I really enjoy sewing - I will sew until my body hurts.

Naturally, I am surprised that I like sewing, yes we had an old singer cast-iron sewing machine in the house when I was a kid, but the 19th century machine with a massive foot powered flywheel was just a decoration.

Dinghy Chaps, Tank and Engine Covers

Dinghy Chaps, Tank and Engine Covers

But now, living on Ad Astra full-time, fabric - specifically canvas is a central building material for this salty living.
With hindsight, I should have seen sewing coming - I love crafting! In any RPG I play, I really get into crafting. The game we are creating as a family has crafting as the central play loop.

With sewing you get to make stuff, your stuff - the way you want it - well, maybe not exactly the way you want it - but you can try!

Checkout the stuff I have made:

  • Dishrags
  • Blankets
  • Ditty Bag
  • Duffle Bag
  • Failed scissors wallet
  • Huge sail bag
  • Huge full-mattress condom-style sheets
  • Rear cushion full repair
  • Forward lounge cushion repair
  • Create rear lounge cushion
  • Mosquito Net Door
  • Rain catcher
  • BBQ cover
  • Folding Dinghy Bag
  • Calico Style Charcoal Bag

Saving real money

Boat canvas work, is stupidly expensive. Our wrap around canvas and clears for the fly bridge cost us - sit down - $5k. Our big canvas for cooling the boat at anchor was about $800 and that was a great price. And I have erased from my memory what Lagoon charged us for cushions and canvas when commissioning Ad Astra.

We needed to have dinghy chaps created for our dinghy, and the quotes ranged from $700 to $1500. That was the line I was not going to cross.

But before I could make my own dinghy chaps - I needed to acquire tools and add some skills to my character sheet.

The Machine

Sailrite LSZ-1

Sailrite LSZ-1

We bought a sailrite early this year. I bought the zig-zag capable machine and added the extra heavy flywheel.This machine is a beast, I am confident I could sew plywood with this runaway monster from the Age of Machines. It runs off of 110 volts, but they also have a 220 model. Their website is full of information and projects and the workmanship is of great quality and sensibility. The case itself, is solid work.

The Skills

When I rolled my character, I did not put anything into sewing. But now, it was time to learn.

Unlike a lot of my hobbies, I started off very humbly, and my first project was to create a bunch of dish towels.

Dishrags - for the learning!

Dishrags - for the learning!

Boom! Dishrags. Using the same comfortable fabric, I made some light throw blankets.

Gaining confidence, I tried my hand at a scissors wallet and it ended up fugly and not very usable. Fail.

Undaunted, I moved on and made a neat little draw-string ditty bag.

Small Ditty Bag

Small Ditty Bag

Then I tried to make a sports-style duffle bag. I did not appreciate how demanding sewing can be with measurements, and so I failed. Frustrated, I set aside the duffle bag for a few months, then came back and fixed and finished the bag and now it carries my scissors and other tools for sewing.

Small Duffle Bag

Small Duffle Bag

Since the drawstring bag as a success and our gennaker sail’s nylon sail bag died, I created a huge canvas bag and that was a success.

A Small Dink Bag

A Small Dink Bag

I have since repaired several of our original Lagoon cushions that had given up on life. I have made a rain catcher, and a BBQ cover using up the last of my canvas scraps from Mexico.

Calico Bag from Scraps

Calico Bag from Scraps

BBQ Cover

BBQ Cover

I have also earned a beer by sewing up a fellow cruisers’ favorite pair

Over time, my skills have gotten better, I can wind up some bobs, and string the threads without thinking about what needs to go where. I know what all of the buttons and levers are for on my machine, and have used them all.

A New Rear Lounge

A New Rear Lounge

My stuff isn’t professional quality, I know. Often it is some flavor of affectionately ugly. But it is my stuff!

A Repaired Bench

A Repaired Bench

Once I got a beer from a guy after I sewed up his favorite board shorts.

Inspired by our friends on SV Maple, I created magnetic closing mosquito doors.

Mosquito Doors

Mosquito Doors

The fabled dinghy chaps!

The naked exit strategy

The naked exit strategy

Dinghy Chaps, Tank and Engine Covers

Dinghy Chaps, Tank and Engine Covers

Cup Holders!

Cup Holders!

Tedious Step-By Step Pictures of the Dinghy Chaps under Construction

Bow Roller

Bow Roller

Bow Roller Lowers

Bow Roller Lowers

Top of the Shoulders

Top of the Shoulders

Middle Shoulders

Middle Shoulders

Long Beams are in place

Long Beams are in place

Time to Tie it Up!

Time to Tie it Up!

Completed Chaps!

Completed Chaps!