Over the past couple of years, we’ve done a lot of work to our bimini. Almost to the point that the only thing we haven’t done is completely replace all the Sunbrella and frame. We’ve replaced zippers, extended the rear of it up so that it no longer slopes down at the rear, and done numerous other quick fixes.
The dodger hasn’t needed any repairs to this point, but I have added a few reinforcements where a seam was starting to pull or where a stitch was about to pull out.
As luck would have it, a zipper on the dodger finally gave way and the patch at that corner where the bimini connects finally gave up the ghost as well. I had been putting off the repairs for some time, but we purchased a Singer 4411 sewing machine and I figured that we could make quick work of the repairs.
I marked the dodger at the point where the old zipper began so that we had a reference point to attach the new one in the correct spot. In the picture, the mark is on the zipper protector, but it was transferred down to the dodger as well.
We got out the seam rippers and started removing the torn zipper.
It came off easy and then I cleaned up the anti-chafe stuff. I don’t know what it’s called. The plan was to use fusible web that we cut down the middle to make thinner and then cut into pieces to attach the zipper and the zipper protector to the dodger so that we could simply sew it without worrying about keeping all the pieces straight as the whole assembly ran through the sewing machine. I had put a towel down on the dodger top to protect it from the iron, but the iron extended out past it and you can see the imprints in the lower right corner that the steam left on the Sunbrella. Not sure what was going on there. I figure that in time they will all just get bleached out by the sun.
We had the sewing machine ready to go and fed the dodger in between the feed dogs and presser foot. Jodi got about 1.5″ of stitch done and the bobbin decided to knot itself up. We pulled the dodger out and Jodi got the bobbin all situated. Time to try again. And . . . nothing. The needle just sat there while the sewing machine made this spinning sound. Jodi checked to make sure that it wasn’t still in bobbin winding mode. Nope. Flip the lever back and forth. Still no needle movement. Well crap. Looks like I’m hand sewing this puppy. And here you can see the section of the machine stitching and the start of my hand sewing. Luckily I had purchased a sailmaker’s sewing palm and some needles because there was NO way I would have been able to push a regular sewing needle through all those layers by hand.
Next thing was to put it back on, reattach it to the bimini, and make sure that it fit correctly. It did and you can see some of my handy stitching on the now bleached out zipper that is on the bimini. The plan for the sewing machine was to add a zipper protector over that zipper as well. So much for plans.
Now we had to take the center section of the bimini off and repair the part that was blown out at the corner that had been “repaired” previously. I had cut a piece of Sunbrella the exact shape of the old piece and stitched it in. The problem was that the original piece wasn’t quite right and that corner took all the stress when the bimini was snugged up. I also didn’t double up the Sunbrella at the seam area. I now planned to remedy all of that.
We didn’t have any green or grey Sunbrella. But, we did have a burnt orange scrap and it was the right size. I used the fusible web to double up the seam edges at the bottom zipper and where it attached to the bimini. I then fused it all the bimini. I took the whole thing back outside, reattached it to the dodger and back bimini section, snugged it all up, and then marked where the zipper needed to be sewn to the repair patch.
Some fusible web to hold in it in place. You can see the dashed lines from the original stitching when we had replaced the old broken zipper that was on the bimini.
Top side after everything was fused together.
Now the load is not on that corner and the bimini can flex up when we are crawling in and out. You can also see clearly the half iron spots where the iron extended over the edge of the towel. Then you can see where I realized this was happening and got a bigger towel, but the steam still discolored it as it went through the towel. The NEW orange was NOT affected by the heat and/or steam.
The new patch looks a lot better than the old patch and most importantly, the bimini now fits much nicer. Plus, we look like a hobo sailboat. Maybe if we had a trust fund we would make all new pieces.
Nah, probably not. That’s not really our style. We tend to use and repair something until it can be repaired and used no more. The dodger and bimini are both still serviceable. No point in tossing them out just because we can get something that “looks” better. We have more important things on which to spend our limited monetary resources.
Plus, this way we have “character”.