Monday, August 17, 2015

The First Mate Sewing 101

Left:  Hatch cover #6.  Right:  Hatch cover #1

OK, so a lot of the big projects have been completed by my hero, my Captain, oh Captain.  However, I'm also slowly learning the machine and between the two of us, we're dangerous.  I'm a slow, contemplative artist.  The Captain plows in and gets it done--it ain't pretty, but it's functional.

If you'd told me two years ago I would be writing a blog about sewing, I would have rolled on the floor laughing!  However, I'm sure a few of my Aunt's (and probably my Mom, by look of me in a childhood pic sporting a denim jumpsuit that, hopefully, was homemade) would be proud.  Actually, this blog is for my sister, who used to specialized in upholstering antique furniture.  I used to explain away my lack of home decorating skills as, "My sister got all that."  So here's one dedicated to my sis (who was impressed with our new toy) and those Aunt's who gave me handmade pillows that I didn't fully appreciate at the time:

Our newest power tool, a Sailrite LSZ-1
My first project was hatch covers for the 8 (yes, you read that right.  EIGHT) hatches on our boat.  They keep sun out and protect the plexiglass.  In retrospect, this was not a good starting point.  I had planned to make envelope pillows, but too intimidated to change the needle & thread, I plowed into a project that would use canvas.  I used Sailrite's video as my guide:  Sailrite YouTube "How to make a hatch cover".  The pic above is the 6th hatch cover which was deemed "perfection" by the boss.  The one on the right is the very first one, which was too small and the white thread shows how terrible my hemming was when I started.  It's appropriate they are side by side.  It makes me appreciate progress.

Here's a pic of step 1.  I still scratch my head while I'm doing this, so I can't believe this made any sense the first time.
Hatch cover step 1

I ventured off on my own when it came to the corners
When it came to the corners, our hatches are rounded and after taking the canvas out and attempting to "mark" the corners, I could tell they were all going to be different.  I did some calculations that averaged everything out and made them uniform.  Pretty impressive, really.

My favorite tote bag & sewing project

I also relied heavily on the Don Casey book, "Canvaswork and Sail Repair."  Again, I couldn't start at the beginning!  My first project is the One-Piece Tote Bag.  It's a 12x12 bottom, but I made it slightly taller (14") with a longer handle (14" drop).  It's one piece of canvas with box corners and one continuous piece of webbing for the handle (The Captain's fav part).  This is now my primary "tote-laundry-to-the-laundry-room-on-the-bicycle" bag.  I love it.  I've tried to improve on this design, but the first is still the best.  I'm still scouring Lands End, Sailor Bags and Pinterest for ideas.

I finally got around to the envelope pillows.  I used this basic pattern, but measured for center instead of eyeballing and pinning:  acuriouslychiclife diy-pillowcase

Outdoor pillow forms with Sunbrella outdoor fabric

At this point, the Captain was hogging the sewing machine most of the day for the dodger, so I did quick projects in the evening.  Another Don Casey project is bolster pillows that can be stuffed with all the stuff you don't have room to store on a boat:  spare sheets, blankets, winter sweatshirts...  I dreamt of the guest berth covered in pillows.  I made at least 3 of these from blue canvas.  (We're gonna need an inventory list.  I've already been informed, "I wanted a blanket, but I didn't know which bolster it was in...")

Small lumbar bolster that hides a queen-size fleece blanket
Then came the sleeping bag bolster!  This is body pillow-size.  (It fits nicely at the end of our queen bed, but I don't think the boss would have approved of that.)  I wanted to use velcro instead of buying a HUGE zipper.  Also, sleeping bags are tricky to roll, so I wanted drawstring ends instead of them being sewn on.  I based it loosely on these two blogs: Sailrite Bolster
The "over the top" bolster that holds a sleeping bag.

I found myself without a project and some scrap fabric, so I made a rag bag to replace the plastic grocery bag.  It's from the Don Casey pattern, "Two-piece duffel bag"--which was the project before bolsters.  Can't.  follow.  directions.

Rag bag, because boat's are dirty!
We had pillow shams on our bed, but discovered the goose down pillows were starting to mildew.  So in need of a replacement, I made a "reading wedge pillow" (and officially cleaned out the linen bin I brought!)  I was skeptical, but this YouTube video worked out perfectly (download the written dimensions below the video before you start.  She does mis-state one dimension in the video, but the link is correct): YouTube Book Pillows to help you read longer in bed

First Mate's Book Pillow full-o-sheets

There's a sailor duffle in here somewhere, that is still under construction, ie. need to seam rip & redo the bottom.

My latest and first original creation:  an iPad messenger bag.  Surprisingly, I needed this.  I have a small purse/shoulder bag that holds my kindle and a computer bag but nothing mid-size.  After quite a bit of Pinterest browsing, I found everything was multiple pieces sewn together.  This is one-piece, similar to the one-piece tote.  It's leftover outdoor fabric that didn't become a pillow and lined/stiffened with leftover canvas.  It's supposed to have a velcro closure, but that should have been sewn on first :-(

An Odin original design

You can keep up with my project ideas on my Pinterest page or YouTube playlist:

Odin Sewing on Pinterest

YouTube Odin Sewing

Don't worry.  The Captain is taking boat things apart as we speak.  Boat projects will follow...


  1. Really nice job!! I especially like the iPad bag. Gonna have to do one of those one of these days when the big projects are done.

    S/V Kintala

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! I made a second one for the Captain because we don't share well ;-)