STUDIO 103 @Sand Sea and Air Interiors

Upholstery for Yachts, Aircrafts, Home, Hotels and Office


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Selecting the best fabric

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Photos 1 and 2: Designer and private label textiles, such as this Ralph Lauren anchor pattern, can cost $100 or more per yard. Using a matching tone in a solid Sunbrella® fabric on the zipper bands and bottom lining can help keep a project within budget.

Terri Madden’s March/April 2018 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.
Check out Sand Sea & Air’s amazing work for marine environments at SandSeaAir.com.

Thank goodness for Dr. Google! When sourcing textile options for projects, fabricators can simply type in “marine fabric” and up pops a plethora of vendors and nautical-themed images. You’ll find individual maritime insignias that correspond to each of the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as graphic illustrations for almost every kind of nautical hardware—from anchors to navigation wheels. Also in abundance are fish patterns, playful sea horses and giant photorealistic renderings of marlin, swordfish and many other images that can be used on accent pillows, custom cabin quilts and pillow shams on larger vessels.

Budget for success

The initial discovery meeting with your client lays the groundwork for a successful project. Obviously, you will discuss the scope of the project, color palette, etc. But most importantly, you need to understand the client’s budget. Clients often avoid giving you a firm number, but moving forward without a sense of the budget can be a tremendous waste of time for both you and the client.

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Photos 3, 4 and 5: Images such as flags and the nautical alphabet add dramatic flair to interior decor.

As you narrow your offerings down to a few key textiles that fall within your client’s budget, keep in mind that you can introduce a dramatic fabric as a focal point with as little as one yard of material. Using dramatic textiles makes a strong impression and helps ensure your position as a preferred fabricator. Check with your supplier about minimum quantity requirements, yardage availability and lead times.

It’s important to have a realistic sense of how much yardage is required for the items to be fabricated and to charge accordingly. For instance, an L-shaped sofa can easily require up to 14 yards of material. If your cost for material is $25 per yard plus a 50 percent markup, this translates to $525 for the fabric alone. Cost has to be taken into consideration if the project requires foam upgrades. Additionally, calculate the time and cost of removing the original material, fabrication of the new covers and the installation. And keep in mind that projects incorporating fabrics with patterns will require additional yardage.

At Sand Sea and Air, we use spreadsheets to calculate the material costs for each project, the fabrication steps necessary and the time each step requires. After we complete a project, we go back to analyze and record any changes that affect the final “true” costs and profit for each project. This system ensures we’re not losing money on a project and helps us tweak our budgets moving forward.

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Photos 6 and 7: This pattern required us to balance horizontal and vertical repeats as well as a hinge fold in the bow cushions to accommodate the incline of the vessel. The final seams on the pilot and copilot seats reflect a harmonious transition, yet it was extremely challenging to fabricate the high/low back cushion in harmony with the seat cushions.

Tricky cabin tricks

Creating bedding for fitted mattress covers and cabin quilts presents specific challenges. Mattresses often have oval curves rather than a traditional rectangular shape, and you many need to work around framing that holds mattresses in place. Also, a master cabin bed is generally 60 inches wide, yet material is often available in 54-inch widths. To ensure you have sufficient material, it’s important to calculate and construct the additional sections on both sides of the center yardage with consideration to the pattern repeat on the top panels. I prefer to use the full 54-inch-width as the center and then use narrow bands of 4 to 6 inches of fabric on either side.
Additionally, side mattress bands can be as high as 10 inches, which means a good portion of the side bands will be visible. You will need to maneuver the fabric pattern repeat to get the most attractive part of the 54-inch width in the band front, with seams joining as needed toward the sides.

We recently fabricated fitted mattress covers for a queen-size bed in a Ralph Lauren anchor pattern. The material had anchors twisting left and right, some in opposite directions, while others were in the same direction along adjoining rows. Since this fabric was expensive, we used a matching tone in a solid Sunbrella® fabric on the zipper bands and bottom lining, as they would not be visible once the mattress was onboard. This helped keep us within budget and ensured a successful project.

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Photos 8 and 9: It’s important to calculate the waste factor on side-by-side cushions when the visual pattern must remain harmonious. It can be as much as 14 inches, as was the case in the Kravet® Turquoise Flamestitch pattern with a 17-inch height repeat. Fortunately, that was exactly the height needed for the upper back cushions. We darted the excess fabric in the center of the curved corner cushion so the sides maintained the continuous visual repeat of the pattern. We also manipulated the fabric along the sides and back of the bow headrests to continue the dramatic pattern seen on the front of the cushion.

As you fabricate the details of your projects, imagine each one as a winning entry in the Marine Fabrication Excellence Awards. Careful planning and execution will create a complex masterpiece that embodies more than form, fit and function for your customer; it will provide the personal satisfaction of a job well done.

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Seating solutions for reclining, storage and temperature control

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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.


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Fresh updates for older vessels

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!


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Meticulous prototyping leads to attractive cylinder cushions

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Terri Madden’s September/October 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read the text version below.

Approaching a project with cylinder cushions is kind of like trying to put a square peg into a round hole, you have to approach the solution by thinking “outside of the box”. The box being what we are familiar with when constructing cushions – foam in rectangular shapes, cushion covers with standard size side bands and upper and lower faces of equal dimensions. Ok, so you’re starting to get the picture, or you’ve visited a job site and been requested to fabricate cylinder cushions; all of the sudden you’re walking on uncharted territory. You can approach the challenge by welcoming it as a learning opportunity and break down the stages into manageable sections. If there are multiple pieces, you’re already a step ahead as fabricating more than one piece will add to your profit ratio.

Over the years we’ve been asked to fabricate several unusual items that may or may not be a product that we have no way of knowing if it will be a “one hit wonder” or an item that will “take the market by storm”. A while back we started charging a prototype fee, a few hundred dollars to develop and fabricate a concept for a customer, a prototype then goes to a set price based on the final quantity. We consider the customer and this price sheet found on the Internet:

Price List

I design everything – $100

I design – You watch – $200

I design – You advise – $300

I design – You help – $500

You design – I help – $800

You design – I advise – $1300

You design – I watch – $2100

You design everything – $3,400

This pricing may or may not apply to your project, yet do consider the learning curve if you’ve never fabricated a cylinder that will attach to tubing. I recommend setting aside several hours of uninterrupted time to develop the concept and fabricate prototypes in order to evolve the best solution when you do not have a pattern or a good existing cover that you can take apart for your project. When you build this factor into your project, the understanding that you are being compensated for your talent, will inspire your solutions and result in an award worthy project.

If the customer wants to use existing cylinder foam, evaluate how the foam shape has conformed to the original covers and if at all possible, move forward with new foam. This is very important as the old foam may need a topper in order to properly “fill out” a new cover! You can order dry-fast foam cylinders, cut to size, available in three densities of firmness, including the cut-out for the tube in the cylinder center. On the illustrated sketch you can see the diagram we submitted when we ordered new foam from Reliatex Inc. They have facilities in Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami, Florida. Be sure to allow sufficient lead-time for any supplier to cut and ship your product.

Getting Ready to go for the Gold

Ok, so now you’ve analyzed the task, the quantity and style of cylinder cushions, and determined a price that you and your customer find agreeable.

When we measured the original cylinders we realized that they were all slightly different lengths and that one standard size would work well within the tubing frame spaces. Additionally, a standard size would be less production time vs. custom sizes and the overall project would be more visually appealing. We include an extra 1/2″ more or less for our finished foam size (based on the foam density) when ordering new foam, so that the foam “fills out” the cushion cover.

As the actual time for fabrication approaches, having the foam cylinders on-hand is essential for proper pattern placement and achieving the best final fit.

For this project we approached the cylinder design and prototypes without an original pattern, since the original covers were not the quality that we would replicate. Now our basic guidelines were our roadmap to reach our goal to design and fabricate tasty cylinder covers to fit over the stainless tubing; cylinders with an 8” diameter and a length of 27”. It was now in our hands to make removable covers for 4 cylinders with inserts in medium density foam, which would provide sufficient for firmness for seat backs so guests could enjoy relaxing moments while at sea.

In the past we fabricated jacuzzi pool cushions on tubing that helped us in our approach for this project. The jacuzzi cushions were designed for a more permanent location, whereas the cylinders for this project needed to be removable by the crew on a 42’ catamaran.

Our Solutions

  • We started with the round ends first. The circles were cut to include a 1/2″ seam. We cut two – 8” circles of vinyl for each side. We generally cut our foam and material the same size in order for the foam to “fill-out” the cushion cover after the seam allowance reduces the cushion size.
  • We placed the vinyl circles face to face.
  • On the inside of the vinyl we marked the center hole for the tubing cut-out and a line for an opening along 1/2 of the diameter for an access opening, when the finished cylinder would need to be placed over the tube.
  • We stitched along outside of indicator line for the opening slit, around the circle for the tubing and down the other outside line for the opening slit.
  • We cut next to the stitching between the lines for the access opening and around the center hole – removing the excess at the center hole.
  • We turned the layers to the right side and top stitched the layer opening “in place”. Then we trimmed the inner facing layer as seen in the photos.
  • The cylinder ends would secure closed with a Velcro flap whereas the center of the cylinder would incorporate a #5 jacket zipper. The tails of the jacket zipper would hide inside of the sides of the cylinder and be accessed via the Velcro opening and closing next to the tubing.
  • A piece of 2” Male Velcro formed the flap as one edge of the Velcro was sewn to one side of the opening under the tube hole and a piece of 1” Female Marine Velcro was sewn to the other side of the 4″ opening. This insured that the area would hold tight in a closed position when the cylinder was placed on the tube. See photo.

I’ve included a few photos of the Jacuzzi cushion that was made with the zippers extending into the side ends showing the stitching sequence & pole placement cut-outs, which were underneath of cushion zipper.

  • The cylinder center was measured and cut with seam allowances included for the zipper.
  • The two ends of the cylinder were sewn to the center panel
  • The jacket zipper was sewn to a turned edge of the center panel, leaving a 3″ tail at each end, where the cylinder side ends met the center panel.
  • The foam was inserted into the cover (we spray a dry silicone when inserting foam into covers, as it reduces the resistance of the foam and material).

I included photos of a unique striped canvas cylinder project that we observed on a vessel, cushion covers definitely in need of replacement, yet the vessel was not in San Juan for the project to be realized.

The finished cylinder could be easily placed on the tubing, inserting the foam over the tubing, closing the zipper (tucking the zipper ends into the foam and securing the end circles via the Velcro. By carefully maneuvering the foam at the cylinder ends the male and female Velcro would secure/close the space below the tubing to where the zipper connected. The end result was sleek cylinders with hidden access areas for easy removal and installation. Additionally, at the time of installation we wrapped the tubing with nonskid to hold the cylinders “in-place”, as the original cylinders had unsightly zippers, which displaced to various locations on the tubing.

Not only were we proud to deliver a handsome project, the captain and owner were equally pleased. The design and fabrication process is in our library of cushion styles and will certainly be a valuable example when the time comes to reproduce cylinders that fit into and on special spaces that require Stylized Solutions!


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The art of project management on contour cushions

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The horseshoe-shaped seating for an aft cockpit required an elaborate checklist to ensure that all the customer’s requests were fulfilled.

Terri Madden’s July/August 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read the text version below.

Marine fabricators are a unique group of craftspeople and business owners. Many of us are familiar with the notion that creative pursuits are right brain activities, while math and logic are left brain activities. As marine fabricators, we utilize the right sides of our brains for design solutions that meet customers’ aesthetic and practical expectations. At the same time, we utilize the left sides of our brains for business activities like managing shop operations, doing complicated mathematical calculations, and making sure that all project specifications are completed.

The two sides our of work come together through good project management skills, so each person on the team knows what he or she is responsible for and the corresponding deadlines. My business has been fortunate to have an inspiring coach who repeatedly stresses, “Any project that we don’t plan will take us to hell!” Most fabricators would agree with this motto.

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Sketch and measurements for seven seats and four bolsters

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The pattern for the cockpit cushions

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The side view and front view of a single aft seat

Detailed spreadsheets

We use an Excel spreadsheet to list the job details from start to finish along with realistic timelines. The details we include are:

  • Travel to the job site.
  • Patterning at the vessel with all cushion perimeters marked and all identifications noted as well as photos.
  • Materials needed. If necessary, include your research time to identify customers’ preferred choices. Check for stock items, submit purchase orders. Follow up with local suppliers or on items being shipped.
  • Production card planned with name of team member(s) and their respective tasks and processes.
  • Team review with photos to discuss scope of job, time frame, and assigned tasks.
  • Examine the patterns for all necessary indicators such as notches, zippers, seam joins etc. For the project described in this article a non-skid backing was included.
  • Layout diagrams for materials and foam.
  • Cutting directions for material.
  • Sewing details, including any training, if required.
  • Inspections and daily review to insure accuracy and timing.
  • Foam cutting and Dacron toppers.
  • Foam inserted into covers.
  • Inspection of new cushions before delivery
  • Transportation and installation at vessel.
  • “After” photos to post on Facebook, other social media sites and newsletters.
  • Job review with team members

Reviewing this list of everyday responsibilities can be eye opening. Depending on the size of your business, you may have separate personnel handling these tasks, or some employees may have multiple tasks.

Verify that all of the details are noted on the final pattern, to insure that each component of your project will be delivered in a timely and profitable manner. As you know, any forgotten detail will cost you time and employee frustration.

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6-7. Early and final patterns for a single seat cushion. 8. Notched contour area for accurate joining of top and bottom faces. 9. Bottom face with non-skid fabric and zipper installed.

Planning sleeker contour cushions

A recent fabrication project involving contour cushions for a 43-foot catamaran drove home the importance of project management. For this seating project, the scope and sequence of the project was complex. By thoroughly detailing every aspect of the job, I could accurately project the time needed for the production schedule, including the purchase of materials.

Our creativity was unleashed on this project as we experimented with a sleeker contour for the new catamaran cushions. The captain of the vessel had forwarded sufficient details with an area layout along with material preferences and requirement dates. That was enough information for us to provide an estimate.

We commenced to pattern the horseshoe shaped seating of the aft cockpit, which we learned is the most used seating area of this vessel.  We prepared a checklist to review with the captain during our visit to confirm the details for the following:

  • Cushion design. See sketches and final pattern indicators for a sleek contour at tubing locations.
  • Total number of cushions.
  • Materials for top and bottom material.
  • Thread type and color, topstitching details.
  • Zipper color, size and slider location. We like to place slider tabs on the inside for cushions that won’t be opened frequently.
  • Foam type and density.
  • Dacron toppers.
  • Nonskid base.
  • Piping, ties, snap tabs, Velcro and other components.
  • Starboard base. For the captain seat we supplied a new ½-inch panel of starboard.
  • Bolsters and accent pillows, including quantity and sizes.

All of this information was used as the guideline for filling in our job spreadsheet. We entered all data and updated the spreadsheet for a final accurate job cost. Keep in mind that job sheets can act as templated guides on future projects; we can tweak similar spreadsheets for new projects with just a few changes.

We include the following:

  • All job materials.
  • Separate pricing for all components and percent mark up.
  • Quantities.
  • Shipping costs.
  • Task times for each phase (total labor hours) for a final accurate job cost.

After the seating project was started, the boat owner requested the patterns with the job. In the past we have been asked to retain patterns, and we keep a 2 percent inventory of material in case the owner needs an emergency replacement. Currently, many projects are digitalized and it is easy to maintain or provide a duplicate for any item. Company policies vary for storing and providing job patterns. Terri, what is your policy? Only one design co has asked us to retain patterns for  1 year.

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10. Inside view of notch indicators at contour and zipper detail. 11. Outside view of cushion at a corner contour for tubing and topstitch detail to hold seams in place. 12. The first step involves sewing the outside edge of the zipper tape to the inside of mesh. 13. For the second step, on the outside of the mesh, cut open the mesh along zipper teeth. For the third step, fold the mesh toward the tape edge and top stitch.

Encouraging your employees 

Project management includes encouraging and coaching your employees. Shop owners and managers need to ensure that employees have the skills to thrive under pressure, and that requires communication, training, and recognition. We need to cultivate new employees by exposing them to small projects where they can gain confidence. All employees, no matter what their length of service, need to be recognized for their skills that result in a well-executed project.

At the end of a project, ask your employees what their biggest learning experience was. Point out aspects of the work that you appreciated. Build on their strengths and coach them on their weaknesses. It is essential that team members feel satisfaction for contributing toward a successful project.

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14. Don’t be fooled by the clean look of new cockpit cushions; the elegant outcome is the result of detailed planning and execution.


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Elegant performance in stripes

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Terri Madden’s March/April 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read the text version below.

Stripes come in every color, shape and size…a two-color stripe can even be juxtaposed to form an eye-catching pattern. Striking stripe patterns can be matched or combined with solid colors to provide dramatic effects for your next project. Stripes are more popular than ever and Sunbrella likes them so much that they featured subtle as well as dramatic stripes on their 2016-2017 Upholstery Fabric Brochure. Stripes can be placed horizontally or vertically to give a low and wide effect versus a high or tall dimension to a space. As Marine Fabricators, we even get to play with stripes around curved edges and contour corners. The sky is the limit, yet we need to apply some earthly planning to ensure that incorporating stripes into a project is a winning solution.

Every year new patterns and colors are developed that invite fabricators to create different looks on board a yacht; classic, modern, chic or sophisticated. A sailor stripe sets off an eye-catching look, especially when combined alongside various shades of brilliant oranges or you can offer a subtle pallet of clay and charcoal that is a modern interpretation of European inspired designs with architectural precision.

If you’re not familiar with fabricating with stripes it can be a bit of a challenge, yet you can welcome the opportunity, as stripes are synonymous with boat décor and make a dramatic nautical impact on any yacht and your choices of colors and sizes are endless.  I was a bit daunted as to how to proceed for a few of the projects and spaces that will be explained and illustrated in this article. I want to give you that ‘step-ahead’ when your next customer inquires and selects a striped marine textile for their boat. Some essential design elements for you to consider are the following:

The Repeat of a Fabric

The repeat of a fabric refers to the number of inches it takes before the pattern starts all over again. It is the distance between the starting point of the pattern to the point where that pattern starts over again. This is referred to as “one repeat.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.49.09 PMWhen choosing a fabric for a project, it is important to know the repeat of the pattern you are considering.  The repeat can have a big impact on how much fabric you need, and what that product looks like on a sectional seating with multiple cushions compared to a single cushion.

Any type of patterned fabric will always have a repeat, and the supplier generally provides this information.

The average repeats size of a stripe is between 8” and 9″. A cushion layout needs to be planned ahead of time, for ordering the correct quantity of fabric as well as the best use of the material.

Recently we provided a few color ways to a customer in a handsome nautical stripe. We received two swatches from a supplier of the nautical pattern below; one was a navy/white/tan color way and the other was a teal/white/navy color way. The customer selected the navy/white/tan color way and when we went to order the material we were told that the pattern repeat was 16″. Ironically the teal/white/navy color way was a continuation of the navy/white/tan color way, yet with several more white stripes, which our customer did not want. Additionally, the 16″ repeat would have been extremely difficult to pattern as well as a significant amount of fabric waste for matching cushions that would sit “side by side.”  Below are two swatches sewn together to show the full repeat!

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16″ Fabric Repeat

Also, it is always wise to have your customer select not only their first choice of material for a project, but also a second choice as time between fabric selection, confirmation and you ordering materials may result in your customers #1 choice not being readily available.

Location

Determine the cushion(s) placement, will it be side-by-side, will there be a corner cushion that joins next to other cushions to form an L-Seating area?

Design of the Cushions

What will be the cushion style? Common types are: rollover designs with side bands, rollover designs with corner seams, rollover designs with baseball corners, Side bands in a contrasting stripe placement, Side bands in a solid matching fabric.

If the cushion is a banded cushion, you have three options:

Vertical Stripes

The contrast of a horizontal band to a vertical stripe on the band of the cushion actually can work nicely depending on the stripe.

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Vertical vs. Horizontal Bands

When the face of the back cushion runs vertically, your seat cushion stripes must be patterned so that the stripes match perfectly. A piping accent may be used to enhance the construction transition to a side band in the horizontal or Vertical direction and consistency should be your guide for all cushions.

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Solid Color Band

This can be your best option whether you are just getting started working with stripes, or an experienced fabricator. A solid border and band work nicely when you have a contour corner area to fabricate.

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Above is a combination of a stripe fabric insert with a solid border in a marine vinyl.

It is wise to photograph the area and then sketch or draft examples over the area for consideration to determine the best option for your material direction, project space and a budget when you are estimating time and cost; as project planning, layout and construction time can easily add up when multiple pieces are part of a large layout, as seen below.

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One of my all-time favorites is this Ralph Lauren stripe, juxtaposed for a classic and dramatic impact! Note the stripe placement on the top bands of the corner cushions.

I’m including a few photos of our projects as well as some interesting others that illustrate the variations I’ve explained above. Look around and notice the placement of stripes on cushions and pillows whenever you see them in a residential, commercial or marine project. Trust your instinct, as to what works best or do a mock-up to guarantee a winning combination.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.50.53 PMThis master cabin bedcover works well with the horizontal stripe on the side banding. The border stripe on the accent pillows unites the patterns for a cohesive look.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.51.03 PMThese contour cushions are sewn with the stripe as an insert and solid banding and edging on the seat cushions – found on the web – however, notice that the top left back cushion stripes do not match the seat stripe!

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An inviting aft cushion seat, seen at a recent boat show.

In the seating images below I am certain that someone spent a significant amount of time planning and fabricating these striped seat cushions. The side band makes a nice transition on the double seat with a baseball corner. The solid piping provides a clean transition to the stripe in the horizontal direction on the double seat.

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Double Seat – Horizontal Side Band, Baseball Corner, Solid Piping and Rollover Face

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However, I imagine we could all enjoy contemplating the various solutions as to our “best shot” for the corner cushion when a rollover design with this stripe was planned for the multiple seating on this yacht. Send along your thoughts, ideas and any photos you have for a similar project that you may have encountered, I’m interested and welcome your input!

May you enjoy ‘Smooth Sailing’ into Spring!


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Window treatments to WOW your customers

Terri Madden’s January/February 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF here, or read the text version below.

This article presents  options for the perfect look and fit for those challenging Yacht windows. A bit of experience will help you; yet don’t be daunted by the encounter as just being on this page means that most likely you have already surpassed obstacles for other areas of vessels that were once demanding. Entire lines of blinds and shades are available that can be custom built for any windshield, pilot house, stateroom, galley, or any other window area that you can imagine.

You can take your experience in working with a range of fabrics and combine it beyond your scope for custom window treatments and applications from drop down roman shades to fully motorized systems, nothing is beyond your expertise. The challenge is offering solutions that appeal to your customer’s vision, space and budget. Custom window treatments made with a precise fit, distinctly enhance the value of your customers yacht interior.

There are a large variety of products in a vast assortment of colors and finishes for window treatments. There are several companies that offer services for all your blind and shade needs. No matter if you are doing the patterning, fabrication and installation or using the services of a highly trained manufacturer and installer, you need to make sure that every window treatment and component installed is of marine quality to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea.

Unique Products and Features 

Whether your project is a trapezoid, triangle, or parallelogram etc. it should be accomplished successfully to function reliably and be of exceptional appearance.

The internet is at your fingertips to source ideas, solutions and suppliers. There are numerous boat shows held throughout the U.S. as well as the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, IBEX and the Miami International Boat Show. These events showcase current trends as well as various sources for manufacturers of window systems.

Exceed expectations with some of the most popular styles:

  • Sheers, Horizontal and Roman Shades
  • Windshield Blinds and Shades
  • Wood Blinds, Aluminum Blinds
  • Hunter Douglas products such as Silhouette, Duette, Pirouette, and Vignette
  • Honeycomb Shades
  • Pleated Shades
  • Hatch Shades and Fly Screens
  • Ocean Sheer

Options to Consider for Installation

Wire Retention System

Yacht blinds should come with a stainless steel wire retention system that prevents blinds and shades from swaying as the vessel moves. The wire itself should be coated in a Teflon clear coat that protects both the cable and blind/shade from being damaged over time.

There are two methods for securing the stainless steel wire. The first method is the deck mount. It is primarily used for inside mount window frame installations. The second method is standoffs. Standoffs are used mainly for an outside mount or out of the ordinary applications.

All wood and aluminum yacht blinds should have the stainless steel wire retention system running through the routing holes and fasten to a standoff. They are mounted directly to the frame to avoid punching extra holes for the wires. On other types of blinds, the wire might have to be placed in a different location.

Standoffs and Hold Downs 

Standoffs can be manufactured from stainless steel, teak, wood dowels, plastic, polished or unpolished aluminum, bronze or plated nickel; that can match any style you are looking for.

Having a stable standoff or hold-down is important for both blinds with either tension or wire retention systems. Standoffs can give clients an easy installation alternative when they want to install their blinds themselves. This way they can save money on installation and still have it look like it was professionally installed.

Motorization

Window Treatments use different brands of motors. Basically all window treatments can be motorized based on your clients’ needs. Motors are available for Silhouettes from Hunter Douglas. Check with an authorized dealer, familiar with a marine installation for  motors such as Somfy or Lutron motors.

Styles to Consider

Blinds and Shades

The Hunter Douglas Silhouettes (a luxury horizontal sheer) has become a popular product within the yachting community and although they are a great product, sometimes there is just not enough room to mount them. However, Poseidon Window Treatments has come up with a solution, Roller Only Ocean Sheer. Most yacht owners know that window depth can limit their selection of viable window treatments. With a roller only application you can mount beautiful blinds with a minimum of 1 7/8″ window depth.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.30.39 PM.pngAbove: Ocean Sheer – Roller Only

Poseidon has over 20 years of experience manufacturing blinds and shades for the Marine Industry and they are a Hunter Douglas Dealer. Even though I have not had the opportunity to use this company personally, they advertise that their knowledge and experience allows them to adapt their products successfully to any yacht window. They can incorporate various operating systems and other applications into Hunter Douglas products. Their flexibility to fit any blind into any window, with all types of window treatments, provides clients with many options to fit their style and needs.

Writing from experience, I know installation is what really scares most fabricators. Poseidon has streamlined the installation of their blinds and shades so that anyone can install them like a professional. Their easy to mount brackets and wire retention systems are thoroughly tested and proven to be easy to use and install. Along with written instructions they can also walk you through the process on a videophone like Skype, if needed. Their website is Poseidon Window Treatments.

Roman Shades

These have always been my favorite and they have become quite popular on boats and yachts recently. Many owners request them because they give a yacht interior a very soft yet refined look. Shades can be manually operated using a pull cord or they can be easily motorized. You can offer either option to your customer as well as a wide variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.24 PMA Roman Shade from Poseidon

Honeycomb Shades

These are a very flexible product and can fit most windows, doors, windshields and hatches. They give a boat a clean look, are highly durable, easy to use and the cells come in three different sizes of ¾”, 3/8” and 9/16”. They are available in a single, double or triple honeycomb and come in a variety of opacity levels. There are over 50 fabrics and colors to choose from, to match any interior.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.44 PM.pngAbove: Double Cell and Single Cell Honeycomb Shades

Windshield Blinds for Pilot Houses

Every yacht’s pilothouse gets hot during the day; with windshields getting blasted by the sun. Honeycomb shades, 1” wood blinds, aluminum blinds and pleated shades are options that not only keep pilothouses cool, they maximize visibility by using a top down or bottom/up system. Motorization can be added.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.54 PMThe single most effective window treatment for a yacht interior is the covering of the windshield. Photos courtesy of Poseidon Window Treatments.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.36.24 PMSome Affordable Alternatives for Unique Spaces

CloZures®

Formerly Peek-a-Boo Shutters, these are for irregular or non-opening port lights; when curtains or shades just don’t work. They offer 100% UV protection. Shutters are attached to the glass via 3M a low profile Dual Lock (a Velcro type material). They are easily removed for cleaning. Shutters are available in 3 colors: White, Sea Shell and Chocolate (room darkening). The room-darkening shutter is dark brown on the inside and white on the outside. For samples and more info contact Zarcor Solutions.

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Ocean Air 

The Ocean Air PORTSHADE is an ultra-slim cassette roller blind, suitable for even the smallest port lights. It can be used for vertical or horizontal surfaces, with the added benefit of also being well suited for curved surfaces.

The Ocean Air SKYSCREEN roller surface is a combination fly screen and shade system suitable for boats with no headlining or thin decks. It requires no recess or cavity and can be easily fitted to existing hatches. The soft edged low profile design uses low weight plastic extrusions with integrated screw covers and a simple and reliable magnetic catch system.

The Ocean Air SKYSOL is ideal for curvatures, a day or blackout pleated blind for large sunroofs.

Contact Ocean Air for a dealer near you.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.37.02 PMAbove: Portshade, Skyscreen and Skysol

Many yacht owners may think that they have windows on their yachts that cannot have proper functioning blinds. As skilled Marine fabricators it is our role to offer solutions for unique shapes of windows as well as windows with a curving radius. These windows may look beautiful yet planning a system that operates reliably and matches the other blinds of the boat can be intimidating.

There is no denying the complexity of fabricating such specialty shaped blinds, but they are far from impossible. Through experience you can develop a system to offer window solutions that function properly and enhance your customers living quarters onboard their yacht…

Much success!