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  #21  
Old 03-19-2010
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I did my all cushions a few winters back.... there were a lot of them. I'm a guy with zilch sewing experience so I read and used Don Casey's Canvaswork and Sail Repair and The Big Book of Boat Canvas by Karen Lipe. If I did only one Karen's book is the better technically but Don's got better illustratins. As I got on a roll I made a number or projects in the books.

Plan on setting aside a room for several months.

We have an outdoor fabric place here in Seattle (Seattle Fabrics) so I had a lot to pick from. As a salty I was looking for bulletproof stuff so I used a coffee colored sunbrella with dark blue piping. I didn't need the sunbrella UV but thought it would be tougher. What I didn't realize is how hard it was. At some places you're punching through a lotta' layers and this was difficult to do with sunbrella. After that projects with canvass or duck were a dream. In retrospect I'd use a softer fabric.

My wife's machine is Swedish and pretty tough not not a special sailmaking machine. What you need is one that zig zags and a foot that snugs up for sewing zippers.

You want to use the big spools of therad, I made an adapter out on coathanger wire so it would stay in the machine's post.

A roller cutter is a must, like a pizza pie cutter. I also got one of the plastic rotary cutter mats surfaces to use it on. I got mine at a quilt shop. Be careful still to avoid cutting the diningroom table as well. Heed the warning on the blade guard. Besides donating a finger tip to the project you'll bleed over expensive fabric.

As a short cut I used a ripper to disassemble my original covers and used them for dimmensions. Don't use them for a pattern.

I ripped and resew the seams frequently when I made mistakes, no problem

Other lessons learned:
Cushion Lessons learned:

Get a second piece of tailors chalk

Be very careful about cutting fabric square.

Get bias tape that is unfolded.

Use a softer rope instead of poly cording material.

Baste cording

Remeasure and recut the zipper band after the zipper is sewn in

Be careful to keep the zipper on the track so it will go into the fold. Baste it in place.

Inspect each side seam and resew to get a good match on top.

If one side is bigger than the other, sew the bigger first and sew/cut the diagonals when doing the smaller side.

Mark seams well for sewing and cutting

Good luck it's worth it and if I can do it anyone can.
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  #22  
Old 03-20-2010
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When I first got started sewing (haven't done my cushions yet, but I will), I got all sorts of help from the little ol' ladies at the fabric store... they volunteered a lot of suggestions. For zippers, they suggested sewing the seam together first with a coarse basting stitch, installing the zipper, and then popping the seam apart to reveal the zipper. After playing with this approach, all my zippers come together quickly and easily now.
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  #23  
Old 03-20-2010
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I don't know if anybody mentioned this but close cell foam might be a good idea
unless soft close cell foam does't exist??
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  #24  
Old 04-09-2010
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Smile Sewing can be fun!

I just did my cockpit cushions last month. Phifertex with Nagehyde piping.
I replaced the old cushions but was able to reuse the foam.
The instruction DVD from Sailrite (where I bought all my material from as well) helped me to get started.I never used a sewing machine before. It took a little bit more time than expected but the results are great! I used a good PFAFF household machine(Select 4.0) with integrated walking foot. Perhaps not as heavy duty as a commercial machine but she did extremly well and punched easily through 4 layers of Phifertex + zipper. I don't know whether the outcome would have been the same without the walking foot. I would leave the comment on that to te experts. Bottomline : It was a fun project, saved a lot of money and makes the boat just a little prettier for the upcomming season.
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  #25  
Old 04-11-2010
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The one thing I have not done before on my boat or anywhere else for that matter, is sew stuff. I've always been told that the standard domestic sewing machine would not be able to do the fabrics that I want to use (canvas, thin leather, sailcloth, window clears, etc) so I've never bothered.

This thread got me fired up so I decided it was time. I went out and bought this:



It is apparently in perfect working condition (been replaced in an upholstery factory upgrade), fully industrial, able to sew just about anything and I got it for just NZ$150. I'm stoked.

I have a friend who sails with us who is a skilled seamstress and is happy to lead me through the start-up of my upholstery career. I'll also start checking all the references in this thread for info and assistance.

Thanks for the inspiration.
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  #26  
Old 04-11-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
I'll also start checking all the references in this thread for info and assistance.

Thanks for the inspiration.
way to score!

OK;

Start simple. flat square things with out curves or weird angles. Pick projects that are not as visible for your first attempts. you will get better and improve your results!

Go slow. measure twice (or three times!) and cut once. use an old sheet for practice especially setting zippers. The zip can be set into scrap and ripped out until you have it down and then your real fabric won't get ratty looking.

Use long stitches that are easy to pull out to begin and then when you have it all done correctly go over it and stitch with a shorter stronger stitch.

Plan on being patient and ripping a lot. Get a ripping tool or three. they are cheap and make an annoying task got faster and easier. using scissors to rip seams is not fun.

canvas and sail shops are pretty generous with their scraps and will let you have their bin bits to practice on.

When you start making mistakes stop. you are tired even if you don't know it. let it rest and come back to it it will go better later on. A sewing machine is not a hammer and needle is not a nail! and sewing is more fatiguing than newbies realize.

make sure the light is good and that you have everything at hand in your work space.

remember that it is NOT rocket science and you can do it. enjoy the process.

and did I say plan on ripping a lot?

Have fun! and good luck!
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Last edited by sarafinadh; 04-11-2010 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 04-11-2010
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On the subject of cushions, has anyone here tried the Froli sleep system? I looked at it at the Annapolis boat show. It was quite clever, but I wondered how it works in the real world. I am interested because I alway hurt when sleeping on a 4" thick foam mattress. My boat has a slide out bunk in the main cabin. Currently I have a real nice inflatable mattress that fits the space exactly! It has a 120 vac blower that I run off a 400 watt inverter. It inflates in about 30 seconds, deflates in the same, and rolls up into a tiny package. It is very comfortable and can be adjusted for just the firmness you like. Fits standard fitted sheets too. About $100.

Gary H. Lucas
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  #28  
Old 04-11-2010
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froli is incredible. we love ours. its in the vberth with a serta foam mattress 4" thick from overstock.com. it's 2.5" of dense foam and 1.5" of memory foam.

we think it may be the most comfortable mattress we have slept on. I like it much better than the air mattresses.
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  #29  
Old 04-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarafinadh View Post
way to score!

OK;

Start simple. flat square things with out curves or weird angles. Pick projects that are not as visible for your first attempts. you will get better and improve your results!
Thanks for the advice Sara. Yes I think my first task is going to be knocking together some lee cloths for bunks which are really square bits of canvas, hemmed and a couple of pressed in eyes for ties. And if they don't look fantastic, they're mostly concealed under the matresses.

I have huge range of stuff to do: lee cloths, hatch covers, winch covers (wonder about the need for them though), the once I'm a bit more practised a binnacle cover, covers for instrument pods, repairs to our cockpit enclosure, new UV covers for the older sails and my personal target - remanufacturing my Doyle Stackpack that got damaged in a storm.

So I have a lot of stuff to practice on building up to the important ones. I also had my cockpit cushions professionally covered a little while ago and bought about 250% of the fabric I needed so I have several metres of canvas burning a hole in my conscience.

Again thanks for your advice and all that was posted by others earlier. I feel pretty confident about this but note that I will only show you the stuff that went well.
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  #30  
Old 05-04-2010
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Anyone have any thoughts about using Gore-Tex for the cushions? I acquired some light blue Gore-Tex that is soft and waterproof. It seems tough and feels more comfortable than vinyl or Sunbrella. Best of all it is just $4/yd at a local outlet.

I too just took up sewing to repair sails ect. I got the free Sailrite CD and will be making cockpit cushions in the near future. A good first project is flags. They are straight stitches and add color to your boat. I made a few this winter and feel much more confident to tackle the cushions now.
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