Tag Archives: sewing projects

Final Touches on Sugar Shack

There were just a few more final touches that we wanted to make on our boat.  We still had a lot of canvas projects and we needed to replace our bathroom accessories in our two heads (bathrooms for my landlubber friends).  The bathroom accessory update is on the second half of this blog post – scroll all the way down.

Matt and I were so excited to buy a second hand LSZ1 Sailrite machine from our friend Chris.  But then fifty million projects took priority over our sewing projects and it sat for several months unused.  We finally broke it out to learn how to use it.  We decided to start with a vinyl cockpit table cover (to better protect the teak) and it was a good first attempt.  Then the sailrite sat for several more months as we focused on more important boat repairs and upgrades.  That was the final straw. We decided to ask Kim from Masterpieces in Canvas for some help with our canvas creations.

Here is a list of “final” projects:

  • (2) Cockpit table covers (1-vinyl for Matt’s work bench & 1-Salueda for guests)
  • (2) Aft cushions to go over line the bins and around the wenches on the transom
  • Redo our exterior cushion covers in a darker, vinyl fabric
  • (2) Sets of 3 pockets (mounted on the aft of the boat for storage)
  • (2) Recycle bags
  • (1) Remote wench control bag
  • Cover for our Man Over Board Horseshoe

These projects are not urgent and are not necessarily needed.  However, all of the pieces are old, ratty, and in need of a refresh or make over.

Transom Seating

Our transom spans across the back of the boat.  This is where we store our lines and where we have our working winches.  However, inevitably, we have people over and they always sit on the hard, uncomfortable fiberglass.  And if you sit over the line holders your rear end sinks into the holes.  We have wanted to add seat cushions here since we bought the boat – 13 years ago!

When we bought Sugar Shack in Turkey, we replaced all of the interior and exterior cushions.  We saved the outside foam (from the cushions) because we thought one day we might use them for the transom seating.  I will be honest, I thought we would use them a lot sooner than 13 years!  But here we are doing them now.

Matt cut the foam around the wenches, pad eyes, and stanchions.

Then we handed them off to Kim to cover.  This is more than a “final touch” and we are so excited to finally have this project done!

Cockpit Pockets

The boat came with these nifty pockets in the cockpit which collect all sorts of junk and treasures.  Spare lines, small tools, cleaning supplies, bungee, SUP fins, etc…

The stitching is coming out, the bungee is dead and they are just looking tired overall. Matt has wanted to design them a little differently so that the bungee can be more easily replaced.  

Additional Bags

We have several recycling bags where we put glass, plastic, aluminum, and cardboard.  In addition, we put smelly things that might stink up the house.  We also have a small bag that holds the main wench remote holder.  All functional, but need replacing.

The new recycle bags are just as big and wonderful.

Line Bags

We keep our main sheets inside two bags that hang off the life line off the transom.  They came with the boat, so they are at least 13+ years old.  The bags are functional, but too big for the space and we are often fidgeting with them.  Plus the fabric is torn and they are just ready to be replaced. 

We were going to ask Kim to remake them, but we ended up finding store bought ones Ronstan Line Tail Bags (large-RF3912) for a very reasonable price.  The final price with tax and shipping was $68 per bag.

The new line bags are smaller and far more functional.

Table Cloth Covers

We currently have a gray vinyl cover over our beautiful teak table.  It is our work cover that Matt uses when he works on projects and it gets super dirty.  We decided to make a dark vinyl cover and a nice salueda cover for when guests come over.  So, one will be a working cover and one an every day cover.  Kim made this awesome velcro piece underneath to keep the cover on during high winds.

Exterior Cushion Covers

We really do love the new light gray salueda exterior cushions.  However, they show dirt so easy and they do not clean as well as we had expected.  As people sit down, the back of their legs rub against the side panel and crease (seam where the top and side panel are sewn) leaving dirty marks that just don’t come out.  This just after a few months of use.  So, we decided to recover them in a dark gray vinyl that does not look or feel like vinyl!  We are hoping this will be our final recover project.

The new cushion covers turned our really nicely.  We are hoping we have better luck with these without “sticking” too much.  This is a nice touch to the boat and really looks classy.

More Sun Shades

We love, love, love our new cockpit enclosure.  However, we noticed that our sunshades needed to be expanded to cover the corner areas.  We have a giant sunshade off the transom and one for each side.  But there is a giant triangle of space between the side and the back that needed to be covered so we had Kim make us corner sun shades.  This should be the final “shade” project for the cockpit.

Man Over Board Cover

Our man over board cover was looking incredibly bad.  So bad that I did not even take a photo of it before it was tossed.  But we have a new one and it looks bright and bold!

Rail Protectors

As you know, I painstakingly varnished 90% of the exterior wood while we were on the hard.  So, when I saw our jib sheets rubbing on the cabin top hand rails I about flipped my lid.  I immediately went about making rail protectors so the jib sheets won’t ruin my varnish!

Just when you think you are done, you find more things to update and beautify.  Man we need to get out of New Zealand as it is costing us a fortune.  Well can’t really blame NZ as we’ve needed to do these updates for some time now.  We add a few more final touches to our beautiful home.

Bathroom Accessories

We have two heads (bathrooms).  In each head we have hooks, cup holders, toilet paper holders, dish holders, and towel racks.  None of these pieces were stainless steel and they have since turned green, spotted, pitted, and turned icky in general.

Matt and I searched all over New Zealand and the U.S. for 316 stainless bath accessories.  It is a lot harder than you think!  We found 304 and stainless plated but nothing else in NZ or the US.  Until we stumbled across Drench in the U.K.  We found all of the pieces we needed in 316 Stainless Steel. Hopefully these beauties will last us a life time!

And the new bath accessories in the port bathroom:

It appears starboard bath accessories are worse off than port which could be because we leave our escape hatch open and the salt air gets to these pieces more frequently.  Perhaps, maybe they are just 23 years old and tired?

And Starboard bath accessories:

These updates make me so very happy!  

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog took place during the the months of March and April.  We remove part of our standing rigging to do repairs – check it out here.

Shades of Canvas

We bring Kim from Masterpieces in Canvas back to finish up a few more sewing projects.  We ran out of time and could not finish these two big projects last season.  Kim met us in the Norsand Boatyard where she worked with Matt to determine exactly what he wants before making a pattern.

She brings a huge roll of pattern material and custom designs each window covering.  Some windows get 2 patterns.  We are making sauleda covers for storage (they will be solid gray fabric that are not see through).  We are also making black phifertex window covers that will be our “everyday” window shades.  They will let in a little light, allow us to see outside, but will block 80% of the sun.

We also asked Kim to make us (2) side phifertex canvas sun shades for our cockpit enclousure.   These will zip on to the outside of our existing side panels and can be rolled up for storage when not in use.  So we can alternate between using the sun shade (phifertex) or the rain shade (sauleda/Isinglass) without having to change them out.

In the bottom photo, Kim is marking the snaps on the sauleda canvas window covers.  We will use these when we put the boat up for storage or when we are feeling particularly shy.  The yellow tape around the foward window is from a paint job that Matt was working on and will be removed.

And the final phifertex window covers.  We decided to go with two different grades.  The two side windows on both port and starboard are 90% opacity and the three forward windows are 80% opacity.  This will allow us to better see out the windows while the shades are on.

Sewing Projects By Us

In 2018, Matt and I made blue fender covers for our big round A4s and pencil type F4s.  See blog post dressing up our Fenders. 

Over the years the blue faded and frayed so it was time to replace them again.  Last season, March 2023 I replaced the A4 fender covers with black covers.  But that left the F4 (pencil) fenders ugly and blue.

So, it was time to replace them with beautiful black polar felt.  They should match better to our new gray color scheme and be soft on the boat.

New Line

We also purchased new line for the boat.  We bought 34m of a beautiful gray (with black/white flecks) in double braid heavy duty line for our main sheets, and 100m green mottled line with a dynema core for our spin halyard and reefing line.  While we were at it we replaced our red “oh $hit” line that we use to hold on while under way and bought 100m of 5mm dynema line for future projects.  Everything came from Nautilus Braids which provides the best customer service, quality lines, at reasonable pricess.  They custom made our lines for us!

By the way, there are no ropes on board a boat.  You will find lines, sheets, halyards, vangs, tricing lines, warps, whips, and jackstays, but not ropes.  

We will have Kim come back in early March to help us finish some really small projects:

  • Stern seat cushions over the line holders
  • (2) Line bags for our main sheets
  • (2) Recycling bags
  • (1) Remote wench holder
  • (2) Sets of 3 pockets for cockpit
  • (1) Table cover

Don’t worry, there still are a dozen other sewing projects for us to tackle with our Sailrite machine.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events. This blog post occured in mid-November.  We attack some beastly boat projects while on the hard at Norsand Boatyard.


Hiding in Plain Sight: Sunshades

Living on a boat is amazing but we often find ourselves hiding from the sun to escape the heat.  September and October are HOT, when  the wind dies down, humidity is high, and the sun is sizzling.  Sunshades become a necessity.  Where I once used to be a deck-spider, I no longer find the need, desire, patience, or capacity to lay out in the sun.

With that said, it is a bit challenging to be “out of the sun” when you live on a boat (especially a boat without air conditioning).  We tend to hang out in our cock pit which has the best breeze, but it is in the direct sunlight.  We use our sunshades a lot, but the ones that came with the boat are old, dirty, and small.  New sunshades became a priority on our project list.

  • 13 yards of phifortex fabric
  • Webbing (hems, corners, connection points)
  • Bolt rope (to run through the track on the Bimini)
  • Straps, snaps, basting tape, and thread (black and white).
The Project: Sunshades

We both wanted to work on smaller sewing projects before we jumped into this one as it was bound to be complicated – and it was.

The existing sunshades could not be used as a pattern since we wanted more coverage.  We started with the back shade, measured across the bimini, and added 36″.  We wanted the back shade to have 3 panels: main center panel and two smaller panels.  Each side would have a small panel that extended to the helm seats or could be folded over.

Sunshade side panel

New side panel fully extended.

To determine the overall width of the back panel, we sewed in the bolt rope which allowed us to hang the material up.  Measure, repeat, measure, repeat.  We added webbing along all of the hems to provide more structure and strength to the panels.  We also added webbing on the seam where we wanted the side panels to fold over.

Sunshade panel

Sunshade webbing for the side panel fold over.

Adding the straps and connecting points were next so that we could hook the shade to the life line and roll the shade up neatly.


Sunshade connecting points. Check out that neat little box we sewed.


Sunshade clips to secure the shade when it is rolled up.


Sunshade all rolled up

Finally, we added snaps to the side panels (to stay folded when not in use) and to the exterior straps that held the shade to the Bimini poles.

With the back sunshade done, we were able to start on the two side panels.  We pretty much followed the same routine, but tweaked them a bit as they had angles as opposed to straight lines.

Keep in mind that this entire process was completed using a Baby Lock sewing machine which has to be as old as the boat (2001).  I am sure it would have been a LOT easier using a Sailrite sewing machine which is one specifically used for thicker fabrics like canvas.

For the most part, sewing the phifortex was ok.  But when it came to the corners or the straps which had phifortex folded over, bolt rope, and two pieces of webbing it was really challenging to get the little machine up that hill.  We coached her, babied her, petted her, let her rest, cursed, and put her away when she started smoking.  Matt had to tear her apart and put her back together a few times but all in all she did good!

Babylock repair

Sewing machine surgery.


Sunshade completed back panels.


Sunshade side panel – Starboard.


Sunshade Completed Port Panel

This was certainly a good learning experience. It was a joint effort as  it took 4 hands just to get the fabric through – and don’t get me started on reverse!

All in all the Babylock held strong, finished the sunshade project and is resting until we get her out again for the next sewing project.