Sailmaker's Supply

Winter is a great time to fabricate an enclosure for your boat or even your porch. We're making it easier for you by offering 10% off all of our window material, now through February 29!

Here is some additional information on clear vinyl window material, also know by the generic term "isenglass". There are basically 3 kinds.

1.) Roll Vinyl: The least expensive is what I call "roll vinyl". It comes on a roll, 54" wide, and is sold by the yard. There may be some distortion, but Roll Vinyl has a soft feel, it is relatively easy to sew, and it's inexpensive.

We use .020 ga. roll vinyl for porch enclosures, windows in small sails and instrument covers. The .030 ga. is well suited for small boat enclosures.

2.) Optically Clear: Roll vinyl is used to create the clear vinyl I call "optically clear". In the manufacturing process, 2 layers of roll vinyl are pressed and polished forming sheets that are generally about 53" x 109". The clear vinyl sheets are distortion free. The price goes up, but it is flexible and easy to roll-up. A familiar brand is Crystal Clear 20/20.

3.) Coated Clear Vinyl: In the next step, the manufacturer places a film on both sides of the optically clear sheet. This makes the "glass" more scratch resistant. Additionally, UV rays won't penetrate the film, so it lasts longer. It is still flexible and easy to roll-up. The most well know brand is Strataglass.

Strataglass is more expensive, of course. However, if you consider the cost of the entire job, the extra life you get from Strataglass will more than make up for the extra cost.

Polycarbonate and Acrylic: You have probably heard of rigid window material which is not vinyl but polycarbonate or acrylic. Rigid enclosures are mostly seen on high-end sports fishing boats. The "glass" is very clear and lasts a long time. It cannot be rolled up, however, and it can shatter. Although some is advertised that it can be sewn, it is not easy. The trim fabric for polycarbonate and acrylic is generally glued rather than sewn. I wouldn't recommend it as a do-it-yourself project, but if you're interested in learning more, just reply to this email.

Clear vinyl enclosures are not difficult to make. Although it may seem intimidating, once the patterning is done, finishing your enclosure is fun and easy. In our shop, we cut the clear vinyl to the size of the finished panel, then trim it with fabric. We use 2" facing on the vertical edges, that is, the side that connects to the next panel. The fabric for the top and bottom is cut in the curve to match the curve on the panel, if any. We fold the inside edge in ½" and finish the outside edge with binding.

You can extend your boating well into the cooler months with a fly bridge or cockpit enclosure. And now through February 29, save 10% on all window material!

If you need a unique Valentine's Day Gift for your sailing and/or sewing sweetheart, check out our Gift Ideas. Order today so you'll receive it on time!

Until next time, happy Valentine's Day, and happy sewing!

Jean Carroll