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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?