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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.

Where the Coconuts Grow Interview

Meet Jody and Peter, the sailing couple behind the blog “Where the Coconuts Grow.” This determined couple set their sights on the live aboard sailing life and didn’t look back. They’ve been cruising in the Caribbean for the past two years on board S/V Mary Christine. To continue their sailing lifestyle, they’ve embraced a “work hard, play hard” mentality, which includes long hours at their island job and DIY projects to affordably maintain their own boat with the freedom of the sailing life as the ultimate payoff. Sailrite is a sponsor of their DIY projects and I recently had the opportunity to ask Jody a few questions about the cruising lifestyle and DIY aboard.

Q: Tell us a little bit about you! How did you start sailing? How did you decide to cruise in the Caribbean?

A: I’m originally from the Seattle area (Jody), and Peter is from San Diego. We both had boating experience since we were little but neither of us knew how to sail before we bought our boat! Peter knew one day he would buy a sailboat to economically get to all the epic surf spots and fishing grounds. We originally looked for a boat on the West Coast but found better options on the East Coast. The boat we purchased was in Florida so the Caribbean was the natural route to begin our cruising. We are SO glad it ended up that way instead of the Pacific side as our training grounds.

Where the Coconuts Grow Interview

Q: Tell us about your sailboat, S/V Mary Christine. 

A: Our boat is a Whitby 42 – A 42′ bluewater ketch. She was built in 1980 and is very solid. The previous owners took impeccable care of her and we are lucky to have such a perfect tiny floating home. With the age comes character. There is a lot of interior teak but that also darkens the space very quickly. My settee cushion project and throw pillow project both immediately lightened up the space and made it feel even more cozy inside. I love that our boat feels like home and not just a boat.

Q: What is your favorite part of your cruising lifestyle?

A: I love the freedom the most. We have the freedom to pick up and move anytime we want, bringing our tiny floating home and all of our belongings with us. We can travel, see the world and never get homesick all at the same time.

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Q: Why do you think DIY skills are important for cruisers?

A: When you travel to remote places, boat parts and repair facilities are few and far between. Even if you don’t know how to fix something, you figure it out. A little common sense and motivation go a long way on the water. DIY skills are also very rewarding. Before we became cruisers, our DIY skills were nowhere near what they are today simply because they didn’t need to be. Now, we look at all the things we have done by ourselves and they are all huge accomplishments. That makes you feel pretty proud.

Q: How did you first hear about Sailrite?

A: A few of my cruising friends have used Sailrite machines and they were always highly recommended. I did my research and decided to not waste my time with a cheaper machine that would inevitably break down or not hold up to the marine environment. My primary motive was to be able to do sail repairs if necessary with the versatility to sew other projects and the general consensus was that Sailrite is the best. I can proudly agree now!

Where the Coconuts Grow Interview

Jody’s new settee cushions

Q: I know you have an Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 Sewing Machine, what do you think of it so far? How many projects have you sewn with it?

A: I absolutely LOVE my LSZ-1!!! It runs so smooth and I have no trouble sewing heavy-duty materials. It does everything I need it to do. I’ve done about 6 projects so far and my to-do list keeps growing :) My favorite completed projects are these three:

  • DIY Throw Pillows
  • DIY Salon Cushions
  • DIY Custom Shaped Dog Bed

Q: Your settee cushions turned out great! What did you learn in the process of making those?

A: Wow, the cushion project was incredibly intimidating before I started. I had wanted to redo them since the day we bought our boat and I avoided the project for two whole years. By jumping into that project, I learned that it’s really not as scary as it looks, with the help of my LSZ-1 and all the wonderful Sailrite videos. I was very patient and watched the videos over and over again until I felt like I understood what to do at each stage of the project.

Where the Coconuts Grow Interview

Betsy, Peter & Jody’s sailing pup, approves of the new cushions

Q: What advice do you have for other sailors thinking about sewing for their boats?

A: Don’t be intimidated!! The Sailrite videos make anything possible. If you have a question about any part of the process, the Sailrite customer service is beyond exceptional and they will help you figure anything out. Take on any projects you are considering and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do them sooner.

Q: Do you have any DIY projects on the horizon?

A: My list of projects I’d like to start is ever-growing. As soon as I have a few more days off, I’m going to finally tackle repairing the aft isinglass panel of my cockpit. The zipper has been disintegrated by UV exposure and we can’t keep the rain out. I’ve got the supplies, now I just need to plan my first steps. I’m so happy I don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to do it!

Where the Coconuts Grow Interview

Q: Where are you sailing now?
A: We are currently in the British Virgin Islands working full-time as Captain and First Mate on a 48′ Day Sail Catamaran. The Virgin Islands are some of our favorite sailing grounds of the entire Eastern Caribbean. Someday, we’ll sail west to Central America and onto the South Pacific, but as they say, plans are drawn in the sand! Wherever we end up, we’ll always be Where the Coconuts Grow :)


You can follow Jody and Peter’s sailing adventures on their blog, Where the Coconuts Grow as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

You may recognize Brian from a few of our how-to videos, from a boat show, or maybe he’s helped you on the phone. Brian is a true jack-of-all-trades around here at Sailrite® and he’s an avid DIYer and boater himself (who always has a countdown to when his boat can go in the water again!). Brian is also prominently featured on the cover of the 2016 Sailrite Marine Catalog. I recently asked him a few questions about his passion for boating and his role at Sailrite so you can get to know him a little better.

Meet Brian -  

Q: How long have you been a boater? 

A: Literally my entire life.  Legend has it that the night I was born my mom had been pulling my dad, brothers and sisters skiing earlier that day. We have skied and boated my entire life.  I started sailing when I was about 9 when we bought our first sailboat upon which I spent many summers cruising the great lakes, primarily the North Channel of Lake Huron.

Q: What kinds of boats do you have? 

A: Currently I have a 1987 Seaward 22 Sailboat which has served as our weekend cottage at Lake James, Indiana for about five years now, a 1977 19’ Marquis runabout which has been in the family since new and has belonged to my wife and I for about 14 years, and a recently acquired 1982 24’ Regal cabin cruiser which is my winter restoration project, that will ultimately replace the Seaward. I hope to come back to sailing, but for now our boating lifestyle is more about destinations then journeys so my wife has won the power vs. sail debate in our family.

Q: How long have you been DIYing and sewing for you boat? 

A: I have been repairing and maintaining boats as long as I have been using them.  I remember helping Dad with the “work” end of boating as young as 6 or 7 years old. I have known how to sew nearly as long, but never really started sewing my own boating projects until I started at Sailrite.

Q: What is your DIY project you are most proud of?

A: Probably the one I am most proud of isn’t really a DIY project, but a Do-It-For-Someone-Else project.  Last spring a friend who runs a great “floating food truck” as I would call it upgraded to a larger houseboat.  I made rail covers and a front screen enclosure the latter being required to pass health department inspections.  My payment for the project was a summer of free food including the best cheeseburgers around for the family.

Q: What is your role at Sailrite? 

A: I oversee the customer service and shipping departments at Sailrite, and also help to answer any project or product questions customers may have.  I also get to, and most enjoy working on, developing new projects and helping in the work process of filming said projects.

Q: You have an interesting story of how you came to work here, how did your Sailrite journey start?

A: I stopped in one day for a catalog while I was restoring the Seaward.  When I inquired about the for-sale sign (our old facility in Miriam) and the implied growth it represented I was told whom to e-mail.  A resume, few e-mails and an interview later here I am. My parents were customers of Sailrite since the 80’s, and I remember going to the facility downtown way back when.

Q: What is your favorite Sailrite product?

A: It has to of course be the Ultrafeed Sewing Machine.  I have a great old metal Kenmore that has served me well, but without the Ultrafeed there is no way I could have sewn the things I have, and definitely not as easily.  My Ultrafeed goes with me to the lake nearly every weekend, and is always on standby to fix a zipper, blown out seam or tears and holes for fellow lakers.

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

A: It’s no secret I live to be on the water.  I try to be the first boat in the water and the last one out, and we seldom miss a single weekend at the lake.  When I was growing up, we lived much of the same lifestyle with our sailboat acting as our weekend cottage on Lake Wawasee, Indiana. I remember my Mom and I waiting in the parking lot where my Dad worked every Friday night as leaving from there got us to the lake in time to get in an evening sail or a couple passes on the ski.  I also have a rule that I don’t wear pants as long as the boats are in the water.  Luckily Sailrite is an environment where shorts fit right in.


Thanks, Brian!

The 2016 Sailrite Marine Catalog (with Brian on the cover) will be available in early 2016.

Sailrite is proud to sponsor the DIY efforts of Eben and Genevieve Stolz, the dynamic duo behind the cruising blog It’s a Necessity.

Eben and Genevieve Stolz know the DIY lifestyle. A few years ago, in order to maintain their cruising lifestyle with their two daughters, Arias and Ellia, the couple needed a bigger boat. They found that boat, S/V Necesse (a 41-foot Morgan Classic and a total fixer-upper) in Georgetown, Bahamas and sailed her back to Miami, Florida for a re-fit.

DIY Aboard S/V Necesse

The whole family: Eben, Genevieve, Arias & Ellia

They spent two years of hard work redoing nearly the entire interior before they set sail again. Now this hard-working cruising family is back at their boat projects while waiting out hurricane season in the Virgin Islands. I recently got the chance to talk with Eben about his latest DIY projects and his experience as a DIY sailor.

One of the recent and biggest projects Eben took on for their boat was building a dodger. The dodger project was one Eben had been mulling over in his mind for years before he set to work.

“I bought Strataglass and Sunbrella fabric from [Sailrite] like three years ago and did my bimini,” he said.

Eben had always planned on making a matching dodger, but without a template to follow for the project, he decided to wait and think the project through more before starting.

“I sit and look at things for a while,” Eben said.

He recently got the push he needed to finally start on his dodger when a fellow cruiser lent him old VHS tapes outlining how to build a dodger. The video didn’t do things exactly the way Eben wanted for his boat, but it gave him a good starting point. So he pulled out his materials from storage and set to work bending and building the frame.

DIY Aboard S/V Necesse

Eben uses his Edge Hotknife to cut Sunbrella for the dodger

After bending all the tubing by hand on his boat, Eben installed the dodger frame. Then he used the frame to template the fabric panels. Friends of his had offered him their office space to sew in, so he took his templates and fabrics to land to sew it all together.

In the office, Eben laid painters drop cloths on the floor to keep his Strataglass from scratching during fabrication. Then he patterned and basted all the pieces together and started sewing on his Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

“I was a little worried about sewing the 40 Gauge Strataglass,” he admits. “I didn’t know if the machine would handle it.”

But once Eben started sewing, his fears were quickly assuaged. “[The machine] went through it like butter,” he laughed.

Throughout the process Eben was meticulous in his planning so everything would come out just right, carefully adding zippers around the whole frame and installing fasteners one at a time to ensure a perfect fit. The close attention to detail really paid off and the finished dodger looks great. Genevieve wrote on their blog that the dodger “gives our boat a whole new feel.”

DIY Aboard S/V Necesse

Eben’s sewing set-up in his friends’ office

Eben said the most challenging part of the dodger project was the surroundings he had to sew in. Having a small space to sew a large project meant having to roll the Strataglass to sew while being careful not to scratch it and sewing slowly to make frequent adjustments.

“Not having a huge space and not having an even plane with your sewing machine to sew on [was a challenge],” he said. “It’s feasible but it’s not like having a sail loft to work in.”

Eben has a long history with DIY and sewing especially. He started sewing when he was just 10 or 11 years old because his older brother had taken up the hobby. Together they started sewing their own snowboarding gear.

He says he’s always had a DIY spirit and a drive to learn new things.

“People say I have a lot of talents, but I don’t. I just think I can do anything,” Eben said. “If someone else is doing it, I want to figure out how to do it, too.”

Eben eventually fell away from sewing until he and Genevieve were living in Miami working on their boat refit. There he met a guy with a canvas shop who hooked him up with a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine and Eben started sewing for the boat. He made their bimini and all new cushions for their salon.

He now describes his Ultrafeed Sewing Machine as his “number one tool.”

“Every day I use it I’m impressed,” he said.

One of the features Eben really likes about the Ultrafeed is that it doesn’t draw a lot of energy, so he can run it off his Honda generator. He frequently takes the generator and the Ultrafeed out to the beach to sew.

“The Sailrite weighs more than the generator, so that says something about quality,” Eben said, laughing.

2015_September-Half-Dodger-3

Fitting the fabric on the frame

Having his sewing machine onboard also means that he frequently gets requests from other sailors to sew projects for them. He recently made “bat wing” boom awnings for cruising friends and has plans to help a neighbor with a dodger. Aside from helping fellow cruisers sew boat projects, he’s never sewn officially as a job.

Eben said he focuses his efforts on projects for their own boat.

“It gets expensive being in the boating world,” he said.

Eben’s two other go-to tools for his canvas projects are the Pres-N-Snap Tool and the Sailrite Edge Hotknife.

“Those are amazing,” he exclaimed.

Eben described how he would carefully and meticulously hem all the edges of Sunbrella projects before having a hotknife to ensure none of his edges would ravel.

“The hotknife is the best thing available for sewing. Having the hotknife saved me 6-7 hours of work on the dodger and really put my mind at ease that nothing would unravel,” he said.

DIY Aboard S/V Necesse

The finished dodger during a sail

Eben shared his advice for other DIY sailors looking to sew their own canvas projects.

“Think you can do anything,” he said.

Eben also recommends careful planning and being methodical in your approach.

“Waste time over planning,” he said. “You know how they say ‘measure twice, cut once’? I’m more measure seven times, cut once.”

He also recommends taking advantage of all the sewing resources available online and over the phone.

“Use the assets available—use Sailrite’s customer service,” he said. “Sewing can be a pain when things go wrong but you can be on the right track again with just a phone call.”


To learn more about Eben and Genevieve and to follow their cruising journey, visit their blog, It’s a Necessity or follow them on Facebook & Instagram (@sailing_necesse).

You may recognize Desiree Golen from videos we’ve shared on our Facebook page. We heard about Desiree, her boyfriend Jordan Wicht, and Project Atticus just as they were starting to refit their boat a couple of years ago. We admire their ambition and DIY spirit and we thought you would too. Sailrite is sponsoring Project Atticus as they learn how to sew canvas and sails. I recently chatted with Desiree about their ongoing adventure and the nature of DIY. Here is their story.

The DIY spirit has grabbed ahold of Desiree Golen and Jordan Wicht and it’s not letting go. This young couple is the dynamic duo behind the blog and video series, Project Atticus, where they are documenting the refit of their 1963 Allied Seawind and will ultimately share their adventures sailing around the world. The motto of Project Atticus is “know your world” and that is exactly what Desiree and Jordan intend to do.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Jordan & Desiree on the deck of Atticus, their 1963 Allied Seawind

For Desiree, the desire to travel started at a young age.

“I grew up traveling with my family and as soon as I had money of my own, I was out the door traveling again,” she said.

Desiree was working at a start-up she owned in Silicon Valley when she met a girl who crewed on super yachts. When she heard stories of traveling the world with free room and board and other great perks, Desiree could hardly believe that was a real job. She read a book about being a yacht stewardess, sold her company and moved to Fort Lauderdale to get a job on a super yacht. After working as a stewardess for 2 years, she got a job aboard Limitless, the largest American super yacht in the world. It was on board Limitless that she met Jordan, who was working there as a deck hand.

Desiree said a big attraction between her and Jordan right away was their mutual love of exploring.

“What I had always wanted to do was backpack around the world,” Desiree shared.

She hadn’t been dating Jordan long when he shared his dream to sail around the world.

“Jordan asked me to sail around the world with him and I thought, ‘hmm, let me think about that one,’” Desiree laughed.

The couple decided to test the waters and see how they traveled together by taking a trip backpacking and climbing in Southeast Asia. The trip was a success and together they decided to quit their jobs, buy a sailboat and see the world.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Celebrating their first day on board Atticus

As they were looking for a boat and preparing to start their journey, they got the idea to document their travels and their process through videos they would share online.

“We were thinking of a way to contribute back to society and to motivate ourselves to be creative,” Desiree said.

Jordan studied filmmaking in college and Desiree had worked in marketing so they pooled their skills and founded Project Atticus, a travel and adventure documentary series and blog.

“It’s really a way to document our travels and to showcase our experiences,” Desiree said.

They started on their video series right away, before they even had their vessel. In the first four of their video episodes, you can watch them search for and purchase the boat that will become Atticus.

Their boat was a diamond in the rough and needed a lot of work to make her the perfect home for Jordan and Desiree’s world expedition. They are currently deep into a complete refit of Atticus.

“It’s taken longer and is more difficult than we expected,” Desiree said of the refit.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Desiree paints the Project Atticus logo at the boatyard

The pair has been working on their boat nearly full-time for two years now, doing all the work themselves. They decided to DIY originally to save money, but have found that it has added benefits.

“[Doing the work ourselves] also makes us more capable sailors and boat owners. The feeling caught and now we do everything for the boat ourselves,” Desiree said. “It’s cool to have the empowerment to do things that people think you can’t do.”

Projects on their list included making curtains for their cabin, as well as sewing new settee and v-berth cushions. While looking for v-berth cushions online, Desiree found Sailrite’s How to Make V-Berth Cushions Video and decided to try her hand at sewing. She got an Ultrafeed Sewing Machine, Sunbrella fabric and set to work on her first project—curtains.

“I was super anxious for sewing and I was intimidated by the machine at first,” Desiree admits.

But after her first project, Desiree started to feel differently about her machine.

“I used to enjoy the prepping more, but now I enjoy the sewing more,” she said, describing sewing now as being almost a tranquil, zen-like feeling.

After completing her curtains and new settee cushions for their saloon, Desiree is now working on the v-berth cushions, which is purposely saved for her third project because she knew they’d be tricky. After that she’d like to make a sail, a sail cover and an awning for their cockpit.

While doing her canvaswork Desiree has learned that “there is a lot of finesse in sewing” but she loves the pride that comes from completing her projects.

“It’s cool that I really only know the bare minimum about sewing but I can make functional lifestyle projects,” she said.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Look at that Ultrafeed love!

She has also been really pleased with her Ultrafeed Sewing Machine.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s like having a MacBook Pro. It’s reliable and strong. My favorite part is the Sailrite videos. I can take it right out of the box without having to call anyone for help.”

Desiree advises other new sewers to find a mentor, an individual or a group, to ask questions of during the process. She found a lot of help from Sailrite and the Facebook groups “The Sailrite Users Group” and “Sewing On Boats.”

“Get a seam ripper,” she added, laughing. “Don’t be intimidated to do things over again to get them right. Also gorge on Sailrite videos.”

After two years working on their refit, Jordan and Desiree have put their hearts and souls into their boat and at time things have been really challenging.

“The emotional cost of cruising—the time you never get back—that’s the hardest part,” Desiree said. “When we’re just working and working and not sailing and not living a beautiful dream.”

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Desiree’s finished curtains & settee cushions

Desiree thinks that throughout their refit they have learned valuable skills both about their boat and about life that will help them on their adventure. They’ve had to take odd jobs and learn how to sustain their dream financially (neither is independently wealthy) but Desiree now feels that they will be able to make money anywhere they go to maintain their lifestyle.

“It’s made us more self-reliant and more resourceful. We’re also better at managing expectations,” she said of their refit. “It’s made us more humble about learning and that to learn, you have to fail.”

All in all both Jordan and Desiree feel that their DIY efforts have been well worth it.

“Jordan and I have been talking a lot about the pros and cons of DIY,” Desiree said. “We realized that even though sometimes you spend the same amount of money, we are the kind of people who like to know how to do things for ourselves. The amount of happiness it brings is worth knowing.”

And it’s that same love of knowledge that lead them to this adventure in the first place. That drive to see things for themselves and to truly “know their world.”


You can follow along with Jordan and Desiree through their video updates and their blog posts. Visit their website, ProjectAtticus.com to see and learn more.

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!

The do-it-yourself spirit is alive and well in Sailrite customer Jack Rosen. Jack will try his hand at making just about anything. He’s successfully built airplanes, cars, and even a business! With all of those skills it’s no wonder that Jack would be a do-it-yourselfer for his sailboat too.

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Jack teaching his CANE Seminar

Jack first became smitten with sailing while living in Toronto. He was spending his free time racing cars when a friend convinced him to try racing sailboats instead. So Jack went out on Lake Ontario with his friend on a 35-foot R-boat.

“I became fascinated with it,” Jack said. “I am allergic to grass, and when I was out on the water, away from everything, I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest.”

It wasn’t long before Jack bought his own sailboat and began competing in regattas. On his Lightning 19-foot daysailer, Jack raced against the New England and World Lightning Champions.

“I learned more about sailing from that Lightning,” Jack reminisced. “You could see the changes instantly.”

It was also during this time that Jack was first introduced to sewing for his boat. He met a sailmaker, and together they sewed sails for the Lightning on Jack’s living room floor.

Eventually, Jack moved to New England, where he wasn’t close to the water and so he sold his boat to one of his crewmembers. When another move found him near Cape Cod, he quickly purchased another Lightning and later a Catalina 380.

The Catalina needed a new sailcover and Jack knew that he could do the project himself. He borrowed a Sailrite Yachtsman sewing machine from a friend and created a custom sailcover that comes apart at the Dutchman lines and splits into three pieces.

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Jack’s custom-designed sailcover

After that project Jack and his wife had the hull of the boat repainted, which left their hand-me-down canvas clashing with the boat. Not wanting to borrow a sewing machine for all the projects now on his list, Jack called us up, talked to Eric for advice about which machine to get, and ended up with a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

With his new machine at the ready, Jack set up a sewing station in his garage workshop. He created a cut-out for his machine in his work table, dropped the machine in and created a sewing table.

One of the first projects he tackled with his Ultrafeed was a new bimini. He took the entire bimini frame off his boat and rigged it up in his workshop. Then he built a new bimini patterned directly off his frame.

“I’ll just go around our boat and make things,” Jack said. “It’s just so handy to create something you want.”

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The finished bimini rigged up in the garage

Jack’s Catalina lead him to join a local sailing club, The Catalina Association of New England or CANE. The club provides monthly seminars on various aspects of sailing for its members, and Jack was asked to give a seminar on sewing for your boat. When it was listed, forty people signed up and Jack had to split the class into two sessions to accommodate everyone in his garage workshop.

Sailrite helped sponsor the event, providing catalogs for all attendees and copies of our Make Your Own Cushions DVD and Make Your Own Full Boat Enclosure DVD to raffle off as door prizes.

“The main theme of the seminar was to tell people that doing canvaswork is not a black art. It’s far easier than you think it is. You just need to know a few things, and Sailrite can help teach you those things,” Jack said.

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Jack teaching his seminar

Jack was nervous about how the day would go, but the informal seminar was a big hit among the CANE members.

“I was very concerned,” he said. “I had planned to just show pictures and talk about needles and the machine, but [the conversation] went on and on.”

Jack answered participants’ questions for two and half hours. Beyond sewing, they also talked about needles, thread, fasteners and how to punch holes. “All the little things that scare people,” Jack said.

“I brought the little grill from our boat and we grilled out afterwards. Everyone had a really good time,” he added. “Several of [the attendees] are sewing away right now.”

Jack hopes to offer the seminar again next year if there is enough interest.

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With his Ultrafeed LSZ-1

He enjoys sharing the projects he has worked on in hopes of inspiring others to make things for themselves, too.

“You get a sense of accomplishment. It helps you appreciate your boat a little more,” Jack said about doing his own canvaswork.

His advice to aspiring DIYers is to “just do it.”

“Practice on scrap material and learn as you go along.”

He also recommends watching Sailrite videos to help with projects.

“Watch the videos, first of all,” he said. “If you need to, start with a simple machine and then make the investment for the Ultrafeed and put it in your will—it’s going to outlast you.”

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Jack’s Catalina 380 s/v JaxSan under sail

Jack sails his Catalina frequently in the summers with his wife, 10 year-old grandson and their Russian Wolfhound, Darby, out of New Bedford Harbor in Massachusetts.

Michelle Minner, the creative force behind the blog Blue Roof Cabin, has always loved DIY. When she discovered the world of DIY blogs online a few years ago, she had no idea how much that discovery was about to change her life.

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“I discovered DIY blogs and it blew my mind,” she said. “I felt like I had found my people.”

After reading blogs for about a year, Michelle decided that she wanted to start a blog of her own so she could join link parties and share her projects with the rest of the DIY community. She named her blog Blue Roof Cabin, inspired by her home.

“My house has a blue roof,” she explained. “It was originally a catalog cabin and has been added on to. It’s been in my family forever.”

At that point, Blue Roof Cabin was primarily a blog about Michelle’s home and projects and upgrades that she did for the house.

“It’s the perfect house for me because it’s already quirky so I don’t have to worry about drilling or making holes in the walls. I’ve been able to pour my heart into it,” she said.

But it wasn’t long before Michelle realized that doing her DIYs part time wasn’t enough.

“I’ve always had a passion for DIY and when I discovered blogs and found all this free advice, it was great!” she said. “I knew I couldn’t do a nine to five that wasn’t creative anymore.”

So Michelle took a big risk. She quit her full-time job at a bank and started her own business refurbishing furniture.

“I thought I was going to build small furniture, but I started doing more painting and fixing up existing furniture.”

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Michelle turned a free garage sale sofa into this beautiful piece.

Now, the majority of Michelle’s business is refurbishing and reupholstering furniture and sharing her projects on her blog. She does both custom pieces for clients and her own pieces that she sells in local stores on consignment. Michelle said that she enjoys making pieces that are all her own style to sell, but also loves working with clients.

“[With clients] usually I get to reinvent a family piece that they love. Something that belonged to the grandparents, or a piece that they found that they just really love,” Michelle explained.

To meet the growing demand for upholstery work, Michelle taught herself how to re-upholster. She started by taking chairs apart, putting them back together and watching online videos to see what she could have done differently. Learning to reupholster also meant that Michelle had to brush up her sewing skills.

“I’ve always sewn, but I didn’t have a lot of patience for it,” she said. “I started sewing more and more for upholstery and cushions.”

If she was going to keep doing upholstery work, Michelle knew she’d need a better sewing machine than the “$3 garage sale machine” she had been using to sew her upholstery weight fabrics. When looking for a heavy-duty sewing machine online she found the Sailrite Ultrafeed and how-to videos.

“Being a DIY person, I just really loved the videos,” she said.

Michelle said that she appreciated all the support she found for the Ultrafeed and the wealth of information about the machine that was available online.

“With another machine, there is no one to tell you how to use it,” she said. “I was really impressed with what there was available online [about the Ultrafeed].”

She ended up with the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1, selecting it for it’s needle-positioning capability and has been thrilled with her choice.

“It’s been great! There was a learning curve, but you just have to use it,” she said. “Thick and thin it walks over it all, I barely have to adjust it.”

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Her pride and joy, a custom faux mantel

As her business grows and evolves, Michelle still says that building is her first love. Although she doesn’t get much business for custom builds, she tries to make time to build for herself and shares her projects with her blog readers. Her favorite DIY project is a piece she designed and built herself—a faux mantle for her living room.

“I love it,” Michelle said. “It really gave a focal point to the living room.”

Her advice for current and aspiring DIYers is to “just try it.”

“Find an inexpensive piece of furniture and just try it. You have to do it to learn how to do it,” she said. “Don’t be afraid, it’s just furniture.”

Michelle still marvels at her unexpected path to success in a creative career.

“It’s funny how you keep going and you find your way with the business,” she said.

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To learn more about Michelle and see more of her beautiful furniture pieces visit her blog, Blue Roof Cabin.

2004 was a big year for Paul Seeberg. It was the year that he and his wife, Millie, bought a MacGregor26 sailboat and started sailing with the North East Trailer Sailor’s Club. It was also the year that Paul began sewing for his boat. Ten years later, Paul is still hard at work on boat projects and sharing his passion for sailing and sewing with others.

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Paul aboard his Olson38 s/v Mildred Rose

Paul’s sewing projects began humbly when his wife wanted some curtains for the cabin of their boat. Paul had some basic sewing skills he had learned in 8th grade home economics class and he figured he could sew curtains. Along the way, he had some difficulty with the project and called Sailrite, where he got some helpful advice for his project.

On completing his curtain project, Paul figured that sewing for the boat was something he could do more of, so he bought a Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine and started working. He started sewing sheet bags for himself and then for other members of the yacht club.

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Red Sunbrella Lifesling Cover

In 2009 Paul bought a bigger boat, a 1968 Olson 38, Mildred Rose, and got to work creating new canvas covers for her.

“Following [Sailrite] videos, I made a hatch cover, curtains, pillows, a really nice binnacle cover, and a lifesling cover,” Paul said. “We’re the only boat in the harbor with a red Sunbrella lifesling!”

Some canvas projects he made mostly for the fun of sewing, not because they are a necessity on his boat.

“Some times I make things just for fun, like the hatch cover. But it made a big difference keeping the cabin cooler,” he said.

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Two of Paul’s Projects: Binnacle Cover & Hatch Cover

After getting all of those projects under his belt, Paul felt ready for a bigger challenge. He needed a new dodger. He had the project quoted by a few canvas shops, but they were asking too much money. Paul knew that after all the projects he had done so far he could make his own dodger for less.

Paul watched Sailrite’s How to Make Your Own Dodger DVD 10-20 times before even started the project, wanting to make sure that he understood every detail.

For large-scale projects like this, Paul believes it’s important to learn everything you can about the project before starting.

“You need to be able to see things in 3 dimensions in your mind. I don’t sew one stitch until I’ve thought through the project beginning to end,” he said.

Paul’s dodger design would test all of his sewing skills. He was going to have to sew zippers, install fasteners, and even make a roll up window.

When Paul started sewing, the dodger project brought on the challenges. The scale of the dodger made it difficult to maneuver and all the material proved tricky to roll up under the arm of the Ultrafeed.

“Making something that’s 10-12 feet long in your basement is difficult,” he said. “It grows quite big.”

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The finished dodger installed on s/v Mildred Rose

Paul credits the video with helping him accomplish such a large-scale DIY project.

“The tips I learned in the video were invaluable. There’s no way I could have made it without it,” he said.

All of Paul’s hard work paid off and his dodger looks great. It’s now the project that he is the most proud of.

“The dodger is the most accurate. It’s done the best,” Paul said. “Because of the sheer scale of the project I’d have to say it’s the one I’m most proud of…it was harder than I thought.”

As with a lot of DIY projects, Paul would do somethings differently on his dodger, but it has been met with rave reviews from his friends and fellow sailors.

“People who go on the boat can’t believe that I made it,” Paul said. “I can see all the flaws, but someone casually looking at it thinks it’s beautiful.”

Paul’s advice to fellow DIY-ers is to know your skill level, to not be afraid of a sewing machine and to be confident.

“Just have confidence. If you don’t have confidence, then forget about it.”

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Paul’s dodger and “flying awning.” He made the awning himself and modeled it off other awnings he had seen around the harbor.

Paul feels like he’s had a lot of help becoming a sailor and DIYer and he likes to share the knowledge that’s been shared with him. One way he does this is by teaching seminars at the Boston Boat Show each spring. His current seminar is about transitioning from a small boat to a larger one, but he hopes to teach a sewing class in the future.

“Sewing is not as scary as people think it is. I think a lot of people have the skill set. I want to show them what a Sailrite machine can do,” he said.

For himself, Paul has a list of projects he’s waiting to try next like a sail cover, cockpit cushions and a main sheet bag.

Three years ago Sailrite customer Christine Rasmussen was neither a sailor nor a sewer, but after a seemingly fated purchase of a used sailboat, she learned her capability to be both.

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Christine in the cockpit of her sailboat s/v Audacity

Christine always had a desire to learn how to sail. However, living in landlocked Durham, North Carolina, didn’t make sailing an easy goal. After a failed brush with windsurfing—“I was horrible,” Christine admitted—her dreams of sailing seemed like they would be left unfulfilled.

Then one summer, Christine, along with her husband, Mark and their twin sons, started camping at Kerr Lake, a large lake not far from where they live. Now that they were spending time regularly at a lake, Christine thought it would be fun to get her boys a Sunfish so they all could learn how to sail.

When Christine took to the Internet to find a small sailboat, she stumbled across something a little more interesting. A Craigslist listing advertising a 26’ C&C Yacht valued at $8,000, with a $4,000 price tag. Not entirely convinced that it wasn’t a joke or a scam, Christine sent her husband the link anyway, and the pair went to take a look at the boat.

When they got to the marina, the boat they came to see was nowhere to be found. After they returned home, Christine got a phone call. The boat was leaking diesel and the marina manager had moved it because of the leak. The seller, anxious to get the boat off his hands, offered it to Christine, as is, for $100, Christine explained. And just like that Christine and Mark were the proud owners of a sailboat.

Fixing up their boat was the first task and while they had the leak fixed and the motor tuned, Christine turned her attention to the cushions in the cabin.

“They were the original 1976 cushions and they were super smelly. Everything smelled like diesel,” Christine remembered.

She decided to make her own cushions, despite the fact that she hadn’t sewn anything since high school home economics. To prepare for making cushions, she watched Sailrite videos.

“I watched all the videos,” Christine said. “If there is a video with the word ‘cushion’ in it, I’ve watched it.”

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Christine’s cockpit cushions

When she had completed all 12 of her cabin cushions, Christine was proud of her accomplishment and completely hooked on sewing. She knew that it was the right time to get a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

“I’m addicted to [my Ultrafeed,]” Christine laughed. “It’s really quite a problem.”

Christine has since made cockpit cushions, replaced the sacrificial sun cover on her jib, and has just finished making a new bimini and bimini boot.

She compared the excitement she gets working on a sewing project to reading a good book that you can’t put down.

“I think, I’m taking my time on this, because this rocks!” Christine explained.

She encourages others to try sewing for themselves and her number one advice to new sewers is “do not be afraid.”

“I think people are afraid to be a do-it-yourselfer because it won’t be perfect,” Christine said. “I tell people, ‘I may not be really perfect at this, but I sure do enjoy it.’”

She would encourage beginners to start with small, affordable sewing projects if they are nervous to dive right into a larger project. Christine also attributes a portion of her success to the Sailrite videos, which she recommends highly.

“There is nothing, nothing, like the Sailrite videos,” she said. “If you have any inkling that this is what you want to do, start at Sailrite and watch the videos.”

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Christine’s bimini boot

Christine also recommends investing in some tools to make the job a little easier.

“The hotknife is so worth [the purchase] and the binder. Oh my God, I could not live without the binder,” she said. “It’s worth it to invest a little bit more and you will be successful.”

This next summer Christine hopes to improve her sailing skills on the water and to also work on some new sewing projects for her home including new patio cushions and a sail shade.

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