First Speedy Stitcher Project

I’ve had a plethora of sewing projects swirling around in my brain but had been lacking the impetus to get started on any of them.  Recently motivation has increased and I’ve purchased a few supplies for some of these plans. I was lucky to already have UV thread and sail tape for a recent spinnaker repair, but some edging was looking a little dodgy and I wanted to take care of it then and there but my little sewing machine was it up to the task. I found the Speedy Stitcher online as well as a great instructional video by Sailrite and thought I could put this to use.

The Speedy Stitcher

The Speedy Stitcher

It didn’t take long for the opportunity to present itself. I am rather new to using my spinnaker and was truly hoping the sock (AKA Snuffer) would make it easy to use. I tested this theory last weekend during a no-wind race and found there were still problems to overcome. Twisting at the top was a major issue and the swivel at the head of the spinnaker should have let the twist release. Unfortunately the pin that extends from the head of the sock to the head of the spinnaker wasn’t quite long enough to expose the swivel and let it do its job.

Sock bar attachment to spinnaker head swivel

Sock bar attachment to spinnaker head swivel

After a little research, a pennant made of webbing, similar to the dog ear in the video seemed to be the simplest solution. I already had a high rated tubular webbing, UV thread and the Speedy Stitcher.

I guessed that I needed another 5 or 6 inches of distance from the end of the bar and took a little over twice the length of webbing because I wanted at least 4 bars of stitching (this is not a true “bar stitch” ) for strength. After disconnecting the bar shackle and the spinnaker swivel I threaded the webbing through each and overlapped about three inches.

Measuring webbing

Measuring webbing

I started with the box or “x” stitch shown on the Sailrite video. On my test webbing I found the larger needle and thicker twine difficult to work with so I used my UV T90 polyester thread and a smaller #4 needle. This was much easier for me to handle but required some hand winding on the bobbin. The smaller thread doesn’t stay wrapped around the tension post as well as the heavier twine so I had to keep a thumb on it much of the time.

My first row, needs work

My first row, needs work

I ended up with 5 total bars of box stitches and I am feeling very good about the overall strength- we will soon see if I am right. As I neared the end of the fourth bar I started to get excited about finally writing about a project where I didn’t spill my own blood.  I won’t be writing that for this project.

All 5 rows done and a very strong webbing pennant extends the head of the spinnaker another 5" down the sock

All 5 rows done and a very strong webbing pennant extends the head of the spinnaker another 5″ down the sock

Shazam is ready to fly!

For a little interesting history, check out the Speedy Stitcher website.  It is an American made product that has been in demand on farms, sailboats and leather working industries since 1909!

Project Loops

Have you ever experienced the never ending project loop? loopThe one where in order to do A, you have to do B.  But B would really be a half assed job if you didn’t do C first.  But to do C, you really ought to finish D which you put off because you needed to do A in order to do E which is needed to really do D correctly. Maybe I should start at Z in the future?

Perhaps an example would help.

I had to patch a hole in my spinnaker, so I dug out the sewing machine and found the UV thread I had purchased last year.  I was confronted with a few yards of canvas I also purchased on sale  for some projects I never got around to doing.  Since the sewing machine was out, I thought I should inventory the items I had on hand and rethink the projects I had wanted them for. My mind raced with ideas after watching a few Sailrite videos and buying a Speedy Stitcher since my old machine couldn’t handle the edging on the sail.spinnaker repair

Prior to the spinnaker repair, I had been racking my brain on how to better organize clothes storage on my 32′ live-aboard boat.  I longed to see that eye-catching tidy salon that caught my eye when I bought it rather than the storage unit it was becoming. Just to see a foot or two of empty settee would be an improvement.

I aired out all of my sweaters that had been in a drawer under the settee and smelled of old boat and diesel. I noticed that two of my favorite wool sweaters had a small hole in them.  Luckily, since I had just taken some of my sewing supplies out of the dark cubbies of the boat, I could quickly sew up these holes and get them packed away with the other sweaters. It would only take about 10 or 15 minutes.

And so it begins. 

I had some other nifty sewing related items on the way for a hatch cover and I wanted to make a specific sail/canvas repair box that could be quickly grabbed and would have the appropriate needles, palm, UV thread, etc in it which was separate from regular indoor sewing supplies.  I knew exactly which of the many storage bins I wanted – one with a lid with a handle. This particular bin was currently in the pantry and home to a bunch of soup cans and canned chicken.  Damn. Fortunately, I had found shelves that would fit in the pantry and give me twice as much storage space and they were just waiting for the opportunity to be put into use.

19:30: I removed the back cushion on the starboard settee where the “pantry” lives. It stays nice and cool there, but unfortunately there are still some un-located leaks and condensation that cause it to be damp so everything sits inside one of a few plastic bins.  I had to remove another bin to get to the one I thought would be perfect for my repair kit.  As I did this I thought I should take a bit of an inventory of what I had hidden in this space.  Mistake #1.

Instead of sewing a couple of tiny holes in two sweaters, I cleaned out the entire pantry.  I culled numerous things from some smaller sectioned organizers which were deep in the recesses. Items that did not make the cut – finishing nails and screws that I was sure were not for a marine environment, a jib track fitting that had long since lost it’s screw which would cost more to replace than a new fitting, two large shackles which were forever frozen and would never be functional, nuts and bolts from shelving I had in college, stick pins with colorful ends for notes on a cork board I no longer had, and the list went on. Four organizers were reduced to three, and then to two. Progress! The two sweaters still sat on the table waiting.

21:00: Now that the pantry was empty…I felt I should clean it before I put things back in.  Mistake #2 – putting an LED lamp in there. Now bleach water, a scrub brush, and a roll of paper towels were going to be involved.

21:30: While fishing by hand for the scrub brush under the sink, I realized that one of the shelves I had might fit there.  Everything came out of the under-sink cupboard.  One shelf fit, and all the ziplock and tinfoil and garbage bags fit in nicely.  Success! Hmmm, where was I? Oh! Pantry.

22:00: I was shocked how much ick could accumulate since I cleaned the pantry in the fall. I bleached and scrubbed, re-directed the light, then did it again.  Who paints the inside of a dark recess on a boat brown??!! I already have the BilgeKote…thank goodness the paint roller wasn’t within reach.

IMG_424222:30: I rehashed what to do with a strange P.O. (previous owner) SNAFU at the end of the settee where a large hole had been cut in the wood and fiberglass taped back in place.  Looks like a good place for a liquor cabinet, but how do I cover up the ugly that was done there? I put shelves in and re-organized the pantry. I didn’t like it. I re-did it.  I added a piece of closed cell foam so things wouldn’t slide. It’s passable.

23:00: I can barely keep my eyes open.  This could be due to exhaustion, bleach or mildew at this point. The sweaters still sat on the table. I had a friend with guests arriving in the morning for a sail, so I needed to clean up my mess. Maybe I could do it first thing in the morning? Time to tidy up, which means throwing everything in the V-berth and sleeping with it.

23:45: No way I’m sewing the holes in those damn sweaters today. Peace out.IMG_4243