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Sailmale 10-07-2003 10:47 AM

Sources for fabric/other questions
I need to replace the bimini, dodger, sailcovers and a few other related canvas type items over the winter, and I''m thinking about doing it myself.

I''ve had some experience in doing this in the past, so I''m not a rookie but these would be considerable above my level of experience.

However, I think with careful planning, I can do a good job...and plan on ripping apart the old pieces to form the patterns for the new ones.

What fabric is best to use: treated canvas or acrylic canvas, such as Sunbrella? And what is duck canvas? Is it just an untreated version? I live in the Chesapeake region, BTW.

Also, I''m checking out what kind of sewing machine I would need for these projects. Several books and articles on the subject suggest that just about any old machine designed for the home can do the job, though it might be somewhat of a hassle because of thread tension issues, small feed dogs, and too small a space in which to work because of the machine''s arm design. Don Casey in most of his books and articles says buy a sturdy and cheap old home machine, and it should do the job with some minor difficulties.

When I went to a independent sew and vac store to check out their used machines, the woman there (probably in her mid-30''s; not a teenager nor a grandmother) kinda pooh-poohed the home machine idea. She pointed me toward a new machine, made by Thompson, I believe, that was sturdy enough to handle canvas work, awnings, reupholstery, etc., for about $700. It sewed just straight stitches, however, no zig-zags. But that was at least twice what I wanted to pay. I don''t think that she was just trying to sell me a machine, but I''m not sure.

Anyway, what''s the opinion on whether a used home machine is up to the task? And if it isn''t, anyone know a source for used industrial machines that won''t cost an arm and a leg?


mcain 10-07-2003 12:29 PM

Sources for fabric/other questions
We are doing the same thing. Replacing a very complicated bimini/full enclosure with eisenglas, screens and over-covers. It is all within reach with reasonable care. Ours is coming out great. But it is slower than "point and pay", but tons cheaper and IMHO, you can get at least as good a job, probably better.
The fabric of choice is Sunbrella.
Sailrite is a good supplier--not necessarily the cheapest, however. We got some Sunbrella from a supplier in Ft Lauderdale over the internet considerably cheaper.

For machines--we are using the Sailrite machine and it is fine. However, not cheap and not in your price range. I cannot comment on other machines.

Good luck.

IanD 10-07-2003 12:57 PM

Sources for fabric/other questions
If you can get real organized (unlike me) you may want to consider renting a heavy duty sewing maching for a couple of weeks. It''s not very expensive and if you have your materials all cut and ready to go first you can do an awful lot of stitching in a week or two.

Check with your local sewing machine dealers or sewing schools first as they are likely cheaper then general rental stores.

Sailmale 10-08-2003 06:33 AM

Sources for fabric/other questions you have the URL for the fabric supplier in FLA?

If not the URL, do you recall the business name?

Also, I''m curious. Why did you choose Sunbrella over treated canvas, which appears to me to be a much heavier fabric...right? I''m sure that Sunbrella''s weight makes it easier to work with, but it doesn''t seem nearly as substantial. Are you using it because it purportedly lasts longer?


mcain 10-09-2003 05:51 AM

Sources for fabric/other questions
I am not a canvas expert, but in reading opinions from experts, Sunbrella seems like a no-brainer. Sunbrella withstands UV from sunlight very well. We also use the teflon thread that also withstands UV very well--extremely expensive, but again will not degrade in a reasonable time. Doing canvas is so much work, that it is a shame to have to re-do it later when it fails because of exposure to the elements. We are in Florida and headed farther south, so sun is an issue. If you were in Maine and put the boat up under a plastic tarp for 8 months of the year, it might be a different story. Also, the last bimini on the boat, which was on there when we bought it, failed for UV degradation, which is what generated this project in the first place.

I cannot vouch for where we got the sunbrella, but I did get a good price, good delivery, received what I ordered, and got crisp, friendly, quick customer service. I only did 1 or 2 orders this last spring, however, so my experience with them is not extensive. But I got a really good price and was very satisfied with the transaction. The email is "", I dealt with Sam Frusterio.
For most of my other stuff, I have been ordering from Sailrite, since their customer service has been so great. However, their prices are not the lowest you can find, and on bulk buys, I did a little shopping.

Hope this helps. Others may be able to shed more light on the topic.

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