Ultrafeed can handle layers of thick materials like these bicycle inner tubes, which make for a durable and water-resistant bag bottom.

“I learned about Sailrite while pouring through online forums for an industrial machine. I was intrigued by the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 and its modular nature — one machine for a bunch of different applications.” Another big asset of the Ultrafeed is its portability, which comes in handy when Enoch takes the machine — which he has affectionately dubbed “Ol’ Blue” — on the road for conventions. “I’m taking Ol’ Blue with me on a bicycle tour packed in her carrying case, but at home, she’s hooked up to the Workhorse™ Servo Motor and Industrial Table. That kind of functionality makes it ideal for the lifestyle I live.” Recently, Enoch acquired the Monster® II Balance Wheel so he could sew without electricity at conventions and workshops, furthering his green lifestyle and the machine’s versatility.

What are Enoch’s impressions of his Ultrafeed now that he has sewn everything from billboard vinyl to parachute webbing with it? Enoch had this to say about his machine: “So far I really love the reliability of the machine. It has taught me a lot about the mechanics of sewing. I’ve spent so much time reading the manual and feel really comfortable with how it’s designed to be repaired in the field. It’s built to last — I don’t see that too much anymore.”

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Enoch tuning his Ultrafeed LSZ-1 with the guidebook close at hand for reference.

Leading by Example

Enoch is mindful of his own carbon footprint and does what he can to live a green lifestyle. “I really work hard to be aware of my environmental footprint. I ride bikes and am active in the community as much as I can be. To be as effective as possible you have to live in the way that you want the world to be — not forcing your ideals onto others.”

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Hitting the road with his portable Ultrafeed and a makeshift work station!

Part of his mission is bringing awareness of living a more resourceful and self-reliant lifestyle through sewing. He donates 30% of profits from the sale of his bags to teaching free sewing workshops and educational programs in Harrisburg. “I was a camp counselor for six years and that got me really excited about youth education. I see an opportunity to educate individuals in my community about being self-sufficient.”

He also teaches repair classes where he promotes hands-on learning opportunities. People can learn how to repair textiles and gear instead of throwing them away and buying new products. “When we are empowered to make and repair, we stop being consumers. And we start using our brains!” Next year, Enoch plans on traveling to schools — biking his sewing machine and materials, of course — to facilitate educational workshops. “I’ll be teaching kids not only how to sew but how to get creative with trash.” Teaching the next generation how to be resourceful and environmentally responsible, “that’s the future, the big time.”

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A truly one-of-a-kind fanny pack made from found objects.

“I like to think that when I interact with these materials I’m giving my energy to the object, transforming it into something that lives and breathes with a personality of its own. I see it as being more than just a transformation of an object, but also a transformation of an idea. By reanimating our garbage and repairing what is broken, we also reanimate our community — increasing self-sufficiency and resilience. That’s what I think is really important.”

Enoch’s drive and passion for upcycling is something all creatives can relate to. A big part of the DIY lifestyle is taking something and transforming it into something else. So, the next time you see trash on the side of the road or the next time you go to throw away an old sweater, an umbrella, a pair of ripped jeans, a pool toy, a beach ball … Stop and think, “Is there still a use for this item? What could this object become?” The possibilities are endless.