STUDIO 103 @Sand Sea and Air Interiors

Upholstery for Yachts, Aircrafts, Home, Hotels and Office


Leave a comment

Preparing for disasters

ClubNautico-SanJuan

Hurricane Maria damage at a marina in San Juan. A metal roof structure collapsed
on the boat of one of Sand Sea and Air’s customers. Photo: Alayna Wool.

Terri Madden’s January/February 2018 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

Editor’s note: Like many people who live and work in Puerto Rico, longtime contributor Terri Madden, owner of Sand Sea and Air Interiors Inc., has been deeply affected by the hurricanes. We asked her to write a column to help others learn from her experience.

When a disaster occurs, everything takes on a new meaning. The essential needs of food and shelter become primary not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones. With world news at our fingertips, we read daily about tragic circumstances affecting both strangers and people we know. So…do you and your family have a disaster plan in place? Do you as a business owner have a contingency plan for your employees as well as your facility? If the answer is no, I hope this column will propel you to action. You never know when a disaster will strike.

The new normal

As I write this from Puerto Rico [Oct. 30, 2017], more than three million people are still in survival mode. It has been 41 days since one of the world’s strongest hurricanes on record made a direct strike on the “Enchanted Island.” Nine hundred and eleven people are confirmed dead and our borders may be closed indefinitely due to bacterial contamination or yellow fever epidemics. Airplanes carried more than 73,000 people to the mainland so far and airline tickets are currently sold out for at least three weeks. Electricity has only been temporarily restored to less than 10 percent of the island.

I am fortunate that my home and business were not completely wiped out. I have declined offers to “go somewhere” because Sand Sea and Air has employees and customers who depend on us. These days I am in survivor mode and I am not alone. Several other U.S. fabricators’ homes and businesses were also affected in 2017 by fire, flooding, snowstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Some were left with only the shirts on their backs, while others fared slightly better but are still dealing with the aftermath of a crisis, trying to pick up the pieces and plan their next steps.

Where to start

Ask yourself, if you had to quickly flee your home or business, what would you take and how easily could you let other things go?

Look around and evaluate your belongings. What would you put in your car or suitcase? Your pets, photos, a computer, documents, a few clothes, a passport, a cell phone? What could you leave and drive away from with a peaceful heart? Pause for a moment to evaluate and scale down your essential belongings. Get clear on your priorities!

ImportanceofSupplierSupporttowardRebuilding

Donations are critical for rebuilding damaged homes across the island. Shade sails and hardware donated by IFAI-member Wholesale Shade, San Marcos, Calif., will cover the new framing of this home. Photo: Alayna Wool.

Keep your business viable

Once the immediate hours or days of tragic events have passed, you may find that circumstances present themselves to strengthen you. Hopefully, you are better off than others and can lend a hand that will bless you twofold. But, if finding basic necessities like food and shelter is all you can do, then hour by hour pick yourself up.

At Sand Sea and Air, we worked the first five weeks by propane lantern light and wore bicycle headlamps to pattern and prep materials for current orders. We set up a temporary mobile office nearby in a facility with a generator.

We are still working on laptops to plan our next steps and keep batteries charged. We vacillate from frustration to a sense of accomplishment when we achieve even just one task in a day! Orders have been forthcoming as customers try to jump-start their lives and ask us to replace missing, broken or deteriorated items. I like to believe that we are better off than most, yet I can’t help but wonder at times.

The immediate aftermath

Short-term actions

Be grateful if you are able to stay in your home or with family members or friends as you gradually pick up the pieces. We are accustomed to multitasking and doing things on deadline. When we are forced to a standstill, it can be extremely frustrating.

  • Contact your family, friends and employees.
  • Take photos of all damaged items and areas before doing any cleanup.
  • Assess damages and obtain estimates for replacements or repairs.
  • Contact your insurance company to file claims on personal property, vehicles, your business, etc. (You can be reimbursed for the contents of a home refrigerator up to $500 with no deductible.)
  • Seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which offers an almost immediate relief payment ($500) deposited directly to your bank account for individuals who have had to leave their homes during a disaster. You can apply at www.fema.gov.
  • If necessary, contact the Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers low-interest loans to businesses affected by disasters.

Picking up the pieces

Long-term actions

  • Establish a support network. Delegate one or two people to contact others. Keep distant family members and friends in the loop so they know how to help you.
  • If possible, post updates on Facebook or WhatsApp to reach others quickly when you can’t connect individually.
  • Let business associates know what you may need—they will want to help.
  • Set up links to GoFundMe and other crowdfunding sites.
  • Connect with organizations that offer help with small and large issues, including religious organizations, community groups, clubs, etc.

Help from IFAI, vendors and suppliers

In the hurricane season’s aftermath, sales reps and vendors such as Mike Hendricks at Keyston Bros., Derek Robinson at Glen Raven, Mike Sandercock at Quality Thread and Notions Company, Gregg Burrows and Patrick Howe at Wholesale Shades, Craig Zola at Herculite® and Greg Smith at Million Air have reached out to us offering assistance with discounted pricing, product care packages and samples. IFAI kindly posted an update on our situation in a member email news brief.

Ultimately, it is God, amazing friends, family and the encouragement of other IFAI members who are the web of support that gives me the energy and strength to survive. My heartfelt thanks to all of you!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Keeping up on trends in marine upholstery

Screen-Shot-2017-08-23-at-10.02.32-AM

Photo 1: The exterior upholstery on this custom-built vessel by Nor-Tech offers tones of sand and ivory in different, yet complementary textures of vinyl.
Photo 2: The decorative topstitching in contrasting colors on the seat of this custom-built vessel by Deep Impact is striking. Formerly flat cushion surfaces are transformed with visually appealing diamond-quilted patterns on ergonomic high-low surfaces. The boat show featured an extensive use of a double diamond quilted pattern (using the beefy stitch known as a cable stitch).

Terri Madden’s September/October 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.
Check out Sand Sea & Air’s amazing work at SandSeaAir.com.

Boat shows are a rich resource.

When was the last time you attended a local or international boat show? If it’s been awhile, I recommend you put it on your agenda. To stay a notch ahead of the competition, professional marine fabricators must be aware of new concepts, designs and materials. Viewing new boats at boat shows is an excellent way to keep abreast of the vast assortment of new options so that when a customer is considering a refit, you can maintain the integrity of the vessel yet offer tasty, new selections that deliver a fresh impact that enhances the style of the vessel.

Recently, I attended a local boat show where standard vessels like Boston Whalers and Grady-Whites were on exhibit as well as some striking custom vessels with state-of-the-art upholstery techniques that commanded top dollar. Not only were these vessels showpieces, one salesperson of a custom boat manufacturer said the company had a 32-vessel waiting list with an 18-month delivery time frame.

Here are some of the new materials, trends and ideas that struck me as I wandered around the show.

Vendors are a research treasure trove The marine vendors at boat shows, as well as those who support the Marine Fabricators Association (MFA) regional and national conferences, are a valuable resource—so take advantage of them. They provide sample cards and books of their current offerings, as well as larger swatches for your special projects; customers love to view and touch the materials onboard their vessels.

Make sure to review the manufacturers’ data on the backside of the sample cards. It’s filled with information that can help you compare specifications regarding lightfastness and the all-important Wyzenbeek test results for abrasion.

Screen-Shot-2017-08-23-at-10.02.13-AM

Photo 3: Serge Ferrari’s Stamskin One and Batyline Eden upholstery materials offer extreme durability and resistance in outdoor environments.
Photo 4: Here is a classic rope pattern by Ralph Lauren® for an indoor/outdoor acrylic fabric being used as an accent pillow with a ¾-inch rope trim our customer decided to showcase on her salon sofa.

The Wyzenbeek test determines the number of times a material can be sat upon before it shows sign of deterioration. The number of “double rubs” are a measurement of a fabric’s abrasion resistance. To conduct the test, a piece of cotton duck is stretched over a mechanical arm and passed back and forth over the test fabric in each direction. Each back-and-forth motion is one double rub. These results are listed with most fabrics and are helpful in determining which fabric is right for a particular application.

Just last week I was looking for a commercial-grade vinyl and upon contacting a local salesperson, I learned about a vinyl that could withstand 1.5 million double rubs. We are currently working with a designer who will not even consider a material less than 50,000 double rubs. Gathering this type of information is essential to operating within a customer’s budget and to understanding the value of one product over another.

Impressive upholstery materials

A few top-of-the-line materials stood out at the show. Serge Ferrari manufactures an extensive range of technically advanced materials whose value surpasses the cost per yard and is an excellent offering for marine upholstery projects. Stamskin One, the “skin” touch material, offers extreme resistance in outdoor environments. It includes an outstanding seven-year warranty and is available in more than 24 colors, in either a matte or soft grain texture.

This material is impervious to oils and creams, such as sunscreen. It offers easy care and maintenance and is safe to use with alcohol-based cleaners. There are no “pinking” issues with this marine vinyl, as there have been with other vinyl-based materials, since no plasticizers are used in the manufacturing process of Stamskin One. Consider this thermal material that offers comfort, fire resistance and breathability for your next project.

Screen-Shot-2017-08-23-at-10.01.59-AM

Photo 5: Throughout the 25-year life of this 83-foot Cheoy Lee vessel, the original owner selected exterior fabrics by Kravet® and JF Fabrics for the bow and bridge seating. The vessel hull was white with turquoise accents. It seemed only natural to provide sample selections that showcased this color palette.
Photo 6: Even though the material specifications noted that the horizontal pattern was a 17 ½-inch repeat with a 14 ¼-inch vertical repeat, it was extremely challenging to estimate the quantity of material. Even more challenging was maintaining the repeat layout during construction so that adjoining seams and cushions aligned to showcase the visual repeat of the material, especially on the curved corner cushions.
Photo 7: The classic herringbone pattern with a wave effect on this outdoor acrylic from Kravet was the client’s top choice. Since this pattern was very dramatic, Sand Sea and Air recommended a solid matching turquoise for the seat cushions. The contrast provided a perfect harmony for the spacious seating areas.

Serge Ferrari’s Batyline Eden is an extremely durable mesh material consisting of PVC and acrylic that combines strength and softness to produce a textile with the “hand” appearance and texture of an open-weave material. It is resistant to rot, mildew, UV radiation and fading, with a backside coating that provides a 100 percent waterproof mesh. It is a unique and comfortable material for your customers.

The comfort factor and ease of care make it a prime consideration for your next project. Whether for seating at sea or on exterior furniture, it is an impressive and functional material.

Contact either your local vendor or Serge Ferrari for color cards and pricing. Serge Ferrari is also an active participant at the national MFA and IFAI conferences, with an extensive assortment of other high-quality marine materials.

Sunbrella® fabrics are a far cry from the solid “canvas” that most fabricators were once familiar with. Sunbrella acrylic yarns are available to designers to create the patterns and textures that are now a virtual “Garden of Eden” in the marketplace. Designers at companies such as Ralph Lauren® and Kravet® have used Sunbrella in luscious patterns and textures at price points that are competitive to familiar brands, while others can exceed $200 per yard. The price may seem steep, yet just one yard can have a dramatic effect on your next project and be a showcase piece for the vessel owner.


Leave a comment

Foam failures and how to prevent them

Moldy Mattress Liner & Foam 2 copy

Exterior mattress that sat next to a Jacuzzi. An exterior mesh cover over Dri-Fast® foam could have prevented the deterioration of the vinyl cover over polyfoam. Stagnant water grew mold and the seams allowed the water and mold to seep into the polyfoam.

Terri Madden’s July/August 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.
Check out Sand Sea & Air’s amazing work with foam at SandSeaAir.com.

All marine fabricators who provide products for cushions, bedding and headliners face decisions on the best foam for the application. The right decision ensures quality projects and happy customers. The wrong decision contributes to foam failures.

Cheaper can cost more

Less expensive foams may seem like a good deal until you realize they can deteriorate far more quickly than pricier foams because they may include fillers and additives such as sawdust and soybean oil.

I saw this firsthand some years ago during the oil crisis when prices for petroleum-based products (like foam) shot through the roof. One supplier offered a less expensive marine foam that was not yet “captain” recommended—a definite red flag. Two years later we were contacted by a new customer to replace the deteriorated foam from that supplier.

Hi-LoFoamDeterioration

Here is one situation where a liner may have diminished the effects of sunlight. This image shows a commercial acrylic material on an exterior cushion where the polyfoam shrunk in the areas where the fabric was the lightest color. Interestingly, the foam was not affected where the dark stripes absorbed the sunlight. Photo Credit: Devin Genner

To prevent this sort of foam failure, only deal with reputable foam suppliers, ask a lot of questions and educate your customers who may not immediately understand why a more expensive foam product may be more cost effective in the long run.

Case study of cheap foam breakdown

A five-star resort hotel asked us to replace exterior cushions and daybed seating that were only two or three years old. One of the cushions looked like a former balloon that had been popped, another looked as if a wild dog had chosen it for a nesting spot and a third looked as if it had gastric bypass surgery!

Fortunately, we had not provided the original cushions and it was obvious the failure was due to a “budget” foam. A quality marine foam would have lasted twice as long. These cushions did not have liners—only exterior covers in an outdoor fabric.

Fabric liner considerations

Would a liner have prevented this issue? I don’t believe so. This

Lounge Seat Foam Shrinkage

This exterior daybed foam was one of several similar pieces at a resort property. It was a shocking example of foam shrinkage when inferior marine foam was supplied by a low-budget vendor.

was clearly a case of the cellular structure of the foam deteriorating in a commercial setting where the seating was used more frequently than on a private vessel. Fabric liners can prolong the life of exterior cushions in some marine settings, but there are important things to consider when using them:

  • Fabric type: Some liner fabrics are magnets for mold and mildew when used in an exterior application, and this will also affect the underlying foam. If a liner material is used, make sure it is mold and mildew resistant.
  • Application: If frequent cleaning will be required, foam placed inside a liner makes it easy to remove and reinsert into an outer cover.
  • Foam type: I generally always use Dri-Fast® marine foam here in the tropics where exterior cushions are frequently subjected to moisture. However, manufacturers offering water-resistant fabrics often question the necessity of using marine foam with their products. If your customer is on a tight budget and will be storing the cushions indoors when they are not being used, you might be able to use a less expensive foam.
Wet Seating under Cover

Asked to replace these old bow cushions, I was surprised to see how wet the cushions were underneath a protective cover that did not appear to be torn or broken. To prevent this, a water-repellent finish could have been applied to clean cushions at the first sign of water seepage. A breathable, water-resistant cover would allow for water runoff.

Good cushion foam choices

Open-cell reticulated foam has extremely open pores that allow water and air to flow through it easily and is available in soft, medium and firm densities. These foams are comfortable and stay cool when used for seating cushions and mattresses. Dri-Fast (sometimes called marine foam) is a high-quality open-cell reticulated foam formulated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew. When paired with an outdoor cushion fabric for the top and sides with a mesh base, it creates a virtually maintenance-free all-weather cushion that is easy to clean without removing the foam, making it an ideal choice for most boat cockpit cushions.

Closed-cell PVN foam (also known as flotation foam) is three times firmer than polyurethane foam and is a more expensive option. Its buoyancy makes it a great choice for flotation applications like floating cockpit cushions and life vests. It is also a good choice for commercial boat seating or other seating that will be used as a step for getting on and off the vessel. PVN foam resists water absorption, so you can safely cover it with any type of fabric. Thin sheets of closed-cell foam are often glued to the bottom of other foam, adding additional support to a cushion, like a box spring to a mattress. When using it with Dri-Fast foam, cut holes in the closed-cell foam for drainage.

Supposedly Marine Foam Breakdown

These two-year-old exterior cushions were provided by a well-known manufacturer. Perhaps budget constraints determined the use of polyfoam and the fabricator thought a water-repellent liner would keep water out. Verify the specifications of the materials you use to avoid this situation. We omitted the liner and used Sunbrella® fabric with Dri-Fast foam.


Leave a comment

Foam: The what, when and where

Terri Madden’s May/June 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

Cushion foam is an important component of any marine seating project. From cockpit cushions with hull angles to bosun’s chairs and boat mattresses, how do we as professional marine fabricators choose the best solution for cushion foam across a smorgasbord of applications? The task can feel daunting given the complexity of choices in foam types, materials, densities and compression factors, but choosing correctly is crucial to a project’s success.

Foam types

Foam is essentially a group of air bubbles trapped inside a solid matrix.

Open-cell foam is characterized as a soft material. The surfaces of the bubbles (the cells) are broken and interconnected so that air moves easily through all the spaces of the material when the foam is squeezed or compressed.

Open-cell foam is ideal for cushioning, padding and backing for furniture when you are looking for a balance of comfort and support. It is also useful for occasional bedding products and is generally available at an affordable price in standard sizes and heights as well as cylinders and wedges. Polyurethane foam, memory foam and latex foam are the three most common types of open-cell foam.

Closed-cell foam is generally much denser and firmer than open-cell foam. Its air bubbles are completely sealed (closed) off from those around it. These materials typically have higher compressive strength because the air does not dissipate when the foam is squeezed or pressed.

Closed-cell foam is often used in flotation equipment and marine products because it does not soak up water. It is also resistant to solvents, petroleum products, and has antimicrobial properties to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. I have rarely used it for cushions because it is not very comfortable to sit on. We recently supplied an expedition vessel with 4-inch x 96-inch laminated layers of closed cell foam. The sheets had to wrap over the length of 96-inch carbon fiber poles for protection.

see Artic P photos of foam with angled edges to cover over a cylinder. 

Factor in comfort

When choosing foam for your cushion project, you generally need a balance of comfort, support and durability that is appropriate for your application. I recommend you have different foam samples on hand so your customers can evaluate their preferences during “sit tests.” This is especially valuable when working on custom projects.

Support: The thickness of the foam will affect its ability to support weight. Consider the weight of the person being supported. A larger person (more than 250 pounds) will need firmer foam.

Comfort: The softer the foam, the more comfortable it will be. Adding a DacronR/fiberfill wrap topper is an excellent way to add a bit of comfort while still having a good supportive foam. The fiberfill also helps in “filling out” the sides and edges of a firm foam inside of the cushion covers. Since fiberfill compresses easily, cut your foam to size without compensating for the fiberfill, otherwise you’ll end up with a boat cushion that has a baggy appearance.

Durability: Higher density foams have a much higher resistance to collapsing or bottoming out then lower density, inexpensive foams. Applications in which a cushion is used onboard a vessel should lean toward a higher density. Seating that is used only occasionally could use a lower density foam.

Additional considerations

Cost will obviously be an important factor in your choice. The price for upholstery foam is based on sheets of a specific size and weight as well as density, in some cases. Some vendors will offer custom cutting and pricing for upholstery foam if you do not need the large pieces they normally sell. Expect the price to be slightly higher per square foot than if you bought it in larger sheets and then cut it yourself. Upholstery foam can range from $12 a sheet (sold in 24- by 24- by 2-inch sections) to more than $126 a sheet (sold in 6- by 24- by 84-inch sections).

You will find out rather quickly that foam is available in various thicknesses. Also, some states have flammability laws that may lock you into using foam rated as fire resistant. Check with local and national suppliers for these requirements as well as samples, sizes, custom cutting options and pricing.

Ultimately, the “perfect” cushion foam for a given project depends on the ultimate use of the piece you are fabricating. Understanding an application’s requirements and your customers’ expectations is the best way to determine the ideal foam choice among the wide variety of options available.

Open-cell foam types and common uses:

Polyurethane Foam is the lowest quality of foam and will often not return to its original form.

High Density Foam is sold primarily for mattresses, average sofa and chair cushions, interior boat cushions, camping pads, etc. Some vendors offer High Density foam (also called High Resilient foam) which is used in expensive seating including yachting and boating because it is very buoyant and resilient.

Memory Foam is also known as Miracle foam, Wonder foam or viscoelastic foam with additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often used as extra padding atop a mattress as it is soft, comfortable and highly compactable as it conforms to a shape. Developed for space shuttle seating, it is used for mattresses and is the most unique foam currently on the market.

Latex Rubber Foam is a non-allergenic foam. It was the first type of foam on the market and the longest lasting. It is used in top-of-the-line products including mattresses, cushions etc. It is a better quality than High Density Foam.

Rebond Foam excels in situations where other foams do not hold up to demanding daily use. It is highly resilient and stands up to high impact usage. Ironically, we are currently replacing it on pilot cylinder roll bar cushions because it absorbs water, which seeps out from the seams and gets the crew wet.

Sew Foam is a light  ¼” – ½” polyfoam with a cloth material laminated to the poly foam base. This foam is great for creating a fuller, more cushioned look and feel, particularly under quilted upholstery in boats and car seats.

Shredded Foam can be used in throw pillows, cushions, patio furniture, cushion backs and many other applications. Available both in regular shredded foam and shredded memory foam.

Dryfast Foam is also known as Outdoor Foam, Marine Foam, Flo-through Foam and Open Cell Foam.

This foam is highly recommended for outdoor use where moisture and water is prevalent and especially in marine cushion applications because it does not absorb moisture like conventional foams. Here in the tropics it is widely used for boat cushions, boat mattresses and patio furniture. Whenever possible, these cushions should incorporate a mesh material underneath to allow for water drainage.

The large, open cells of Dryfast foam provide a degree of airflow not present in other foams, allowing the foam to dry quickly, even after complete saturation. I recently became aware that the Dryfast foam formula is antimicrobial and helps suppress microorganism growth, common in damp areas. Because of the antimicrobial formula and air circulation, Dryfast foam could also be used in home products like bedding for those with health concerns.

Closed-cell foam types and uses

Polyethylene Foam has excellent buoyancy and is typically used in flotation equipment and other nautical products.

Neoprene Foam is a flexible, form-fitting and durable sponge rubber that provides good thermal and moisture insulation. It resists ozone, sunlight, oxidation and many petroleum derivatives and chemicals.

Additional closed-cell foams include: Cross-linked PE, Polystyrene, Gym Rubber and Polypropylene.

Density and Compression (Firmness)

Density and firmness are two important measurements of foam quality. Knowing these will help you select the right foam for your application.

Different foam manufacturers may use different numbering or rating systems. In the common four-digit system, the first two digits specify the density of the foam and the second two digits specify the compression (firmness) of the foam. Firmness is measured in terms of ILD (Indention Load Deflection), also sometimes referred to as IFD (Indention Force Deflection).

Density technically means taking a solid chunk of 12- by 12- by 12-inch foam and weighing it in pounds. The denser the foam, the more resilient and durable it will be.

Upholstery foam is rated in density by a 2-digit number ranging from 18 to 35 with a decimal point between the 2 numbers. A #18 foam would be 1.8 foam. Here are some usage guidelines:

o 1.8 (extra soft, used as back cushions)

o 2.4 (comfortable soft, firmer back cushions)

o 2.7 (soft, soft seat but firm back cushions)

o 2.8 (medium soft, medium soft seat)

o 2.7 (medium, medium seat)

o 1.9 (medium firm)

o 2.8 (firm, typically a 2-inch thick dining room chair)

o 3.2 (extra firm)

Compression (firmness) is an ILD/IFD value represented by how many pounds it takes to compress the foam by 25 percent. A higher number means firmer foam and a lower number means softer foam.


Leave a comment

Seating solutions for reclining, storage and temperature control

IMG_6101.JPG

Terri Madden’s March/April 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

When a customer requests an unusual type of seating for a boat, it’s a fabrication opportunity to begin a comfortable dialogue with that client. Instead of hesitantly saying, “I will try to do my best,” turn your response into, “I am here to help you.”

That customer may have already heard a reluctant fabricator say, “That’s not possible,” or “That’s going to cost a lot of money.” The open-minded fabricator will thoughtfully listen and ask questions as the customer describes his or her vision. The goal is to cultivate a constructive dialogue that will help a customer understand the value of the fabricator’s time, effort and skills. What’s more, creating an especially challenging seating project may become an award-winner that ultimately showcases a fabricator’s considerable skill and experience.

Customers are often looking for a wow factor in their new marine cushions and seating. At the same time, they usually have budget constraints and want the work completed as soon as possible. To balance these demands, fabricators need to help clients understand the give and take of turning unusual requests into reality.   

When an usually project is requested, here are ideas for preparing for your first meeting with the client:

  • Designate a day to review his or her request so you have sufficient time to explore solutions that will suit the project.
  • Consider whether this project will take away or add to your core business.
  • Review measurements and gather photos of similar projects.
  • Develop sketches and rough drafts for the client.
  • Research the type of materials required, including quantities, costs and availability.
  • Compare the customer’s budget to your rough estimate for materials and labor.
  • Designate your prototype fee in your estimate; this will be different than a quantity fee and re-orders on certain items.

Adjustable chaise seating

Consider what new projects you have seen in the past year. I find it inspiring to view fellow fabricators’ projects that, to my knowledge, had not previously existed in the marine market but are now are frequently seen on pleasure crafts around the world.

Adjustable reclining chaise seating has been in the furniture industry for years, yet only recently have a few fabricators sourced hardware and materials to transition this idea to the marine market. Now this comfortable solution is a reality for marine customers.

In the past, super yachts often incorporated flat cushions into a recessed area on the bow of the boat. Typically these “day bed” cushions have had elevated headrests integrated into the body of a cushion, providing only a few inches of elevation. However, fabricators like David Elliott, owner of David’s Custom Trimmers in Australia, have recently utilized a 25 mm Kingboard as a custom base with a stainless ratchet-hinge. The hardware is available from Taco Marine. This fusion has provided a durable and comfortable solution for guests to sit side-by-side with one person relaxing in an upright position while another person reclines.

Since the completion and installation of this project, Elliott has been sourcing additional prototypes for alternate functional hardware that is enduring and functional when installed into a fiberglass hull. He, like so many other fabricators, continues to strive to propel a great concept to the next dimension.  

Premium storage

Every vessel, no matter how large or small, needs optimized storage space, which is always tight onboard. Crew and owners need most items to be securely stowed away, yet they want easy access to everything from hardware to comfortable quilts.

Clever storage was recently created in the armrests of a custom-built sofa by Canvas Designers Inc., Riveria Beach, Fla. In fact, this upholstery project was awarded an Award of Distinction in the MFA 2016 Fabrication Excellence Awards. This custom sofa was for a 72-foot Merritt Sport Fish.

The two sofa arms of this handsome U-shaped sofa provide spacious custom storage via a hinge access feature. [Terri, this project was included in the March/April 2106 issue of MF (MFA Fabicator Awards). It stated “The entire seat and back are on hydraulic hinges, which lift up for storage space.” I think I should add this.]

Pat Erickson, at Canvas Designers, says the company slogan is, “If you can dream it, we can make it.”

The sofa is all leather with the back sections custom built with 2.25-inch horizontal channel pockets. The foam pockets were individually fabricated with a Stamoid back base for stability. The back has zipper access for stuffing the foam into the individual pockets. The size was specified by the client to match the leather boat blinds. This custom feature on the sofa back was exactly what the customer envisioned.

Just last week I received a customer request to include armrest storage in new custom sofa on a family vessel that is in a full refit stage. The customer saw this feature on the Internet and at a boat show. This opportunity illustrates how important it is to keep up with design trends for seating and cushions through Marine Fabricator magazine, seminars and conventions.

Climate controlled seating

Bill Marriott from Extreme Upholstery Designs, Charleston, S.C., is a talented fabricator who recently exceeded a customer’s expectations by creating climate-controlled mezzanine seating. He described the request as a “brain teaser, to say the least.” He puzzled through every step before preparing a prototype. Many times this type of process can take a fabricator days or weeks. I like to call it “chewing over a project.”

Bill’s client flew him to the boat site, so he could pattern the seat area on a new custom-made 62-foot Scarborough in North Carolina. The resulting seats are climate controlled with heat and air conditioning, so the owner can have a cool ride after a long hot fishing trip. Sunbrella® fabric was used. The one requirement the client had was, when standing on the dock or the back of the boat, he did not want to see into the open holes where the heat and air comes through the seat. Bill designed the seat so that only the fabric was visible when looking at the openings.

This was no easy task for a three-dimensional seat, which required access to insert the foam on form fitting cushions. Talent, ingenuity and years of design skills were incorporated into this amazing creation   .

Here are preparation tips that can guide you in creating a challenging project.

  • Do a conceptual “walk through” for each stage of a unique project to ensure that your time and talent are adequately compensated.
  • Confirm materials and hardware.
  • Prepare a maquette, sample or pattern.
  • Consider contours and alignment of all areas.
  • Determine time factors for each stage.
  • Determine what employee training may be required for the project.
  • Determine installation logistics and storage-related issues.

Don’t be shy about calling on fellow fabricators for advice when you hit a roadblock. You will be surprised at how willingly they share resources related to suppliers, techniques and professional contacts. I recall reading about scrim foam in the Marine Fabricator magazine several years back, I did not know what this foam was or how it would be utilized, so I contacted the author. She was more than willing to explain the various types and usages and provide a list of vendors. Through reaching out to others, I am fortunate to have many friends in this unique industry.


Leave a comment

Fresh updates for older vessels

aqua

Terri Madden’s January/February 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

Most interior fabrication projects occur on fixer-uppers. The vessel might be vintage or it might be less than ten years old. While I always welcome the challenge of doing a better design than the original, there is a fine line between aesthetics and practicality. After all, the boat needs to be both comfortable and secure while cruising on the water.

Your personal and professional marine expertise is what draws in a client, but your finished project is what leaves a lasting impression with everyone who steps on board. Do your best early in your client discussions to understand the scope of the job, budget and deadline. Be creative in offering phases for a project if a customer request surpasses the budget. Be inspired by the vast selection available for indoor and outdoor textiles and the marine hardware and components that offer performance whether attached by tracks, snaps, magnets or one of the numerous Velcro® systems.

Help your clients understand that a lot goes into any marine fabrication project. Your customers will appreciate your guidance and knowledge on how to choose textiles that “look good and stay in place.” And do research on emerging trends on fabrics and components so your next project reflects a fresh design while representing tried-and-true fabrication techniques.

0117mf_p48

Photos 2-5. Fresh colors and patterns to consider in interior design updates include aqua, black and white, citron, neutrals and mauves and neutrals and yellows.

Fabric trends

Observe your client’s sense of style and how he or she likes to dress. Does he or she favor a tailored look or a more casual shabby chic style? He or she may request boat decor in a similar style. Fabrics set the tone on any interior and are available in every option from basic nautical stripes and patterns, starting at around $18 per yard, to impressive designer jacquards, costing more than $150 per yard.

Do your research to understand the trends for the particular model and year of the vessel, keeping in mind that your upgrades will add value to the boat. My first client wanted his Bertram 50 foot to look exactly like the boat’s catalog, so that was exactly what we provided. Years later his grown son purchased a 1996 Bertram 50 foot which we restored in a manner reminiscent of the family’s original boat.

Be knowledgeable on other trends related to boat interiors. For example, classic interiors that include wall panels and headboards are currently incorporating extra padding and height, and tufted buttons are being utilized on headboards and sofas. Textile patterns are being juxtaposed to provide drama and flair.

Acrylic yarns have been incorporated into every imaginable color palette with textures and designs that reflect current trends. Marine designs with patterns, colors and textures are a bit more challenging than a residential or commercial project, because most cabin areas are visible on vessels up to 50 feet. It is a good idea to keep in mind the boat exterior colors. The waterline and hull colors are no longer a traditional white, so this is a good lead to follow in knowing a customer’s color preference.

Interior harmony is essential, especially after being outdoors at sea all day. Navy, yellow, orange or gray are common colors to choose. For larger vessels, it is a fabricator’s dream to utilize various palettes in individual cabins.

Most marine vendors launch their indoor and outdoor fabrics in the fall for the following year. You can get great ideas by contacting IFAI vendors now for 2017 color cards and fabric books. Observe trends in design magazines and visit local boat shows (see dates and listing on page 12) and the Marine Fabricators Convention from January 19–21 in Jacksonville, Fla., for more ideas. If you’ve never visited the IFAI Expo put it on your calendar now for September 26–29 in New Orleans. If it’s been awhile, attend this year to learn more about systems you will find useful on your future projects.

Fabric performance factors

It is important to be knowledgeable about manufacturers’ data or warranty information that is listed on their material specification sheets. Explain the important performance specifications to your customers. They will appreciate your expert advice on abrasion resistance, UV resistance, flammability, care and cleaning.

Durability. I first heard about the Wyzenbeek Test when I was obtaining a degree in textile design. This test should be kept in mind for making the best fabric selections for a project. The Wyzenbeek Test is regarded as the standard of measuring abrasion resistance or strength for fabrics in North America. Double rubs (each back-and-forth motion is one double rub) are a measurement of a fabric’s abrasion resistance. The double rubs you should look for in a fabric depend on your intended application.

In general, around 15,000 or more double rubs is considered heavy-duty for residential applications. We actually have commercial designers and customers who request 35,000 to 85,000 double rubs for their fabrics. Such fabrics are recommended for constant use, as in hospital waiting areas, airport terminals, restaurants, theaters and commercial vessels. There are vinyls that exceed 200,000 double rubs.

UV resistance. I am sure every fabricator has received at least one request to replace a cracked or brittle seat due to sun damage. Most suppliers of marine textiles include specifications with their product samples, so customers know how well the fabric will stand up to ultraviolet rays. Generally, fabric is rated for how well it will hold up under sun exposure ranging from 650 to 2,200 hours. The AATCC TM186-2015 Weather Resistance test measures a textile’s capacity to withstand UV light and moisture exposure.

Flammability. Flammability is the capacity of a substance to burn or ignite, causing fire or combustion. The flammability information generally listed on the supplier data sheets is the CAL 117E Test, but other tests may be included. The “passes” rating covers upholstery fabrics and filling materials and tests the interaction of the materials used in a piece of upholstered furniture. It is an important rating to be aware of.

Care and cleaning. We’ve all been asked to replace soiled cushions and other items that are more or less ruined. Often these items were provided by another shop. This begs the question, how many of us follow up with customers to see how well our projects are holding up? Providing follow-up after a year or so shows your genuine concern about quality and can often lead to more work.

Many fabricators are affiliated with a cleaning service that they recommend to customers. After a boat spends a year in the tropics without cleaning and maintenance, it is not easy to remove soil and stains from exterior applications. Yet some exterior fabrics now boast a five-year warranty with proper maintenance. I recently removed stubborn stains on a fabric that noted bleach could be used. To my surprise, Clorox Gel removed these deep stains. Be sure to test an area before proceeding with any strong stain remover. Again, most textile manufacturers include care and cleaning guidelines on their specification cards.

Hardware

Snaps, zippers and Velcro are traditional means of securing cushions in place, and several varieties of each exist. A Snad® is a plastic adhesive snap component that is available from YKK. It is available in various configurations for domed configurations or areas where a flexible base is required. It allows a snap to be adhered to a base where drilling a hole is not an option.

2b-aquagaurdvisonzipp

AquaGuard®/Vislon® and Proseal zippers are great options to integrate into your new fabrications.

Zippers. Have you seen the glow-in-the-dark and reflective coil zippers? How about the AquaGuard®/Vislon® zippers from YKK? These can be incorporated into exterior pillows and gear. The Gooper Hermetic magnetic zipper by Paskal works well on outdoor applications. The Gooper technology integrates rare-earth magnets with a flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) strip to provide a waterproof, dust-proof hermetic seal. I am currently using the Gooper on an exterior cover on a stainless Jacuzzi® where snaps are not an option for securing the cover. It works well because the magnets will hold the sides in place.

gooper

The Gooper Hermetic magnetic zipper provides a waterproof seal.

Velcro. Industrial-strength Velcro Extreme fasteners feature an all-weather, UV-resistant adhesive for all surfaces. This is a handy option for indoor and outdoor applications without using drills, nails, screws or epoxy. It is a durable alternative for attaching seating, and it is frequently used for ceiling and wall panels and headboards on every size of boat.

 

snad_m

Snad® adhesive snap components are available in various configurations and require no drilling.

What projects do you have coming up this year that push traditional boundaries for solutions? I would enjoy receiving any questions and feedback on how you have incorporated my recommendations and techniques into your projects. You can contact me through my website at http://www.sandseaair.com. I wish all my readers a blessed, healthy and prosperous 2017!


Leave a comment

Restyled sleeping cabins

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-36-06-am

Terri Madden’s May/June 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

Interior sleeping cabins on a vessel have always been my favorite projects. I enjoy researching options and ultimately providing customers with tidy solutions that offer easy accessibility.

Cabin spaces and mattresses come in all shapes and sizes. One of my clients claims to sleep 14 people on his 54-foot Bertram with only three interior cabins, but that’s a story for another time. On my first sleeping cabin project, the vessel had no foam or mattresses, and the sloping hull areas required patterning that I could barely fit into. A recent project on a Ferretti master cabin had a walk-around queen bed and headboard with massive oval windows at sea level.

Plan the job

  • Determine the time needed to do the job. This is essential in putting together your quote to know what your profit on the project will be.
  • Determine qualified personnel to pattern, assemble and remove items from the vessel.
  • Identify adequate machinery and equipment to complete the project.
  • Purchase the materials, keeping in mind availability and delivery issues.
  • Determine what fabrication skills are required to do the work. Decide what work can be done in-house and what duties will be outsourced. For example, who will do quilting?
  • Determine the process and dates for re-installation of items removed from the vessel.
  • Under promise, over deliver.

Start with good communication

When meeting a potential customer, good communication sets the stage for a successful project. Keep in mind that your customer may be unsure of your skills and how the design process works.

Develop your plan based on the facts you received over the phone or in person. Do as much discovery ahead of time and prepare a list of the key points that you and the customer must address in your first meeting. Research the vessel: know the model, year and size. Find out the customer’s primary goals, time frame and budget.

Listen to what your customer is asking for, confirm and recap the key items that were mentioned and requested during your meeting. Be honest if this is work you can provide. Then let your customer know when you will get back to him or her to offer your best recommendations.

For new cabin interiors, having a second meeting is generally necessary. You will want to discuss material selection and confirm layouts, styles and measurements, especially if design changes are being made rather than duplicating existing covers and window treatments. Take plenty of photos of all cabin areas; these will be invaluable references during your project.

Many materials are suitable for interior marine applications. I recommend offering your customer two groupings that will accommodate the agreed-upon budget and time frame of the project.

Once an agreement is reached, it is time to get started. For a recent master cabin project, the decision maker lived “off island.” She requested new textiles for the master cabin of a 60-foot 2003 Viking. The four coordinating textile patterns were selected online during a phone conference for the following:

  • A three-part headboard
  • A queen-size bed frame in one large section and two smaller sections
  • A fitted quilted bedspread for the existing mattress that sits within the bed frame
  • Two pillow shams with accent trim
  • An oversized neck roll pillow
  • Navy-colored fitted sheets in 100 percent cotton and 600 thread count.

Selection of materials

Fabric selection can be a daunting process unless your customer knows what he or she is looking for. Some customers know what design theme and colors they prefer, such as casual nautical styling or more sophisticated residential bedding. Because fabrics vary widely in cost, it is important that you and the customer agree on the budget, particularly because bedspread quilting and specialty fabrication quickly add to the budget.

Our showroom offers a large selection of indoor-outdoor fabrics from which our customers can choose. However, sometimes customers select online fabrics, as did our customer. Because she
selected four online fabrics, this required extra time. Her choices appeared to be a good match on the computer monitor, but they were very different “in hand.” Be certain to give yourself sufficient time to request and receive samples before purchasing.

What appeared to be plenty of time turned into a final rush to meet our deadline due to unforeseen decisions and delays. The delays occurred for reasons outside our control, including:

  • An additional two to three weeks was needed, as we waited for the requested samples of the original four fabrics. Two fabrics were woven patterns that were fine, yet the main fabric for the bedspread was a bright print that did not match the other materials. Time slipped by as we sourced the best replacement fabrics and waited for new memo samples.
  • A matching solid blue fabric was needed for the bed frame, because the original choice was back ordered past our delivery date.
  • Extra time was needed to verify that all fabrics were in stock and ready to ship.
  • Photos of replacement fabrics were sent to the customer, then we waited for her final approval.

Even though a local company had agreed to do the quilting, the wait time was more than a month after it received the fabric.

We needed additional time for the in-house quilting and procuring a large matching flat sheet for the lining and the Dacron® fill.

Some of you specialize in interiors and provide fitted quilted bedspreads. However, if you want to begin offering this item, be aware that a standard 54-inch fabric has to be pieced evenly on each side of the center of the 54-inch fabric to look and fit correctly on a master stateroom mattress.

This type of mattress can measure more than 65-inches wide.

Once you have an extra large size for the length and width, plan the quilt design that can be anything from an outline pattern to an hourglass pattern. For our project we decided on a diamond motif.

Over the past few years, several of our clients have purchased flat quilted bedding from online sources like Pottery Barn. We then adapt the quilt to the mattress shape. This is an affordable option you may like to recommend, especially for bunk beds.

For those who would like to offer quilted bedspreads, Tabors of San Angelo Inc. is a custom workroom in San Angelo, Texas, that provides high quality quilting for bedspreads, pillow shams and pillows. We have used this company in the past. You can send them a pattern with specifications, request a catalog or contact them at http://www.taborsofsanangelo.com.

Fitted sheets

The original mattress shape was designed to permit movement around it on three sides. The headboard was angled, and the rest of the mattress was one long curve. Including fitted sheets with an order is a nice addition for an irregular mattress. I always recommend starting with a king-size sheet set, which may seem large, yet it allows for adequate yardage for the fitting cuts, darts and a new elastic casing under the mattress.

Follow these steps to make a fitted bottom sheet:

  • Cut off the elastic band close to the edge of the sheet.
  • Place the sheet over the mattress so that it hangs down evenly at the sides from the top.
  • Use any of the original darts at the corners that may work.
  • Continue to dart the corners and transitions around the mattress as needed, usually four to six darts.
  • Mark the sheet at 17-inches down from the top edge; this will be your cut line and edge to turn, fold under and stitch closed with a half-inch elastic within the new casing band.
  • Stitch in the original care label at the head of the sheet for customer identification when making the bed.

Our order for the king fitted sheet set was placed online at Bed Bath & Beyond, because it was one of the only sources that had navy 100 percent cotton sheets in 600 thread count.

After two weeks and no delivery date or tracking info, I placed a replacement order. Unfortunately, there were no sheets in this style and color available. A nearby Macy’s had navy sheets but they were in a 500 thread count. Once again, more time was needed to contact the customer, get her approval, then order the sheets. Almost three weeks later the sheets had not arrived. Tick Tock. The original lengthy deadline was closing in.

Delivery time

The delivery date was less than one week away when everything finally came together. The anxious customer was thrilled to receive photos of the completed project. From there, the mattress and bed frame were installed on time. The customer loved the fitted sheets and coordinated look that fit together like a jig-saw puzzle.

Even with vision and careful planning on a project, sometimes we have to step back, evaluate and add more time to our estimates. Obstacles can cause delays and stress. That stress can eclipse a team’s feeling of pride over a successful project. At the end of projects, take time to think about what you’ve learned. Try to recognize early red flags that you perhaps overlooked. Finally, acknowledge all the things you did right to deliver a quality project.