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Old 06-06-2011, 05:54   #1
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Making My Own Sail

I am building a small sailing dingy and want to sew my own sails. The boat is 8'4" Loa. Any siggestions on rigging and where to find information on sailmaking?
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:36   #2
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Re: Making my own sail

I wonder how easy it is to make a sail from scratch with limited previous knowledge of sailmaking?

It took Leonard Da Vinci 50 years - 1452 to 1500 to draw a workable wing. OK lets discount 1452 to 1470 when he was still a kid... and he was doing drawings from 1490. Buts thats still 20 years.

One day I wouldn't mind watching a sailmaker do a small sail like you are talking about so I can see clearly how un-flat it is.

Good luck with it Post photos so we can see how you are going


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Old 06-06-2011, 06:38   #3
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Re: Making my own sail

Sounds like the perfect size boat to start with, Lots of helpful hints and tips here: Sunbrella Fabric by the Yard - Sail and Canvas Supplies
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:41   #4
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Re: Making my own sail

Try Sunbrella Fabric by the Yard - Sail and Canvas Supplies. These folks have been selling stuff for sailmaking for many years. Got me started making a few sails for my Yankee 30 back in 1980 or so. It is a pretty easy job for a dinghy sail... a home machine will do everything save maybe some of the patches, and you can do those by hand.

Cheers,

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Old 07-06-2011, 08:32   #5
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Thanks for the help, I forgot to include that I am an ex aircraft mechanic and my grandparents owned an upholstery shop, so the machines and tools are not the problem. As far as design I was thinking a modified airfoil design, but we will see how it goes.
Thanks again for the input and I will keep all updated-- even if it is an absolute failure:0)
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:04   #6
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Re: Making my own sail

I've sewn a number of small-boat sails for 8' to 14' boats. Generally speaking, it's a PITA, but also fun to learn and enjoyable in a twisted, masochistic way for hopeless cheapskates like myself. When it came time to get sails for our big boat, though, I ordered from Rolly Tasker.

Anyway, to get the airfoil shape correct you need to calculate the broadseam overlaps properly, assuming you're sewing your sail from rolls of Dacron. There are online calculators for that, I recall . . . but when I just went looking for one to give you the link I didn't find any. More Googling is in order.

Here's an alternate "dart" method for shaping a big sheet of polytarp or Tyvek.
Duckworks - Articles

Read around on Duckworksmagazine.com (and use their site-specific Google search box) -- lots of homebuilt sail articles there. And have a peek into Jim Michalak's book "Boatbuilding for Beginners" -- he has a good chapter on sailmaking.
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Old 07-06-2011, 13:50   #7
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Re: Making my own sail

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I wonder how easy it is to make a sail from scratch with limited previous knowledge of sailmaking?
Pretty easy. Have a look at one, make one, grow.

Not if you lack graphical / space imagination.

b.
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Old 07-06-2011, 19:02   #8
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Re: Making my own sail

One advantage of "SAILRITE" is they will sell you the pre-cut correct panels for your sail and then you do the sewing. Therefore you get a properly shaped sail and if you don't screw up the sewing part, an economical functional sail.
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Old 07-06-2011, 19:05   #9
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Re: Making my own sail

I can't imagine it's really that hard if you have the right tools, and can buy enough materials to try three attempts. I know I wouldn't get it right the first or second time.
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Old 07-06-2011, 19:43   #10
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Re: Making my own sail

Sailcloth goes for about US$19/yard, so depending upon the square footage of the sail(s) you are thinking of making - doing it 3 times can get downright expensive. Probably add up to more than the cost of buying a "kit" for your boat's sail(s) that consists of all the panels correctly cut and instructions on how to sew them together.
- - Also you will need sailmaker thread which is polyester - not cotton. So you will need to have a sewing machine that can be adjusted to use polyester thread which is much more difficult to work with than ordinary cotton, etc.
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Old 07-06-2011, 19:51   #11
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Re: Making my own sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daddydion View Post
Thanks for the help, I forgot to include that I am an ex aircraft mechanic and my grandparents owned an upholstery shop, so the machines and tools are not the problem. As far as design I was thinking a modified airfoil design, but we will see how it goes.
Thanks again for the input and I will keep all updated-- even if it is an absolute failure:0)
Make sure that the sewing machines you've inherited can do a zigzag stitch. Otherwise, your sails won't stretch because they'll rip instead.
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Old 07-06-2011, 20:03   #12
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Re: Making my own sail

I built a trysail from a Sailrite kit which turned out very well. They give you a computer designed, pre-cut sail that requires your own skills in the sewing. They are really no bargain and you can probably find a perfectly good used sail for less money BUT I learned a lot about sailmaking in the process. A good book is Sailmaker's Apprentice. The sewing can be done on a good home machine (with the right needles) although it is a real workout and may break the machine if you're sewing heavy cloth. You're better off buying a machine made for heavy sailcloth. I bought an old Pfaff 130 on Ebay which will sew through 8 layers of 8oz cloth with no fuss. I keep it right on the boat. Even having to crank a machine by hand is WAY better than hand sewing which is hard work!
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:57   #13
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Re: Making My Own Sail

Well. If you make one from a kit (like some say by e.g. sailrite) then you reject more than 50% of the fun ;-(. I would make a test one from polypro and then go again for the real thing, instead.

If I were to buy the kit, I can just as well buy a whole new sail and forget about all the exercise.

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Old 12-06-2011, 11:05   #14
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Originally Posted by Bash

Make sure that the sewing machines you've inherited can do a zigzag stitch. Otherwise, your sails won't stretch because they'll rip instead.
I just read that all stitches on sails should be straight stitches to avoid Puckering and to allow the sail to lay flat. I'm confused!!!!
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Old 12-06-2011, 13:51   #15
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Re: Making My Own Sail

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I just read that all stitches on sails should be straight stitches to avoid Puckering and to allow the sail to lay flat. I'm confused!!!!
This is an easy one: Go to any existing sail by a pro loft, and look at the stitches. All panels and tapes will be zigzagged or triple stepped. Only very few will be straight - probably mostly in the bolt rope area.

Say Hi to Mr. Puckering from me ;-)

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