2014_July-Canoe-Seat

Are you a canoeist? Then today’s project is for you! If your canoe has webbing or cane seats that have seen better days, you might be looking for an alternative seat material. A sling fabric like Phifertex Plus Mesh or Sunbrella Sling could be great, durable options for your canoe. We’re going to show you how to replace an old webbing canoe seat with new sling material.

Sling material is a good choice for canoes because it dries quickly, is easy to clean, and is strong enough to support your weight. Sling materials are also mildew, UV and fade resistant so they will stay strong and beautiful even after a lot of use out on the water.

If you want to keep the look of your canoe more traditional, select a neutral sling like Sunbrella Sling Baron Oak, which can mimic the coloring of a cane seat. Or go for a fun modern twist and use a bold color, like the bright orange Phifertex Plus Snappy.

In this video you will learn how to take out your canoe seat, remove the old webbing, and replace it with a sling mesh material.

 

How to Make a Sling Canoe Seat:

  1. Remove the seat from the canoe.
  2. Cut the webbing off the seat frame.
  3. Measure the frame opening.
  4. Cut the fabric with scissors to the frame size, plus three inches on each side.
  5. Lay the fabric on the frame. Make a mark on the fabric at the outside of each corner of the frame. Use a square to create a rectangle from the mark made to the edges of the fabric. Cut out a rectangle of fabric from each corner.
  6. Lay the fabric out and place the frame on top of it so the underside of the seat is facing up.
  7. Fold the fabric over the top of the frame. Pull taut and place three staples in each side.
  8. Cut a diagonal slit in the fabric at each of the corners.
  9. Wrap the fabric around the frame boards and place more staples both on the top and inside edges of the frame.
  10. Re-install the seat in the canoe.

You can find all the materials you need to re-do your canoe seat in sling fabric at www.sailrite.com.

What do you think is the most comfortable canoe seat material? Would you ever switch to sling? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments!

Michelle Minner, the creative force behind the blog Blue Roof Cabin, has always loved DIY. When she discovered the world of DIY blogs online a few years ago, she had no idea how much that discovery was about to change her life.

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“I discovered DIY blogs and it blew my mind,” she said. “I felt like I had found my people.”

After reading blogs for about a year, Michelle decided that she wanted to start a blog of her own so she could join link parties and share her projects with the rest of the DIY community. She named her blog Blue Roof Cabin, inspired by her home.

“My house has a blue roof,” she explained. “It was originally a catalog cabin and has been added on to. It’s been in my family forever.”

At that point, Blue Roof Cabin was primarily a blog about Michelle’s home and projects and upgrades that she did for the house.

“It’s the perfect house for me because it’s already quirky so I don’t have to worry about drilling or making holes in the walls. I’ve been able to pour my heart into it,” she said.

But it wasn’t long before Michelle realized that doing her DIYs part time wasn’t enough.

“I’ve always had a passion for DIY and when I discovered blogs and found all this free advice, it was great!” she said. “I knew I couldn’t do a nine to five that wasn’t creative anymore.”

So Michelle took a big risk. She quit her full-time job at a bank and started her own business refurbishing furniture.

“I thought I was going to build small furniture, but I started doing more painting and fixing up existing furniture.”

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Michelle turned a free garage sale sofa into this beautiful piece.

Now, the majority of Michelle’s business is refurbishing and reupholstering furniture and sharing her projects on her blog. She does both custom pieces for clients and her own pieces that she sells in local stores on consignment. Michelle said that she enjoys making pieces that are all her own style to sell, but also loves working with clients.

“[With clients] usually I get to reinvent a family piece that they love. Something that belonged to the grandparents, or a piece that they found that they just really love,” Michelle explained.

To meet the growing demand for upholstery work, Michelle taught herself how to re-upholster. She started by taking chairs apart, putting them back together and watching online videos to see what she could have done differently. Learning to reupholster also meant that Michelle had to brush up her sewing skills.

“I’ve always sewn, but I didn’t have a lot of patience for it,” she said. “I started sewing more and more for upholstery and cushions.”

If she was going to keep doing upholstery work, Michelle knew she’d need a better sewing machine than the “$3 garage sale machine” she had been using to sew her upholstery weight fabrics. When looking for a heavy-duty sewing machine online she found the Sailrite Ultrafeed and how-to videos.

“Being a DIY person, I just really loved the videos,” she said.

Michelle said that she appreciated all the support she found for the Ultrafeed and the wealth of information about the machine that was available online.

“With another machine, there is no one to tell you how to use it,” she said. “I was really impressed with what there was available online [about the Ultrafeed].”

She ended up with the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1, selecting it for it’s needle-positioning capability and has been thrilled with her choice.

“It’s been great! There was a learning curve, but you just have to use it,” she said. “Thick and thin it walks over it all, I barely have to adjust it.”

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Her pride and joy, a custom faux mantel

As her business grows and evolves, Michelle still says that building is her first love. Although she doesn’t get much business for custom builds, she tries to make time to build for herself and shares her projects with her blog readers. Her favorite DIY project is a piece she designed and built herself—a faux mantle for her living room.

“I love it,” Michelle said. “It really gave a focal point to the living room.”

Her advice for current and aspiring DIYers is to “just try it.”

“Find an inexpensive piece of furniture and just try it. You have to do it to learn how to do it,” she said. “Don’t be afraid, it’s just furniture.”

Michelle still marvels at her unexpected path to success in a creative career.

“It’s funny how you keep going and you find your way with the business,” she said.

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To learn more about Michelle and see more of her beautiful furniture pieces visit her blog, Blue Roof Cabin.

2014_July-Boat-Fender

Fenders are an important piece of equipment for your boat as they keep your boat’s hull from hitting the dock, or even other boats. Protect your fender from the elements and your boat’s hull from chafing with a soft cover for your fender. Fender covers are simple to DIY and a great project for beginning sewers.

There are many different styles of fenders and today we’re going to show you how to make a cover for a center rope style fender. If your fenders have a two-eyelet shape, you can see how to make a cover for those in our Making a Boat Fender Cover video.

To cover our fender, we selected Boat Blanket fabric in a soft gray color. This fabric is a plush, durable polyester spectropile fabric. It is UV and chemical resistant, colorfast and can easily withstand a marine environment while staying soft enough to not harm the side of your boat. Boat Blanket is safe to use against gel coat and other hard coated surfaces and will protect against marring or color transfer on your hull.

In this video you will learn how to measure your fender and sew your own boat blanket fender cover.

 

Materials List:

This fender cover project was inspired by a customer, Sandra K., who sent us photos of her fender covers. We used a similar process to Sandra’s to create our cover. We love to see customer projects, thanks Sandra!

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Fender Cover by Sandra K.

All the materials needed to make your own fender covers are available at www.sailrite.com.

What did you think of this project? Have you ever made fender covers before? Share your experiences, opinions and ideas with us in the comments!

Have you ever thought of using awning track on your boat? This tough track is used to attach fabric to a hard surface and can be used to secure covers, awnings, enclosure panels and even the front of dodgers. Awning track creates a snug and secure attachment, with a sleeker look than snaps. Several of these common uses require the awning track to have a bit of a bend, and some awning tracks will accommodate that better than others. Let’s take a look at the most bendable awning track, some tricks of the trade and how to make awning track work for your boat.

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PVC awning track end (left) and with slits cut in flange (right)

The traditional and most common type of awning track features a groove for the awning rope to feed into with a flange for securing to the hard surface. This type of track is available in aluminum or PVC. The traditional style of awning track has very little give, since it was not designed to bend. You can secure it around a gradual curve by cutting slits in the flange. Using a hacksaw carefully saw slits in the flange of the awning track. If you want to bend the track away from the flange, slits are fine. To bend the track towards the flange, cut in a V-shape.

For a more versatile curving awning track, try Flex-a-Rail. This track was made specifically to bend and can curve in any direction. It will even turn a corner with a radius as small as 10 inches. If the Flex-a-Rail seems stiff at first and you need it to curve more, boil a pot of water and hold the track in the steam coming off the water. You can also use a hairdryer or other hot air blower to heat Flex-a-Rail and traditional PVC track to increase the curve. The heat will loosen up the plastic and give you more flexibility. However, once the track cools, it will harden in the shape you’ve bent it in. So be sure you have it shaped just right!

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Flex-a-Rail Track

Since the Flex-a-Rail doesn’t have a flange, it is secured to hard surfaces with special screws that install in the groove of the track but sit under the rope. To install, bend the track in place where you want it, and drill a pilot hole through the track and into the installation surface. Then use a square-headed screwdriver to drive the screws into the surface.

You can find both of these types of awning track, awning rope, and great marine fabrics at www.sailrite.com.

Do you use awning track on your boat? Are you thinking of using it? Share your experiences and opinions with us in the comments!

2014_July-Window-Cleaning

Making a full boat enclosure, dodger or other project that uses a large amount of clear vinyl requires an investment of both time and money. The best way to protect your investment is to take good care of your canvas and vinyl to ensure that they stay looking nice for years to come. Good clear vinyl care doesn’t take a lot of work. Today we’re going to share how to clean and store your vinyl goods to keep them looking shiny and new.

Be diligent about cleaning and protecting your clear vinyl, it’s easier to keep it looking nice than it is to try to reverse clouding and spots. When out in saltwater, it’s a good idea to frequently give your clear vinyl a freshwater rinse to remove salt residue. When it comes time to clean your clear vinyl, our favorite method is the triple punch of the Imar system for clear vinyl. These soaps and protectants will clean, polish and protect your windows and are not harmful to vinyls with a manufacturer’s protective coating like Strataglass or O’Sea.

Start by washing your clear vinyl thoroughly with Imar’s Yacht Soap Concentrate (this product is a bonus, because you can also use it to clean other hard surfaces on your boat) and follow up with Imar Protective Polish. We recommend fully cleaning your clear vinyl every 3-4 months. In between cleaning, about once a week, protect the polish by spraying on a protectant like Imar Protective Cleaner or 303 Aerospace Protectant. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the steps involved:

How to Clean & Protect Clear Vinyl

Clean

  1. Cool off your clear vinyl by rinsing it with fresh water before cleaning.
  2. Mix 3 oz. of Imar Yacht Soap Concentrate per 1 gallon of freshwater.
  3. Gently scrub the clear vinyl using a clean, soft cotton cloth.
  4. Spray with a hose to rinse clean and gently dry with another soft cloth.

Protect

  1. Apply Imar Protective Polish directly to a clean, soft cotton cloth and buff the clear vinyl in a circular motion.
  2. Allow the polish to dry completely.
  3. Using a new, clean cloth, buff out the polish until the clear vinyl shines.

Touch Up

  1. Lightly spray Imar Protective Cleaner on a soft cloth (a little goes a long way!).
  2. Briskly wipe into the vinyl.
  3. Use a separate, clean cloth to buff the vinyl dry.

To help keep your vinyl looking its best between cleanings, be careful to keep it away from unnecessary contaminants like sunscreen and bug spray with DEET. Also, when restoring water resistance to your surrounding canvas, be sure to keep 303 Fabric Guard off your clear vinyl.

If you need to store your clear vinyl when not in use, roll up the vinyl with a soft fabric. This extra layer will keep the vinyl from resting against itself and possibly causing abrasion.

What have you found to be the best method of care for your clear vinyl windows? Any horror stories of cleaning gone wrong? Share your options and experiences with us in the comments!

2014_June-Hammock

Hammocks are a universal symbol of casual relaxation. When you imagine laying in a hammock, it’s peaceful. Bring the calm of a hammock to your own backyard, by making one yourself. Making a hammock can be as simple or as challenging as you want it to be depending on the style you choose. Today we’re going to share with you two methods for making your own hammock from scratch with professional results!

There are countless ways to create a hammock from the very simple sling style, to knotted rope, and quilted slings. In our video, we outline how to make a simple sew hammock and a slightly more complex, quilted version. When making a fabric hammock, you want to be sure to choose a fabric that is strong enough to support human weight. We used a Sunbrella Awning Fabric, but a Sunbrella Marine Grade would also be a great choice.

Sewing the fabric sling is only one part of building the hammock–you’ll also need a way to hang and support it. In the video, we show you how to create a hammock harness. To make the harness you need to weave the support ropes, and attach them to a wooden spreader bar. Then you can hang the hammock to a metal support frame or between two trees or sturdy posts.

This video also contains a section on how to make detachable pillows for your hammock. Since the hammock we made is sized for two people, we made a double pillow that runs the full width of the hammock when attached.

 

Full Materials List:

Making a Hammock Harness (0:40 min.)

Making an Easy Sunbrella Hammock (17:36 min.)

Making a Pleated Polyester-Filled Sunbrella Hammock (24:32 min.)

Making a Hammock Pillow (42:48 min.)

Find the perfect fabric for your hammock and all the other materials you’ll need at www.sailrite.com.

Who’s ready to relax in a hammock? Thinking of making one yourself? Share your hammock memories, ideas, and sewing tips with us in the comments!

If you’re a sewer, you know that it doesn’t take long for fabric scraps to really pile up. Scraps are inevitable, but they don’t have to be a waste. There are countless small projects that you can create that are fun, functional and use up your fabric scrap collection. In our new Scrap Buster Series, we’re going to give you quick how-tos for some of those projects that will put your scraps to good use.

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For our first Scrap Buster, we recovered an old mouse pad with some decorative fabric to give it a bright new look. Most mouse pads are more functional than decorative and can look rather uninspiring. This simple DIY uses spray adhesive and scrap fabric to give you a cheery new mouse pad to use while you work away at your computer.

Recovering a Mouse Pad Materials:

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How to Recover a Mouse Pad:

1. Gather your materials and select a small piece of fabric. Try to choose a fabric from your scrap bin that doesn’t have too much texture, so the mouse will still glide easily over the pad. If your fabric piece is larger, lay it out and determine which part of the pattern you would like on your mouse pad.

2. Spray the top of your mouse pad with a spray adhesive.

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3. Glue the mouse pad to the fabric in the desired location on the underside of the fabric.

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4. Carefully turn the glued mouse pad and fabric over and smooth out the fabric from the top, making sure to remove any air bubbles.

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5. Flip the fabric and mouse pad back again so the bottom of the mouse pad is facing up.

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6. Lay the assembly on a cutting mat and using a rotary cutter, cut the fabric out from around the mouse pad. If you used a synthetic fabric, you can use a hotknife to cut the fabric, which will also prevent any unraveling. My fabric was 100% cotton, so I just tucked in any fraying edges so they stuck in the glue.

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7. Let the spray adhesive cure for the recommended amount of time (I let mine sit overnight) and enjoy your new mouse pad!

Find all the tools we used for this project (plus many more!) at www.sailrite.com.

What do you think of this project? Do you have any small Scrap Buster ideas? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments!

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