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What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

At Sailrite, we want to help equip DIYers for any sewing project you want to take on. If you’re interested in learning how to upholster, we have great videos that will walk you through the process of upholstering a variety of furniture pieces step-by-step so you can learn as you go. Before you start your first upholstery project, we recommend stocking up on a few useful tools that will make your job much easier.

There are a lot of specialized upholstery tools that you can invest in later if you want to continue upholstering, but for beginners we recommend a kit of mostly basic sewing supplies with a few specialized tools. We worked with our staff upholstery experts to create this list to help you get started. So here are our top 8 beginner upholstery tools, in no particular order.

8 Beginner Upholstery Tools

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

  1. Sewing Machine: Although upholstery is a lot of pulling and stapling, there is often sewing involved as well. Sew up your own custom piping, new covers for seat cushions and more with a good heavy-duty sewing machine. Upholstery fabric assemblies can get pretty thick and the Ultrafeed® will walk over them all without issue. Ultrafeed Sewing Machines also all feature a built-in welting tunnel in the standard foot, so you can sew 1/4” piping without changing the foot.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

2. Pneumatic Staple Gun: An upholstery must-have is a good stapler. Save your hand the workout and use a pneumatic stapler like the Sailrite® Long and Short Nose Upholstery Staple Guns. This stapler is lightweight, easy to use, and reasonably priced. It comes in two different models, a long nosed and a short nosed version and both work great for upholstery projects. You will need an air compressor, hose and fittings to operate this staple gun as well. Those fittings can be purchased at your local hardware store.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

3. Rawhide Upholstery Mallet: This lightweight mallet is great for hammering tack strips into place. It offers the force needed but also has a soft striking face so it won’t damage your fabric.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

4. Tack & Staple Remover: This tool is great for beginners because it pulls double duty. Use the end of the tool to pry up and remove staples. Then use the side teeth to pry up and remove tack strips. This tool works best when used in conjunction with pliers. Together you can easily pull staples to remove the old fabric from a piece.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

5. Soft Tape Measure: Having a soft tape measure is helpful because it allows you to take accurate measurements around the contours of cushions, armrests and more.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

6. Curved & Extra Long Needles: The curved needles are used to sew the decking to the chair, slip stitching cushions, and stitching springs to webbing or burlap. The long needles are used to add buttons for tufting and attaching springs to bottom webbing.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

7. Straight pins: Straight pins are so helpful for sewing projects. Use these pins to hold your sewing together or to mark fabric when pattern matching.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

8. Fabric Scissors A great pair of scissors is essential to any fabric project and upholstery is no different. It can also be helpful to have a rotary cutter, cutting mat and acrylic ruler around as well, especially for making bias piping.

In addition to those tools, you’ll need other materials that can be purchased on a project-by-project basis like fabric and trims. However there are a few materials that get used in most projects that we think would be worth keeping around your workshop.

  • To see what other products you need to start upholstering, visit Sailrite.com and search the blog (#300142XHT).

Armed with all the right tools and materials you can take on any upholstery project! Ready to get started upholstering? If you want to order all of the materials listed above, check out our easy-to-order Upholstery Tool Kit. You can find all these tools along with thousands of home décor fabrics at Sailrite.com.

Upholsterers, what did you think of this list? What tools would you add or subtract? Share your ideas in the comments.

How to Repair a Rip in Clear Vinyl

We all know that rips and tears happen, but when they happen to the clear vinyl in your dodger or enclosure it’s a real bummer. Rips and tears often occur when something sharp or heavy hits the vinyl or falls on it. Don’t worry; it’s a common and fixable problem. We’re going to share with you two different methods for fixing your rip or tear, patching it and replacing the vinyl, so your clear vinyl will be good as new in no time.

Patching Clear Vinyl

The quickest and cheapest way to fix a rip or tear in your clear vinyl is to patch it. Ultimately, we prefer to replace the window but if you need a quick fix or just to make do until a bigger renovation a patch is a great option.

To patch the window, use Tear Aid Type B. These adhesive-backed patches can be used to repair holes and tears in any vinyl or vinyl-coated application so they’re great to have around your boat. Tear Aid patches are durable, flexible and puncture resistant to protect against abrasion, moisture, saltwater, UV rays and extreme temperatures. The patches are clear, but they won’t disappear completely on your clear vinyl.

How to Repair a Rip in Clear Vinyl

How to Apply Tear Aid

  1. Cut the patch so that it is one inch bigger than the rip or tear on all sides.
  2. Then carefully peel back the paper liner and start to position the Tear Aid over the rip on the fabric.
  3. Slowly peel back the liner while carefully applying the patch, taking care to work out any air bubbles.
  4. Rub all the edges to seal the patch in place. If you can, we recommend patching both sides of the rip.
  5. Tear Aid Type B will need 24 hours to fully cure.

Getting the patch on without air bubbles can be tricky, so be sure to take your time. It helps to use a straight edge like the side of a credit card to smooth the patch down. If you do end up with air bubbles, you can carefully pop them with a pin and work them out flatter with your fingers.

Replacing Clear Vinyl

The only true way to fix the rip is to replace the window entirely. This can easily be done without having to completely dismantle your canvas work, too. Here we have a video that demonstrates the process of replacing the glass on a dodger window. You can use this same process on clear vinyl that has become wavy, creased or brittle as well.

How to Replace a Clear Vinyl Window

  1. If needed, rip the stitches so the window will lay flat.
  2. Cut a new piece of window material that will fit the window, using the current window as a pattern.
  3. Baste the new window to the old on the inside of the piece.
  4. Sew the new window material in place.
  5. Flip the piece over and carefully cut out the old window.
  6. If you ripped seams in Step 1, carefully sew that area back together

That’s all there is to it! You can find all the supplies you need at Sailrite.com.

Have you ever ripped your clear vinyl? How did you fix it? Share your experiences in the comments.

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Before you sit down to sew up new shades, curtains or drapes for your home you need to pick the right fabric. There is a lot to consider when selecting a fabric for window treatments. You want to think about the style of curtain, the décor of the room, and the function of the window treatment. Since the color, pattern and style of your fabric is a personal choice, we’re going to focus on the more objective side of selecting fabric—the function of the window treatment. We hope this guide will help you think through the selection process and feel confident in your decision.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the considerations you’ll want to think through when selecting curtain fabric.

Natural Light: In or Out?

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Lightweight sheer fabric: Softline Penrose Burnout Champagne/White

One of the first considerations for curtain fabric should be the amount of light the room gets and do you want to let the light in or block it out? If you want to block out light, try a heavy fabric with a tight weave or a blackout curtain fabric. You can even back a lighter fabric with a blackout fabric if light blocking is your top priority. If you enjoy natural light in your room and want to filter it, try an open weave or a sheer fabric. Fabrics with metallic elements are also great for bouncing the light around a room.

Keep Out the Cold

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Softline Suite Silver Blackout Drapery Fabric

It’s also common to want your window treatments to provide some insulation against the cold. A heavier weight fabric with a tighter weave will be better at keeping the cold out than a sheer or open weave fabric. Blackout fabrics often features insulating properties as well. You can up the insulation factor of any fabric by adding an interlining fabric to the back of the curtains. The interlining will also protect the fabric from UV rays of the sun and add more body. 

UV Rays and Colorfastness

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

For great UV resistance try Sunbrella Sheer Mist Snow fabric

The sun’s rays can be really harsh on fabric. You don’t generally think about interior fabrics needing to be UV resistant, but curtains can see a lot of sunlight streaming through the windows. That’s why we recommend thinking about the colorfastness of the fabric you choose for curtains.

This isn’t an issue in every window, so you’ll want to think about your home, which direction the windows face and how much natural light they let in, and decide if this is a concern for you. In general, south-facing windows will see the most sunlight during the day.

If UV exposure is a concern, look for curtain fabrics with UV protective qualities. Solution-dyed and vat dyed fabrics will be the most colorfast and printed fabrics the least. However, you can always add a drapery lining to the back of the fabric to protect the decorative fabric itself from UV rays. Curtain lining is also great for making fabrics a little more opaque and for adding more body for fuller looking drapes.

Fabric Width & Repeat

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Large-scale pattern Jennifer Adams Home Henley Henna Red

Especially when on a budget, it’s important to consider how many yards of a given fabric your curtain project will require. Fabrics with a thinner width or large repeats could mean you’ll need to do more seaming in drapery panels and order extra fabric to pattern match.

Typically, you want to use the length of the fabric as the length of the curtain so you might need to seam two or more panels together to get the appropriate width for your window. If your fabric has a pattern, note the pattern repeat. For the best looking shades you’ll want the patterns to match at the seam point, and a large pattern repeat can mean you’ll need to order extra fabric to get a good pattern match.


Now that you have a good idea of the functionality you want out of your window treatments you can focus on the design! Browse through thousands of great home décor fabric options at Sailrite.com.

What are your main concerns when deciding on window treatments? Share your experiences in the comments!

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag

Don’t show up empty-handed to your New Years Eve parties this year! Grab a bottle of wine or champagne as a host/hostess gift and toss it in one of these easy-to-sew fabric gift bags. These gift bags can be made from fabric scraps left over from other projects and will add a festive flair to your bottle. We’ll show you step-by-step how to make these gift bags for yourself.

We used fabric that was leftover from other projects to make our gift bag. You could really have a lot of fun mixing and matching the fabrics and the ribbons for different personalities and seasons. This project is a great way to impress your friends and doesn’t take anymore time than going to the store and buying a gift bag!

Wine Bottle Gift Bag Materials:

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag

  • 33” x 8” fabric
  • Ribbon
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter, cutting mat, acrylic ruler

How to Make Wine Bottle Gift Bags

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Cut your fabric so it measures 33” x 8”. I used a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and cutting mat to make sure my cuts were straight and square.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Fold over a small single hem on each short side of your fabric. Pin the hem in place.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Take your fabric to your sewing machine and sew a straight stitch down each hem to secure it in place.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Fold your fabric piece in half so that the hemmed edges are together and the right sides of the fabric are facing.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Sew down each long side of the fabric.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Turn your bag outside right, making sure to poke out the corners.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Place your bottle of wine or champagne in the bag.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Then tie a decorative bow around the neck of the bottle to secure the bag. Fluff the top fabric so it looks nice. Now it’s ready to gift!


You can find great fabrics for this and other projects at Sailrite.com. Search (#300014XHT) for the full blog.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year!

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As the year comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to thank all our loyal customers. We’ve loved hearing from you and seeing the projects you’ve created—you all never cease to inspire us! Thank you for letting us be a part of your creative process. We can’t wait to share more DIY projects and tips with you in the coming year.

From all of us, to you and yours,
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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2015_December-Needle-Differences-2

We recently added a new needle system for our Sailrite® Professional Sewing Machine series. The UY 128 GAS is a needle system that features an extra long scarf. Let’s take a closer look at what this means and how it can improve your sewing.

UY 128 GAS is the needle system for this new set of needles. The needle system refers to which needles fit in which sewing machines. The needle system is determined by the diameter of the needle’s shank and the needle’s length from the very top of the needle to the top of the eye. On the UY 128 GAS needles, as with most needles for industrial sewing machines, the shank is completely round. In this case, what sets the UY 128 GAS needles apart from other systems is their long scarf.

The scarf is the indentation above the needle’s eye that allows the thread to be grabbed by the shuttle hook under the throat plate to create a stitch. Longer scarves can help to eliminate skipped stitches. The Professional Sewing Machines have a very wide zigzag stitch and this can be problematic with some smaller scarfed needles. The taller scarf increases the tolerance on the right side of the stitch for the hook to catch the thread loop properly. It also reduces possible interference between the needle’s body and the hook or thread when the stitch width is at it’s widest.

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All of the UY 128 GAS needles stocked by Sailrite are general purpose, round point needles so they will work well for a wide variety of sewing projects.

We’re excited about the ease of use with these needles and the wide zigzag stitches the Professional machines will easily produce when these needles are used. Sailrite is now recommending the UY 128 GAS needles as the standard needle system for all Sailrite Professional Sewing Machines.

Try these needles out for yourself. See our full selection of sizes at Sailrite.com.

 

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Add a new festive piece to your holiday décor with this scrap fabric Christmas tree art. This project costs next to nothing to make if you already have Christmas-colored fabrics in your stash. It’s also a great, simple craft to do with your kids or grandkids and one that will turn into a holiday keepsake for years to come.

There are many ways to customize this project and different ways to assemble it, so you can choose to make your tree however you like. Different fabrics, for example, will make each tree look really unique. We used a white poster board as our base and attached the fabric with hot glue, but you could use other fabric glue, or Mod Podge. Instead of the poster board, you could also use a canvas. Then you can choose whether to frame it or not!

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art Materials

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

  • Poster Board
  • Scrap Fabrics in Assorted Christmas Colors (I used 7 different fabrics)
  • Glue
  • Scissors

How to Make Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Cut your scrap fabric into a variety of small strips about 1/2” wide and 1” long. The strips don’t need to be exact sizes or the same size as each other. You just want a variety of small pieces in a variety of colors.

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Draw a triangle on your poster board to be the outline of your tree.

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Cut a small square of fabric for the tree stump. I used a mostly brown section of a plaid fabric I had on hand. Glue the stump in place at the base of the tree first.

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Start gluing your fabric pieces in place along the bottom of your tree.

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

Continue gluing fabric strips as you see fit, following the shape of the triangle.

Scrap Fabric Christmas Tree Art

When you reach the top of the tree you can add a little topper embellishment if you like. I added a circle of a silver fabric. Then you’re ready to frame your tree and add it to your holiday décor.


Find a great selection of festive fabrics for your holiday decorating at Sailrite.com.

What did you think of this project? Will you make your own? Let us know in the comments!

We’ve discussed before the various considerations that go into selecting the best fabric for cockpit cushions. Today we’re going to take that conversation a step further by looking at how the decision making process for your cockpit cushion fabric compares to choosing a fabric for your cabin. Each area of your boat has its own unique challenges and concerns and we’re going to break down what to look for in a fabric for your cockpit and cabin cushions.

In the Cockpit

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

The cockpit is exposed to much more moisture and sunlight than your cabin cushions so creating cushions with good longevity in the elements is the main goal of selecting a cockpit cushion fabric. Look for a fabric with excellent UV resistance and good water resistance. The exact level of water resistance in a fabric can vary based on what foam you intend to use with it. For example, closed cell foam can be covered in any fabric, because the foam itself is waterproof, but Dry Fast foam is designed to let water run through it, so covering it in a waterproof vinyl isn’t the norm.

For cockpit cushions we recommend using a marine vinyl like Morbern® Seabrook or Naugahyde® All American; a weatherproof woven synthetic like the acrylic Sunbrella® Marine Grade fabric; or a sturdy vinyl mesh like Phifertex® Plus.

In the Cabin

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

Since your cabin is more protected from the elements than your cockpit, moisture and sunlight are lesser concerns for cabin cushions. The two main things to think about when selecting your cabin cushions are preventing mildew and feeling comfortable. To keep mildew at bay, avoid natural fibers like cotton or any cotton blends. Choose a synthetic material instead like acrylic, olefin or polyester. These fibers won’t allow mildew to grow. Also, you won’t need a waterproof fabric in your cabin, but depending on how you use your boat, you may want a water resistant fabric, if your cushions get wet from time to time.

Comfort is definitely the second biggest factor for cabin cushions. If your boat is your home or home away from home, you’ll want to feel relaxed and cozy aboard. For many, this means cushions with a softer feel than can be found on traditional marine grade materials. Breathable woven fabrics or engineered faux leathers are popular for boat interiors. Examples of these fabrics include: Sunbrella® , Geobella® and Ultraleather®. You can also use a home décor if it’s made from synthetic materials and has a high double rub rating (we recommend over 50,000 double rubs).

These guidelines still offer a lot of room for personal style and preferences, and hopefully they will free you up to choose fabrics that you love and that function perfectly for the spaces they live in.


If you’re ready to start making new cockpit or salon cushions, be sure to watch our how-to videos on each of those projects to get you started. You’ll also find all the fabrics and how-to blogs discussed here at Sailrite.com.

What do you look for in cockpit or cabin cushion fabrics? Share your opinions in the comments!

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

If you’re looking for a quick, fun craft project to do this holiday season we’ve got you covered with three adorable (and easy!) DIY Christmas ornaments. We’re sharing complete tutorials for all three of these ornament designs. Among these ornaments you’ll find ways to use scrap fabrics, give old ornaments a makeover and how to add that nautical look to your ornament collection. Let’s get started!

Fabric-Wrapped Ornament

3 Easy DIY Ornaments
This project is a great way to give an old ornament ball and brand new look. All you’ll need to complete this project is some fabric from your stash, we used a P/Kaufmann fabric, an old ball ornament, a rubber band and a bit of ribbon.

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

1. Draw a circle on your fabric. It should be big enough to wrap around your ornament with some extra fabric at the top. For my average sized ornament I cut a circle with a 12” diameter. The Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler is a handy tool for this.

2. Cut out your circle with pinking shears.

3. Set the ornament in the center of the circle and gather the fabric around it. Pleat the fabric so it lies nicely.

4. Secure the fabric with a rubber band.

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

5. Tuck a length of ribbon underneath the rubber band and tie to the two ends in a knot. This will be the hanger for the ornament.

6. Wrap a second length of ribbon around the ornament, hiding the rubber band and the knot. Tie in a bow.

7. Now it’s ready to display!

Rope Ornament

3 Easy DIY Ornaments
Bring your love of the water to your holiday decorations with this next ornament. This no-sew project is quick to make and adds a unique texture to any Christmas tree. For this project you’ll need a shatter-proof ornament, manila rope, and a hot glue gun.

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

1. Place a bead of hot glue on the top of the ornament, at the base of the hanger hook. Press one end of the rope onto the glue. Slowly begin working the rope around the ornament, adding glue as you go.

2. When you reach the bottom of the ornament place a large bead of hot glue and trim the rope to size. Press the rope’s end into the glue and hold in place. Add a bit of extra hot glue if necessary to keep all the rope’s strands together.

Fabric Poinsettia

3 Easy DIY Ornaments
Create a cute poinsettia flower using fabric scraps and hot glue. This no-sew ornament could be a great project to do with kids or grandkids. For this project you’ll need two fabrics in contrasting colors (we used Sunbrella® fabric), twine or string, and a hot glue gun.

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

1. In your petal fabric, cut out 6 long petal shapes. They don’t have to be identical, but you can make a template if that’s easier. I just free cut the shapes.

2. Place a bead of hot glue in the center of one petal and pinch the center widthwise. Do this for all 6 petals.

3. Place a bead of hot glue on the center of the petals again and fold in half lengthwise this time. Repeat this process on all 6 petals.

4. Start assembling your flower by gluing the petal pairs together at the base. Keep gluing petals together until you have a full circle.

3 Easy DIY Ornaments

5. Cut a length of string or twine. Then use hot glue to glue the string to the back of the flower.

6. Cut out two small circles from a fabric of a contrasting color (I used green).

7. Glue the fabric circles to the center of the flower both on the front and back sides.


Now you’ll have three brand new ornaments to display!

Find great fabrics for holiday projects and beyond at Sailrite.com.

How to Repair Torn Batten Pockets

Rip in a beach cat sail

It’s not uncommon for sail battens to rip through their pockets and sometimes they even go shooting off into the water. As distressing as this might be to witness, it’s a pretty straightforward fix to make. Today, as a part of our Sail Repair Series, we’re going to show you how to fix your sail when a batten pocket rips including demonstrations of how to install three different types of batten pockets.

The first step to repairing your batten pocket is to inspect the rip and see which part of the sail is torn. If only the pocket is ripped, you’ll want to remove the pocket and replace it with a new one. If the sail itself ripped you’ll need to remove the pocket, patch the rip on the sail, and then install a brand new pocket. If your batten has elastic in one end and the elastic has gone bad, it is possible to remove only that end of the pocket, install new elastic, and then add a new pocket portion that connects with the original.

When it’s time to create your new batten pocket, you’ll want to take a close look at the other intact pockets on your sail. There isn’t a set standard for how to make batten pockets, so you’ll want to model your new pocket after the others.

How to Repair Torn Batten Pockets

Example of a patch at the elastic end of a batten pocket

Common types of batten pockets include: triangular batten pockets, which are wider at one end to keep the batten more secure inside; standard batten pockets, which features a straight shape and an elastic strap in one end; and sewn-in batten pockets, which have the batten stitched to the sail at one end.

For this repair you’ll need:

  • Patch Fabric— Dacron® Sail Cloth
  • Basting tape
  • Outdoor fabric
  • Scissors
  • Zigzag sewing machine
  • Elastic (if your batten pocket utilizes it)

In this video you will see how to patch the hole in the sail and how to repair a permanently sewn in batten pocket. Visit Sailrite.com to learn more about sail repair.

Have you ever had to do a repair on a batten pocket? Share your experiences and techniques in the comments.

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