We are looking to redo the interior cushions, they are simple enough that we can do them ourselves. What is a simple, practical and cheap choice for fabric?
of thumb. NO NATURAL FIBERS! They mildew just because you thought they might last. They don't last for long enough to be bothered with. A few years and it will be trashed and stinky. For dirt cheap fabric look for 100% Olefin. It's basic car seats and some looks OK too. Use any fabric that has no cotton or wool period or anything that might be real. That will at least get you into something you won't be tossing out in the trash soon. Sunbrella remnants on the Internet
can be cheap and Glenraven Mills (they make it) makes a lot of other solution dyed cloth and some of it is woven patterns that look exceptional! Used in premium patio furniture too. You don't have to cheap out on poor fabric. Cotton Duck - very very bad.
For foam. No way around it - the cheap stuff sucks and the good stuff costs more than the really good fabric does. 4+ inches of a high density foam with 2 inches of memory foam on top is really nice! Use 6 inches high density and you can sleep on it. Foam has skyrocketed and it's not cheap. No way around it. The old really nice 2 inch high density cockpit
cushion stuff that floats - not made any more. The new stuff is rock hard and a poor choice.
Here is another issue. If you want to use good materials don't use the old cushions as patterns. They are stretched out and worn and have lost
any good shape if they ever had any. You need to remeasure the whole boat.
A pro is going to to cut the materials tight to the bolt and use less material than you would. They won't screw up and have to buy more (at least that you pay for). If you have not done upholstery this is not something to learn on. It's not easy with expensive materials to save money
doing it yourself. With the cheap materials you can afford to mess up but you can't hope to get a good job.
The difference between the marine
upholstery people and the furniture people is they come to the boat and measure and know all the materials and suppliers that sell to that market. They may get some volume prices but not that much. The furniture people can sew as well as any and you may do better with someone if you just talk around. Making cushions is pretty basic but it's not fool proof. For the best deal agree to buy the materials and go for a fixed rate labor cost. This way the good stuff won't get marked up. A normal operation takes 50% on the materials plus the labor. Negotiate the whole boat and deal on the labor alone and you can get a fair price
. Otherwise they got you on both ends and you'll not get the best deal. Something like a 50% down might help grease the deal. This is not prime time to be shopping
. November is better when they are less busy and maybe a little hungry.
Done right with good materials you get 15 years worth of good living will still have it working well and looking acceptable after. The cheap foam is dead in 4 to 5 years and never was that good on day 1. If you plan to live aboard just pretend you are buying
a really nice living room set (similar price). Doing it really nice is worth it and a tribute to the hard work that precedes it. With your interior redone the new upholstery will look like a million bucks and kicking back below in the evening will be a whole lot more comfy.