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.

Five-Star Sewing With Steve Bugg

While the term “do-it-yourself” is often associated with creativity, there’s another important aspect to the DIY culture: the ability to be both resourceful and self-sufficient. When Steve Bugg was laid off from his job in 2016, he decided to take matters into his own hands and embark on a career journey that involved learning new tricks and the Ultrafeed® LS-1. This is a story of ingenuity and hard work — one that proves that it’s never too late to learn a new trade and explore the world outside of your comfort zone.

The beginning of Steve’s story starts with the end. “I was a land manager for a small oil and gas exploration company. I’d been with the company for 20 years. In 2016, the company went under and everyone was let go. … It was then that I realized if I could bust my butt for someone else’s company, I certainly could work even harder for myself. I found a franchise that repaired and restored leather, plastic and vinyl.”

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Steve’s diverse customer base can be found almost anywhere — land, air and sea.

While this type of business was an entirely new realm of his career experience, Steve realized that the business was unique in that it fulfilled a common need but had little competition. The market for repair was everywhere, as leather, plastic and vinyl are found in nearly every industry. You’ll find these materials in automobiles, boats, furniture, restaurants, medical offices, hospitals, planes and more. The job involved redying, cleaning, conditioning and repairing various types of leather, plastic and vinyl.

After purchasing the franchise, Steve found he was often renovating restaurant seating, but kept running into the same problems again and again. “I was doing a lot of restaurant work but was spending a lot of money hiring other people to sew for me so I could go out and re-cover the restaurant booths. These guys were making a lot of money off me. … That’s when I decided that I needed to learn how to sew. I was missing out on way too much money.”

After doing extensive research on a number of different sewing machine brands, there were a few contenders in mind. But once Steve stumbled upon the Sailrite website, that all changed. “I was taken in by all the videos, all the support products that just fit right into what I was doing, what I wanted to learn how to do, and other supplies I didn’t know I needed until I saw them on the website.” While Steve initially was fond of the Fabricator®, the need for portability was at the forefront of his budding business, as some sewing jobs would have to be done on-site. That led him to the Ultrafeed LS-1. With its straight stitch capability, the LS-1 is portable and powerful enough to tackle the heavy materials encountered on the job.

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Steve getting the hang of his new Ultrafeed LS-1.

After purchasing his new machine, the next step was for Steve to learn how to sew. While the Ultrafeed glided through the heavy vinyl material he was sewing, it was a more difficult material for a novice sewist to learn the tools of the trade. He’d never sewn before and the challenge seemed daunting at first. In situations like this, Steve’s perseverance and “can-do” attitude made all the difference, and Sailrite’s instructional videos helped too.

“I was struggling with the whole concept, but I kept moving forward and watched a ton of videos. Then I saw a video on how to sew piping. I knew I could do that. Plus, the standard foot on the Ultrafeed has a groove that guides piping. After I learned how to make the piping, it hit me that I was going to get better.” Steve continued to watch videos and began trying out his new skills on a few restaurant booths. After making adjustment after adjustment to his sewing technique, he finally managed to become proficient in the trade. Now he can visit the job site in need of repairs, take measurements and patterns, and have the repairs sewn by the next day. And the best part is he can save money that he had previously spent outsourcing his sewing jobs.

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Steve continued to work arduously sewing and repairing materials for numerous clientele. But one day he noticed the machine wasn’t feeding the vinyl like it normally did. Being in the middle of a huge project for a restaurant, he frantically contacted Matt Borden from Sailrite customer support. Living in Texas, Steve couldn’t make it to the Sailrite facility in Indiana, but that wasn’t an issue — a simple phone call cleared everything up.

“Matt was cool, calm and collected while I was in a panic. He was extremely patient with me and guided me through the process of finding the problem and the solution. He couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. … Before too long I was back up and sewing. I got the job done and the restaurant was thrilled. Matt Borden is my hero!”

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Matt Borden works closely with Sailrite customers for stress-free machine repairs.

From amateur to accomplished professional, Steve Bugg has been through life’s ups and downs and made it out on top. With his Ultrafeed LS-1 and determination, anything is possible. On top of the numerous restaurant booths, he’s sewn a few boat cushions, medical examination tables and cushions for mobility scooters. While Steve’s future may not always be certain, it is always bright, and he looks forward to helping his next customer.

“I’m not great, but I’m getting better all the time. It’s rewarding to hear my customers say how wonderful everything turns out. I have 100% five-star reviews to date and I don’t want that to change. I love learning. And the more I learn, the more new tools and supplies I need, and Sailrite has almost everything!”