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Old 27-03-2014, 11:41   #1
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Making my own bimini and dodger

Well,

I want to try my hand at making my own custom bimini and dodger. Anyone have plans or experience doing this? I have very limited knowledge of a sewing machine, but know that I need one anyway eventually for sail repair when I take off across the pond. Anyway...thoughts, ideas or advice????
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Old 27-03-2014, 11:46   #2
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Buy a hot knife. Make a template. Have space to lay it out. For starters.


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Old 27-03-2014, 11:49   #3
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

I made my own bimini top.
I started by sewing a bunch of rags together to figure out how to sew.
Google is a great help also... LL
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Old 27-03-2014, 11:55   #4
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Sailrite has kits.

You need more than a singer machine from walmart - you need a true heavy duty machine.
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Old 27-03-2014, 12:00   #5
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

If you truly plan on having a machine that can help with sails, you might as well invest in a sailrite from the start.

Personally, I chose something about half the price. I know that I can sew duck cloth, which is similar to sunbrella, but I haven't had a chance to try out actual sunbrella.
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Old 27-03-2014, 12:09   #6
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

The problem is not with Sunbrella itself, it is with many layers of Sunbrella. I have sewed on about 5 different machines from a cheapy Walmart Brother to my current Sailrite. It takes a machine with metal gears that can hold it's timing well when you feed those 5 layers of folded sunbrella through the feeder. A walking foot also makes a tremendous difference.

As for skill, it takes lots of practice to get good. I have been replacing the glass in all my dodger and bimini panels and I am finally getting pretty decent.

A few good starter projects are to sew fender covers, curtains, salon pillows, etc.

Making templates from non-stretchy fabric is a good tip. Sailrite kits are also a good option.

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Old 27-03-2014, 12:11   #7
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Sewing group Dube!

These guys know their shizzit!

Cruisers & Sailing Forums - Sewing Group. Boat canvas projects
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Old 27-03-2014, 12:15   #8
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Make a hard top instead and do it only once.

Corecell, Fiberglass and Epoxy.
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Old 27-03-2014, 12:18   #9
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Sailrite has excellent written instructions available as well as videos. They are quite reasonably priced.

Their kits seem to be complete and easy-to-use, from what I have seen. I've never used them, though.

I've made three dodgers and three bimini tops. Am working on another bimini right now. You can make them for much less than cost of a Sailrite kit if you use cloth seconds (shop on Ebay) and buy a used frame with appropriate dimensions off of Craigslist. This is more trouble, but in your case, it could save you well over a thousand dollars.

The Sailrite machines look great. I'd like to have one, but haven't found the dough yet in the sailing budget. I made my first two dodgers and biminis on my late mother-in-law's 1970's era Kenmore home sewing machine. Sailrite even has a document to tell you how to set up one of these older home machines to do the job!

Then I decided I needed a more robust machine to handle all this heavy-duty canvas work I was doing. So I plunked down $50 for an old Pfaff 260 on Craigslist. It does a fabulous job!

Bottom line: this is a fun project and is quite doable. If you've got the money to spend on the full line of Sailrite machines and kits, you would probably be happy. If not, you can still use resources on Sailrite.com to do the project for much, much less. You'll still end up ordering plenty of odds and ends from them. I find they're a great resource!

There are also a couple of other good sites (e.g. Perfectfit.com) that sell snaps, fasteners, tools, and odds and ends. So you're not just limited to one supplier. But Sailrite has the best instructions and best selection I've found.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 27-03-2014, 13:49   #10
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Sailrite 111 Sewing Machine in Power Stand with MC-SCR Power System

Juki DNU-1541S (w/ Safety Mechanism) Lockstitch Machine w/ Table & Motor (Table Comes Assembled)

The Sailrite machine is pretty expensive IMO for what you are getting. It is certainly not an industrial machine and looks pretty cheesy compared to even a medium duty industrial machine. Juki has a great reputation in the upholstery manufacturing arena, where the 2210-6 is a common piece to use when leather isn't involved. One of the people in the sewing group posted a picture of their Juki listed above, which seems like a good deal, definitely get the servo motor option. For leather and really heavy duty use, something like a Durkopp Adler 767 is used. True industrial machines are usually 220V and have an air powered foot lift and will stand up to daily use for decades. But the head alone weighs anywhere from 80 to 120 pounds. A Durkopp Adler 867, the latest model, runs about $8200 new and I have sold a bunch of twenty year old 767 models that have not been reconditioned for $1200.

For many people doing their own canvas work a vintage industrial machine is a better choice than a Sailrite, such as a Consew or other Singer 111 clone. They can sometimes be had for around $300 and the motor can be replaced to run on 110V for about $130. They are easy to maintain, parts are readily available and the machines are practically impossible to wear out. Pfaff also makes quality machines, I've got a Pfaff 1425 I'm cleaning up and it is a monster.

Below is a picture of what a Durkopp Adler 767 looks like under the cover.
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Old 27-03-2014, 14:13   #11
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

I made a bimini for about $200 a few years ago. I used some aluminum tubing from amazon and standard SS hardware. The sunbrella was the most expensive part. Its not fancy but it keeps the sun off Dekat, and me.

Get an old singer sewing machine or pfaff. Singer had a walking foot attachment for the old Slant 500, that looks like it would work on just about any other sewing machine. Goodwill will sometimes have one for $50 or so.

Use plastic drop cloth, tape and markers to make a pattern for the material. I just used snaps to attach the sunbrella to the underside of the cross bars. Though you could get fancy and use zippers too.

Dodgers take quite a bit more skill to sew then a Bimini.
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Old 27-03-2014, 14:45   #12
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Dubje,

Yes, you can make it. I made one for our 36 footer, a long time ago. Sunbrella stays waterproof for about 5 yrs. I apologize, I forgot to note where you have your Catalina 22. If you live somewhere quite rainy, like the PNW, people report that annual treatment with Thompson's Water Seal will keep the dodger waterproof for years (15 yrs. was the max reported.)

I have an old Pfaff 130 that has sewn mainsail covers, that dodger, weather cloths, cushion covers, fitted sheets and clothes.

Design thoughts:
1) It is nice to put the window in with a zipper, so that you can have air come through but still get the shade, or make the frame so that it folds down if you want some breeze. If you install zippers, make flaps to cover them, the UV will otherwise rot the plastic teeth. Use YKK #10 zipper material.

2) Use Tenara (PTFE) thread. It lasts way, way better than UV treated dacron. It is a pain to work with till you figure out how to get the tension correct. Sailrite has a tutorial for learning how. If this is only a 4 yr. dodger, the UV treated dacron will work okay, it sun rots.

3) Sew the window onto the fabric before you remove the panel to see through, so that you retain the stability of the whole while you are sewing it.
I learned that the hard way.

You might consider WeatherMax instead of sunbrella. It costs less and weighs less, and you don't have to hot knife it.

Do not expect it to look professional, it's your first dodger, so cut yourself some slack 'cause you're on the steep part of the learning curve.

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Old 27-03-2014, 14:54   #13
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

When I made mine, I had the old one to copy so it made it much easier...LL
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Old 27-03-2014, 15:00   #14
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Re: Making my own bimini and dodger

Making a bimini usually is straight forward. Dodgers not so much. Unless you’re very skillful with your hands, have a ton of patience and time, I don’t think it’s worth it. Cutting, stiching and fitting a proper dodger takes much experience.
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