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Get Back to Work!

Monday September 30, 2013

sewing cockpit shades 1

Have I mentioned that I can be a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to projects? Usually waiting until I have at least only 60% of the time necessary to complete the project before starting? This is especially true of anything to do with sewing since my sewing machine and I have never been on good terms and most of the time I like to forget that it exists.

Now that we’re back at Serendipity though, after six weeks of backpacking through South America (ok, so 10 of those days were spent in a comfy bed at Matt’s mom’s house in Michigan), we realized that we have about one month left of easy shore and electrical outlet access left, and it’s time to get our butt in gear on remaining projects. Matt has a whole lot of sanding ahead of him so he can finish varnishing the interior of Serendipity, but with the palm sander that was lent to us back in the hands of it’s owner for their own use, he has to put that project off until we can buy our own at a little hardware store in town. Something that we go in every day and ask for, only to keep getting the same response of “Mañana”. So now he’s focused his energy back on the project of reconfiguring our dining room table so that it will sit more compact with the mast and give a little more room in the salon (yes, that will be shown as well once it is completed)/

He’s busy with that, which means I have to get my own projects done too. All of which are sewing related. Excuse me one moment while I curse under my breath (son of a &%$, stupid sewing machine, I hate that piece of $**&). Ahem. Ok, I’m back.

My project is something I have been putting off for pretty close to one year now. Last October when we were in Washington D.C., we had a roll of perforated Sunbrella fabric shipped to us so that I could make shades for the cockpit. It didn’t take long for us traveling to realize that early in the morning or later in the afternoon the sun would no longer be hidden by the bimini, and would come glaring in at us in the cockpit. During travel days the extra heat could be a killer, and at anchor it could be annoying to try and cuddle up with a book (or a laptop) without going blind. Something had to be done.

So now, 11 months and two weeks later, I am finally pulling that fabric out of the aft cabin to turn it into what it was purchased for. The whole thing (pat myself on the back) actually turned out much simpler than I had originally anticipated. Part of it may have been because there was a large floor for me to spread my fabric on to measure, and a table that was not rocking back and forth while I fed the fabric through the sewing machine, but within two days I had it completed, and pretty nicely if I do say so myself.

The first step was to take the measurements. We only had enough fabric to hang down from the top of the bimini to the lifelines, so I needed to find the length and width in which I would be measuring and cutting the fabric into. Since there is a slight arch to our bimini, mostly by the stern, but a little bit on the sides, this took a little extra step. I had to run a piece of string that was level from one side to the other. From there I measured down to the lifelines to get a general rectangle measurement. To add the arch to the top, I measured from the bimini down to the piece of string every six inches, all the way across. When I was finished, (after three double checks, I was not going to get this wrong) my measurements looked something like this: 83” wide, 18” long; 6” in: add 2”; 12” in: add 3.5”; 18” in: add 4”; and so on.

Once I had my triple checked measurements down on paper (and good thing I did it three times, there was a little bit of variation each time) I took the median number and used that. Rolling my fabric onto the floor of the ranchito, I then pulled out my white marking pencil and got busy making an outline of my measurements. First was the general rectangle. Then for the arch, I placed a line where each 6” measurement was taken. To then transfer a nice arch to the fabric, instead of having jagged straight lines from one mark to the other, Matt helped me as we took one of our fishing rods and bent the pole to cross over each mark, which I then followed with my pencil, fully outlining where I needed to cut.

Had I needed to make seams to finish the edges, I would have then measured 1/2” out from those lines, making dashes every few inches that would have been my cutting line. I didn’t need to worry about finished edges though, so I just cut along the lines I had drawn.

Then came the time consuming part of the project. I didn’t need to finish the edges, because I was using piping around them. Pulling the piping out of it’s bag, I measured each side, and then cut the piping and pinned it to the fabric. Just to break up the days a little bit and make them more interesting, I alternated by sewing one of the (port, starboard, stern) sides each time I finished pinning it. I was worried that my little Brother sewing machine wouldn’t be up to the job of sewing through semi-thick piping, but she handled it just fine. There was barely any cursing on my part. I did find out that I have an issue with the tension in my bobbin, but after doing a little research, I think I have to take it in to have that fixed.

Two days of work and not much trouble later, I finished my project. I handed the sheets of fabric over to Matt so that he could add the grommets, and now they are hanging from our bimini, giving us some extra added privacy in the marina. Are they perfect? No, not really.  There’s little spots here and there where the stitching isn’t perfect and the grommets were added in the ideal location, so a little extra string needs to hold them up.  Do they work? So far, so good. Once we get some snaps on our hands I’ll have to make a few pieces of fabric for each side so that we can roll them up and snap them in place when they’re not in use, but for now we can just use strings to tie them up, or take them down. Whew, there’s one thing off my plate. And I have to say, I’m actually quite proud of myself.

sewing cockpit shades 2

sewing cockpit shades 3

sewing cockpit shades 4

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curtain tied