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Sewing

Angela Rovetto stumbled into sewing by chance. A self-described workaholic, Angela’s schedule was plenty busy and she wasn’t looking for a hobby. But a broken patio chair was about to lead her into a joyful and unexpected new phase of her life.

Angela Rovetto: Finding Happiness in Hobbies

Angela with two of the patio chairs she made-over.

A couple of years back, Angela went to relax in one of her patio sling chairs when the fabric ripped. A gift from her parents, the patio set was really nice and the frames were still in good condition, so she decided to look around to see if she could fix her chair instead of just replacing it.

“Knowing it was an expensive set, I got on Google to look around,” Angela explained. “Once I figured out it was a sling chair, one of the top hits was Sailrite.”

She watched Sailrite’s video and was encouraged by how detailed the steps were. She said she figured she’d give the project a try because it was cheaper than replacing the whole set.

“I took 8th grade home ec, so I’m a pro at sewing,” Angela joked. “But I knew I could sew in a straight line at least.”

After watching the video “like a hundred times,” Angela set out and completed her patio set.

“I felt such a sense of accomplishment, like, I did this,” she recalled.

After the slings chairs were complete, Angela had fabric leftover. Not wanting to waste it, she came back to Sailrite to look for another project she could sew. She found the market tote bag tutorial.

“Who doesn’t need a tote bag?” she said and jumped into the project. “From there [sewing] spiraled into a hobby.”

Angela Rovetto: Finding Happiness in Hobbies

Two different bag designs Angela made.

She started sewing purses and then wallets for herself and her friends. Then she made drawstring backpacks for all the children in her life.

“I made a lot of backpacks,” she said. “It was like, ‘You get a backpack! You get a backpack!’”

Along the way, Angela also reupholstered a chair. She described the inspiration to try upholstery as being similar to the patio chairs that started it all.

“My parents gave me a really nice chair but it was completely hideous,” she said. “I found a video at Sailrite on how to reupholster a chair. The video really gave me a lot of confidence. It has tangible steps to follow. I’m a very visual learner, so seeing someone do the project really helps.”

The more Angela sewed the more she wanted to learn. She recalls spending a lot of time on Google, looking up new sewing techniques to help her perfect her projects. She couldn’t always find tutorials for exactly the project she wanted to make, so she’d piece the instructions together from multiple sources. In late 2015, this lead Angela to want to start her own blog as a way to share the projects she’d made with others and to “be a part of the conversation,” she said.

“I just started it to see what happened,” Angela said about her blog, which has already received hits from around the world including Germany, Portugal and India.

But perhaps one of the most unexpected perks of taking up sewing for Angela has been her renewed happiness and a better work/life balance.

“I found that I’m a lot happier,” she said of life with her hobby. “It involves what drives me; problem solving. I really like taking things apart and putting them back together.”

Angela Rovetto: Finding Happiness in Hobbies

Angela made these outdoor cinder block benches and the cushions.

Since learning how to sew, Angela has been a prolific maker, filling her blog with all of her creations but when she thinks back to what she’s most proud of she goes right back to the beginning.

“[I’m most proud of] the patio set,” she said after a bit of thought. “I use it so much and it was the first thing I did. I’m proud of a lot of things I’ve done since then, but this was the project that started them all.”

Since sewing has made such a profound impact on her life, Angela is very encouraging of others taking up sewing.

“Just try it—if you don’t do it right the first time, rip the seams and try again. I’m a professional seam ripper,” she laughed. “Get a good seam ripper and be patient with yourself. If you don’t want to waste your good fabric, use scraps and make a prototype. Just try. And use the resources out there. If you search for something, you’ll get a hit. I always find myself going back to Sailrite.”

Angela admitted that she doesn’t sew as much during the summer months, opting instead to spend time outdoors and on her boat. She’s currently working up the courage to reupholster the seats on her Sea Ray powerboat.

Her next big project will be altering a bridesmaid dress for a wedding she’s standing up in at the end of the summer. Angela will be hemming the dress and her aunt, a seamstress, will help teach her how to alter the bodice, she said.

“I really do feel that anyone can do this,” Angela added. “I don’t have an innate talent for sewing. Anyone has the ability to sew. Just work your way up and you can do this.”

To see more of Angela’s projects, follow her blog, Angela Sews or visit her page on Facebook.

Meet the Ultrafeed v.3

We’re excited to announce the upcoming release of our latest Ultrafeed® model, the v.3. Coming this June the Ultrafeed will include several new drive parts and an updated look. This new machine is still the Ultrafeed that you know and love but with a few improvements.

Here at Sailrite, we have a long history continually improving the Ultrafeed Sewing Machines to maintain their status as the best portable, heavy-duty sewing machine around. Because we’re always improving, even though we loved the v.2 machine, we knew that we could make it even better. This fine-tuning and optimization process is what led to the v.3 machine.

What Is New?

The Ultrafeed v.3 has 3 basic new features: three of the drive parts have been re-designed, the feed components are improved, and the PLUS and PREMIUM packages come in a new Industrial Carrying Case. So what do all these changes mean? Let’s break them down and take a closer look.

Drive components

Meet the Ultrafeed v.3
For the v.3, we re-designed three of the drive components: the motor bracket, jack drive and the motor pulley. All of these parts have been optimized to create less friction and to be better aligned for smoother operation. This also results in less noise while sewing and less wear on the parts, increasing their longevity. These updated parts are actually not unique to the v.3 Ultrafeed, but rather have been phased into our v.2 machines starting in 2016. So if you bought your machine during the first half of 2016, you may already have these parts.

Feed Components

Meet the Ultrafeed v.3

We have made improvements to the feeding mechanism to make it last longer and grip even better than before. Unlike other sewing machines with knurled feeding mechanisms, the Ultrafeed has sharp teeth to grip and evenly feed your material through the machine.

Industrial Carrying Case

Meet the Ultrafeed v.3
Our new carrying case come standard with all Plus and Premium Ultrafeed packages and can be purchased separately if you want to upgrade your existing Ultrafeed. The new case features a specially padded lid to support and protect your machine, even when stored on its side. The Sailrite logo is silkscreened on the case lid and serves as an easy guide to remember which way the lid fits and which direction to set the machine for sewing. Other new features include extra-large rubber feet to keep the case in place while sewing, and heavy-duty butterfly latches securing the case lid.

Meet the Ultrafeed v.3

The Ultrafeed v.3 machines will continue to be tuned and finished in our Indiana facility and will offer all the power, performance and quality you’ve come to expect from Sailrite.

Look for the Ultrafeed v.3 Sewing Machines at Sailrite.com starting in June 2016.

Lifetime threads are more expensive than traditional polyester thread, but for projects that will be outdoors all the time, a lifetime thread is well worth the extra investment. Sailrite stocks two brands of lifetime thread, Profilen and Tenara, and today we’re going to break down the strengths of each so you can decide which will work best for you.

First, let’s go over what all lifetime threads have in common. They all carry a lifetime guarantee (hence the name) and are unaffected by exposure to UV rays, harsh cleaning agents, pollution, saltwater, rain, snow, cold and rot. These threads can be left outside all year round in all of the elements and they still will outlast the fabric they are sewn into!

Selecting the Right Lifetime Thread

All 5 colors of Tenara Thread.

Tenara® Thread by Gore, is the original lifetime thread and is made of a unique fluoropolymer fiber construction. It is available in five colors on 8 oz. cones and comes in two sizes: regular, which is similar to a V-92 thread, and heavyweight, which is similar to a V-138 thread. Tenara thread is lubricated with a very small amount of silicone wax. This wax finish helps to provide lubrication during the sewing process. This extra lubrication can make the thread tricky to sew in some sewing machines, but is ideal for use with rotary hook sewing machines. In a rotary hook machine, the wax lubricates the machine too, and helps to create excellent stitch quality with very low stretch. We recommend Tenara thread for use with rotary hook sewing machines like the Sailrite 111, the Sailrite Professional Series and the Sailrite Big-N-Tall.

Selecting the Right Lifetime Thread

Profilen Thread in both colors and cone sizes.

Sailrite® Lifetime Thread (formerly Profilen®) is made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and also features properties that repel dirt and water and it is self-cleaning. Sailrite Thread is available in two colors on 4 oz. or 8 oz. cones and the thread size is comparable to a V-92 thread. Sailrite thread is softer than other lifetime threads, which makes it easier to sew properly. We highly recommend this thread for use in oscillating hook sewing machines like the Sailrite Ultrafeed®.

If you’re not sure if your sewing machine has an oscillating or rotary hook, our blog at Sailrite.com (search #300118XHT) outlines how each type of machine works and tells you how to tell which type of machine you have.

All in all, you cannot make a wrong choice with lifetime threads, but selecting the one that will sew best in your sewing machine will give you an easier sewing experience.

You can find both of these lifetime threads at Sailrite.com.

How to Sew an Upholstery French Seam

Add eye-catching top stitches to your boat and auto upholstery with a French seam. Taking the time to sew a French seam not only adds visual interest to your upholstery but it also strengthens the seam. We’ll show you how to get this look for yourself in a quick video tutorial.

The French seam demonstrated in our video is also known as a “double top stitch” and is commonly found in applications using leather, faux leather or vinyl. When sewing lighter materials for apparel and some home goods applications, the term “French seam” refers to a slightly different technique.

When sewing a French seam for your upholstery, we recommend adding a backing material behind the first seam. This way, if the seam is stretched when the seat is in use, the backing fabric blocks the lining under the fabric from being seen, while also adding additional strength. To get the best appearance on your top stitch, we also recommend using a heavier weight thread so it will have a thicker appearance. You can also sew with a contrasting thread color so the stitching will pop against your fabric.

Find all the materials to sew your own boat or auto upholstery at Sailrite.com.

These French seams will be featured in a boat cushion video out later this year. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post!

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We recently added a new needle system for our Sailrite® Professional Sewing Machine series. The UY 128 GAS is a needle system that features an extra long scarf. Let’s take a closer look at what this means and how it can improve your sewing.

UY 128 GAS is the needle system for this new set of needles. The needle system refers to which needles fit in which sewing machines. The needle system is determined by the diameter of the needle’s shank and the needle’s length from the very top of the needle to the top of the eye. On the UY 128 GAS needles, as with most needles for industrial sewing machines, the shank is completely round. In this case, what sets the UY 128 GAS needles apart from other systems is their long scarf.

The scarf is the indentation above the needle’s eye that allows the thread to be grabbed by the shuttle hook under the throat plate to create a stitch. Longer scarves can help to eliminate skipped stitches. The Professional Sewing Machines have a very wide zigzag stitch and this can be problematic with some smaller scarfed needles. The taller scarf increases the tolerance on the right side of the stitch for the hook to catch the thread loop properly. It also reduces possible interference between the needle’s body and the hook or thread when the stitch width is at it’s widest.

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All of the UY 128 GAS needles stocked by Sailrite are general purpose, round point needles so they will work well for a wide variety of sewing projects.

We’re excited about the ease of use with these needles and the wide zigzag stitches the Professional machines will easily produce when these needles are used. Sailrite is now recommending the UY 128 GAS needles as the standard needle system for all Sailrite Professional Sewing Machines.

Try these needles out for yourself. See our full selection of sizes at Sailrite.com.

 

Whether your shopping for a new sewing machine or just looking to better understand the one you have, it can be helpful to understand the differences in features and functionality between machines. One feature that plays a key role in how your sewing machine works is the hook system. This is the part of the machine that catches the thread as it is forced out of the needle to create a stitch. There are two main types of hooks, rotary and oscillating. Both hooks create lockstitch stitches, but they work differently and have a couple different considerations. Let’s take a closer look at these two systems.

Rotary Hook Machines

Rotary vs. Oscillating Hook Sewing Machines

Rotary Hook in the Sailrite Big-N-Tall. Shown without the bobbin.

A rotary hook machine, sometimes called a full rotary machine, is a machine in which the hook rotates in a full circle around a stationary bobbin. In this system, the shuttle hook catches the thread when the needle is going back up through the fabric and the hook then carries the thread around the bobbin cage to form the stitch, going all the way around the bobbin.

Rotary machines use a gear or timing belt linkage between the top and bottom shafts of the machine. To keep this function working properly, it must be set very precisely. This need for precision means that rotary hook sewing machines have tight thread tolerances. In other words, they work well with threads of specific, recommended sizes but can be unforgiving outside of their range. Additionally, small rotary hook machines tend to need their timing adjusted more frequently to maintain that precision.

A sewing machine with a rotary hook runs smoother at higher speeds (no vibrating), is quieter and has less frequent thread jams than machines with oscillating hooks. However, these machines are usually more expensive than oscillating hook machines. Rotary hooks are the standard choice for industrial sewing machines.

The Sailrite 111, the Sailrite Professional Series and the Sailrite Big-N-Tall are all full-sized, industrial machines with rotary hooks.

Oscillating Hook Machines

Rotary vs. Oscillating Hook Sewing Machines

Oscillating hook shown without the bobbin in the Ultrafeed LSZ-1.

Oscillating hook sewing machines have a hook that, instead of rotating in a full circle, oscillates back and forth. In this system, the hook picks up the upper thread from the needle and carries it down around the bottom of the bobbin cage. Once it has done this, the hook reverses its direction and returns to its original location.

Oscillating hook sewing machines have simpler mechanics and tend to be more affordable than rotary hook machines. They are also easier to time and maintain. Since oscillating hook machines have looser tolerances than the precise rotary hooks, oscillating hook machines can sew heavier threads in smaller machines. The drawbacks to oscillating hook machines are that they are louder and are generally not as fast.

Both of our Sailrite® Ultrafeed Sewing Machines have oscillating hooks.

Which Machine Do I Have?

If you’re looking at purchasing a new machine, the shuttle type is often listed in the machine’s specifications. If you’re unsure what type of hook your current machine has, there’s a simple way to tell. Remove the bobbin from your machine and turn the balance wheel by hand. Watch the motion of the hook. Does it make a full circle or does it change directions? If it changes direction, it’s an oscillating hook and if it stays on a full circular pattern it’s a rotary hook.

Conclusions

In general, oscillating hook machines offer more versatility with their looser thread tolerances. We find that they tend to be easier for amateurs to use because they are more forgiving to use and are easier to maintain because they require fewer adjustments. However, both types of machines will give you excellent stitches and performance. For many, the choice is preferential or driven by necessary features.

To learn more about the features of Sailrite’s rotary and oscillating hook sewing machines visit Sailrite.com.

Do you use pre-wound bobbins in your sewing? These fully loaded bobbins can be a great benefit when sewing—keeping you sewing longer and making the transition between bobbins much faster. We’re going to take a closer look at the different pre-wound bobbins so you can start enjoying the benefits of sewing with them.

All About Pre-Wound Bobbins

A Bobbin By Many Names

You may have heard pre-wound bobbins being referred to as belbobs, barbobs or hembobs. These little bobbins have many names, but in general these terms refer to the same thing. Each thread company over time has branded their own name for their pre-wound bobbins. Belbobs, for example, were from the Belding Corticelli Thread Company. These are sideless bobbins with a core. Barbobs came from Barbour Threads and are bobbins with a core and paper sides. A hembob came from the Hemmingway Bartlett Thread Company and is a sideless, coreless bobbin. Through company mergers over the years, none of these original companies are still in existence today and the terms are now used interchangeably.

You’ll see on the Sailrite website that we generically refer to all pre-wound bobbins generically as “hembobs.” We do this because we originally sold only hembobs from Hemmingway Barlett. After that company was bought out, we don’t actually carry any true hembobs anymore (without a core or sides) but we kept the name hembob because our customers were familiar with that term over the other synonyms for pre-wound bobbins.

Why Use Pre-Wound?

Why use a pre-wound bobbin over one you wind yourself? The main benefits to using a pre-wound bobbin are that hembobs are easier for the sewist and create better stitches.

One main difference between pre-wound bobbins and those you wind yourself is that a pre-wound bobbin can hold 30-50% more thread than an own-wound bobbin. This extra thread leads to fewer bobbin changes while sewing. Also, because the thread is wound on the bobbin at the factory there is more consistency with how much thread is on each bobbin. This will help you better anticipate when the thread will run out.

Factory wound bobbins create better stitches because the wind is more consistent than on self-wound bobbins. This, in turn, makes the tension of the thread more consistent as it comes off the bobbin, which improves the stitch appearance and the bobbin tension. The soft sides of pre-wound bobbins also reduce the risk of the thread breaking if there are rough edges on a metal bobbin.

Arguably the biggest reason to use a pre-wound bobbin is that it is just easier. You don’t need to worry about winding a bobbin before threading your machine during set-up for a project so it saves you time. Pre-wound bobbins can also save you money because you won’t need to buy a stash of empty metal bobbins.

Bobbin Styles

When you go to purchase a pre-wound bobbin of thread, you’ll see that there are different “styles” to choose from. Style is a guide for the diameter and height of a bobbin as expressed through a letter designation. Common bobbin sizes include Style A, Style L and Style M, for example. You can find which style will fit your sewing machine in the machine’s guidebook. Sailrite also lists common sewing machines that each bobbin will fit in. The Ultrafeed Sewing Machines use a Style A (also known as Type 15) bobbin.

Hopefully you learned something new about pre-wound bobbins. If you want to give them a try for yourself, you can get white or black bobbins for all Sailrite sewing machines at Sailrite.com.

Do you sew with pre-wound bobbins? What do you like or dislike about them? Share your experiences in the comments!

Last week we shared our first major re-upholstery video, and today we’re back to finish up that project and show you how to sew the seat and backrest cushions for your newly reupholstered chair frame. These cushions sew together like most box cushions; they just have a few added curves so if you can sew a simple cushion you can tackle this project.

How to Make Armchair Cushions via Sailrite's DIY Advice Blog

Before you start patterning your cushions, it’s a good idea to put the old cushions back on the chair frame and inspect their fit. When we did this, we noticed that the seat cushion stuck out a little far over the chair base. We made a note of this right on the old fabric to remember to pattern our cushion about a half-inch smaller at the front. It’s also a good idea to feel around the cushion for any lumps or inconsistencies in the foam.

When you take your cushions apart, you’ll want to inspect the foam to make sure it’s still in one piece and seems sturdy to reuse. You can always replace the foam with a similar sized piece if you aren’t happy with the quality upon inspection. We noticed that our cushion had an empty space in the front where it felt like the foam had slipped back. When we took the cushion apart we re-wrapped the batting around the foam and then we added a little extra batting to the back to be sure the foam would stay in place.

Now we have a completely recovered chair to enjoy! You can find all the tools and materials you need to complete your own chair re-upholstery project at Sailrite.com. Visit our website and search #200669XHT.

How to Make Armchair Cushions via Sailrite's DIY Advice Blog

If you’re interested in re-upholstery, we have more upholstery projects coming up. Subscribe to the blog in the right column so you don’t miss a post!

If you’ve been watching our latest videos, then you’ve probably noticed Cindi, our new resident upholstery expert. We’re so excited that she’s here to share her expertise with all of you. We have a lot of great upholstery projects in the works with Cindi, so let’s get to know her a little better. I recently asked Cindi some questions about her sewing experience, her favorite projects and her experience at Sailrite. Take a look!

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Q: How long have you been sewing? Which came first, upholstery or sewing?

A: I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My mother was an amazing seamstress and with her help and a terrific Home Ec teacher I have been able to make sewing in some form my lifelong career. Sewing did come before upholstery. Before I started working in the home decor area I mostly made clothing.

I have worked in fabric stores, drapery workrooms, doing alterations, upholstery and now [I] make cushions for an outdoor furniture company, long arm quilt, and work at Sailrite. My husband and I had an upholstery business and have worked together for most of our marriage and now we only make cushions. It has enabled me to be at home while our children were growing up and now be available to be Grannie!

Q: How long have you been doing upholstery?

A: I have been upholstering since I graduated from college in 1978. I realized after graduating—actually during school—that I didn’t have the competitive spirit needed for a buying position in the fashion world and since I had fallen for a guy in Indiana I knew that Indiana was not the place to pursue fashion careers! My parents had a sofa they needed to get rid of or re-do so they gave me the opportunity to give it a try and I have been reupholstering ever since.

Q: How did you learn to re-upholster?

A: I learned by making mistakes! It’s a pretty straightforward process and I already had sewing skills so it was mostly trial and error—take it apart and start over if it didn’t work!

Q: What are your favorite projects to work on?

A: I’m not sure I have a favorite project—I just love to sew!

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Q: What do you like about working here at Sailrite?

A: The best part about working at Sailrite is the excitement I felt the first time I was in the building! Good things are happening here and the people who work here are positive and excited about what is coming up in the future and most of all I get to sew and be creative!

Q: Do you use a Sailrite sewing machine at home? What is your favorite Sailrite product?

A: I do have a Sailrite machine at home, [a Sailrite 111] and so far my favorite product is Seamstick—that tape is awesome! It’s like having an extra hand! I hope to use a lot more of the products and have a new favorite every few weeks!

Q: What are some fun facts you’d like to share about yourself?

A: Not sure about that one—I am originally from Connecticut and I miss the trees the most! My husband and I ride a Harley and we went to the Sturgis rally a couple years ago and loved it! It is beautiful out there! And no we did not ride the bike from here to there-my brother has a camper and we put the bikes in the camper and rode them out west and drove the camper back! My very favorite movie is How the Grinch Stole Christmas—I cry through the whole thing!


Thanks, Cindi! We’re so excited to have you as part of the Sailrite crew.

Excited to learn more about upholstery? One of our latest upholstery videos featuring Cindi will be on the blog next week, you won’t want to miss it!

If you have a home sewing machine that can handle sewing heavier fabrics, you probably will want to use a heavier thread, too. Most domestic sewing machines can sew with V-69 thread, but the machine probably doesn’t have a place for you to set such a large cone of thread. We have a couple of quick tips that will help you get the best feed off your cone of thread on a home sewing machine.

Cones vs. Spools

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First, let’s talk about why these large cones of thread need to be treated differently than the typical spool. Large cones of thread, like the ones we sell at Sailrite, require the thread to be pulled off the top of the cone for smooth and consistent tensioning in your sewing machine. Conversely, on smaller spools of thread, the kind that are traditionally used for home sewing, the thread pulls off the side of the spool. These smaller spools can sit on a post on your sewing machine but this situation isn’t right for the larger cones.

Thread Stand

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What to do? The best way to get clean feeding off the cone is to use a thread stand behind your machine. We have two thread stand options: one with a plastic base, and another with a sturdier metal base. Both of our thread stands will be great for this application.

Cone on the Floor

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If you’d prefer to not invest in a thread stand or you can’t wait until it arrives, we have a trick for you. Set your cone of thread on the floor behind your sewing machine and pull the thread off the cone and up over the back of a chair and then thread it into your machine. To learn more, visit Sailrite.com!

Do you sew canvas on a domestic sewing machine? What have been your challenges? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? We want to hear from you in the comments!

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