2019 Boat Project #1 Salon Settee Upholstery

Practicing French seams while we wait for our new engine to ship…

When we bought our sailboat, we knew the upholstery was a little faded, but we liked the fabric and the salon settee was quite comfortable. We had an elderly kitty, were on a budget, and weren’t too fussy. Flash forward three and half years: Once we discovered there was an upholstery shop near the marina in Fajardo, we scheduled a month at the dock after splashing to recover our now faded, ripped, and squished salon settee (living room couch).

We bought our portable, heavy-duty Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 PLUS sewing machine ($900 at the time), capable of sewing canvas and sails, back in July of 2015 while spending our first hurricane season at Brunswick Landing Marina. It paid for itself with the bimini replacement project (the first link below). Since then, we’ve done a few other little projects, just because we could. This project, however, is another one of those that would justify purchasing a upholstery-quality sewing machine. Other cruisers have told us this project would cost at least $3000 to be professionally done.

The Captain’s past projects:

After splashing, it took us as little while to get motivated. Perhaps we were still recovering from our job at Amazon. Or maybe, not being under a our normal two-weeks-at-the-marina-deadline had us complacent. Could have been the weather forecast. Or maybe, The Captain just likes watching YouTube videos…

A “before” picture.

We constantly refer to Sailrite’s excellent website (we still recommend it, even if you use a different machine). They cater to the amateur upholsterer. In fact, if we hadn’t had a local upholstery shop, we would have ordered all the supplies from them. We used their yardage calculator, and it was spot on (be sure to add a couple extra yards & I think our upholstery lady was generous with her measurements): https://www.fabric-calculator.com/cushions.aspx

{to the tune of Hank Williams Jr’s, “Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?!”}.

“Arrreee you ready for some SEWING?!”

That’s $500 worth of upholstery supplies from Almacenes 100. Thank you to the amazing Ladies who helped us select, measure, cut and then load everything into the rental car (And the Avis ladies who upgraded us to a Kia Soul us after we hinted at the upcoming project!).

He’s already cutting. I can’t watch!

We’ve commandeered the Captain’s lounge for our little project…
Foam, cut to size at the upholstery shop
Batting. Off to the right, you get a peek to the rips in the upholstery from wear and tear.
Top with a French seam
A little trick The Captain picked up is STAPLING the pieces together before sewing. Yes, this sounds crazy if you are used to working with more delicate, two-sided projects but it works great on upholstery.
Sides (this cushion was later redone to make the corner match but apparently, I missed that photo!)

Two days in, two cushions down, eight to go! Actually, he’s done three but he decided to change the corners and location of the decorative French seam, so I seam ripped the first cushion down to be reused as a back piece.

My contribution to the project—keeping the bedlam at the nav station under control so we could still live on the boat.
He put in some long days.

The Captain elected a non-standard zipper design. With our old fabric, it was necessary to remove the cushions regularly to wash them. We’re hoping the faux leather won’t have to be removed often, therefore opted with a non-standard zipper design. We’ll let you know if it holds up.

Everything “tightens up” once the zippers are on. If not, add more batting.

What did we do before YouTube?

Thank you, The Zipper Lady: https://youtu.be/-xjQTgRBgQc

Pictures don’t do the new seat cushions justice. They look AMAZING and are SO comfortable!

Forgive the mess #boatprojects

The seat cushions needed new foam but the back rests didn’t. We reused the foam and replaced the batting. The corners were a PITA and needed tightening a few times since we elected to skip the buttons.

We finished the project without having to go back to the upholstery shop, although we did buy a zipper from the upholstery shop at the marina. It was finished in less than two weeks–I think the final count was eight days (with a rest day).

This project isn’t for everyone. My Captain is brave and fearless (I would still be measuring and remeasuring…). A professional upholsterer (my sister!), can do it with less frustration, less waste and obviously, faster. It would also be considerably more difficult to do away from the boat. He was constantly checking and rechecking as he went.

A huge “GRACIAS” to Sailrite and the ladies at Almacenes 100 for helping us with our salon settee reupholstery project!

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