Aft Cabin Finale

In the history of our ownership of Galapagos, there have been two projects that have felt never-ending. One was the engine exhaust elbow drama, and the other has been the aft cabin remodel. For your reading convenience, clicking on the link takes you to the first post in the series, way back in February, and from there you can link to the next post, etc.

In our last episode of the story of the remodel, we had finally taken possession of the beautiful new mattresses: 8″ of good night’s sleep. My task was to find bedding for that space. If that sounds simple to you, you do not own a boat.

This is where we are starting as we begin this post.

The situation: three separate pieces of mattress in three different shapes and sizes. Two of the pieces are fairly large and heavy. In creating a ‘bedding system’ for this space I had several goals:

  1. It had to be easy to use, and by that I mean that changing the sheets had to require very little ‘boat yoga’, and preferably I would not have to be moving the mattresses around much. I wanted something simple and fast.
  2. The sheets had to fit snugly on the mattresses. I pretty much hate rumpled sheets at home, and I’m not very likely to enjoy them on the boat, either. Two words that describe comfort in the bed are cool and crisp.  It’s going to be hot enough in the tropics without having to mess around with too much sheet fabric that just holds the heat next to you.
  3. It had to look good. When I walk into that aft cabin, I want to look at that bed and be happy. Beauty and function. I want them to play well together.

These are the kinds of design situations that can keep a boat owner up at night, staring at the ceiling, imagining all the possibilities and envisioning the final product. You’ll notice I said nothing about cost in my list of goals. That’s because I already knew, from previous research on the marine bedding industry, that I was absolutely not going to pay someone else to make custom sheets for my bed. You can buy ready-made ‘one size fits all’ cinch sheets for marine berths, but they run about $140 a set for a full size, and that’s on the low end. That’s for one set. I have three different mattresses, not to mention two other cabins. So that would be at least $300 just for two sheet sets. That doesn’t include mattress pads. No. Can. Do.

In the end, I bought two nice mattress pads at Costco, about 35$ each, cut them to fit the top, and bound the edges with extra upholstery fabric. I purchased a set of bamboo sheets at the Canned Food Outlet  for $30 (yeah, who knew? They actually feel like silk. Seriously.), and a second set of cotton sheets at Ross for $20. I cut pieces to fit the top, plus a couple of extra inches, hemmed them and they were good to go. To make duvet covers, I got two sets of microfiber sheets in cheerful patterns for $20 each. I cut them down to size, sewed them up, used plastic snap tape to make closures,  then cut our blankets to fit inside. Done. Nothing too interesting about how to do this stuff, it was just simply cutting and sewing. The total cost for two sets of sheets, pillow cases, and two duvet covers was $160. That’s how I roll.

Not totally happy with the edging on this, but it works fine and at least matches the upholstery.

As an aside, I’m actually thinking these mattress pads are going to be fine for living aboard in the marina this year, but when we go south, they are going to be too hot. I  have some ideas for  quick and easy replacements for these when I find the right deal. But for now, these work great and are very comfortable.

All of this is fairly straight forward. Where the interesting part comes in is in how I hold the sheets onto the mattresses. This research had me drilling down deeply into Google to find sturdy plastic clips that would hold tight, survive the marine environment, and not break under the weight of sleeping bodies, all without causing harm to the fabric. Oh, and they had to look good.

I started with tarp clips, but really they were just too big and bulky. I finally found the clips that saved the day at Hold Up Suspender Company. They sell some sheet straps that looked beefy and, in particular, I liked the clip they had. No one had clips like this place. They are 1 1/2″ wide, and heavy duty.

I put in an order for a set of their sheet holders, which were fairly pricey at 22$ for two straps, plus 6$ shipping. I knew I would need more than two straps for each mattress if I wanted a snug fit that stayed in place. I figured I needed two straps for the middle mattress, and three straps on each of the other mattresses, preferably 4.  If I ordered all 10 straps from the company, that would be over 100$ plus shipping. OK, maybe I should have just ordered them all but at the time, I was into money saving mode on this whole deal.

When the order came, they included an old-school paper catalog and thumbing through it I saw that they sold the clips individually. You can’t find them sold like that on line, only in the catalog. I placed an order for 18 of the clips at $2.75 each. Yes I was kind of in shock at the per/clip price, but sometimes you get what you pay for and these clips are unique.  I figured I would want to keep an extra supply on hand in case some broke in the future or if I needed them for another project. For this project, I used 10 of them, plus the straps from the original order. I have extras to make the straps for the middle piece, and then that will leave 4 extras.

Here’s a warning about this supplier: they have good quality, but I’m not impressed with their ordering. I called to place the order, and when it arrived, it was the wrong item. Completely wrong. They sent me metal clips. Um, can you say ‘rust’ on my new upholstery fabric?  I returned them, and they sent me the right clips in the wrong color. By that time I was just sick of messing around, so I kept the black ones.

I bought heavy 1 1/2″ elastic at Hobby Lobby on sale for 50% off, so that cost me about 8$. In all, the ‘tie down’s’ for this project cost me about 60$ plus change. So I saved maybe 40$ or so making them myself. Not sure that was worth the effort involved, but then I do have some extra clips in case I need them in the future.  They hold the sheet and mattress pad together on the mattress snugly, I don’t have to move the mattress to change the sheets, and I made a little covering for the ones that show so they would match the upholstery. My friend Carolyn over at The Boat Galley did hers sheet holders another way.


Making new sheets when we need them will be dead easy, as there are no seams or corners, just a flat piece, cut to shape and hemmed, that is held on with these clips. One could reasonable ask why  I didn’t go for the usual drawstring approach to the sheets, where you have a giant sheet that covers the entire mattress and is cinched tight with a drawstring. The answer is that these will fit tighter, and be easier to handle. With our mattress shapes and sizes, there would inevitably be a lot of extra fabric floating around the edges with sheets like that.

I didn’t have enough mattress pad material to do the middle section, but when I replace them before we leave, that will be done at the same time, with sheets and straps as well.

Heave a big sigh of relief. We have a cabin with comfy, attractive beds.  Now, do I have the energy to deal with bedding for the v-berth? Maybe I will just wait until we have guests and then figure it out.

Apparently photos are disappearing off the blog overnight and people cannot see the last three. I can’t figure it out yet. So meanwhile I’m posting the photos to our LCP Facebook page. Go HERE to see them. Sorry.



18 thoughts on “Aft Cabin Finale

  1. Well done you! Things are always so much more complicated on a boat, aren’t they. I like nice snug sheets as well, but the ones we have don’t cooperate with my desire for order in our aft cabin. They don’t actually fit properly, but I can’t be bothered at this point to make new ones.

    • Priorities. It’s a fact of life, Ellen. Once we move aboard, I don’t know if I’ll have time for this stuff, so glad to be taking care of it now.

  2. Great job, Melissa! We’re pretty fortunate when it comes to bedding in the aft cabin because we have a walk-around bed that’s almost perfectly square (rounded corners at the bottom end). The problem we have is that it’s a European king which isn’t as big as a US, but is larger than a queen. My solution has been to buy a fitted king and a queen-sized flat sheet. It works, but the sheets aren’t nearly as snug as I’d like them to be.

    • You need some of these straps! But, oh yes, you are selling your beautiful boat and going to do some canal boating in Europe! I’ll bet you will have a nice berth on your next boat.

  3. Great work and attention to detail, Melissa.

    You are feathering your floating nest well.

    Cheers! Bill

    PS: The last 4 images won’t load for me no matter what I try; 2 different browsers; may be a feature of my cellular hot spot today as the signal is weak…

    • And can you please try again? I deleted those pics and reinserted them. I am working on a new computer and it’s fairly marginal for stuff like this. But the process should still work.

        • Thank you Pierre. I’m very sorry. We cannot figure out the problem just yet. Thought we had it fixed but this morning they had disappeared again. I’m posting them to the LIttleCunningPlan Facebook page. There is a link at the bottom of the blog.

        • The problem is now happening on our device and you know, my level of frustration lately is at an all time high. I’ve deleted and re-inserted, then Mike deleted and re-inserted, and one more photo showed up. It looked like they had all showed up, but this morning 3 of 4 had disappeared again. I suspect mean gremlins messing with me. I’m going to post photos over on the LCP Face book page. I’ll link to it on this page. Eventually it will get figured out I suppose.

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