So You Bought A Sailrite, Now What?

Jason trying his hand at the Sailrite LSZ-1 featuring my battery operated light and super sharp scissors.

To buy or not to buy a Sailrite, that is the question nearly all cruisers debate at one point or another. The Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 (the one that does the zig-zag stitch needed for sail work) is expensive. I get it. At nearly a $1,000 it isn’t a purchase to take lightly. However, at some point down the road, you realize you just cannot get by without one. Usually this revelation comes after you’re just about to throw your cheap home machine across the salon when it cannot get it’s sh*t together enough to sew three layers of canvas together. In a fit of rage, you hit the buy button and immediately open a box of wine to deal with your buyer’s remorse. What, that isn’t how it went down for you? To each his own.

When my friend Lauren of Sea Biscuit Blog told me they took the plunge, I put together my recommended list of supplies and spares that they should get before they head out of easy shipping territory. If there is one thing that new cruisers love, it’s unsolicited advice on what they “have to do” on any given thing. Amiright? Regardless, I sent her Kelley’s Top 10 List of Must-Have Sewing Supplies for Cruisers that she should at least consider.

  1. The absolute most used item in my sewing box is by far my seam ripper. The end results of my projects look pretty nice, but sometimes it takes a few passes to get it looking that way. I like my ergonomic seam ripper that I picked up from Walmart. Bonus points that it is neon green and pink, which is just fun.
  2. The next most used is my scissors. I found a nice pair Fiscars scissors that are really comfortable to use and are super sharp. My mom has an older version of these, and I love them!
  3. I’ve found the Sailrite works best with #20 needles for pretty much every project. You are bound to break a needles a time or two (or twenty) so load up on spares. I bought other sizes, but end up using my home machine for smaller projects.
  4. Clothes pins work really well for holding fabric together before it is sewn. Pins just don’t work for a lot of the bigger projects that use multiple layers of canvas or sail cloth. I’ve found that the wooden ones that suck at keeping my swimsuits on the life lines found a new life as a sewing accessory.
  5. Plain ole pencils. I find these work so much better than chalk or wax pencils. You can see them on both dark or light fabrics and they are so much easier to find. The chalk pencils are fragile and hard to keep sharpened, the wax pencils are useless, and I’ve yet to find a marking chalk that successfully marked the fabric unless you held it just right.
  6. A 5-ft aluminum yard stick is great for cutting big pieces of fabric and helping draw out big pattern pieces. I didn’t have one on Chance, but ordered one before I started recovering our interior cushions.
  7. While you are at it, make sure you grab a right angle. You cut a lot of curvy patterns for boat projects that I always want to make sure I am cutting my straight cuts at a 90 degree angle.
  8. You’d think for a G, the LSZ-1 would have all the extras, but when I bought mine it didn’t come with a light (The Plus and Premium options now both come with a light). I bought a cheap battery operated one from Walmart, but also make sure I have a good head lamp at the ready for any late night sewing.
  9. This one may sound weird, but be sure to have a piece of fine grit sandpaper in your sewing box to sand out any burrs on the shuttle hook or retaining cap springs.
  10. On that note, get spares of both. Get a few retaining cap springs. More than you think you’ll need. You’ll thank me later.

I pack all of these goodies into a nice airtight container that I picked up at a Marshalls or TJ Maxx so that all my supplies and spares stay in rust-free and working condition. I would also say that the first go around I didn’t buy a hot knife and literally used a stick lighter to seal all the ends, but will absolutely be buying one this go around. Not a necessity, but definitely a really-nice-to-have.

What fun sewing things can you not live without?

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/ on line 353


    • I definitely LOVE my pres-n-snap tool. I use it for everything. I even offered to fix my co-workers Louis Vuitton wallet with it. I ignored the crazy look she gave me 😉

  1. An old sail maker suggested to me that using an office stapler is easier and faster than pins. After sewing the staple puller comes into action.

  2. interested in that cute battery operated light! I’ve found the plug-in one that Sailrite offers catches on fabric as it plays out the back. Where/what/how is that little light? Thanks a bunch – Jayne

    • Hi Jayne – this is the one I have. It’s not incredibly bright, but does get the job done. I like how long the flexible part is so I can really adjust.

    • Hi Irene, thank you for reading! I don’t have the power or monster wheel addition. I’ve just been using the wheel that comes with the machine.

  3. Hi Kelley, nice post. I recently identified some of my favorites on this blog post :

    I love my LSZ-1 and am incredibly impressed with the customer service of the Sailrite Team.

    I also use a stapler to hold seams together on some projects; another favorite in addition to the hotknife is the 1 – inch swing away binder. It makes using binding so much easier. The snap n press is also one of our favorite tools. Sewing sailors shouldn’t leave the docks with all the items mentioned in your blog!

    Cheers and happy sewing!

  4. Thx just getting started was going to try home machine now going to take the hit and save my never plus like your list

    • OH NO!! I will say that if there is a supply store in the VIs, you can successfully use the retaining spring cap that fits brother machines as well. I used mine off my home machine once when I was in the middle of a project and DESTROYED my other one. I asked Sailrite at the Annapolis Boat Show and they said it was fine to interchange them.

  5. Hi, if you have a electric soldering gun, you can make a hot knife by bending a small piece # 10 copper wire bend to fit the gun and flatten the end sharp it works fine.

  6. Hola soy peruana y quiero una máquina fuerte pero también q me cosa gasa ,popelinas ,polar pues hago ropa y también carteras de cuero y necesito una máquina funcional y la máquina de coser Sailrite me parece una buena opción ustedes q la usan para mi uso sería una buena opción .