Has your boat seating seen better days? It’s difficult to enjoy a day out on the water if your seats are ripped, faded, or worn through.
Fortunately, with the right tools and a little know-how, you can restore your boat seating to its prime using marine vinyl fabric. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Assemble Your Tools
A household sewing machine isn’t the right fit for heavy-duty marine vinyl fabric. You want a sewing machine that’s composed of metal, not plastic, so it won’t break when working with thicker material. If you’re serious about restoring your boat’s upholstery, keep an eye out for a machine with an external motor of 1 amp or more, or an industrial-quality machine with a walking foot.
In addition to a heavy-duty machine, you’ll need a good supply of large needles to tackle the seating project. With sewing needles, the bigger the number, the thicker the needle, so go for at least a #16 or #18.
Your scissors should also be intended for fabric. Otherwise, you’re going to be frustrated trying to work with flimsy scissors that can’t handle the thick vinyl fabric.
Gather Your Materials
There are several different types of vinyl out there, but marine vinyl fabric is designed to withstand use on a boat. They won’t fade when exposed to sunlight, and they’re tough enough to resist cracking and peeling.
The thread you use should be a bonded polyester thread that’s meant to be used outdoors. Fabric store threads have a cotton poly blend, and won’t last long out on your boat.
When you restore your boat seating, you’ll also want to replace the foam inserts. Look for a medium-firm foam that won’t absorb water.
You’ll need heavy-duty staples to connect the marine vinyl fabric to the plywood backing. Stainless steel or Monel staples are the best choice, because they don’t rust.
Restore Your Seats
Start by removing the old cushions from your boat seats. Lay out the old vinyl and measure the cushions, then add an extra 6 or 7 inches to the measurement for the new fabric. Use the old vinyl as a pattern for the new when you assemble your new seat cover.
You can also sew piping, which will join the seams while adding strength and style. This is done with a long strip of vinyl that’s sewn around a thick cord, such as a nylon rope. Fold the vinyl over the rope and sew it shut. Once the piping is assembled, you can sew it around the outside of the seat cushions.
Place foam inserts into the new vinyl, being sure to stretch it to fit before using staples to secure it along the bottom.
All Vinyl Fabrics offers a variety of marine grade vinyl in a wide selection of colors and styles. If you’re looking to restore your boat seating for durability and style, give us a call to find the perfect vinyl fabric for your project.