Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Introduction to Recovering a Boat Cushion

We did the cushions ourselves (20 of them).  We also sewed fitted bed sheets, curtains, and a cover for the life raft.  We are about to sew a water catcher to help us collect water and provide shade over the pilot house.

I actually filmed our recovering of the cushions, so I could remind myself how to do it in a few years.  

Here are the basics:

  • Watch the Sailrite videos...  
  • We decided to order fabric from Sailrite as their videos really assisted us and the fabric quality was excellent compared to local stores.  We couldn't find the same quality in any local stock, and the local stores charged much more for the same fabrics when ordered from their warehouses.
  • We ordered over $30.00 of fabric samples from Sailrite so that we could compare and contrast them.  That was good.  We were not afraid to call / email Sailrite and ask questions.
  • We kept the old foam, because it was good quality and new foam is so expensive.  We just cleaned the old foam the best we could.
  • 20 cushions took a full month of nights and weekends, but we probably saved over $3000 ($4500 by not buying new foam).  I have a cost breakdown I could dig up.  We sewed every night and every weekend - two people together.  (I would pin, for instance, and my wife would sew in an assembly line fashion.)
  • We debated buying a Sailrite machine, but decided we were very tight on money and bought a $300 Viking sewing machine instead.  The Viking did the job, but the Sailrite would have been great and better to take with us on the boat.  The Sailrite sewing machine would have been $500 more.
  • We did a "trial run" with old bedsheets first on a cushion.  That gave us extremely valuable experience.  For instance, we learned the old fabric was useless as a template.  We learned that we should measure everything based on the foam.  If we had first used our new fabric with the old fabric as a template, we would have ruined the first cushion and possibly become demotivated.
  • We chose solid colors, so that we did not have to constantly match together the patterns.
  • We bought good tools, so that we could easily cut and shape the fabric.  From seam tape, to a hot knife, to a roller cutter, it makes a difference.  Of course, we had 20 cushions and a lot of other projects.  We love our fitted sheets.  We still saved a lot of money if you consider each cushion was $250 - $300 for a professional to recover.  Fitted bed sheets are also expensive, but now I can sew up a new sheet any free evening.
  • Buy more than you think you need.  The worst feeling is running out of fabric tape, thread, fabric etc, because you were trying to save $25.00 or even $10.00.  Buy an "extra" yard of fabric, and if you do not use it on cushions, you can use it on throw pillows.  We have 6 nicely matching throw pillows and a matching mouse pad for our saloon with left over fabric.
  • Finally, now, I can sew up a cushion, a bed sheet, or a cover for any part of the boat in a simple evening.  The experience turned myself (and my wife) into a very fast sewer and that translates to more amenities.  For instance, I quickly sewed up a cover for the life raft and a hammock for the kids one evening.  I had an extra few hours and I didn't think twice about it.  I used to sew very slowly, but now I complain the machine is not fast enough, and I rarely need to "pin" any of my boat projects.  I can create a 1/2" seam by eyesight and finger movement alone while the machine hums along.  20 cushions will teach those skills.

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