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Entries in marine sewing (28)


Custom Bimini Boot for Fountaine Pajot Tobago Catamaran

This client did not have a bimini installed yet and wasn't sure when he would install one. He had the bimini arches secured with zip ties but didn't like how the arches looked naked, so I created this streamlined bimini boot for him.

Ooooh, give me those straight, neat stitches and crisp, folded Sunbrella.

If you had told me when I was a child that I would find incredible joy in sewing marine canvas, I would have thought you were super weird. Funny how life can take you places you never could have imagined as a kid.

My dock hands and sewing buddies.

Traditional bimini boots cap the ends and then hang down; I think they look loose and baggy. I suggested he leave the ends uncapped and that I'd make the fabric fit snugly, hugging all three arches.

Sunbrella pleats like a dream.

The fabric featured is Sunbrella Tuscan marine grade fabric. I used my Sailrite LSZ-1 for this project.

Happy sailing!


Hanging Storage Locker | Getting Crafty

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I made a post about a clever way to store clothes in our hanging storage locker. It involved hanging shelves from Ikea and turns out it wasn't so clever.

See the problem? Boats move. And every time we went sailing all the bins would tumble out. It was madness in the hanging storage locker. One of my final projects with the Sailrite (we sold it a few months ago) was to tackle this problem.

Oh, Sailrite. I miss you so much. You amazing machine that can sew through just about anything.

I sewed some bungee cord onto vinyl squares and then sewed those on to the hanging shelves.

And poof, Bob's your uncle; I got rid of the problem of the tumbling clothing bins.

Eric is quite enamored with the system. He uses the bins on the right for his gear and we use the bins on the left to store the girls' clothes. I ended up not liking this arrangement because I found it too kludgy to always fight the bungee cord as I pulled the bins in and out to search for things or put clean clothes away.

I ended up snipping the bungee cords on the left side and having Eric tie line to the ends so I could simply secure them with a square knot when we were underway. If we are at anchor or docked, I keep the bins untied.

I also rearranged the bins so all of Cora's clothes were in the bottom, left bin. That way each morning and each night the little munchkin can get her own clothes now.

It feels good to be getting crafty again. Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support.



Custom Salon Cushions for a Sailboat | Getting Crafty

No, we are not selling the boat, but if we did, I would definitely use this photo to help sell her. Or maybe this one:

At long last, our salon cushions are re-done. They've been re-done for a year and I just haven't been able to sit down and blog about them. Considering that I bought the fabric to re-do them when I was pregnant with Cora though, a year's lag time for writing about them is not too bad.

You can click on this link to see what our old cushions look like, or, just envision a worn, maroon-colored, 1970's, Escher-esque print with repeating swans. It was awful.

In fact, here you go. You can see the fabric in the top cushion in the photo below:

Diana trying out the first round of new cushion covers.At first I thought I'd go with solid-color bottom cushions because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find a fabric that complemented the awesome stuff I had chosen for the top cushions. However, first lesson learned: solid color Sunbrella will show everything you spill on it. Yes. I know. You can "spot clean" Sunbrella. But when you have kids in the house, you will be constantly spot cleaning. You need a fabric that hides things. 

So I went with multi-colored stripes and love how it turned out.

I did everything on the bottom cushions myself: sewing, piping, zippers, snaps.

More things to consider. Large fabric repeats can make a cabin look larger or smaller, depending on the fabric and the boat. Same thing with small pattern repeats. Buy a little and then test it out in your boat before you commit to purchasing a lot of expensive fabric.

Newbury in Bright, from Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics, sold by Fresh Modern Fabric on Etsy

Some fabric could make you feel seasick when underway. The fabric above is a perfect example. If I stepped onto a boat with cushions done in this, I would want to hurl. Avoid any pattern that seems to "move."

Both the stripes and the regal pattern I picked for the upper cushions hide stains, markers, and smears from food very well. Cora figured out that the fabric was also a perfect "felt" board. Genius!

I had a local upholstery shop, Patsy Carter Design, do the top three cushions for me. While I have the ability to do them, I was too pregnant, and had no time or energy to do them myself. I made the piping though, and they used it for the cushions. Since I do this kind of work, I had a number in my head of how much I would charge for a job like this. When Patsy said the same number, I hired her on the spot.

On to the cushions I did myself. 

Nothing on a boat is straight. If I had dropped this cushion off at a canvas shop and asked them to re-do it for me, they would never have known what way to place the direction of the lines.

July 2012 - Eric works on the bowspirit. I work on the cushions 2 months pregnant with Lyra.

I spent a lot of time pinning and repositioning the fabric on each cushion so the lines were all straight, cushion to cushion.

Finally nailed it.  I also added snaps and waterproof covers on the portions of the cushions where Cora (and now Lyra) spend the most time.

The pattern on that fabric also had to be aligned cushion to cushion.

Rant: when I hear people complain about "how expensive it is" to have boat upholstery done I have zero patience. People want custom work done at cookie-cutter prices. Nothing on a boat is ever a cookie cutter shape. Each and every piece is a custom fit. The seamstress does not have a pattern. It is always custom done. If you want it done right, pay them for their expertise. 

High-trafficked areas: I'm considering adding a patch of vinyl or something else creative to the end of this cover along the seaberth. We set things on it when getting stuff in and out of the fridge and there is always some random stain that makes me want to wash it once a week or so. Cushion wrangling is not high on my priority list, however, so I think I may add something that can just be wiped down.

Likewise, the part of that cushion that looks a bit stained, is. This is where Eric grabs when he gets up from his seat. No matter what I do to clean it, the fabric stays a bit discolored. This is a problem with having white in your fabric, though overall, I'm so glad I picked the white background because of how it brightens up the boat.

Consider where people grab (or frequently step on) cushions when designing yours. 

Lyra living it up at 5 weeks old in La Cruz, Mexico.

This cushion gets the most traffic on the boat. It is where I sit. Where I nurse. Where I type. And where Cora climbs in and out of before and after meals. It seems to always be in the wash. I would have made two of these if I had known how much puke/poop/food would always be on it. Then I could at least rotate them.

More lessons learned: use a hotknife. For my previous jobs I was able to borrow a hotknife from a friend, but didn't have it available to me this time around. I should have looked harder for one.

Several parts of the hems on my heavily washed cushions are unraveling. I'm now patching them with some felt I had on hand, but yep, a hotknife would have extended the life of them.

Oh well. Kids have already given them a super short half-life as it is.

Adding quick front/back patches to places where the seam is coming apart.

Sailrite knows what it is talking about. If you are re-doing your own cushions, take the time to add some batting. It really plumps up your cushions and gives them that certain je ne sais quoi that all sailors like to have in a nice, juicy boat cushion. Sailrite has a handy how-to video here.

Cora helps me put the covers on after adding some extra padding.

Last piece of advice. Stop waiting to re-cover your cushions. There was always something holding me back from doing my own boat. Time, money, fear (was worried I wouldn't do a good job.) There is NOTHING like having fabric you love in your boat. I'm so glad I finally have a gorgeous backdrop for photos (instead of that ghastly fabric from the 70's.)

And think outside of the box. Just because you live on a boat doesn't mean you need shells and palm trees on your fabric. Get crazy and have fun!


Projects, Projects, Projects | At the Dock in La Paz

I told him it was a good idea to do all his boat work shirtless. Glad he listened too.

Marine plumbing is one of Eric's least favorite jobs. Can you tell? I'm glad he's willing to do it, because I'm sure not. He has finished the electrical work on our new water maker install but is now deep into the plumbing portion. Can't wait to taste our first glass of desalinated water!

We've hit the ground running since returning from San Diego and are both up to our eyeballs in projects, projects, project. The sooner we get them done, the sooner we can head up into the Sea of Cortez, and away from the bashing that potential hurricanes would give us here in La Paz.

I'm in the midst of finishing up some of the last projects I'll use our Sailrite for. That's right, we're selling the Sailrite.

I know. I know. Someone out there is shaking their head and 'tsk tsk'ing' me right now, and that's fine. But it is our boat, and believe it or not, we really have drawn up a list of pros and cons. It takes up valuable space. I have no room to work on large projects with the girls on the boat, and frankly no time. Still, the 'tsk tsk'ing' will continue, and I'll just say that I'm at peace with the decision and I really like that song lyric by Ricky Nelson, "You see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself..."

Still can't bring myself to get rid of my small home sewing machine. But there is a lot I want to write now, including editing my fantasy novel and completing the first draft of my cook book? memoir? life adventure in Mexico? I really don't know what to call it, but I need what little time I do get in between parenting our adorable children, to work on writing.

And with that, here is an obligatory photo of aforementioned delightful girls. I love them. They are so happy to be sisters. The round robin of admiration between them is just too much sometimes.

Sleeping on sheet-draped cushions from the salon. It's like camping on a sailboat!

While I am still doing some sewing projects, there are others I'm farming out to the talented labor we have found down here in Mexico. This is what the v-berth looked like for two nights while we were having new sheets sewn for the v-berth cushions. We had the seamstress takes the cushions, because, REALLY, you need them in order to make the custom fit. 

And blimey, they are nice. Wow. Far better than my last two sets, and I really liked those as it were.

Our seamstress, Laura, dropping off the finished products. We provided the fabric from Ikea, and she provided the talent!

Just a tad bit excited here. Her tie idea was completely her own. Impeccable craftspersonship. Already hired her for two more projects on the boat. If you are in La Paz, hit me up for her contact info.

So, we may be a bit sleepy on writing on the blog right now, but it is not because we want to be. I'm actually bursting with things to say. Sometimes I feel like I could sit down and write for hours, but life won't allow that right now. And what a wonderful problem to have. We'll be on slow-motion when we head off cruising in the sea in a couple more weeks and then I'll have more time to share my thoughts. Promise!


One Week Left | Countdown to Cruising

Over breakfast this morning I shared with Eric how incredibly stressed out I am. I'm 22 weeks pregnant and I have a long to-do list before departure next Saturday. And in the coming week the following things still need to be done (this is the SHORT list:)

  • Engine:New fuel tank installed and plumbed
  • Engine: Heat exchanger cleaned, new oil cooler, impellers, yadda yadda
  • Rigging: New chainplates installed
  • Rigging: New cap shrouds, new back stay with SSB insulater installed, lower aft, lower middle & intermediate stays replaced
  • Seacock: Head seacock replaced (involves yet another haul out)
  • Safety: Repair bowsprit planking
  • Dinghy: Order and install tubing for Walker Bay (putting this off, too big an expense)
  • There's more but Eric's too tired to list them all right now :)
  • Get more propane, more diesel, re-fill water tanks right before leaving

Luckily Eric only needs to personally do some of the items on the list (the rest he is managing.) We are using Pacific West Marine Industrial for the engine work, Pacific Offshore Rigging for the rig, and Hoffman Yacht Services at Shelter Island Boatyard for the seacock.

The list above is Eric's purview. On my to-do list I still have (and this is the SHORT list):

  • Canvas: Take down and clean dodger
  • Canvas: Install hardware on dodger to create at-sea suncover for cockpit
  • Canvas: Sew at-sea suncover for cockpit
  • Provisions: Costco run, final Trader Joe's run, final Sprout's run, final Target run
  • Provisions: order anything else we need from Amazon.com by Monday/Tuesday at the latest
  • Provision: Figure out where in the heck to store the rest of everything I buy
  • Medical/Appts: Final doc appt, final dentist appt, final orthodontist appt, final midwife appt.
  • Medical: Get copy of my pregnancy medical records
  • Medical: Pick up last minute prescriptions and seasickness medication
  • Paperwork: Still need the correct documentation from USCG showing boat ownership in my married, not maiden name
  • Paperwork: Sign and send something back to Mexican government (can't think of what it is)
  • Paperwork: Get Mexican fishing license, Zarpe paperwork, copies of passports, crew lists, other assorted documents (getting there)
  • Digital "paperwork:" Email to family and friends on how to stay in touch
  • Spare parts: Call Seaward Princess and ask what spare parts they recommend for my stove

Right now people ask us if we are "so excited" to be going and the honest answer is, we're too exhausted, and too focused, to be "excited." I will be excited when I get to Ensenada. I will be excited when I'm resting for a bit in Turtle Bay. Right now it doesn't feel real and we have a WHOLE lot of work ahead of us in the next seven days.

So instead of focusing on the overwhelming week ahead, I give you Cora and her first real hair cut (she had one previously but it was just a trim :) That gorgeous woman is Karen. She has done my hair for the past 14 years. And now she is doing Cora's. I love that! We will miss her talent and her friendship tremendously.

This was Princess Buttercup's first time having a lollipop. She was hooked.

Karen gave her not one, but TWO, lollipops. Needless to say, she is now Karen's friend for life.

My shadow taking a pic - work continues unabated on the boat. Today I wrapped the salon cushions in this awesome batting from Sailrite. It plumped them right up and made the new covers I made look amazing.

Cheery, bright, and nice and plump! That snap is for the waterproof covers I made to snap over the cushions to protect them from little ones while they are eating.

Yep, from the side the waterproof cover doesn't look like much, but that doesn't matter. When the cushions are in the settee, you can't see the sides, just the nice smooth tops. The snaps make the covers easy on and easy off and the waterproof fabric makes everything truly wipe-and-go.

Eric continues to find time to work out. I like this for two reasons:

  • I really, really, really
  • REALLY like his muscles.

And two: exercise is a proven stress reliever. And if there is one more thing we can both use less of, well, you got it...

Random tangent: Putting on boat cushion covers should be an Olympic sport and I should be representing the US on their team.

Cora is in hog heaven. She has been spending time with her Dinah and Dinah's friend June. Thank you, thank you, thank you wonderful women for spending time with our slice of heaven while we work so hard to get ready to go.

Cora continues to amaze us. She is happy, curious, and wants to be so helpful.

She has been handling the stress we are all under with aplomb and has recently taken to asking for 'family hugs.'

That melts us.

When she asks, we stop everything we are doing, scoop her up, and do a big, GIANT, family hug.

And how could you NOT stop for a little munchkin like that?