Sewing the dodger and bimini

I decided to take on a significant sewing project.  I have never attempted a project of this scale before; however, the cost of getting someone else to do it was a major influence to attempt it myself.  My mom was a seamstress by trade; she was able to work miracles with her sewing machine.  She made everything from suits to a 12 person tent and anything in-between.   I wish I had her guidance to help me with this project, but I am sure she was watching over my shoulder. 

I had a sewing machine that I purchased form a newspaper posting, it was touted to sew soft leather, therefore, I thought it would work perfect for canvas. I purchased my material; sumbrella, window plastic, and some trim. I took the old dodger as I decided to start with that. Again in order to keep costs down, I reused the zippers that were still in reasonable condition.  The old dodger was taken apart and used it as a pattern; however, some improvisations had to be made as it had seen better days and due to poor condition.   

Using a hot knife I cut out the traced pattern on the new material, with a piece of aluminum under the material to protect the living room floor. Next was the plastic windows, mostly tracing the old windows, but some adjustment were made.  Then they were placed on the dodger and I attempted to sew them in place with the sewing machine.  The attempt was brutal; so much trouble feeding and thread tension was all over the place. The sewing machine just could not do the job. 

My wife suggested that I buy the sailrite machine.  I ordered one and had it within a week.  The difference was incredible. The walking foot was a game changer, along with the machine’s power to go through multiple layers of fabric and glass was awesome.

The sewing of the fabric became a breeze.  I made some changes to the dodger and sewed it together.  Up next was the roof of the bimini.  I had to sew two pieces of material together to be big enough to cover the area required by the pattern.  After that I had to cut and sew the pillars that come down from the bimini to the cockpit. Once all were cut, I placed the layers in the correct order, and sewed the layers together, again the machine made it easy.   I recommend the sailrite machine it was a game changer.

When everything was sewn together I took it down to the boat for a test fit. It fit not too bad for my first job with a couple mistakes, but nothing too bad.   I am very happy with the progress of my project. I have purchased quite a bit of material, so I have future projects of sailpacks, chaps for the dinghy, and closing in the cockpit all of which has no existing patterns.  Which will be a challenge for me.  




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