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Fantastic fabric makeover

January 1st, 2012 / By: / Feature, Interiors & Upholstery

The transformation of a classic sailboat emphasizes the importance of communication between owner and fabricator.

A quality marine canvas project requires careful attention to hundreds of details, from fabric and thread selection to specifications for grommets and zippers. Despite all of these technical details, success with a fabric transformation aboard ship is based most importantly on the relationship between fabricator and boat owner.

“A major canvas refit is not unlike a home remodeling project with decisions that have to be made daily,” says Steve Mason, professional photographer and proud owner of Galatea, a classic 43-foot cutter-rigged Hans Christian ketch moored in Olympia, Wash. “When we were redoing my boat, the fabricators put my number into their cell phone speed dials so that I was available for key decisions. It made a huge impact on the project.”

Mason and his fabrication partners experienced a major canvas transformation on deck and inside the cabin. The project, sponsored by Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, was documented through photos, video and a blog.

“One of our most important goals for this project was to demonstrate best practices for canvas retrofits,” says Gina Wicker, design and creative director for Sunbrella fabrics. “We’ve not only documented the technical aspects of marine fabrication inside and out, we also captured the positive interaction that must take place between fabricators and boat owners for a successful project.”

Jason Iverson, owner of Iverson’s Design and an innovative marine fabrics craftsman known for his signature dodger creations, was responsible for exterior marine canvas. He documented the fabrication process of the Galatea using video and blog posts, offering insights into design, fabrication and installation

The transformation of the Galatea below deck was led by Pam Tregoning, who began her career in upholstery and awning fabrication. She transitioned to marine canvas in 2004 and today operates Portage Canvas & Upholstery. Tregoning detailed the secrets to proper fit and function for cushions and other fabric appointments using photos and videos, and uploaded them to the Galatea blog throughout the makeover process.

Wicker served as the project’s fabrics expert, offering input regarding fabric choices above and below deck.

The Galatea was selected for this project because it provided a large platform for fabricators to demonstrate best practices of design and fabrication. Mason’s expertise as a photographer and videographer assured that no detail of the project would go unrecorded.

Steve and his wife, Teri, purchased the Galatea in 2003 after years of sailing with friends, chartering boats and keeping a mental checklist of the qualities they would want in their own boat. The Galatea was built in 1980 and spent most of its life in a freshwater lake, which helped preserve the boat’s exterior.

While the Galatea has been well cared for, the Masons agreed that a fabric transformation was in order. With substantial blue water sailing each year, they wanted better protection on deck from harsh sun, howling winds and heavy saltwater spray. Below deck, the boat had original green velvet fabrics, which were worn and did little to complement beautiful teak flooring and accents.

In terms of key takeaways from the project, Mason and Wicker emphasize these essential insights that can be invaluable to fabricators and boat owners:

  • Communication and advance planning. As Mason mentioned above, he was in regular communication with fabricators at each stage of the project, beginning with detailed advance planning through installation and refinement. Wicker also worked with Mason and the fabricators to select fabrics that were classic, yet unexpected, setting the tone for the entire makeover.
  • Lead time. Allowing adequate lead time for each stage of the project is essential for quality and for everyone’s sanity. Mason recommends recognizing at the beginning of a project the conventional wisdom that most things take longer than anticipated.
  • Quality. When it comes to marine canvas, the emphasis must be on quality components and quality craftsmanship. Saving a few dollars here or there will likely result in even larger costs later for repairs or replacements.
  • Seamless look. One of the striking elements of the Galatea canvas makeover is how canvas on the deck integrates seamlessly with the cockpit and on into the cabin. Fabricators and boat owners should consider the complete package, even if a total makeover is not planned all at once. In the case of the Galatea, Sunbrella furniture fabric Linen Sesame was used inside the boat, and Silica Sesame was used above deck. The complementary colors tied the look of the boat together in a color palette that helped maintain Galatea’s classic look.
  • Interior fabrication look and feel. Refurbishing a boat’s interior is similar to redecorating a room at home, reflecting the owners’ tastes in colors and design. The essential element is to consider the total look of a boat and how it can be complemented with new interior fabrics. For the Galatea, the look had to be consistent with a classic design, yet reflective of the Masons’ desire for a comfortable, contemporary environment. In addition to new cushions, the Galatea makeover demonstrates how throws, pillows, window treatments and rugs can add coziness, comfort and durability.
  • Interior fabrication performance. Not only should the interior look and feel inviting, it must also be able to withstand the rigors of the marine environment. The Galatea cabin was outfitted with fabrics that are mildew and mold resistant and easy to clean.
  • Have fun. Everyone involved with the Galatea project was energized by the project and enjoyed the collaboration. With great communication and a sense of teamwork, fabricator and owner will enjoy the process and share in a sense of accomplishment when the last snap is snapped.

“A boat owner who takes on a project such as this one should be open minded and prepared to be pleasantly surprised,” Mason says. “As we went through the process, both of our fabricators on the project, along with Gina, brought amazing ideas to the table. The final result was not what I had imagined when we began. It was much better.”

Galatea will make an appearance at the Seattle Boat Show (Jan. 27–Feb. 5, at CenturyLink Field & South Lake Union). Two seminars about the Galatea makeover will take place Jan. 28 at 1:15 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 1 p.m

Galatea interior makeover: Start to finish

Image 1Image 2The Galatea interior before
A standard among Hans Christian boats, the green velvet’s texture prevents slipping and sliding, but makes the cabin seem smaller with its dark color. Owners Steve and Teri Mason felt it was time to replace them with a lighter color that would make the space feel more open. The green velvet repeated in the berths, bringing a cramped feeling to the space.

Image 3Making Decisions
Gina Wicker, design and creative director for Sunbrella Fabrics, worked with Steve and Teri Mason to select fabrics for the Galatea interiors. The final fabric selections brought a soothing color story to the space, with colors that complemented the wood tones and made the cabin feel more open.

Image 4Getting all the details
Pam Tregoning, owner of Portage Canvas & Upholstery, measures the Galatea interior for new foam and cushions.

Image 5Intricate interiors
Tregoning, working in her shop on Vashon Island, Wash., cuts Sunbrella fabric to be used for interior cushions for the Galatea.

Image 6Image 7Fantastic interior makeover
Berths were outfitted in the soothing colors of Linen Sesame, Spectrum Coffee, Harwood Peridot, Dupione Peridot and a Sunbrella throw by Textillery for maximum relaxation. The cabin’s upholstery, once tufted green velvet, was replaced with Sunbrella’s Linen Sesame cushions with decorative accents in Baily Daffodil, Dupione Cornsilk, Pango Cream and Spectrum Coffee.

Galatea exterior makeover: Start to finish

Image 8The Galatea exterior before

Image 9Transformation begins
Iverson’s Design refabricated the dodger and created a bimini and an enclosure for privacy and protection. Great extras were added, like a pocket inside the dodger for a flashlight—perfect for those dark nights out on the water.

Image 10Intricate work
Members of the Iverson’s Design team begin fabric work for the Galatea’s bimini, dodger and enclosure. Fabric selections included Heather Beige, Silica Sesame and View Toast.

Image 11The final touches
Owner Steve Mason attaches the new enclosure, made from Sunbrella View Toast. The enclosure provides ultimate protection from the elements and adds privacy.

Image 12Image 13Fantastic exterior makeover
Galatea means the goddess of calm seas. Here is the Galatea with all new exterior fabrics, including sail covers, bimini and dodger. The new enclosure, made in Sunbrella View Toast, provides a sense of privacy in the cockpit. The owners are thrilled with the protection it provides from the elements.

Mark Brock is a writer, public relations consultant and boat owner who has been working in the marine industry for more than 20 years.

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