Interior Cushion Re-upholstery

K2MSmith

Member II
Could someone give me a ballpark idea on what it costs to re-upholster interior cushions (in Sunbrella Fabric). Looking at v-berth, rear quarter and salon/berth cushions.
 

Parrothead

Member II
I went through the same sticker shock when I was refitting my boat. Besides the cushions being shot, even in their best day they were ugly. Two marine upholstery shops quoted upwards of $4500.00 ~ $5,000.00, a third shop wanted $200.00 just for the bid. It was clear some out-of-the-box thinking was needed.

I wound up approaching our local school system technical training facility (shop class in the old days), particularly the instructor of the auto upholstery class. He had done two junker car interiors for me in the past so I thought, what the Heck? After considerable discussion and arm wrestling, we agreed on a strategy that fit the skill set he was teaching.

Unlike our boat cushions, car upholstery is not zippered bags. I proposed - and he agreed - on a cushion construction technique used on Island Packet boats, plywood backs. The plan was for me to provide the backs cut to shape, provide the foam cut to shape, provide all the fabric and materials and the class would assemble the cushions using staples into the wood backs. I have a patterning technique I've used for decades, made the plywood backs, made rosin paper patterns from the backs to provide to the foam supplier. They cut the foam to the profile, I did the undercuts with an electric meat carving knife and delivered the load to the class.

The cushions turned out fantastic! Total cost was $1500.00 and that included a $300.00 gift to the class for an end of semester party. 15 years later they still look like new.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
We had a furniture upholsterer sew 15 new covers for the E381 for $1600. We provided the top fabric and underside vinyl. They were each about $15 a yard, as I recall, and we needed 30 yards for tops and 30 yards for bottoms. The sewing labor is a shrug for any upholsterer if you provide them the old foam. The price of the fabric is up to you, and varies form $10 to $60 depending.

New foam, however, is expensive. And getting the right firmness requires study.
 
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K2MSmith

Member II
We had a furniture upholster sew 15 new covers for the E381 for $1600.
That seems like a more reasonable approach. There are plenty of upholstery shops here in San Jose. I could order a few yards of the fabric and give one to a shop as a trial and if "the admiral" approves, they could do the lot. The boat deal has to close first but I'm making a list of near term projects to budget for.
 

fool

Member III
Also got ridiculously expensive quotes and exaggerated timelines from two marine upholsterers. Steam cleaning worked really well on the old navy blue for a couple of seasons, but didn't match my aspirations as a yacht owner...and the interior was very dark. So I ended up at the auto mechanic district in town, where there was a fabric wholesaler, and an auto upholsterer willing to do a side job.

I picked a fabric that feels and acts much like leather for about sixteen bucks a yard, and was charged $3.50 per foot of cushion (not foot of seam) for the sewing. We used the old foam, which was still okay with fresh batting applied, and did the 13 cushions in the salon (including the table top cushion) for about $800 + tax. Nothing fancy, no piping or frills, and about as good as I might be able to do without a learning curve, much cussing (I am a sailor after all) or seam ripping frustrations.

It isn't what a marine upholster would have done, but considering all the compromises it came out pretty good and so did the price.

IMG_2463.jpg
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Max's cushions look great.

But I must add that if you ever intend sewmanship, the manly art, now is the time to buy the Sailrite machine for about $800.

Ignacio made his own cushions and they look pro. Even with a $100 Singer you can make cushions, and I put off buying a sailmaking machine for five unnecessary years. I now make and repair all the outdoor cushions at home (my god she has 50 Sunbrella cushions, some 8 feet long) and I coulda done the boat cushions, too, if I had the Sailrite machine then. I would make the boat cushions myself, now.

All that is needed for such a job is not to be easily bored, and have a psychiatric need for Control of Everything.
 

ChrisS

Member III
I'm headed down this road myself, learning how to sew with an old, but relatively powerful, 1970's Kenmore machine. I'm starting by making an outboard motor cover, and then I'll move on to some other small projects to see how it goes.

My boat still has the 1975 interior. From the dock the boat looks well kept and classy, but stepping down below, it feels like the interior of an original condition vintage RV.

Not sure if I will do the interior myself, or end up taking it to a local upholsterer. There is a foam shop in Fremont that will cut foam to size. I figure the worst case scenario is that after watching all the Sailrite videos and trying my hand at other projects, at least I will able able to understand the process well enough to manage the project in a way to minimize costs, like using subcontractors instead of having a general--and I will also be able to take on repairs and sewing projects that I feel comfortable doing.

Back around 2008 I tried to get a Sausalito marine upholsterer to come to the dock and me an estimate. They told me that they had a minimum two month wait list, and didn't seem too interested. Didn't get me enthused to pay them $4k, either.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Regarding foam: it is easy to cut with an electric carving knife, and any serrated knife will do in a pinch. It's routine to glue pieces together, sides or for thickness, using an instant -bond foam glue. Mistakes are cured with batting. Expense aside, working with foam is favorable to amateurs.
 

CSMcKillip

Moderator
Moderator
We did ours in 2010. We tried local (3) different shops with dropping cushions and fabric off, each one after 2 months had done nothing. We ended up with Island Nautical- JSI. They do all the higher end Catalina stuff at that time. We supplied the fabric and I made the templates. I want to say with shipping and everything we were more like 3k.
 

Attachments

CSMcKillip

Moderator
Moderator
i will add, we have 8” memory foam in the front and 5” in the aft. The settee cushions were multiple layers of foam for wear and tear over years of use. These are now 10 years old and I slept on the boat last night with my family.... I would do it again in a heartbeat. We did use Sunbrella fabric and wish we would have done a micro fiber in the settee. - same color.
 

1911tex

Member III
I found a 1/2"x1" ad in our small town classifieds that some farm folks did upholstery during the non growing season. I supplied the fabric and battens, used the old still good foam and vinyl backing. Nice drive through a depression era 1 block town, then 2 mile section of dirt rutted road and followed by a group of farm dogs and 2 pigs, a mule, and 2 donkeys...but the folks who had to be in their 90's were so glad I made the trip, all smiles and country. They looked the grapes of wrath, both worn overalls and I had to be careful not to step on the chickens who were pecking on my shoes. The nice lady had a walker. Good ole Texans. If they charged $5k I would have done it. They charged me $250 and apoligized for taking 2 weeks to do it 'cause of arthritis...all my salon boat cushions. I gave them a $200 tip and they teared up. Me too. The livestock followed me back the 2 miles to the main gate which was two cedar posts holding up 3 sagging rows of rusted barbed wire...the barbs were flat not round so I am sure it was OEM. Oh, the sewing job they did was spectacular!!
 
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Tin Kicker

Member III
I found a 1/2"x1" ad in our small town classifieds that some farm folks did upholstery during the non growing season. I supplied the fabric and battens, used the old still good foam and vinyl backing. Nice drive through a depression era 1 block town, then 2 mile section of dirt rutted road and followed by a group of farm dogs and 2 pigs, a mule, and 2 donkeys...but the folks who had to be in their 90's were so glad I made the trip, all smiles and country. They looked the grapes of wrath, both worn overalls and I had to be careful not to step on the chickens who were pecking on my shoes. The nice lady had a walker. Good ole Texans. If they charged $5k I would have done it. They charged me $250 and apoligized for taking 2 weeks to do it 'cause of arthritis...all my salon boat cushions. I gave them a $200 tip and they teared up. Me too. The livestock followed me back the 2 miles to the main gate which was two cedar posts holding up 3 sagging rows of rusted barbed wire...the barbs were flat not round so I am sure it was OEM. Oh, the sewing job they did was spectacular!!
What a great story and idea. I know of some places in WV and central PA that have been really hurt by the downturn. They would kill to make some money (I wouldn't bother to dicker) and surely charge less than the boating upholsterers in Annapolis!
 

ignacio

Member III
Blogs Author
I made my own interior cushions for $400 in materials and about 40 hours of time with the Sailrite LSZ-1. The blue fabric was cheap, looks good, but now I'm starting to see some piling in spots (those little fabric balls created from repeated rubbing against the fabric). But even if I'd chosen a different fabric at, say, twice the cost, I still would have come in under $1K.

One more thing: All Size Foam in Los Angeles has pretty good pricing on foam of many types. They cater to the furniture makers, but they're happy to take your old cushions and duplicate them and glue on some Dacron batting for you. I just made the outdoor cushions for my sister (13 total), for which she paid about ~$200 in quality stiff foam material. It's not the dry-fast foam Sailrite sells, of course. It's the same polyurethane stuff many boats have already.

 
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lindaloo

Member II
My wife and I recently put new foam in the quarter berth (keeping the old cover) and made new covers for the v-berth (keeping the old foam).

A local foam shop did the cutting based on the old foam and glued on batting, all for the cost of the foam. We got the firmest foam, the most expensive of course. I'm looking foreward to a much better sleep on board this summer. About $550Cdn ($380US).

The v-berth covers were a project. Cutting all the seam stitching of the old covers to use as patterns takes ages. The fabric store had a good match of the original velour but it was very pricey. We went for an upholstery grade cloth on sale and a cheap navy nylon bottom. And reused the zippers. About $80Cdn. We used a Bernina 830, a good but almost 50 year old machine. It struggled at corners with 6 layers of cloth but otherwise soldiered though. My wife is pretty skilled but I learned a LOT.

Doing all the settee cushions is a big project no doubt. I think there are 9 on my E34. I don't think sunbrella is a good choice, it is expensive and not comfortable. Outdoor cushions yes use it. Sunbrella comes in good/better /best. Good is more comfortable for cushions. Best for covers for BBQ, outboard, winch, helm, etc. (use UV thread). These are great projects for the beginner. You can find sunbrella and nylon at thrift stores too and save a bundle. We scavenged scraps from an awning shop garbage bin. Perfect for patching repairs.

You should give it a try, and as Christian says the Sailrite will easily pay for itself.

Rob
Vancouver, BC



Original velour cushion cover (expensive)
IMG_0580.jpg


Thrift store find, rip stop nylon, 5' x 6' for $6 (less 30 % senior's discount ;-)
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