Making the Most of a Minimal Budget. Contact me at: or on Twitter: @skintsailor

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Main Sail Repaired

The sail repair job got off to a faltering start yesterday. I did some repairs on the sail cover in order to re-acquaint myself with the art of sewing. The results were not good as the needle kept jamming and then eventually broke.

So this morning I walked to the local Hobbycraft store and bought some Denim needles along with some double sided tape (for fitting the UV strip on the Jib sail).

The Denim needles were a revelation, scything through the mainsail material. They made it so easy the repairs to the mainsail are all done.

All the thread ends are tied off, so no chance of unravelling.

Next step is the Jib. I bought some blue Dacron for a UV strip the last time I stitched the Jib a couple of years ago, but never got round to using it. This time the ease at which the Denim needles are working means I should be able to sort things this week with luck. 

I need a stitch ripper to remove the remains of the old UV strip and the rotten stitching, then I can apply the new Dacron with double sided tape to hold it in place temporarily while I stitch it. There's a thin strip around the edge of the leech that has had it too, having split into several parts. I'll apply the UV strip to tuck round the edge and doing two jobs at the same time.

Once it's all stitched, I'll give the sail a wash. At the moment I reckon washing it will to more harm than good, it's that bad. 


  1. Good to see you using a sewing machine. Your post reminded me of my late father who worked for a local sail maker, spending a lot of time at a sewing machine. He made all the sails for my boat in the 1970s, most of them still going strong.

    Good to see stuff being repaired, not just thrown out.

    1. Amen... hate to see waste.. well done, Mark.

  2. I made some repairs to my genoa last year. When I removed the UV strip I found the sail cloth was beyond saving. I bought an old but barely used dingy sail from ebay (£9) used it to replace entire panels from the genoa. Unpick the sticking, lay the old panel on the "new" sail and use it as a template. It was easy and I got my genoa in a serviceable condition again.

  3. Thanks for the positive feedback guys. The repairs to the main were pretty straightforward as it was just running over missing stitching. The jib is mainly okay, it's just the outside that has succumbed to the weather. Fitting a new UV strip should sort it out. I just need to work out how to make space to spread the sail out and fit the new strip reasonably tidily. Once I've stuck it in place with double sided tape I can stitch it down permanently.

  4. I forgot to add... as the Skint Sailor, there was no way I was going to buy new sails! Recycling and Repairing... that's the Skint6 Sailor Way!
    Apparently I can use the sewing machine better than the wife can. She never uses it.

  5. Good to see someone else who does his own sail repair.
    I added reef points to my mainsail using cloth from a secondhand jib for the patches.The Jib i bought was from a larger boat so i cut it down and put in new tack and clew reinforcing patches. I used 50mm dacron strip for the foot.
    I still have plenty of sailcloth over for future use. I am hoping to try the jib this week. I hope it was worthwhile.

  6. My jib is a lot bigger job. Handling the sail while trying to stitch the new uv panel on has been a major pain especially on a standard sewing machine. The stitching I've done is a bit drunk, but functional. :-)

  7. I share your frustration. At one point when i was adding a reef point to the main i was trying to go through 13 layers of sailcloth! ( I had put patches on both sides. Afterwards i realised that the original reef point only had the patches on one side!
    The motor would no way do that so i had to turn the wheel with one hand while i held the foot firmly down with a finger of the other and punch my way through one stitch ar a time. Needless to say I was not dancing for joy whenever the needle broke.
    Good luck with the jib, i am sure that you will be satisfied with yourself once completed.

  8. Thanks Brian, the jib is coming along ok. I've got most of the uv strip for the leech in place but I've got the thicker parts to sew which I know I'll have to stitch by hand. I might have a badh at the uv strip for the foot next while the hand stitching kit including palm is on order.

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  10. Do you have s speedy stitcher?
    I have found mine really usefull for heavier areas. I last used it on the jib for stitching on the leather protection around the clew. As well as the needled that come as standard with it I got some fine ones to use with v69 & v92 ideal for when the machine really starts to struggle. Mind you i do find the 'speedy' in the name a bit misleading.

  11. I've seen them around but not really taken any notice of them. After checking them out on YouTube I might get one, they look handy as you say for the tougher bits.