I finally finished the cockpit enclosure. It was by far the largest, most difficult sewing project I have ever tackled. It was not fun.
Phase two did not start out well. The extension (connects the bimini to the dodger) was the last shade panel finished so it was the first window panel I attempted. I followed the instructions on the Sailrite video. I cut the panel out of O'Sea 30 mil vinyl, used seamstick to bast the zippers on the panel, cut the 2" binding strips to cover the zippers and sewed everything together. Then I walked down to the boat and tried it on. It didn't fit!!! I needed at least an additional inch to reach from the bimini to the dodger. I was dismayed not only because this panel didn't fit but I wondered if any of the panels would fit using the patterns I had made. I gave up for the evening and went to bed. The next day I ripped the zipper off of the top of the panel, sewed a strip of 1" binding onto the panel and attached the zipper to that and tried again. It still didn't fit. I ripped the 1" binding off of the panel, ripped the zipper off of the 1" binding, sewed a strip of 2" binding onto the panel, and attached the zipper it that. It finally fit.
I wrote a post to a FaceBook group, Sewing on Boats, about my problems and received some very good support and advice. One of the responses suggested that I cut the side of the panel that attaches to the bimini according to the pattern and cut the other edges 1" larger. Then sew a zipper on the side that attaches to the bimini, take it to the boat for a fitting, then trim and sew on another zipper. I should continue fitting and sewing one zipper at a time until it is done. This was an excellent suggestion and it was how I sewed the rest of the panels. I made numerous trips back and forth until all seven panels were constructed. I have to give credit to George for helping me with the fittings during brutally hot and humid weather. Thank you, sweetie.
Shortly after I started sewing the window panels I began having problems with my Sailrite machine. It was skipping stitches and breaking thread. I read the instructions and watched the dvd that came with the machine. Sailrite provides instructions on how to adjust the timing. I tried to follow their instructions but was terrified that I would mess something up and never get it working properly again. I am not mechanically minded and had to ask George which way to turn a screw to loosen it. (I know, I know--lefty loosey, righty tighty. I seem to be the only person who can never remember that.)
One thing that seemed to happen frequently was the needle would hit the cap spring. This created a burr on the cap spring which would lead to skipped stitches and broken thread. I ordered three additional cap springs and went through those pretty quickly. I ordered 10 additional cap springs before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. In the end I believe it was my turning the wheel by hand to give it an assist when starting a seam that was causing the problem. It is something I have always done on my regular machine, especially when sewing something heavy. For some reason, the Sailrite machine doesn't like it. Now, instead of giving it an assist I step on the foot pedal and hope for the best.
I ended up losing about a week trying to sort out the issues but finally got it working well. The panels are done and I just have some final tweaking to do. I have to decide whether I am going to attach Velcro straps at the bottom to secure them to the supports on the boat or use adhesive snaps. I am also making some adjustments to the zippers to help them work better.
The window material is quite expensive. The panels were large, heavy and unwieldy. I was very concerned that they would get scratched on the edges and corners of the sewing table and finally resorted to sewing on the floor. It actually worked much better.
|This worked much better than trying to move the panels onto and around my sewing table. The plaid sheet is something I bought at a thrift store. I roll the panels in old sheets to protect them.|
We gave the extension panel a test run this past weekend during a thunderstorm. I have to say it worked really well keeping some of the rain out. I was wishing I had brought the other finished panels. I do believe we will enjoy the enclosure this fall.