Seam finishing for cushions and covers

March 1, 2019

When you plan your projects, how much thought do you give to their finished edges? The material you’ve chosen dictates the best cutting tools and types of seams to use for finishing your projects. Visible seams on exterior projects need to be considered carefully to achieve attractive and well-constructed projects that will withstand the elements. …

Upholstery: draping vs. digital

At Chicago Marine Canvas, our MFA- and IFAI-award-winning canvas and upholstery shop, we have fully integrated digital methods into our canvas work. There are many benefits to implementing a digital measurement and design process, including speed and accuracy. During the past four years that we’ve been measuring and designing in 3-D, we’ve found it works …

Outside patterning techniques

January 1, 2019

When you’re re-covering built-in boat furniture, you can never have too many techniques tucked into your upholstery toolbox. Many fabricators use the same techniques every time, while others enjoy adapting and changing things up a bit. During the first half of my career, I patterned built-in boat upholstery either by creating new patterns from steamed …

Zipper basics and sewing techniques

The zipper is familiar to everyone, yet the word itself came into existence less than 100 years ago. The fastener’s design was a lengthy process. An early version was invented by Elias Howe, the man who also invented the sewing machine. He patented an “automatic continuous clothing closure” in 1851, but it didn’t catch on. …

How to find, hire and train new employees

September 1, 2018

Most marine fabricators have specialized skills honed over decades. Some were privileged to grow up in a family business. Some of the women fabricators I know learned to sew by making their own clothes and were taught by a mother or grandmother. I’ve always thought if you could sew a collar or an armhole from …

Tips for taking better photos of your projects

Only have a smartphone? That’ll work fine. An estimated 1.2 trillion pictures were taken across the globe in 2017. The smartphone, of course, is what’s behind the huge number. According to InfoTrends, a market research firm, 85 percent of all photos are shot with a phone. A good smartphone gives you, as a fabricator, a …

Writing off equipment and vehicles is easier now

Last December’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) not only slashed tax rates, it also enacted rules that allow businesses to treat as an expense and immediately write off more—including 100 percent temporary expensing for certain assets. This means adding needed equipment, vehicles or even a new shop building is now a lot more affordable. …

Finding affordable tax and accounting help

July 1, 2018

How to find affordable, professional help when you need it. While most owners of small- and medium-size businesses know the details of their companies intimately, there are often highly technical matters of law, accounting, management and marketing that are best handled by outside experts. Attorneys, accountants, and management and marketing advisers have specialized knowledge about …

Considering automation in your shop? Read this first

Automation continues to play an increasingly important role in everyday life. Its potential effect on a marine fabricator’s workplace has, unsurprisingly, become a focus of both research and reality. The topic can become a bit like playing 20 Questions: What jobs will or won’t be replaced by machines? Which equipment will serve as the best …

Top tips for better upholstery and fewer headaches

Beach Upholstery was started several years ago by Linda Beach, who has 30-plus years of experience in the marine upholstery business. Most Beach Upholstery employees have between 10 and 20 years of general sewing experience. With our collective experience exceeding 50 years, we at Beach Upholstery have discovered many terrific tricks and techniques that have …