I’m hearing from several folks looking to buy heavier sewing machines. It can be a big investment, yet one that will likely pay for itself*. A sewing machine is a great tool for the boat. Like the Porter Cable multi tool or cordless drill. I was surprised when my husband said I’d be sewing for the boat. Who knew how much canvas was aboard? He was in full agreement with buying a heavier sewing machine. While a good seamstress or fabricator is a valuable professional to have on speed dial, there are many projects you can do yourself. So the right tool is worth the investment.
Yes, I have a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 (zigzag). I do like it and use it a lot. It is heavy as it has mainly metal parts (44lbs). It’s bit loud, but not unusually so. If you plan to work with marine canvas, vinyls and sail cloth for more than a few projects, it is worth it. Watch for Sailtrite Boat Show specials (look for maybe 10% off or add-on items.). Sailrite tends to price reasonably and not engage in heavy discounts. You might find one used if you are lucky. Get a good light, the new attached thread holder (not the stand), and the add-on stitch length lever. You need the kick stand and #16, and #18 needles for mid weight projects. If you will do zippers and piping, buy both the left and right pressure feet. If you just buy one inevitably you’ll need the other! Have the retaining ring cap spring in spares. A needle strike will require this to be changed out which isn’t hard to do. It will happen every few months and always in the middle of a project! You’ll know when stitches start skipping. I have yet to use the monster wheel, although I haven’t done really heavy weight projects and many folks love it. The Sailrite website, DVD about the machine, and forum are helpful and informative.
All that said, if you are looking to do a few projects with not many layers of canvas or vinyl, a good solid (maybe older metal) home sewing machine could work fine. I use my old Singer for the lighter projects (e.g., wind scoops). I hear from a lot of folks and from my early Home Ec sewing training that Husqvarna Viking machines are solid machines.
Several sailors have talked about Consew, Necchi, and Phaff as solid heavy duty machines. I don’t have experience with these. I’m sure they are good machines also. The key is the walking feed dogs to help move the thick fabrics through the stitches. If it has that feature you will have a much easier time with heavier weight projects.
The only way you’ll regret buying a heavier machine is if you don’t use it!
Do you have experience with a sewing machine to share? Post a comment.
*My Dad bought a Singer home sewing machine in 1959. Having four daughters, he said it was his best investment! I started sewing with it in my teens and made many of my own clothes and household items. I still have it. After a bit of maintenance, it still works very well.