Having the settee cushions recovered should be about the easiest of the numerous boat projects we have to do, right?
You choose the fabric, hire some sewing wizard and call it good. You would think. I wish I could say that the work turned out splendid and that I’m overjoyed about the revamped cushions. But it’s become a bit of a saga.
I posted a while back that we were having our settee cushions reupholstered at a shop in Tucson, at one-third of the cost of having the work done in Seattle. After much debating over fabric (Is white too Miami Vice? Does that tweed look like granny’s couch?) we settled on a neutral, taupe marine vinyl, since we have a white cat who sheds madly, and arranged to have the work done.
We picked the cushions up on the way down to San Carlos in November and they looked terrific. The fabric looked exactly like it did on the sample card and the light color was a great complement to the teak in the boat’s main cabin. But when I put the cushions down, the fabric bunched oddly. There was just a little too much fabric. I tried rearranging them, figuring maybe I put them down wrong, but the same thing happened. I’d smooth them out, sit down and when I got up …. more puckers. It started to drive me to distraction.
I pointed it out to Marty, who shrugged and said the cushions looked fine to him. I took photos and showed them to my mom, who agreed with me. So I called up the upholsterer and explained the problem. He said he’d need to see the cushions (he doesn’t have email; who doesn’t have email?!), so I told him I’d ship them as soon as the boat arrived in Seattle.
I dropped them off at a FedEx outlet the other day and just about fell over when the girl there gave me the total: almost $200 for the three boxes. The cushions were delivered in Tucson today and I’m expecting to hear from the upholsterer soon. He said he’d probably need to either re-sew the covers to take up any slack or add more Dacron padding to fill the space. He seems like he knows what he’s doing, so hopefully they’ll turn out fine.
In the meantime, I got a big box from Overstock.com with three throw pillows I ordered for the boat. One has a dark blue background with alternating lines of white whales going in opposite directions—a little cartoonish and tongue-in-cheek. The other ones have an off-white background; one has a blue octopus on it and the other has sailboats.
I’m a little wary of going down the nautical road. It’s a slippery slope—you start buying whale-patterned pillows and before you know it, you and the mister are decked out in matching sweatshirts with anchor motifs. I will throw myself overboard before that happens, I swear. But I think these three pillows are still within the safety zone.
I’ll admit I’ve become a little obsessed with this whole cushion/decor business. On the one hand, having cushions reupholstered is spendy and I want them to be perfect, at least at first. On the other, does it really matter so much what I rest my butt or head on? I never felt any compulsion to replace the limp chenille throw pillows or the old upholstery in our previous boat, Camelot.
But that boat didn’t start out being mine, and I’ve realized that makes all the difference. Marty lived on Camelot when we met. I became a part owner through marriage, but to me it was always Marty’s boat that I acquired a stake in, rather than a boat that started out being ours—both of ours. Our new boat is one we chose, bought and are working on together. It’s been a partnership from the start. And it’s the first boat I’ve ever bought, which is a Big Freaking Deal. I feel a sense of ownership and a level of engagement with Three Sheets that I never quite had with Camelot.
So yeah, it all matters to me, from the type of shaft seal we opt for right down to the minutiae of interior décor. I blame this completely on Marty. He got me hooked, and hooked good.