Paul Seeberg: Sewing the Ultimate Project

2004 was a big year for Paul Seeberg. It was the year that he and his wife, Millie, bought a MacGregor26 sailboat and started sailing with the North East Trailer Sailor’s Club. It was also the year that Paul began sewing for his boat. Ten years later, Paul is still hard at work on boat projects and sharing his passion for sailing and sewing with others.


Paul aboard his Olson38 s/v Mildred Rose

Paul’s sewing projects began humbly when his wife wanted some curtains for the cabin of their boat. Paul had some basic sewing skills he had learned in 8th grade home economics class and he figured he could sew curtains. Along the way, he had some difficulty with the project and called Sailrite, where he got some helpful advice for his project.

On completing his curtain project, Paul figured that sewing for the boat was something he could do more of, so he bought a Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine and started working. He started sewing sheet bags for himself and then for other members of the yacht club.


Red Sunbrella Lifesling Cover

In 2009 Paul bought a bigger boat, a 1968 Olson 38, Mildred Rose, and got to work creating new canvas covers for her.

“Following [Sailrite] videos, I made a hatch cover, curtains, pillows, a really nice binnacle cover, and a lifesling cover,” Paul said. “We’re the only boat in the harbor with a red Sunbrella lifesling!”

Some canvas projects he made mostly for the fun of sewing, not because they are a necessity on his boat.

“Some times I make things just for fun, like the hatch cover. But it made a big difference keeping the cabin cooler,” he said.


Two of Paul’s Projects: Binnacle Cover & Hatch Cover

After getting all of those projects under his belt, Paul felt ready for a bigger challenge. He needed a new dodger. He had the project quoted by a few canvas shops, but they were asking too much money. Paul knew that after all the projects he had done so far he could make his own dodger for less.

Paul watched Sailrite’s How to Make Your Own Dodger DVD 10-20 times before even started the project, wanting to make sure that he understood every detail.

For large-scale projects like this, Paul believes it’s important to learn everything you can about the project before starting.

“You need to be able to see things in 3 dimensions in your mind. I don’t sew one stitch until I’ve thought through the project beginning to end,” he said.

Paul’s dodger design would test all of his sewing skills. He was going to have to sew zippers, install fasteners, and even make a roll up window.

When Paul started sewing, the dodger project brought on the challenges. The scale of the dodger made it difficult to maneuver and all the material proved tricky to roll up under the arm of the Ultrafeed.

“Making something that’s 10-12 feet long in your basement is difficult,” he said. “It grows quite big.”


The finished dodger installed on s/v Mildred Rose

Paul credits the video with helping him accomplish such a large-scale DIY project.

“The tips I learned in the video were invaluable. There’s no way I could have made it without it,” he said.

All of Paul’s hard work paid off and his dodger looks great. It’s now the project that he is the most proud of.

“The dodger is the most accurate. It’s done the best,” Paul said. “Because of the sheer scale of the project I’d have to say it’s the one I’m most proud of…it was harder than I thought.”

As with a lot of DIY projects, Paul would do somethings differently on his dodger, but it has been met with rave reviews from his friends and fellow sailors.

“People who go on the boat can’t believe that I made it,” Paul said. “I can see all the flaws, but someone casually looking at it thinks it’s beautiful.”

Paul’s advice to fellow DIY-ers is to know your skill level, to not be afraid of a sewing machine and to be confident.

“Just have confidence. If you don’t have confidence, then forget about it.”


Paul’s dodger and “flying awning.” He made the awning himself and modeled it off other awnings he had seen around the harbor.

Paul feels like he’s had a lot of help becoming a sailor and DIYer and he likes to share the knowledge that’s been shared with him. One way he does this is by teaching seminars at the Boston Boat Show each spring. His current seminar is about transitioning from a small boat to a larger one, but he hopes to teach a sewing class in the future.

“Sewing is not as scary as people think it is. I think a lot of people have the skill set. I want to show them what a Sailrite machine can do,” he said.

For himself, Paul has a list of projects he’s waiting to try next like a sail cover, cockpit cushions and a main sheet bag.

  1. steve said:

    So, where is the DIY for Life Sling covers?

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Steve,

      We currently don’t have a DIY video on life sling covers, but it’s been a frequently requested topic, so it’s definitely on our list!

      • Stephen said:

        Just responding to Paul Seeberg and the Ultimate Project. Really like that particular one. Please advise when available. signed \\ Hopeful in San Francisco

        Steve Douglass s/v My Tahoe Too! Catalina Capri 25 #34 s/v Renaissance of Tahoe Vista, Islander 36 #234


  2. The lifesling was pretty easy. I literally just took the original lifesling cover and used it as a pattern. I measured it and copied it, inch for inch. In fact, the original cover is inside the red one! some more pictures are on my website (not very up to date with all my projects, but the lifesling cover and a few othe projects are in there).

  3. scott said:

    Paul very nice sewing!

  4. Ricardo Rivera said:

    Great story! I watched the sailrite video for making a cover for a power boat and decided to make one for my friends fishing boat. I used the seam tape to hold the canvas together while I sewed the panels together. After the blanket was made I put it over the entire boat centering it so I could mark it. That was probably the hardest part of my project until I re watched the video and saw how to make the cut for the ladder. I dont have a ladder but my out board motor was in the way until I cut the area where the motor was which made everything easier from that part of the project.
    Darting where I needed to tighten up the canvas to fit went well with no problems just like the video.
    Since the boat I am making the cover for is somewhat different by design than in the video I was still able to use the techniques in the video to make this cover.
    I highly recommend watching videos sailrite has available for DIY people like myself.
    The estimate I got to have this made by a canvas shop was $875.00…. I found 22 yards of marine grade sunbrella on craigslist being sold for $10. 00 a yard by someone who decided he didnt want to use it. He gave me the thread. I think the cost is slightly at $256.00 which was for other things I needed
    I.e. pizza and soda pull cord and 2 tent poles.
    Thank you to sail rite. This is my 5th sailrite project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: