New Upholstery for a 1980 E38

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
After 13 years of ownership we are on the cusp of much more cruising time. Our old upholstery was getting dirty, in addition to being so 20th Century. Every cloth design and color that the members of this site have shown us are beautiful and a good choice. After we got some bids and started looking at the huge number of cover options, we selected Sunbrella Action Stone. It's a medium gray with some texture in the weave. It was recommended early on after we chose an upholstery shop and we stewed about it for over a month. We looked at several other colors and textures to try to talk ourselves out of it and then spent some more time talking ourselves into choosing it. I hope that sounds familiar to some of you.

Anyway, we do like it and like the changes we made. And we can't wait to use it. Here is a narrated tour.

The centerpiece of a boat is the salon. We have two tables and both can be dropped down to make berths. The dinette and double berth is here, with a sample of the old cushions at the right of the dinette mode. We still have thoughts that family or friends will spend a night or two onboard with us in some idyllic spot. The fore and aft seat cushions are not diagonal cut. We squared them to make it easier to get to the under cushion storage areas.

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The starboard side settee or game table can be a berth too. With the table down position I will lounge here in the evenings, able to stretch out my legs. Ellen sits across the aisle on the aft dinette seat with her feet toward the fire. The cabin heater sends warm air directly at her from under the settee seat. Raising and lowering the table is going to require some work to make it quick and painless. The current support method is effective but makes it frustrating to change configurations in either direction. And, yes we do use the table in the up position quite a bit while underway (chart booklets) and at bedtime and in the morning. It is our dressing table and the seats are "suitcase" stands. The three back cushions along the bulkhead there are new for this use of the settee area. They snap to the bulkhead.

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footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
The V-Berth and the Quarter Berth

(Had to split this due to the attachment limit.)

The V-berth is where we sleep and we used to have two large cushions split lengthwise. We kept the center split, but also added a crosswise split to make access to the top of the berth easier. There is a 60-gallon water tank under there and also two stowage areas that we seldom use. We are going to get a mattress topper of some sort to make it more comfortable to sleep. That will hurt access, but not as much as when the cushions themselves were so large.

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The aft quarter berth is still the largest cushion and it's now more complicated. The #1 battery bank is under the forward section so we added a hinge. It's still going to be a pain to get to the access ports above the fuel tank, but they are rarely visited. Forward of that is the small nav station cushion. It gets used.

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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
small question

Nice looking!
Did you change out the factory sliding door for a curtain ??
 

kiwisailor

Member III
Blogs Author
Wow. I'm impressed that looks really good. Did your E38 originally have upright "hull side" cushions against at the game table? Our boat doesn't have those cushions so just curious. What was the damage report?
 
Craig,

The upholstery is just beautiful. In the V-berth...under the cushions, is that a moisture barrier in white?


Hilco on Sketcher
 

Alan Gomes

Sustaining Member
(Had to split this due to the attachment limit.)

The V-berth is where we sleep and we used to have two large cushions split lengthwise. We kept the center split, but also added a crosswise split to make access to the top of the berth easier. There is a 60-gallon water tank under there and also two stowage areas that we seldom use. We are going to get a mattress topper of some sort to make it more comfortable to sleep. That will hurt access, but not as much as when the cushions themselves were so large.

View attachment 21412

The aft quarter berth is still the largest cushion and it's now more complicated. The #1 battery bank is under the forward section so we added a hinge. It's still going to be a pain to get to the access ports above the fuel tank, but they are rarely visited. Forward of that is the small nav station cushion. It gets used.

View attachment 21414
Exceedingly attractive. Makes me want to update mine.
 

HerbertFriedman

Member III
I dont mean to be crass but can you give me a price for this work, I have an 87E34 in need of a similar job? Also, did you consider ultrasuede?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Looks great. Gray was a close choice for me, too.

Herb, the actual price depends on fabric--which ranges from $8 to $48+--and the labor. And whether you need new foam, which many old boats do.

I wouldn't rule out local freelance upholsters, since the sewing is no different from a couch. For upholstering 15 cushions on my E38 the labor was $1300.

We needed 30 yards of fabric and 30 yards of "Naugahyde" (the bottoms).

The choice of the fabric, as Craig says, has no rules at all and will drive you bonkers. Since our boats don;t leak, it's "whatever you like."

I grew up with sweat-slippery all-vinyl bunks on dripping wooden boats. Let nobody says there is no such thing as progress.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Thank you for all the nice comments

I almost made this a blog post rather than a thread, but since I didn't actually do anything except point and pay, it wasn't a very interesting process. Now that it's done, whenever I work in the cabin, I have to move the new cushions out of harms way. Grandma used to have those clear plastic covers on her sofa cushions when we were young ...

The foam (4" bottoms and 3" backs) and the fabric are all new. None of our old stuff was worth keeping.

Loren, the factory sliding door for the aft quarter berth is still there and works better than ever. Many years ago one of the little wheeled rollers in the top track broke and I repaired it (somehow) and got it back together. It's been working fine but at certain rpms and in some positions it makes noise.

kiwisailor, the back cushions for the game table were not in the boat when we got it. They're new and they cover the starboard storage doors in addition to being nice to lean against. So, it is a decent bench seat now if there are many people aboard.

hilco woudstra, the white stuff sticking up in the v-berth is an interlocking rubber/plastic perforated non-skid surface that lets the underside of the cushions breathe. The name escapes me or maybe I never knew it, but it makes a 1/4" gap and is a total of about 1/2" high. It has been onboard since before we owned the boat. It has worked great, minimizing moisture collection and we have had very little mildew up there.

HerbertFriedman, I will address some cost considerations in the next post. We looked at suedes briefly. It is expensive fabric to buy and we thought it would attract pet fur more efficiently than the Sunbrella. So, we'll see. We paid $40 a yard for the Sunbrella and the grade or type of Sunbrella is meant for upholstery. It's not the same stuff you use to make sail or bimini covers.

I agree with all the stuff Christian said.

The bottoms and backs of our old cushions were mostly vinyl and the new ones have a fabric bottom cover. We decided against edging or piping, although in a contrasting color it looks great. We even briefly thought of making the cushions and backs different colors.

Again, thanks for the compliments and questions. It took us several years of thinking about it before we made the move.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Cost considerations

We paid just over $7,000 before sales tax for the job, paying $40 per yard for fabric and $18 per yard for the bottom fabric. We went from 18 cushions to 22 cushions, adding the one hinge in the aft berth and the three back cushions for the settee.

The range of bids was from about $6,000 for a direct duplication of the existing and no visit to the boat, to about $11,000 for the high end. All shops were busy and one was at least three months wait from the time of placing the order for fabric. We chose a small shop that has done boats before (owner has two of his own) and he came out and patterned the boat. He also advised us on the changes we wanted to make and was patient with us while we ordered bigger swatches and borrowed his Sunbrella book. We had to wait about a month after we picked the fabric and made the final decisions. Not bad.

Apparently fabric for upholstery is sort of special, so I recommend listening to the upholsterer on your choice. This is something I didn't know.

Foam support ratings can vary from run to run and between manufacturers. We asked for foam that was a little harder (stiffer?) than our reasonably worn stuff. We'll see how that goes, but we bought good quality foam on his recommendation. We plan to sleep on a 2" or 3" thick foam topper. We're still working on that.
 

McGinnis

Member II
There's a lot of great sunbrella products far and beyond the typical sail cover/bimini fabrics. With the sale of our 38, I'm eager to obtain another boat now that I have a full custom sewing and design shop at my disposal to create a Sunbrella wasteland of cushions, covers, enclosures and shades for the boat.

The work you had done looks fantastic!
 

ignacio

Member III
Blogs Author
Foam support ratings can vary from run to run and between manufacturers. We asked for foam that was a little harder (stiffer?) than our reasonably worn stuff. We'll see how that goes, but we bought good quality foam on his recommendation. We plan to sleep on a 2" or 3" thick foam topper. We're still working on that.
Beautiful work. The piping would have added cost. From experience, making piping from fabric and piping cord (rather than buying it pre-made) is laborious. I didn't use piping on my new set either.

Is it the dry-fast reticulated foam or the standard polyurethane variety?
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Foam type

Thanks, Ignacio.

We used the standard polyurethane foam. The dry-fast foam was offered and discussed but with a fluid resistant fabric, we decided on the standard. I don't recall if there was any price difference.

Craig
 

hanareddy

Member I
We needed 30 yards of fabric and 30 yards of "Naugahyde" (the bottoms).
Hi!

I am curious about why you needed the same amount of fabric for the bottom of the cushions as you did for the rest. I just got an estimate for interior cushions for my E29 and was told I need 37 yards total. I am getting a more detailed breakdown of that number so I know how much bottom fabric to buy. I really need to save some money someplace because it is expensive (but worth it IMO).

Thank you!
Nancy
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
Hmm... I should know these numbers because I just did that project not too long ago. But some of the materials sat around for years in the "projects to be finished" closet. However the bottom material was a recent purchase, so I can look that up. It's a vinyl-coated polyester mesh material that A) keeps the cushions from sliding around B) provides some ventilation,* and C) is not too expensive. (It looks better than the extreme close-up shown in the catalog photo.) I used nine yards total for the cushion bottoms and and backs. Of course, the number of "yards" you use depends on how wide the material is. IIRC (and it's been a while) the rest of the project was 15 yards. All this was about 54" wide. There were a couple of places where I sewed some shorter pieces together to get one long enough, so there is a seam or two on the underside, and the boxing, of one or two cushions. But you'd never notice. :rolleyes: (Look over there! Is that a dolphin?) There were only very small scraps left over from the project - I used almost every bit that I bought.
Oh, duh, but I've shortened the port settee and the starboard V cushions, so stock configuration would take a couple more yards than that.
*I probably obviated the ventilation function of the fabric by using the film-wrap + vacuum method to compress the cushions enough to get them into the covers.

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It was tempting to divide up some of the long cushions into smaller ones. For ease of handling and accessing the hatches below them. Especially the long one over the engine and battery compartment. But I decided to go with fewer and larger cushions because if I'm sleeping or lounging on them, I don't want my butt or elbow going down in the crack between cushions. Maybe faulty reasoning, but that's what I went with.
 

hanareddy

Member I
Hmm... I should know these numbers because I just did that project not too long ago. But some of the materials sat around for years in the "projects to be finished" closet. However the bottom material was a recent purchase,
Did you use 4 inch foam?
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
Did you use 4 inch foam?
Yes, it's four-inch foam wrapped in 1/2-inch batting.

In measuring the pieces, I deliberately neglected the thickness of the batting in order to achieve an "over-stuffed" look and feel. Note that (in 20/20 hindsight) you should not do this if you want multiple cushions to neatly butt squarely-up against one another, such as in the V-berth. This is something that is not explicit in the SailRite videos. In some videos they say to do it this way, but in others (e.g. the V-berth video) they say to do it a different way. It's all buried in their "hem allowance" calculations. Overstuffed: more forgiving of cumulative minor errors, but adjacent cushions end up meeting like this )( instead of like this ][
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Re tops and bottoms, the upholsterer requested 30 yards top and 30 yards vinyl bottom. He did the measurements.

He recommended using the white "Naughhyde" as piping on the blue fabric. I was concerned, but he was right, it looks good.

Maybe that's why he required equal amounts. Anyhow, vinyl is relatively cheap. And I have adopted vinyl piping for other sewing projects.
 

vbenn

Member III
I did ultrasuede and new foam in salon and aft berth 10+ years ago. $7000. We also replaced the v-berth cushions with a marine mattress for $900.
 
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