Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Couple That Sews Together...

Attaching the snaps and fastners

well… gets the job finished!  I will begin by saying that I would NEVER have been able to do what I did today without Bruce.  Sewing... it's not just for women anymore.

When we took possession of Dos Libras over a year ago, Bruce did some very rudimentary repairs on our bimini while making way towards home.  He used some kind of white twine that looked like it would be better for kite flying than for sewing.  But, it has kept the zippers on our enclosure for all these many months.  

Harvesting the twist locks for reuse
We got a quote from a local canvas shop that set us thinking it would be better to buy a Sailrite machine and do the repairs ourselves, than to pay someone to do it every time we needed something stitched.  I stalled for months before buying the machine, mostly because I was finding it difficult to put my order together considering how little I actually know about sewing.  

Cutting a basting strip 
I had some help from another blogger, The Seamless Sailor, who has encouraged me along the way.  Well, I may be looking Annette up again, because my machine has come in!  For days it sat there.  We were afraid to touch it.  Finally,  Bruce and I watched the instructional video.  What a neat thing!  Sailrite sends a step by step video of all the setup and maintenance, as well as getting you started with demonstrations showing how the machine is used.  It has some really handy features!  Watching the video got us all psyched up to get going!

We started with replacing the straps that hold the enclosure panels in the rolled up position.  There were several missing and a couple that were barely hanging on.  Luckily we had an old bow dodger from a previous boat in the attic to use for parts.  We used eisenglass from that to create new straps.  Don't ask me why we had a box of snaps with the tool to install them in our possession, but we did.  Maybe they came with the boat.  But the twist locks that hold the panels in the rolled position had to be reused as we didn't have any new ones available.   

White strip along the top.  The white paper is removed to expose the sticky side.
I have to thank Matt over at Coastal Bend Yacht Services for this tip.  Matt sold me several rolls of basting tape which made the job SO much more easy.  I used these double stick strips to keep the two surfaces together until they are sewn.  They were especially helpful in keeping the zipper in place leaving all hands free to wrangle the big panels instead of having to keep one hand on the zipper all the time.  I hope I never have to find out what it's like to sew without them.  Bruce had tacked the two worst sections of zipper together, but there were some shorter areas that had more recently come loose.  I went ahead and sewed the entire edge with new thread.  

These panels have hung caddywhompus for the entire time we've owned the boat, whacking us in the head as we duck underneath.  The job was more involved that I would have thought.  We worked all day and at the end, my back was aching. and my hands were sore.  Perhaps a professional would have had the proper tools accessible, but we got by, and in the end, got a huge kick out of having done the job ourselves.  Now all of our panels can be rolled up and secured nicely. 

We made it through our first sewing project and will be on to the next one... repairing the split bimini top where the boom has rubbed.  Tomorrow...

Click on the monkey's fist to read others bloggers on this topic.
The Monkey's Fist


  1. Sailrite really does such a great job of helping us succeed. I LIVE by those instructional videos! I put one in the computer and then pause as I do each step. I created our entire Conestoga Wagon top (lol) dodger, bimini, and connecting center section. It was like wrestling an anaconda at times, but such a great feeling of accomplishment! Keep going! You are doing a great job!

    1. Oh Connie, I'm not sure I would ever try to do a bimini enclosure! Way over my head! But, maybe someday I'll be a big girl and can make some dinghy chaps... that's my aspiration in life! It is exciting to finish a project. It also creates an appreciation for the cost quoted by the pros.

  2. I've been eyeballing a Sailrite machine, but have yet to commit. I'm about to do a small project with my old Brother machine from Walmart - something tells me it will spur me on to buy a Sailrite...
    Thanks for sharing! It's good to know that you were able to knock out the project even though you were unsure about your sewing skills.

    1. Jennifer if you're going to have sewing that needs doing, the cost of the machine will pale in comparison to the cost of paying someone to do it. We had hatch covers made and for the six covers and companionway cover, it was over a thousand bucks. That was when we decided to buy the machine... Sailrite has so many resources to help with projects. Step by step instructions make it seem possible, even for me.

      Plus, I think it will be nice to have when we're under way as well so that I'll have something to trade for other services we might need help with.

      Thanks for commenting!