That sounds like a mission we can handle. Accepted! So where to start? It all began with recognizing that the fabric on the cushions was in a dire state of wear. I had after all lived on the boat for 4 years and that's more intense wear than was probably expected with the fabric that was original to the boat. The boat was 1 year old when I bought her, so the fabric was in practically new condition. The dog never got up on the "furniture", but human sitting occurred on the same cushions continually, thus the fabric on 4 cushions was all that needed replacing.
I started by calling up a friend who used to do boat interiors. I should mention that my undergraduate degree is Interior Design, so I had a good idea of what Hallie would tell me. The gist of the conversation was either get a perfect match and replace those 4 cushions knowing that the others will probably deteriorate and thus be in a constant state of revolving repair, or replace the whole kit n' caboodle and get a better fabric out of the gate. So the search was on for the original fabric to see if we could find it and then what it would cost? You'd think this would be easy... As you can see, the worst seat below is the center seat. All of the leatherette was cracking and peeling off and getting everywhere making a mess, not to mention the foam is somewhat compacted and lost its shape.
Brad took a cushion to the yacht canvas folks we've used for other things and asked for them to find the fabric. I went to visit with this business once they said they'd searched and found some possible winners to see what they had come up with. To be honest, none of the fabrics were the exact fabric we had, but the options were pretty close yet the prices were a bit steep. I'm sure you can imagine that matching a white leatherette is not easy if it's not exactly the same thing. Some options had a bit of a texture, some were not the same white, etc. I did find one that I thought wasn't too bad and had them price it out for the 4 cushions and full replacement. Yikes, either way. OK, next.
Thankfully Brad, who has a flexible work schedule to do this stuff, took a cushion to another place and we tried again. No luck there either, actually worse. It was on the third try that we found a very nice lady in a small canvas shop that seemed to actually want to get to the bottom of the fabric mystery. She was successful! Now we had a match to really compare and think about. I went to visit her and we got to looking at alternative fabrics - sorta like shoe shopping for interior designers. I picked out a few that I really liked and brought them home for Brad to see. Now here is where all things went to hell. We started this process early in 2012 thinking we'd have a fabric picked out, the cushions done, and be ready to go for the summer season, oh how wrong we were, but of course it's all Brad's fault.
Somewhere along the way in late spring I was not liking the idea of replacing the busted cushions and having the new ones look great while the old ones sat there looking, well, old and just ready to fall apart. I was dreading the idea of trying to clean the old cushions to look fresh to match the new fabric. This was just a bad idea. I also, and this is the clincher, had no desire whatsoever to have leatherette again - it is just plain uncomfortable to sit on when you're hot - you stick to it! Yuck. We continued on with the exercise of getting the pricing for the leatherette and now also for 3 different fabrics in cloth. Our first estimate! In June! Only 5 months after we had started... Oh the progress. The estimate was revealing. It showed that to replace the leatherette for just 4 cushions, we could have almost all the cushions reupholstered in any one of the cloth options. I think we have a decision!
Armed with the three samples of cloth, we both went to the canvas shop and looked at a bunch more samples but came away with only one addition. We ordered large samples and once they arrived we took them to the boat and debated. Oh why not drag out the debate some more with a few Dark n' Stormys? We even invited debate with others and their comments and critiques. This raged into October and right past the boat show season.
For a little respite, we were headed for a lovely fall weekend raft-up with two other sailboats in St. Michael's. It just happened to be the weekend of the annual Concours d'Elegance, hosted on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Naturally, there were some beautiful boats too. On Saturday evening, after we'd rafted and celebrated our triumphant navigation across the Bay in fine over the top yachting style, we dinghied to the docks and ran into the local Hinckley representative who had a new Talaria 34 at the show. And there was much rejoicing. The next day, Brad and the boys from the other boats went to see the car show and hang out with Peter. Needless to say that turned into a longer day than it should have been, but it did turn up one thing of note, a new fabric.
As soon as the weekend was over, Brad put in a call to Peter and asked what the fabric was on the T34 and thus began a whole new debate over the fabric I liked best and this new fabric Brad liked best. Mind you, Brad is a very traditional kind of person and I love that but have never felt that was the essence of CALIX , she's a beautiful Beneteau! Brad's fabric of choice was supremely nice but not what I wanted, just too traditional. No matter, it seems we were going to look at the fabrics for a while longer... In order to actually move the process along and get the cushions done in our life time, not to mention end this story, I acquiesced. It's funny how even the name of the fabric, Rib Antique Beige, sounds yachty. So Brad went merrily to the canvas shop, signed the estimate in December and gave them the first payment. Our fabric lady, Holly, yes the same name, went and got a handful of the cushions and started.
As you can see we've been through some rough spots with getting the fit right. This is an issue of the fabric. It is very thick, ribbed, and sturdy - not an easy thing to work with and Holly has been frustrated but very focused to get it all sorted out. You can see that some of the seams have been puckering, although to be fair the original cushions had a limited amount of the same at the same places. The other issue has been the foam and getting the fabric around the corners and the solution to that was to change the cushions that meet to straight corners and to add more foam to fill out areas where the original foam is found lacking or in need of a little boost. We are about done and I hope to see all the cushions back in the next week or so. That will total up to a full year of cushion mania. I'll be sure to follow up with a finished photo and to tell you who we've been working with once the job is complete.