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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.

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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