Sewing Smashup (Part 1)

 

Just before we left Florida in October I placed a seemingly mishmash order from Sailrite for all of the items I was missing in order complete my outstanding list of sewing projects. One more zipper, a different sized snap, a few more yards of fabric…. I was confident now that I had all my supplies,  I’d for-sure get my projects done.  Silly me, even with the number of weather days we’ve had I haven’t made it through my list. Most of my to-do items have to do with shade and ventilation, something that has not been a concern of mine it the last few months, and so they are still to be done.  But I did get a few done—YAY!  ….and now that I’ve got the momentum going…watch out!

Cockpit Beanbags:

 

Our cockpit has a few ergonomic challenges and since we spend so much time sitting/lounging/napping there I made us a set of beanbag wedges.  Wa-la  instant comfort.  I used Sunbrella so they can just stay outside (and stay clean).    They are excellent for wedging yourself into a comfy spot when on a rolly passage or finding just the perfect angle for reading a book. Only I should have made three; Kai likes them too.

**I learned from the last beanbags I made that the beans get compressed and they have to be occasionally refilled so this time I added YKK Zippers and just put a stitch through the slider to keep them from accidently opening.

 

Seatbelts for the Jerry Cans:

We have a lot of jerry cans on the deck and we found that we were not always very diligent with retying them to the rails every time we used them so we’ve lost more than a few sun covers and occasionally had the cans go sliding across the deck during a squall. (Not so shipshape of a situation) To make it easier and quicker to keep everything lashed in place all the time I made webbing straps with buckles.  Since making them all their very own seatbelts we haven’t lost a cover or can.  We will still lash them with rope for any crossings, but we always double everything up then anyway.  On the same theme, I made two straps on the stern rail to clip up the davit lines.  We use these a couple times a day and it just makes it faster and easier, I guess neither of us were speedy knot tiers because now the lines are always secured. 55 cent buckles that hold up to the sun, gotta love the little things!

**I used the polyester UV resistant webbing

 

New Zipper for Wetsuit:

One of my wetsuit tops came with a metal zipper slider and since we don’t have the luxury of washing our dive gear down with freshwater after each use, it corroded out. A new YKK plastic zipper—and all is new!

 

Puppy Proof Fish Hooks:

Our little Kayla (our previous pup) once got a fish hook in her mouth, it is an experience that I would like to never repeat.  Kai has an understandable obsession with the lures on Keith’s fishing poles and though we store them where he could never reach them, I though it would be safer for him, and maybe us, to have safety covers for the hooks.  A scrap of fabric and a strip of Velcro was an easy solution.

 

Multi-talented Sailrite:

I love my Sailrite, it does the tough stuff like stitching the double layer leather chafing patches on the bimini extension or sewing through the outdoor carpet strips used to protect the enclosure glass.  But it also does the delicate stuff-like dinner napkins.  We don’t use paper napkins on the boat but the cloth ones I had were looking a little worn out and stained so I made us a few more sets with some remnant material.  While I had out the remnants bag, I stitched together a few new toys for Kai; they don’t have pet stores out here and while I had a big stash of toys for him before we left, he has gone through them all already.

**Just a note to other cruisers/to-be cruisers: While in George Town we heard several cruisers asking over the VHF radio if there was anyone with a Sailrite Machine they could borrow. Sorry, I did not let my precious machine go for a dinghy ride across the harbor in someone else’s boat.  I also heard almost as many calls for people needing needles because they had used their last one.  So, if you are headed out and have a Sailrite onboard, I’d suggest ordering several extra packets of needles of different sizes and different weight threads (you never know-you might want to make something other than sails too).  The machine is amazing, but it doesn’t do a thing without thread and needles.

Enclosure

We can now enjoy a rainproof, bug proof cockpit! I finished installing the full enclosure this morning.

As It turns out procrastination can be beneficial. I started planning this project in January, but got sidetracked with the haul out and never got it going. In the meantime, I dicovered that Sailrite had recently released a new instructional DVD Make Your Own Full Boat Enclosure. Having had great success with their Dodger DVD, I purchased it but couldn’t imagine how the video could cover such a complex and highly custom project. Turns out, they do an excellent job. The DVD gives complete instructions for three different window options to choose from: just glass, glass with permanent screens, and glass with removable screens.

In the end I went with a fourth option. Inspired by the removable screens option, I wanted to not only have the screens attached to the glass panels, but be able to be used on their own-without the glass panels attached. So I watched and rewatched the DVD until I was able to design what I had envisioned. I am pretty thrilled with the final result.

I love the way the perpendicular zippers are installed- the binding covers and protects the entire zipper-front, back, teeth. Zippers are pretty much the first thing to be eaten by the sun and with about fifty of them, yes fifty, I like that they are pretty much invisible to the sun.

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Dodger

Ok, I’m all recouped from the haul-out and back to working on our to-do list.

This week I stitched up and installed the new dodger. The old one was only a few years old but the thread had completely given out so this time around I used Helios 100% PTFE thread. It has a lifetime guarantee and will last longer than the fabric. For the window, I chose the .40 gauge Strataglass and Sunbrella fabric.

Like the last one, I used SailritesMake Your Own Dodger DVD. They have done an amazing job with the instructional video. How they manage to break down such a complex and custom project into an easy-to-follow step-by-step “recipe” basically is quite amazing. Here is how it went:

Step 1:
Watch DVD

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Step 2:
Use dura-skrim and double-sided tape to pattern the dodger. The instructions show exactly how to draw the pattern and what and where to mark the pattern so that it will make sense once back in the sewing room. Once this step is done all of the “thinking” and “figuring” is done. From here on out it was just like following a recipe.

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Step 3:
Trace patterns on to sunbrella and cut out all pattern pieces. (My hurricane stash of canned chicken worked great as pattern weights!)

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Step 4:
Use double-sided tape to bind the pattern pieces together.

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Step 5:
Sew it up. The DVD tells exactly how to line the pieces up and in what order to sew each piece. It shows each and every step from start to finish.

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Step 5:
Install and smile at all the money I saved! Actually, I have a few finishing touches to finish up tomorrow, but I am proudly checking this one off the list.

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Notes to self for next time:
1. This is not a two day project. Plan on at least four full days.
2. This is not a solo project. You will need Keith’s help for several steps.
3. The window zippers and straps are a major part of this project and the most difficult part to get through the sewing machine.
4. Pattern the side panels when patterning the rest of the dodger-it was easier this way.
5. Consider changing from a tucked rain tail at the rear of the dodger to a hanging.

Next up….. the Bimini and the full glass and mosquito screen enclosure.

Update: enclosure project is complete-click here to see.