Monday, December 1, 2014

A Stitch in Time...

One of the goals of being a "Self Sufficient Sailor" as Lin and Larry Pardey speak of in their book of the same name, is to be able to support yourself and your boat without having to rely on others. It's a noble ambition, attainable to some degree (depends on your willingness to invest in self-sufficiency), and worth doing.

Your boat is built, maintained and spares-provisioned in such a way that you need not turn to others to solve your problems.

We took one such step a couple weeks ago when we purchased a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 PREMIUM Walking Foot Sewing Machine direct from Sailrite. This provides us with capabilities that we need; the ability to make or repair any canvas/fabric on Brigadoon.

My first project, after unpacking this 70lb monster, was a cover for our stern tie reel we purchased last year from Quickline. This is the same company that manufactures our Ultra Anchor.

Up until now, all my sewing was by hand. Yes, one can hand sew anything. That's how clipper ship sails were made; by hand, on deck, with care. The problem with hand sewing is that it's tedious, not as necessarily as strong as machine sewing, takes a lot of work to be consistent, and is sometimes hard.

Here are some examples of my hand work, repairing some chafe holes in the binnacle/wheel cover.

 I've also replaced some stitching on an older sail cover. The fabric is fine but the stitching degrades in UV so the thing is just coming apart.

So, my repair work isn't bad. It could do for making new items but, for the reason I stated above, I wanted a powerful machine.

With a day to myself, I decided to tackle the cover for the reel. The reel is stainless but the webbing it encases is polypropylene which, while treated for UV resistance, could use a cover to help extend it's life. I'm already noticing some fading on the edges of the webbing after almost a year.

With some quick measurements out of the way, and some thinking on the shape I needed to create, I dug out some surplus Sunbrella and webbing left over from our "no sewing machine necessary" bimini project.

I barely took any measurements and just decided to dive in. "It's a practice piece," I tell myself as I do a bunch of steps out of order, making the job a little harder than it should be but, I did it.

Not all the stitching is straight and I had a couple tangles but, as you can see, it's serviceable. I'm not ready to charge people exorbitant prices for canvas work just yet (never plan to actually) but, I can envision and make something we need. Maybe with enough practice and my machine on board as we cruise, I'll be able to supplement our income with repairing or making canvas stuff for others.

The almost finished product. As I did not get the edges right, they have to be hand stitched to hold the edges of the webbing down but, overall I'm happy.

Here's to another step in being a self-sufficient sailor.

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