Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making a New Dodger for Our Columbia 43

Virginia made a new dodger and awning that zips on to the aft end.
By Virginia

When I was in 8th grade Home Economics class I got a little cocky. We were starting the sewing section and the teacher had everyone sewing pillow. I had sewn a LITTLE and figured I could jump ahead and sew a dress. If I remember right it was orange...heck it was 1968 and I had poor taste...what can I say. The dress had darts and was pretty complicated but I finished it. It had puckered seams and lots of other imperfections. I was proud that I had finished it but I would never wear it.

I kind of feel the same way about the dodger. I have sewn many things since that orange dress, including wedding dresses, but the dodger was a giant leap. Kind of like going from a pillow to a dress.

Our old dodger was a disaster. It was made of vinyl and had shrunk beyond fitting and leaked like a sieve. We had to do something before winter and all of its 90 inches of rain came. I had mentioned to a few people about sewing a dodger hoping for volunteers but I got empty stares. My sister laughed and me and told me I was a "good woman." I took that as a no. There is very little on You Tube or the internet to help with a dodger so I turned to Sailrite. I ordered the two DVD set Make Your Own Dodger and went to work. I really had no comprehension what I was doing. I couldn't have done it without it! I found my new best sewing buddy on the DVD named Deb. She led me through everything I needed to do. I would watch each section three or four times and then sew. Sailrite needs to give her a raise!

When patterning your dodger mark EVERYTHING!  Every screw, bar, handles,  intersecting bars, flies, birds. Seriously, the more things the better.
We patterned the dodger just like the DVD said except we chose a day that we were both sick. First mistake. By the time we got to the critical part, the front, we were shot. I couldn't think straight and so decided that I would use the old dodger front as a pattern since that wasn't shrunk. Second mistake.
Cutting out the dodger pieces and pattern took the entire living room floor! Most of the pieces I cut out using the hot knife. I should have used it on ALL pieces because I ended up melting a couple of frayed seams after the fact.

I found that the double-stick bias tape was a life saver in keeping seams together. I used a marine grade sunbrella that was very stiff and when the bias tape didn't keep pieces together I used binder clips.

We took the dodger back to the boat three different times to fit. The first time I discovered that I hadn't accounted for the handle bars and the zippers were way too long. I left the side flaps long and unfinished until the second fitting
When I patterned the dodger I think it would have been better to leave this front facing bigger and straight across. Then I could have taken it to the boat and drawn where lines and bars go through. When I sewed it I had no idea what the cut outs in the old dodger were for so I ended up with a couple of strange cut outs! But the front piece was one of the first pieces you sew and I think it was the hardest so I am not sure this would work
I am happy with the zipper and zipper flap I sewed on for the awning! If will also be where the enclosure zips to the dodger.
I still have the zippers too long but they will have to do for now.  The rains are here.
Too many puckers but it is done.

I think Oceanus is proud of her dodger.....but she doesn't want to wear it!


  1. Just a couple of comments on the new dodger. It really is much nicer than my wife will admit to. I think it's a very professional job. It will take us where we want to go.

    Dodgers are a very complicated project. Virginia said that ideally she would have made the bimini first as a warm-up project.

    The stainless steel bows from the old dodger were in perfect shape and very solid, so we went ahead and used them as is. The design of the old dodger put the front right up against the mainsheet traveler on the cabin top. This makes the angle of the front of the dodger a little too steep for my eye, but I didn't know how I could change that without spending a lot of money.

    Would it have looked better? Maybe. Would it have worked any better? Nope.

  2. Baby looks so grown up in her new dress....*wipes tear from eye*..

    She really is looking good! I was somewhat looking forward to this project (for myself, that is). I made pillows in home ec, no dresses though. The other kids already thought me a bit strange as it was. The awning will be particularly valuble, later. Ahhhhh, sun.