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Old 03-09-2014, 06:44   #1
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Canvas Work While Cruising

I've heard there's a demand for canvas work while cruising. A Sailrite salesman told me if I put my machine on a picnic table at a marina, people would approach me to fix zippers, etc. Is that true? I don't really need to make a lot of money while cruising, but trading a bottle of rum for a zipper repair sounds good to me!
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:51   #2
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

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Originally Posted by wswhiting View Post
I've heard there's a demand for canvas work while cruising. A Sailrite salesman told me if I put my machine on a picnic table at a marina, people would approach me to fix zippers, etc. Is that true? I don't really need to make a lot of money while cruising, but trading a bottle of rum for a zipper repair sounds good to me!

Yes a good canvas person is always in demand. Quite a few cruisers carry their own sewing machines. We have a Sailrite and try to do most of our own canvas repairs but we keep the machine at home and do the repairs at the end of our season. The problem with repairing while cruising is having enough spare zippers on hand.
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:55   #3
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

Ah, good point. What other spare parts should a canvas guy have on hand?
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:06   #4
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

Funny, I just had the sacrificial border re-sewn on my Genoa and staysail by a sail maker, cost about $700., labor was $95 an hour.
So I started looking for a cruiser to do my Dodger and other work, after much searching I found one, so I'd say the demand is got to be good, from my very limited experience.
I know they have overhead and all, but $95 an hour is WAY more than an aircraft mechanic charges for example, They are covered up in work too, takes a few weeks before they can get to you also.
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:23   #5
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

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Ah, good point. What other spare parts should a canvas guy have on hand?
That's the problem. You will never have everything and in many cruising areas it's difficult if not impossible to get what you need in a timely manner. The customer is not going to wait two weeks in the same anchorage. Thread, zippers, velcro, clear vinyl, tape etc., etc.

But many of the jobs will be just re-stitching so having good thread in a few different colours will be a start.
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:24   #6
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Funny, I just had the sacrificial border re-sewn on my Genoa and staysail by a sail maker, cost about $700., labor was $95 an hour.
So I started looking for a cruiser to do my Dodger and other work, after much searching I found one, so I'd say the demand is got to be good, from my very limited experience.
I know they have overhead and all, but $95 an hour is WAY more than an aircraft mechanic charges for example, They are covered up in work too, takes a few weeks before they can get to you also.
I wold have done it for $35/hr...

I know your boat and sail sizes...

I estimate 47 hrs for the staysail and 112 for the genny...

20% discount if you pedal...
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:43   #7
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

I have a Sailrite and I love it, but it has it's limitations. A sailmaker at a loft would use a long arm sewing machine, which means you can fit a lot of fabric into the 'body" of the machine - i.e. to the right of the needle. The Sailrite is a short arm and therefore has some restriction. It means that while you could sew around the outside of a large sail, you would struggle to sew in the middle of the sail. You would need the hand crank option because power will not always be available.
I am a qualified dressmaker/milliner. I found the transition to canvas work was quite challenging, considering my background. I have managed to barter my sewing work for solar panels, anti-fouling and electrical work. It has been wonderful.
In addition to carrying zips, you would need a good selection of appropriate thread (not cheap), and some canvas pieces for patching and repairs.
If you think that you would be able to save yourself a lot of money by doing your own canvas repairs, and if you enjoy (really enjoy) the work, then go for it. Working for others would be an added bonus.
Building up a skill base would mean that you need to put in a lot of hours at the machine, and I started by doing some favours for friends just to get some experience.
There is a group on this forum for sewing type people, have a look at that and good luck.
Marie
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:50   #8
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Re: Canvas Work While Cruising

The answer, Yes, NO, and Maybe.....
Depending on the job, the area and the people you run into..
First, you have to understand that cruisers are Cheep SOBs, I know, as I'm also one..
And I Owned a Marine canvas shop for a number of years.. Most of my work for cruisers was for "In Trade" for something.. sometimes I would repair sails or replace zippers in excange for them working in the shop doing simple labor. So YES, there is work out there for an experanced person to do.
And the "Park Bench Idea" It works, and infact it works way to much.. If you're good that is. We pulled into Berkely California at one point, were berthed behind the officed on a very wide dock, about 15 feet concrete.. figured it would be a good place for us to pull out the folding tables and do some mending of fabric on our own boat.. It wasnt but about 30 minutes before someone came down the dock with an arm load of repairs for us to do.
Our stay there went from origional of 3 days to over 3 weeks and we had to turn down work to get away.
and Many of the Old-timers here on CF have heard me bitching about a business not allowing me to go cruising, so there is plenty of work to do...
Now the down sides,
Its really hard to opperate a canvas business while cruising.. Space is an issue, for the machine, the fabric, and the parts and pieces needed to do the work.. I have 3 tool boxes full of DIFFERENT types of snaps, groumets, and fasteners and the tools to apply them. Machines, yes you can get by with a Sailrite machine but its hard to run a business with one, it just dosent have the guts to do the work.. We have a JUKI 1541 aboard, and at times it takes up alot of time.
Space for doing the work is another issue.. for doing a dodger, you need to "LAYOUT" and pattern the top and pieces.. very hard without a table of 6'x8' minimum.. Not an issue on a large boat and we carry folding tables, but the biggest issue is time involved..
When In the shop, I could build a Bimini, complete from start to finish in about 6 to 8 hours.. on the boat, working in confined areas, it takes me a couple days..
Doing repairs is great but you'll find that you will never have the right pieces to do the job and they have to be ordered.. zippers, you'll have 2', 3', 4', 5' and maybe 6', in three sizes of #10, #8, and #5, and probably a roll of zipper for cushions of #10 and #5.. just for repair.. And speaking of repairs.. they always come to you full of dirt and grime.. not what you want to go through your machine..
BUT, there is light at the end of the tunnel.. If you want to go cruising, you can do what we have done and that is to pick the SMALL jobs you can make a dollar on and find a product you can sell and build comfortably in the boat..
We have business, actually my wifes business, on line at
StitchesAndSnaps.com
My wife has also started making doll clothing, and can be assembled and sold on e-bay..
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