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Old 07-04-2015, 09:19   #1
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New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

One goal this year is to replace our uncomfortable settee cushions with something we can actually tolerate sitting on for more than 10 minutes.

Plan "A" was to just buy some furniture that would fit. Nothing fits, because the engine hatch is about 30" from the bulkhead, which slopes in slightly, making it even tighter (28") at the height of a seat back.

Plan "B" was to pay a local shop to make new cushions. The estimate came in at almost $2,000.

Plan "C" is to just buy good foam and make the covers ourselves. We have a machine similar to the LS-1 and some rudimentary experience, having made window and hatch covers already.

The settee is "L" shaped, about 7' x 4.5' at the back. The cushions would have to be an inverse "wedge" shape to accommodate the sloped bulkhead and provide some back support. Optionally, I could put a piece of plywood behind the cushion that reverses the angle slightly and skip the wedge.

Is this a reasonable project for a pair of relative beginners?

Has anyone done something like this?

Advice on sourcing good foam would also be appreciated.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:41   #2
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

In short yes. It is not particularly difficult but a bit time consuming. Prior to redoing my cushions my sewing experience was limited to replacing a button on a shirt. I'm in the process of recovering all the salon cushions for the second time since momma wants a new look.

I'd suggest going to Sailrite's website. There you will find not only supplies but a large video library of "how to". Most of the videos are free.

It is a bit easier for the first time to use a seam ripper to take apart the existing covers to be used as patterns.

For my boat I found that each cushion took about 3-4 hours to cut out and assemble, i.e. sew.

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Old 07-04-2015, 09:47   #3
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

We did ours. It was not hard, but VERY time consuming. Be sure to watch the Sailrite videos. They are really good.

https://raindogps34.wordpress.com/20...ons-for-salon/

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Old 07-04-2015, 09:49   #4
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

I am seeing a variety of boat cushions at West Marine now. Perhaps some of those might be the right size?
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:06   #5
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Go for it.
I just replaced my bimini cover using Sunbrella and seamstick tape from Marine Canvas, Fabrics, Hardware and Supplies | Sailmaker's Supply
I got lazy, and instead of using zippers, I got a roll of industrial strength 1.5" Velcro. More forgiving if you're not super accurate. Also making a bunch of throw cushions using WalMart cotton duck and bed pillows.
Hey, we just got a new set of sails for our little Formosa ketch, gotta save somewhere.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:04   #6
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Thanks for the encouragement, and tips.

For the record, here's a similar boat showing the original seating configuration:


And another of the same model, but if you look closely you can see that someone had the idea to make the cushions more wedge-shaped:


I'm thinking of doing something along these lines.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:58   #7
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

I did every single cushion on the boat - interior and exterior with a crap home Singer machine. Biggest problem I had was the cockpit cushions (vinyl) that I put welting on. So that's 4 layers of vinyl + a bit when the welt was seamed. Pretty much killed the machine, but they look good.

On those backs, maybe upholster some plywood rather than a free-standing wedge? It'd be a bit easier to do, IMHO.

It's not hard. Use good thread. Watch the sailrite videos. Foam is amazingly expensive. In my case, my mother taught me very good "sewing words" to use. I'm not sewing if I don't blurt out "sh1t!" on a pretty regular basis. Learn how to use a seam ripper to remove mistakes (say a few sewing words)... And sewing a seam for a coupla feet after you ran out of bobbin thread is worth some very loud words.
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:42   #8
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

You mean that I'm not the only one to sew a few feet only to find the bobbin empty? (Insert sewing words). 😩


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Old 07-04-2015, 12:54   #9
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Before you jump right in and start making your cushions, build a couple thro pillows or a couple bags for line. get the feel for what you are doing before you get into a large project.
I've taught sewing for a good number of years from beginners to very skilled advanced seamstresses in detailed work to embrodery and the one thang that stops a person in their tracks from progressing is taking on a project to complicated or intence. You end up getting a "I cant do it - feeling" so start simple. soon you'll be building those cushions with a bull-nose front.
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Old 07-04-2015, 13:55   #10
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Ditto on Sailrite.

They have some how-to videos on Youtube that could help you out. Very useful for everyone. I'm just learning on my Sailrite machine and their videos are very helpful. So far, I've made only a strap and a hatch cover.

There's also a Sewing group here on CF where you could share your work and see what others here are working on too.
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - Sewing Group. Boat canvas projects

Small practice (but useful) projects could help get you started as well.
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Old 07-04-2015, 13:59   #11
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

I'm doing all mine right now. 5 down, 10 to go...........

The light is there. It's very dim, but it's there. Very, very time consuming.
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Old 07-04-2015, 21:45   #12
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Capt. Tom,

Of course you can do it. It's all straight seams. The suggestion to build something first, if this is your first project is a really good idea. Tool rolls come to mind for me, for your screw drivers, files, etc., for practice sewing straight seams.

If you're planning the cushions to be washable, you'll want to plan their openings and how to hide them. Personally I prefer zippers over velcro, but have made both. For the large one, I'd hide the zip all along the midback and the short "foot" on the "L". So much easier to replace the foam after washing than if you only have the back of the cushion to open.

Also, I'd suggest researching to get the angle of the wedge ergonomically correct. Measure some sofa or other boat's settee you feel comfortable with their back angle, a carpenter's rule will do, copy the angle, draw and measure the degrees. Or, take a look at the Sail Rite site first, for more ideas.

Someone suggested unpicking your old cushions for a pattern, but I don't think that's necessary. Start with what you want the finished size to be, then add in the seam allowances you'll need. Measure twice or 3 times to be sure, cut once.

Unpicking your own work to get a straighter line is easier if you use a zig-zag stitch.

Have fun with it, it's pretty satisfying to have done.

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Old 08-04-2015, 10:05   #13
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Ann is 100 percent right. Go look at the Sailrite's videos. Then I would suggest you start with the smallest cushion, if you mess it up try again you won't be out much in time or material.

I also agree that zippers rather than Velcro is the way to go. Watch the videos and you will realize they are not that hard.

One final note re: Sailrite if you have a question or need advice, they will freely give it over the phone. In fact you might end up talking to the owner. I know I have and a friendlier group of people would be hard to find.

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Old 08-04-2015, 10:19   #14
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

A timely thread, as I started my interior cushion project, last night!

For foam, I can suggest a couple of options :

The most economical solution for foam is to buy a mattress from the Foam Factory, online, and cut it up with an electric carving knife. You want to get the high density foam, which will last longest. I already replaced all my foam this way, a couple of years ago. I also bought the batting from them.

Another solution is to find a company online, or locally, who will cut it to your dimensions. This might be a good option considering you want a wedge shape in the seat back.

The actual making of the covers is straightforward, but takes time. Be patient. Watch the Sailrite videos on Youtube first. It might be a good idea to try a few smaller projects, first, to get the hang of it.

I am using a Sailrite LSZ-1 but I think any decent domestic sewing machine could make covers.
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:35   #15
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Re: New Cushions - How Bad a Project?

Mark,
One other option is to start with a base foam and then add a somewhat thinner memory foam on top. They make a spray adhesive that allows you to permanently bond the two together.

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