(Elves: does your Seamless Sailor have these tools?!)
Hot knife or soldering tool – Essential for finishing the ends of Sunbrella to prohibit raveling. Don’t forget a safe surface to use it on. See secret trick.
Heavy-duty scissors, fabric shears and small thread cutter – Like knives to a chef, scissors are to the Seamless Sailor.
Measuring tools, “L” and “T” shaped measuring tools – These measures are great for making patterns. Also need a short measure for at the sewing machine and metal yard stick.
Marking pens – light and dark. The washable ones work well as do the soapstone. Get extras.
Heavy” T” pins or a stapler – You can staple Sunbrella to hold it temporarily.
Double stick tape or basting tape – Can be easier than pins with heavy fabrics. Plus no holes left behind.
Hand sewing needles – For finishing work. Try to have several sizes.
Seam rippers – Notice I have that as plural. Seam rippers are our friends
Accessories for your sewing machine – A good light and attachments can make your time at the machine more enjoyable. If you get the left sided zipper pressure foot, you may as well get the right one. If you need one, you’ll end up wanting the other. The Captain added an extension to my light cord. An extension cord with extra plugs helps sort the cords from the machine.
Extra machine bobbins – Secret trick: While you are winding bobbins, wind 2-3 at a time. You know you’ll need them. Store them with the matching thread spool in the foamy toe separators from your last pedicure or from the dollar store.
Grommets and snaps, cutting and setting tools – Adding cool grommets to use for attaching line, tie downs etc. This drill attachment cutter makes quick work of cutting the grommet holes.
Various tools – Hammers, punches, awls – This Seamless Sailor’s husband can usually find his missing tools in the sewing tool box.
Starboard – A good size piece of extra Starboard or a cutting board made of similar material will be useful when setting grommets or snaps.
Boxes or tool bag – Got to contain all this stuff.
Reference book(s) – Hard copy or Kindle version, you know you’ll have a question or two.
Fabric, vinyl (for chafe), thread and machine needles sized for the job at hand and extra for repairs. Sailrite has a great chart in the catalog to keep handy.
Notions or items for your specific project – Shock cord and hogs? Zippers? D rings? Snaps? Twist locks?
Where to Buy
You can find many of these items at local fabric stores and some at the hardware store or, of course, Sailrite carries just about anything you’d need as do other online stores. Don’t forget marine consignment shops for bargains.
Finding storage on the boat for the machine and your tools and extra fabric can be a challenge. The machine will need to be secured so it doesn’t become a hazard underway. The extra fabric can we sealed in vacuum bags or extra large zipper bags and stored in a less accessible place until needed. Your tools you may need to access periodically for a quick repair. Make sure you can get to them.
Document your work. My captain says it’s all about the documentation (or all about storage depending on the day). If you are creating a pattern for something specific to your boat, you are likely to need to recreate it in a few years. Make notes of pattern sizes, materials used (including color and thread size), and how you constructed it. I have a file on my computer of sewing project directions. You don’t want to have to reinvent the…hatch cover.
Free Radical (http://www.svfreeradical.com/technical_talk_sewing_supplies.htm) – Julie offers a more detailed list of sewing supplies to have on board. She also offers her list and more about notions in Canvas for Cruisers.
What other tools do you use routinely? I’ll update the list as we think of others.