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Custom piping is a great way to give your cushion, pillow or chair a professional, finished look. It’s not hard to make, but it can be tricky to figure out how much extra fabric to order to accommodate the piping. Luckily, it’s not a complicated process (just two steps!) and we even have a chart to make things extra easy for you.

Determine the Piping Cord Length

The first step to determine how much fabric you’re going to need for custom piping is to determine how much piping you’ll need. You’ll want to know the measurement of the perimeter of your project. Then add a little extra, just to be on the safe side. This is the amount of piping cord you will order. At Sailrite, we have three sizes of piping cord to choose from: 5/32”, 6/32” or 1/4” diameters.

Determine the Fabric Amount

Once you know how many yards of piping you’ll need you can use this handy chart to determine how much extra fabric to order. This chart only displays approximations for the most common piping diameter, 5/32”. Fabric estimates would be greater for larger diameters. The chart displays how many yards of 5/32” piping 1 yard of fabric will create in both bias and straight cuts.

Cut 36″ Fabric: Bias 36″ Fabric: Straight 46″ Fabric: Bias 46″ Fabric: Straight 54″ Fabric: Bias 54″ Fabric: Straight
1-1/4″ wide 19 yards 23 yards 25 yards 31 yards 28 yards 35 yards

You can also use the Sailrite Fabric Calculator to help you plan your required fabric yardage for your next project. The Fabric Calculator will also offer suggestions for binding or piping measurements. You’ll notice that the calculations there are higher than in the chart above, but that’s because the Fabric Calculator assumes cutting 2” strips for piping.

For more tips about making your own custom piping, check out our posts on 4 Steps to Custom Piping and How to Join Piping Ends.

Find everything you need to create custom piping as well as a pre-made piping by Sunbrella, Naugahyde, and Classical Elements at Sailrite.com.

Do you make custom piping for your projects? Do you have any tips or tricks of your own for ordering the right amount of extra fabric? Share your ideas in the comments!

Clear vinyl can be a delicate and finicky material to work with. It can easily get scratched so extra care should always be taken when sewing, installing, cleaning and storing canvas that includes sheets of clear vinyl. In fact, it’s so easily scratched, DIYers often have a hard time sewing it into dodgers and enclosure panels without damaging the vinyl during fabrication. We’re going to share some quick tips for protecting your clear vinyl while you’re sewing it (plus some bonus tips for storage!).

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Tip 1: Pattern with the Backer Paper

All pressed polished sheets of clear vinyl come rolled with paper. As you unroll your vinyl, leave that sheet of paper underneath. The paper can then act as a buffer between the vinyl and the table top while you measure, pattern and cut your vinyl to size. Then, the paper can also be used to re-roll any excess vinyl for storage.

Tip 2: Cushion Clear Vinyl with Soft Fabric

This second tip is similar to the first, but turns it up a notch. Always keep a layer of a soft fabric between the clear vinyl and the table. This not only keeps the vinyl from getting scratched, but it also makes the vinyl easier to maneuver because the fabric slides on the table better than the vinyl, which can be sticky. You can even leave the fabric under the vinyl while you sew, although you will need to take care to not sew this extra fabric into your project. If you don’t have a tabletop surface to work on and are sewing on the floor, lay a flat bed sheet on the floor underneath your work area to protect the clear vinyl from the floor.

Tip 3: Pay Attention to Scratch Points

A “scratch point” is any sharp object or corner in your work area that could possibly scratch your vinyl as you work and maneuver it around. Be sure to always be aware of where potential scratch points are so they can be avoided. This is also a good practice for when you are transporting your clear vinyl projects to your boat.

Other Tips For Clear Vinyl

  • Don’t leave your clear vinyl rolled up for long periods of time. Storing it stacked with towels in between layers is best. If you must roll it for off-season storage, roll it with a soft sheet or a towel in between the layers of vinyl.
  • Be sure to keep your vinyl clean and protected. Learn more about caring for your vinyl in this How to Clean & Care for Your Clear Vinyl post.
  • When installing your clear vinyl projects on your boat, be sure that the vinyl isn’t resting directly against any of the metal support poles. If you have a spot where the vinyl is touching the metal, you can make a quick anti-scorching divider to protect the clear vinyl.

You can find clear vinyl for your next dodger, enclosure or other project at Sailrite.com.

Do you have any creative ways you’ve devised for keeping clear vinyl scratch free? Share your methods in the comments!

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A lee cloth is a great piece of equipment to keep on board your boat. During long passages or rough seas it’s often best to sleep in the center of your boat in the main cabin (or Salon). However, with the heeling of a monohull, you want to make sure that you’re snug and secure in your berth, even when you end up on the high side. This is where a lee cloth becomes your best friend. A lee cloth is a piece of fabric that acts like a safety net to keep a sailor in his or her bunk. We’re going to take a closer look at lee cloth designs and show you how to make one.

Making a lee cloth is a simple sew project, but it does require some critical thinking when it comes to attaching it to your boat. This is going to be slightly different for everyone depending on the set up of your boat and which berth your lee cloth is for. In the video, you will see that we created a webbing strap for each upper corner of our lee cloth and attached it to the woodwork in our Islander37 sailboat. Another common attachment method is to use line to secure the lee cloth to strap eyes or handrails above the berth.

For the fabric choice on this lee cloth, we chose to use a Phifertex Mesh fabric to allow airflow. In a tight bunk, it can be nice to use a fabric that breathes well for more comfortable sleeping, but really you can use any strong fabric like Cotton Duck, soft trampoline mesh, Sunbrella or polyester bag mesh.

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As an optional addition to your lee cloth you could add storage pockets to the outside to hold small electronics, glasses or other small necessities. We’ll outline a couple different pocket methods for you in the video.

In this video you will learn how to pattern, make pockets, add binding, make straps, and install your lee cloth.

Materials List:

You can find all the materials needed to make your own lee cloth at Sailrite.com.

Want to see other lee cloth designs? Brittany Meyer, the blogger behind Windtravler, made a couple lee cloths using her Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine for their part-time crew and for her and her daughters’ bunks. Check them out!

Have you made a lee cloth before? Do you have any tips on attachment methods or design? Share them in our comments!

2015_April_outdoor-drapes

You’re sewing along, working hard on your latest creation. You get to the end of a seam or hem and pull your fabric out of the sewing machine for a test fit, only to discover that your perfectly cut fabric is now a little too short. This is a frustrating experience, but it’s also a common one if you’re sewing large fabric panels. To help be better prepared for fabric shrinking, we’re going to take a look at what causes this phenomenon and what you can do to prevent it (or at least not let it ruin your day).

Uneven Fabric Feeding

There are a couple common culprits that cause fabric shrink. The first, and most common, reason is that the top and bottom layers of the fabric you’re sewing aren’t being evenly fed through the machine. Using a walking foot machine like the Sailrite Ultrafeed can help with this because it helps pull the fabric through the machine evenly. However, if you’re not used to sewing on a walking foot machine, you may be pushing or pulling the fabric too much. We see this happen a lot where the bottom layer is being held back while the top layer is being pushed through. A good way to keep your feeding more even is to pin or baste your fabric panels together prior to sewing.

Too Tight Stitching

The second culprit is actually inherent to your fabric itself. If a fabric has a really tight weave and you are sewing it with small, frequent stitches, this can cause the fabric to pucker ever so slightly with each stitch because the fibers don’t have much stretch. This problem is especially frustrating because in a really tightly woven fabric like Sunbrella Marine Grade the puckering will be so slight, you probably won’t notice until you are done sewing the seam.

So how to fix these annoying little puckers? There are a few different things you can try (or try a combination of several) to prevent puckering. Try reducing the upper tension so it’s as low as possible to still form good stitches and/or using a smaller sized needle or lighter thread. Also, switch your stitch length to the longest available. Longer stitches will pull on the fabric less and mitigate the need for it to pucker.

Another great way to not be caught short by fabric shrinking is to account for it before you even begin sewing by adding extra fabric to your length and width when patterning. This is a good practice for large projects like tarps and boat covers. Remember, you can always cut off or hem in extra fabric. In fact, a great tip for seeing if you need to hem up extra fabric is to hem adjacent sides first, like in the picture below. Then you can decide if you’ll need to sew up or trim off any extra fabric in the length or the width.

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Are you in need of new notions? Sailrite has a great selection of notions including needles, thread, and other helpful tools to make your sewing easier.

Have you found a tried and true method for accommodating fabric shrink? Or have any fabric shrinking horror stories? Share your experiences in the comments!

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In many states in the US and in every province in Canada, boaters are required to take safety classes and be certified before heading out onto the water. Boater education has been proven to save lives and reduce accidents on the water. If you are new to boating or have a friend who is, we’ve found a great, easy way to take a boater safety course to be certified.

Boat-ed.com provides online boater safety and licensing courses for more than 40 states and Canada. All of their classes and educational materials are approved by the state, the US Coast Guard and Transport Canada. You can take your course completely online and you have unlimited attempts to pass the exams. To learn more about Boat-ed courses and the safety requirements in your state, visit www.boat-ed.com.

Interested in safety projects for your sailboat? You can learn more about Series Drogues, a storm anchor, in our post Series Drogues: The Sailor’s Airbag. Learn how to make a Sunbrella Cover for your Lifesling, another important piece of safety equipment, in our How to Make a Lifesling Cover post.

What steps do you take to be safe on the water? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

2015_April_Rope-Coaster-1

Are you a stickler for coasters? Coasters are great for protecting furniture from watermarks and they can also be a small, fun way to accent your décor. For our Outdoor Dining Area Makeover we made these simple rope coasters to be a little nod to our love of all things nautical.

These coasters can be used indoors and out and are a great project for DIYers of all skill levels. We used manila rope for our coasters to give them a more rustic style, but you can use other types of rope too for different looks.

To re-create these coasters for your home or boat you only need a few materials and five to ten minutes! Let’s take a look at how it’s done.

Materials List:

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How to Make Rope Coasters

1. Place a bead of hot glue in the center of your lid and glue one end of the rope in place.

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2. Curl the rope tightly around itself and spiral it out away from the center, hot gluing as you go.

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3. When you reach the edge of the lid, cut your rope and hot glue the ends to the side of the rope adjacent to it. This will keep the rope from fraying.

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Think you’d like to try your hand at rope coasters? Find a large selection of rope for crafts and your boat at Sailrite.com.

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This project wraps up our Outdoor Dining Area Makeover Series. What did you think of the series? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

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Add a splash of color to your outdoor dining table with a DIY table runner. We made this lively, two-tone runner as part of our Outdoor Dining Area Makeover to make our table extra special. For this project, since we knew the runner would primarily be outside, we added weights to the ends to help keep the runner in place, even on a breezy day. We also made our runner from cleanable, outdoor-friendly Sunbrella fabric.

Today we’re going to break down the steps so you can make a runner for your patio’s dining table. The steps are the same for making a runner for inside your home, too. Let’s take a look at how it’s done!

Table Runner Materials:

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How to Make an Outdoor Table Runner

1. Measure your table and determine the desired length and width of your runner.

2. Mark your patterned fabric to your desired length and the width to your desired finished width + 1 inch. Pattern the solid fabric to the same length and a width of the finished width + 3 inches. Cut out your panels.

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3. With the right sides facing, lay your fabric panels so that one long edge of the patterned fabric is flush with one long edge of the solid fabric. Sew a row of straight stitches down the side, about 1/2” away from the raw edge.

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4. Line up the opposite long edges of the fabric panels so they are flush and sew a row of stitches down that side as well.

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5. Turn the assembly right side out. Lay out the assembly so that the patterned fabric panel is centered with a solid border on either side.

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6. Carefully topstitch where the solid border meets the patterned fabric along both long sides of the runner.

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7. Create a 1/2” hem at each short end of the runner.

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8. Fold in the corners of the short ends to create a triangle. Sew a row of stitches across the bottom of the triangle to secure.

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9. Hand sew a drapery weight into the tip of each triangle.

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10. Enjoy your new table runner!

All of the materials needed to make this outdoor table runner can be found at Sailrite.com.

If you want to start with a more simple table runner design, check out our Simple Table Runner Tutorial.

Would you put a table runner on your outdoor table? What do you think of weighing it down? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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