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.

Welcome to my Sewing Room

Ok, it’s really just the V-berth, but every space on a boat is multi purpose.
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At the heart of my workspace is my new LSZ1 sewing machine from Sailrite. Let me just say it was Keith that really thought we should go ahead and buy the new sewing machine reasoning that with it we could do the mizzen sail repairs ourselves and make a copycat Gailsail storm sail, thus paying for itself quickly. (We just won’t dwell too hard that those are the two projects I have not gotten around to yet 🙂 )

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Anyway, the LSZ1, I knew it was a tough little machine but still had serious reservations about just how much it could handle. I was coming from a serious commercial Juki LU-563 powerhouse and didn’t think anything could compete with the power of it. Guess what, the Sailrite machine has earned my respect! I haven’t found anything yet that has given it any pause. And I have shoved some tough stuff at it. The sail covers frequently had 6 layers of Sunbrella and 4 layers of sailcloth going through at one time, more at seams. Didn’t hesitate. Not one skipped stitch either. Impressive. The shade awning had some real thick layers at the reinforcement points too, no problem.

The toughest challenge I threw at it was the cushions. Sunbrella usually is about 7-9 oz per yard weight. Storm sail cloth is about 9 oz. per yard weight. The Crypton upholstery fabric I chose was 16.9 oz per yard weight and with welting and seams I frequently had 8 layers cranking through it. That little machine didn’t care at all. Wow.

Oh, and by the way–the cushions are done!!! I love them. We went old school, with welting and buttons. I think it matches the traditional interior of the boat. Well, I’m not completely done, I am dying to make fun new throw pillows to brighten them up. Like frosting on a sugar cookie. Ah, but that will wait as it isn’t really a priority. I am packing fabric and it will be a fun rainy day project once we get cruising. Until then, my plain white pillows will do-I have a mizzen sail to repair instead.

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So where is the rest of my crafting and sewing stuff? Everything but the fabric is in one very tightly packed locker. There is most definitely a one-in-one-out rule going on in there as it is filled to the brim with my canvas and crafting supplies. The bolt fabric is on a long shelf above the fishing poles and my folded fabric is in a waterproof bag. I am all set to keep on sewing. Of course I have a happy helper to assist. Kai is ever eager to press the foot peddle, ready or not.

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Where were we ONE year ago: Chugging Away

Stacked

One of the biggies on the to do list has been to sew some sort of “stack-pack” style sailcover. It wasn’t a convenience thing it was a serious safety thing. Take a peek at our boom, we can’t reach most of it. Not only is it very high, but with the bimini and dodger it was completely inaccessible. Bringing down and flaking the mainsail in the flat calm river was an ordeal, as was putting on the sailcover. Reefing at sea?-eeeek. It required balancing on the varnished (slippery) coaming and the top of the lifelines with nothing to hang onto except the bottom of the boom itself. Stupidly dangerous.

So, I set about making a new sailcover with lazyjacks. It’s basically two, flat pieces of canvas. Attach it to the boom and hang it from the mast. Easy.

Ha.

I started with the Sailrite PDF instructions and the free full instruction video, but I wanted to make some custom changes. (If I hadn’t it really would have been easy) Namely, I wanted to use the slide slots we have in the sides of our boom as the attachment points for the bottom of the cover, line the entire sail cover with Dacron, and keep all of the weight-bearing seams away from any sun exposure. Decreasing windage was also a big priority while at the same time being mindful that we can’t even reach the boom, we really can’t reach the top of the sail cover and shove the sail in, it had to fit in the cover on its own when it’s lowered. And so began my complicated easy project.

I thought the dodger was the hardest piece of canvas to sew. That took me four full days. This sail cover is coming in at just under four weeks! I did make a mock-up using the old sail cover, so technically, I made two in a month. (The mock-up version is the second photo with the striped, tablecloth looking fabric on the bottom)

At times I got quite frustrated, like when I discovered it made a spectacular rain catcher :/ , but I think I finally got all the kinks worked out. It no longer catches rain, it does catch the sail, it is fully lined to protect from chafe, none of the working seams are exposed to the sun, doesn’t interfere with reefing lines, and it looks pretty tidy too. And most importantly, no more standing above the lifelines!

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20140821-215536.jpg^don’t judge this one-it was my pattern!

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I’m going to forget for a little while longer that I still have a second mast and sail to tend to.

Where were we one year ago: All Aboard

Sneak Peak at Up-coming Projects

I got a few boxes in the mail…………..

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……………..and you might recognize where they are from!

I’m thinking these following items will be getting crossed off the list soon:

“Stack-pack” mainsail and mizzen sail covers
Mizzen sail repaired
Shade awning(s)/rain catchers
Propane tank cover
Dingy storage pockets
New interior cushions
Organizing pockets by the companionway
Freezer cover
New outboard motor cover
Surf board (and paddleboard?) covers
Snaps switched to twist-fasteners on the enclosure
Custom bedding for aft cabin
“big-boy” Kai bed (he hasn’t had one because he eats them when he gets too tired-silly puppy)

Time to get busy!

Where were we ONE year ago: Enclosure (still sewing I guess!)

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.