Best Seat on the Patio

Sometimes, the only thing standing between you and your dream DIY is a few supplies, some research and a little encouragement. Sailrite® customer and crafty creator Anita Jackson learned that with the right tools and the right attitude, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. As a retired nurse, Air Force and Navy Reserve veteran and mother of five, Anita is no stranger to hard work and perseverance.

It all began with six old patio chairs. What had once been white sling fabric was now torn, dirty and covered in what appeared to be mold. Everyone told her to throw them out, but Anita had a better idea. Why not just clean them up and replace the sling fabric? It seemed like an easy enough project. Besides, it wasn’t as if Anita was without sewing experience. Both her parents were skilled at sewing and she’d had many lessons starting from the age of 10. As one of her favorite hobbies, Anita often sewed small cellphone bags, purses and quilts in her spare time. However, the closest thing she had done to patio chairs was re-covering dining room chairs.

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The chairs were in need of a major upgrade.

Armed with her previous sewing knowledge, Phifertex® sling fabric and a Sailrite how-to video, Anita set to work completely revamping all six chairs. It wasn’t long before the entire thing turned into a family affair. Her husband and two of her sons offered much-needed help by taking the chairs apart, cleaning, spray painting, fitting the sling fabric and putting them back together.

Although the Sailrite video was straightforward and easy to follow, the project was not without its hiccups. Originally, Anita had cut out all the pieces of sling fabric to replace her chairs. “Next time, I would cut and sew one to check the fit before cutting the rest. I sewed the seams as instructed in the video for all six chairs. I enlisted the help of my son and my husband to install the fabric into the frames. No matter how hard I tried, the fabric was sewn too small to install!”

Just like with any project, it’s natural for mistakes to happen. Her husband, Tim, was very supportive and further encouraged her to continue. He said, “The only way to not make mistakes is to not get up when the alarm clock rings.” Thankfully, the sling fabric was very forgiving and it was easy to rip out the old seams and adjust them so they would fit correctly on the chairs. There’s no doubt that it was hard work, but the entire DIY process gave Anita a new outlook on the creative possibilities that come from having the right tools and the right attitude. There’s a special feeling that comes from turning something old and worn into something completely one of a kind.

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Before and after Anita’s hard work.

“I was so proud of the job that I sent photos to friends and relatives. I got a lot of compliments and some people said they didn’t realize the slingback chairs could be re-covered. I told them about the Sailrite videos and wonderful products all on one website.”

Through her adventurous DIY efforts, Anita was able to finish all six chairs just in time for her grandchildren’s spring break visit. “This project definitely boosted my confidence in trying new projects with Sailrite. Maybe they’re not perfect, but we enjoy using the chairs again. I’m ready for another project!”

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Anita’s chairs were finished just in time for a visit from her grandchildren.

For our full selection of sling chair fabric shop Sailrite and to see the full how-to video on replacing sling chair fabric, click here!

Sewing Through the Generations

Every family has a legacy — something defining that has been carried through the years between its members. In Dave Moore’s case, his family has been passing down the creative gene through the skill of sewing. We’re quite familiar with the idea of creating custom projects here at Sailrite®, so we were eager to learn more.

As a graphic artist from Ohio, Dave is no stranger to the idea of creating one-of-a-kind projects. He had a unique upbringing with his parents owning and operating their own sewing and upholstery shop directly from their home. Growing up, he took part in numerous aspects of the upholstery process, from tearing apart old marine furniture to patterning and cutting fabric and even woodworking. As it turns out, this family endeavor would eventually serve him well in his biggest DIY quest yet, along with a little help from a certain Sailrite sewing machine.

“It wasn’t until later in life that I developed an interest in the sewing aspect of the work in order to pursue my own projects. I was always intimidated by the big industrial machines my parents used, which is one reason I was so attracted to the Ultrafeed® LS-1 machine…industrial capability in a more accessible package.”

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“Make it work, then make it better.” -The motto on Dave’s Ultrafeed LS-1

It all started with what should have been a simple idea. Dave had always wanted his own tipi, so he decided to do some research to see what it would take to have one in his backyard. After all, most things can be ordered online nowadays. After gathering all the information he could and comparing the prices of pre-made, full-sized tipis, Dave decided that instead of purchasing one, his best bet would be to take things into his own hands (quite literally) and make his own.

But the process of creating your own tipi is no small feat. Dave had to gather a plethora of information and do some serious pre-planning to turn his DIY dream into a reality. He drew heavily from his formal training as a graphic artist and his experiences with the family business in order to create detailed plans and 3D models to ensure material efficiency, assembly, geometry and general design guidelines.

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Some of the more intricate tipi designs created by Dave.

“During my research, I learned a lot about the methods and techniques of traditional native tipi making. Some of this ‘tribal knowledge’ carried over to my designs, but I also wanted to put an emphasis on merging traditional designs with modern materials and techniques. I started out small, crafting two 9-foot tipi covers on 12-foot poles, and grew from there.”

Just like with any new project, there were plenty of hiccups along the way. Between perfecting his topstitch and handling large amounts of fabric, Dave’s family background made a world of difference when it came to mastering this massive DIY. Two years later, Dave has maintained his hobby of making tipis.

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The finished product!

Based on the reaction he received after building his own, he set out to make tipis for anyone who shared the same interest in owning one as he had. He created all of his previous tipis at his own expense and sold them through social media and word of mouth, with each one selling within two weeks for a respectable price. His most recent (and largest) tipi is 22 feet tall with 26-foot poles and is the first one to be officially commissioned.  

While building tipis was his main motivation for sewing, Dave has also created several other projects using his Ultrafeed LS-1 Sewing Machine, many of them closely involving his family. He’s crafted items for his three- and four-year-old daughters. Dave explained, “They adore the little things I make for them…a stuffed dinosaur, small drawstring bags for toys and their tablets. I even made my youngest a pair of pig ears for her Charlotte’s Web Halloween costume. Small things they’ll hopefully never forget.” He’s also created backdrops for his wife’s photography studio and a number of versatile bags.

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Dave’s other amazing sewing projects.

Dave plans to continue introducing the world of sewing into the lives of his young daughters and his wife. In the future, his hope is to allow his daughters to decide what they’re going to create and provide all the guidance and resources needed to make their projects come to life. His parents are very pleased that he’s continued sewing and are thrilled to see him familiarize his little ones with the skill set and trade that supported the family for so many years.

For the Moore family, the future’s looking bright and carefully handcrafted. And while there are some generational traits we have no control over, the legacy of creativity and sewing seems to have been carefully passed down through the years in the Moore household, leading to some amazing results.

“Sewing has brought me closer to my wife and kids by simply involving them in my hobby. It’s our hobby! My girls sit beside me and play with scraps of fabric and webbing. I’ll hold rulers and let them mark the material for me. It takes a lot of patience, but you can almost see their little synapses firing! They get a huge thrill when I let them step on that foot pedal to wind bobbins! Even at their age, I think they recognize performance.”