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post #17 of Old 04-24-2009
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Originally Posted by nereussailor View Post
Cutting is actually easy. here's a couple of tips an upholsterer taught me.

If you don't have any old cushions, make patterns from cardboard or heavy brown packaging paper.

Cut the foam 1/2" bigger on each side than you want the cushions. Example= If your cushions to be 24" by 76" cut the foam 25" by 77" then sew the fabric to the dimensions of the patterns. It squishes the foam down a bit and makes for a tighter fitting cover.
While 1/2" larger is a good rule of thumb, it really depends on the size of the cushions. The "excess" should be increased if the cushions are very long in one dimension. For instance, going an 2" extra on the length of a 6' long cushion might be necessary to get the firm fit you're looking for. 1/2" IMHO is good for up to about 4' or so... and for larger, you should probably go up to 3/4" or 1" on the longer dimensions.

To cut the foam, use an electric knife like you would use to carve a ham.
This makes cutting the foam real easy. Mark both sides, and go slow .
If you have access to a big meat locker, freezing the foam helps it cut more neatly.

I have done cushions for my last two boats, and am getting ready to do the ones for my latest boat.

Patterned fabric hides a lot of stains. On boats, things get spilled when it gets rough. The patterns in a fabric can hide those stains. Use a fabric that has stain resistance in it when you buy it, or use a spray stain resister such as Scotch Guard. It's not as good as the fabric that comes with stain blocker in it from the factory, but it helps a lot.

On my last boat, I did all of my cushions for around $500 including foam.

I also made my own winch covers, sail bag, sail cover and cockpit cushions.

If you've never done any sewing projects for your boat, I wouldn't suggest starting with cushions, but go for the simpler things like pillows, winch covers, and other small things to get practice. There are plenty of books and videos out there to learn from.

I know that you're going to have someone else make them, but thought others could use the information.

I'd point out that most major cities have at least one major foam distributor and you can often buy the foam from them at far less cost than buying it elsewhere.


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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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