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Old 13-01-2017, 03:59   #1
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Indoor / outdoor covers

My mate wants to have new indoor/outdoor coverings on his old boat, but it is expensive to get them in the shop.

I was thinking to assist him to make these covers (canvas, wheel, seat and cushions etc).

What kind of machine washable fabrics should be used? sunbrella, breathable, UV etc

Is it fine to use the normal standard sewing machine to do this project? How difficult is it?
What kind of foams should be used to make the seat cushion?
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Old 13-01-2017, 10:18   #2
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Sunbrella and a rugged machine with a walking foot. You can also sew isenglass, velcro, leather and multiple layers. At a minimum you'll have 5 layers of sunbrella for full hems. Anything less will look homemade.

Domestic machines with those tiny feet lack the motor start power and tou'll just pile up stitches.

Avoid pretty much any material labelled as canvas. Sunbrella will last so much longer.

For foams you want closed cell. Avoid open cell and latex as they stay wet and rot. You can use a high durometer foam 2" or greater. You can also mix foams. High durometer base, for stability, and a thin med durometer top for comfort. You can roll over the top foam to get a nice curve under the legs.
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Old 13-01-2017, 14:41   #3
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Hi, Aden, if you have an old enough home machine for it to be all metal inside, that will work, most likely. For years, I used a Pfaff 130 that my mother bought in 1950 for all my sewing, including mainsail covers and weather cloths, and awnings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aden View Post
My mate wants to have new indoor/outdoor coverings on his old boat, but it is expensive to get them in the shop.

I was thinking to assist him to make these covers (canvas, wheel, seat and cushions etc). Note, usually "canvas" would be sail covers, weather cloths, and cockpit cushions. My most recent experiment has been with Weather Max 80, but it is too recent to vouch for durability. The previous sailcover and weather cloths were Sunbrella. Depends on the source how much you pay, but ime, WM has been about 1/2 the cost and weight, has greater chafe resistance than Sunbrella; however it may well not last as long. I have some pretty ratty looking cockpit cushions covered in the royal blue sunbrella, that are 30 yrs. old, and are chafed now, on the seams and corners.

What kind of machine washable fabrics should be used? sunbrella, breathable, UV etc Sunbrella and Weather Max are both breathable and washable. Sunbrella is acrylic canvas and WM is polyester, both are vulnerable to oil borne stains. The darker colors offer more UV absorption than the lighter ones.

Is it fine to use the normal standard sewing machine to do this project? How difficult is it? I now have a SailRite LSZ 1, and I do like having a walking foot, I used to have to help the Pfaff with multiple layers, and the walking foot gives really consistent stitch length in spite of multiple layers of cloth. The downside, if you're not perfect at handling the cloth, you can accidentally sew in a fold you don't want, and the walking foot machine just chugs along. Unwanted tracks, from where you've had to remove stitches show more on WM than Sunbrella.
What kind of foams should be used to make the seat cushion? This depends on what is wanted. Most people use closed cell foam for the cockpit cushions, because it does not absorb water. We always preferred to sit or sleep on softer foam, so ours have to get chucked below when there's lots of spray, or in the rain. If there's no room below to stow them, then stay with the softer closed cell foam. Foam comes from foam shops, in the US, but from somewhere like Clark Rubber here in Australia.
For belowdecks use, I'd suggest going to a place where the whole sunbrella line is shown. They have some fabrics that I would use for below decks cushions, and I don't think the WM is really suitable. Also, there are "marine canvas shops" that have synthetic fabrics that might appeal. Another option is just plain upholstery material that is washable. I have covered cushions with regular dress making cottons, too, it really depends on what you like/want.

If you already know how to sew straight seams, it is all easy, straight seams work, no fussy fitting like sleeves on dresses or shirts. Getting "basting tape", double sided sticky tape to hold the layers of cloth where you want while you sew can make it easier. Available from yardage stores, and sailmakers, and canvas work shops.

Ann

Incidentally, you'll do yourself and your friend a favor if you run plastic zippers around 3 sides of the cushions, it makes replacing the covers on the foam so much easier, and without having to fuss with sliders to help it. I'd use YKK #5 for the job, being in the marine environment, and always cover the zip with a flap, so the UV can't get to it.
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Old 13-01-2017, 15:22   #4
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Good advice from Ann... Just got done replacing my bimini using SailRite's TopNotch 9 Specs look great, but again too soon to tell about the long run. Slipperier than Sunbrella and takes some getting used to when feeding other fabrics (like zipper tapes) $5.00-$7.00 a yard cheaper than Sunbrella at Sailrite.

Sailrite also has a nice downloadable "Outdoor Fabric Selection Guide" you may wish to look at.
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Old 13-01-2017, 16:47   #5
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Aden,

Ann's reply is very detailed but just want to add that for the first 15 years aboard all I had was a domestic Bernina sewing machine which I was able to attach a walking foot.

I made all our interior covers and external canvas work using sunbrella, weather max and materials purchased from various sources (even Spotlite). I made wetsuits, tents and sewed silk with that machine so don't believe you need an industrial machine to do most boat projects.

When we were in the US, I purchased a Sailrite machine and it took some time to get used too but it is great I can now do sail repairs at the head and foot of sails where as the Bernina could only handle the mid panels of sails.

The biggest tip I would give you is that for outdoor items I use Tenara thread by Gortex. This also takes some getting used to sewing as it is so slippery and makes getting the tension correct a must. (View the Sailrite video for how to). Tenara thread is also expensive, but it is guaranteed for the life of what you sew. I use Tenara when hand sewing repairs.

Good luck with your projects - Cheers Sue
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Old 14-01-2017, 11:18   #6
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

There are many places to buy upholstery, and marine materials. Sailrite, of course, (their information, and customer service is the best), but I have also purchased Sunbrella at discount online places. Some of the ones I have used:
Seattle Fabrics
Sailmakers Supply
Fabricguru
1502fabrics
Ebay

Good luck -
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Old 14-01-2017, 16:41   #7
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Thanks guys.

I am hoping that my normal Janome machine with stronger needle and walker foot can do the jobs?

We will try to get this kind of fabric in the UK.
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Old 14-01-2017, 17:00   #8
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Aden,

Sunbrella is acrylic canvas. Some of it is made in Germany, and is of excellent quality.

I have to second Sapient Sue, on the use of Tenara thread. It is tricky to get the right tension with, and so, I had always used V-92, uv treated polyester thread, and it is only good for 4 or 5 yrs. The Tenara (which is ptfe, teflon) lasts over 10 yrs. I would use it for all exterior work if possible. It is expen$ive, and you should plan on wastage with it, if you go that way. Try using one needle size down, like a #16 instead of a #18 for the acrylic, that may help Usually it is hardest to get the top thread tension right.

Finally, your Janome should be excellent for the job.

Incidentally, we have a sewing machine expert here on CF. He is "senor mechanico", and he knows heaps about sewing machines, and responds to PM's.

Ann
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Old 14-01-2017, 17:09   #9
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Sunbrella is the hands down best. Blue lasts a long time. White not so much. We never had it mildew.
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Old 14-01-2017, 17:44   #10
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Quote:
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Sunbrella is the hands down best. Blue lasts a long time. White not so much. We never had it mildew.
Yes, studies have found that the darker colors outlast the lighter colors.
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Old 09-02-2017, 10:18   #11
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

How about the bedding in the cabin? Is it fine to use the normal cotton bedding sheet?

What kind of material should be used for fender cover?
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Old 09-02-2017, 10:21   #12
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

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Yes, studies have found that the darker colors outlast the lighter colors.

Do you use the darker color for the interior curtain in the carbin or saloon?
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Old 09-02-2017, 10:47   #13
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aden View Post
How about the bedding in the cabin? Is it fine to use the normal cotton bedding sheet?

What kind of material should be used for fender cover?
Your bedding materials depend upon where you sail. I'm in colder climes, and cotton doesn't work for us, we use polyester microfiber fleece, and fleece blankets. Cotton helps evaporate heat, so if you are in warmer areas, cotton, or bamboo sheets may be best.

Fender covers are usually made out of "boat blanket", (see Sailrite site for description), but people get very creative with this. I've seen some examples of using sweat pants legs, just cut them off, and sew in drawstrings to keep them in place.

Have fun!
Donna
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Old 09-02-2017, 10:56   #14
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aden View Post
Do you use the darker color for the interior curtain in the carbin or saloon?
This depends upon personal preference, lighting in your boat, blocking the sun, too many, too close neighbors... etc.

We prefer lighter colors in the main cabin, with colorful accents. That keeps the look brighter, larger, and it's just a preference. We don't have to block out hot sun, and anchor in areas without crowds, so privacy is not a huge concern. I love the 24 hour (or close to it) daylight in the summer in Alaska, and would never block it out.

If I needed a sun block, I would make removable heat shields that pressure fit into the frame, that way I could use them, and remove them at will.

If you are a member of Facebook, the group: Sewing on Boats is a terrific resource. Many different ways of doing things are highlighted by the many talented boat owners.
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Old 09-02-2017, 13:08   #15
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Re: Indoor / outdoor covers

Aden,

The question of using dark fabric has to do with whether the person wants privacy or darkness. Light, even white, Sunbrella can be used, looks nice and crisp. If you're going for darkness while it is light outside, then dark, but it has to be something that fits tightly over the port so that light doesn't get in at the bottom, because usually the cabin sides are slightly angled outward, top to bottom. Can be done, threaded on light line or even bungee, using screws for the loops, or using snaps in the corners.. Really depends on what you want.

Cheers,

Ann
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