During our trip I was able to finish my project of covering the salon cushions and we couldn’t be more pleased. When we bought Galapagos the cushions were 1980’s hideous. Really, what must we have been thinking in that decade? They were some kind of mauve and blue misty nebulous looking fabric that made me cringe. In addition they were worn and torn and the foam had seen better days. Brief calculations for replacement ran into the 1000’s of dollars and we were spending that on baby Beta ‘Hiram’ and his personal
nursery room, so there wasn’t much left over for what amounted to prettifying the interior.
Having little money has never stopped me before, so I took it as a challenge and carried on. When one is faced with a task like this, it is important to keep the specific goal in mind; the current goal, not necessarily the long term goal. In this case the goal was to update the interior to make it a pleasure to look at and use until such time as we could afford to replace the settee cushions altogether. In a word, the goal was HAPPINESS. I wanted to look down into the salon and feel happy. Eventually we will do some minor remodeling in the salon anyhow. So for now, the happiness upgrade had to be enough.
Since the foam was fairly worn, I added a layer of 1″ cheap foam I got at Hobby Lobby. Cheap is the operative word here and it’s good that I didn’t spend much money. I’m not sure I would go that route again. But I cut the foam to add a layer to each bottom cushion and got started. It did add some comfort and that’s what I was going for.
Like many projects of this type, I never know how I’m going to do something until I get into it a bit. I started by trying to make easy slipcovers, thinking I would then be able to remove them for washing. After making a couple of these I decided I didn’t like the way they looked and wanted something more fitted. I didn’t care if I could remove it or not, because, again, the focused goal was an upgrade in looks and comfort for the short term. It needs to last a couple of years. I would use Scotchguard to protect the fabric. As usual, I was making it way too hard.
The old upholstery was built like a tank with three separate sections on the settee backs, each containing its own foam and each with its own zipper. It made me tired just to think of how I was going to keep the same tailored look without all the trouble. In addition, I had bought all of this fabric that the store had because I loved it that much, but it still amounted to less than what I believed I would need. I would have to cut corners to extend the fabric somehow.
The solution was so much easier than I suspected. I simply pinned the fabric tightly to the cushions and, by hand, stitched the fabric in place on the cushion, tucking the corners in neatly and stitching them down. I had the fabric positioned, pulled snug, and pinned before stitching so there were a lot of pins. I used a large running stitch to sew the fabric to the seams in the settee backs, giving them a ‘folk art’ look that goes well with the fabric pattern. These seams were the hardest part. I ended up ordering some cheap upholstery needles from Amazon. The 12 inch needle did the trick and will serve nicely as a spear should we ever find we need one.
One of the money saving strategies I employed here was that I did not buy zippers or any other kind of sewing accouterments. Only thread and the deadly needle. In addition, since I added a layer of foam to each seat cushion, none of them are reversible, removing the need to have fabric cover the back. This saved me fabric, time, and labor as I didn’t have to piece fabric to get the entire thing covered.
Here’s the cost breakdown:
Fabric: 20 yards 160$
Deadly needle 5$ for a package that included even larger needles.
Total cost: about 215$
Once I got the method down, the work went quickly and easily and I actually enjoyed sitting in the cockpit and stitching away. We’ll call this a win in the cheap boat tricks category. .