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Old 01-08-2012, 10:40 PM   #1
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Replacing Zip Dee awning canvas

In trouble-shooting our poorly rolling Zip Dee awning, we discovered that some previous owner had gotten the canvas replaced and, long story short, did just about everything wrong: too short, cotton thread which is rotting, and installed upside down, among other failings.

We're looking to make a new one ourselves (fools rush in and all that), in order to get either a cheap new awning or an expensive new tale to tell.

We'd love any advice anyone has about having one replaced or making either a Zip Dee or pole awning themselves.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:27 AM   #2
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I'm nearly done with the fabric part of our new replacement awning, and DH is nearly done with the metal aspects of the repair. So far, I have learned from the mistakes of the previous awning maker and taught myself a few pointers as well.

1) Use a walking foot industrial sewing machine. If you don't have access to one, pass on this project or quickly make friends with someone who has one. I'm right near a TechShop (TechShop is America's 1st Nationwide Open-Access Public Workshop -- What Do You Want To Make at TechShop?) so I could use their industrial Tacsew. Sunbrella awning fabric is just too stiff to be able to use anything to keep the seams from puckering.

2) Watch every youtube video you can get your hands on, just to learn how much there is to learn. I also picked up a few tricks from them, like scoring the Sunbrella with an awl at the place you want it to fold. It makes it fold over much, much easier.

3) Seam basting tape helps, but not for seams. It worked really well holding the folded over edges. Then I could do a second fold without the tape for an edge that hid the fabric edge entirely. Apparently, Sunbrella heat seals the edges, but they will still fray under extreme circumstances. I wanted this to last, so I'm hiding every raw edge.

That's in for what I've learned so far. More later. All that is left is the scalloped edge and attaching the pull down strap. Then we can put it all together and I'll find out for sure whether I've saved a bundle or wasted a weekend and several hundred dollars.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:09 AM   #3
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I riveted a new track on the end of the metal awning cover; the old one was completely mangled by the previous owner. We went w/ a slightly larger diameter than the stock awning. Here it is, Cleco'd and ready for rivets... the new track is in 4' sections but that's hard to tell as they're lined up pretty well. Cutting the mangled track off of the last slat was a little tricky.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:10 AM   #4
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Bart, I've gotten the blue fancy fabric made for a Zip Dee tube from Riverside Awning. I'm not sure how close to them you are, but getting the fabric made, then installing it, would be a lot less expensive than getting the whole works from Zip Dee, and may save your marriage.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for your concern, Terry. The marriage is fine, as long as Bart and I don't mind that we're each spending the weekend working on the awning and not cleaning house. I sure know which one I'd rather do. I suspect Bart feels the same. :-)

The channel that the awning fabric slides into was so munched by the previous crimping that it was easier and better to cut it off and rivet on the replacement. Their enthusiastic crimp job is probably why they didn't just slide the fabric out and flip it over when they realized that they'd slid it in upside down. (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt in not assuming that they were too clueless to have noticed at all.)
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Old 02-04-2012, 03:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webspinner View Post
3) Seam basting tape helps, but not for seams. It worked really well holding the folded over edges. Then I could do a second fold without the tape for an edge that hid the fabric edge entirely. Apparently, Sunbrella heat seals the edges, but they will still fray under extreme circumstances. I wanted this to last, so I'm hiding every raw edge.
Good tips! I have the walking foot machine and I'm learning to sew a straight seam. Thanks!

Gary
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:47 PM   #7
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For my seams, I folded each edge under once, using basting tape. Then I lapped the fabric panels so that the folded edges butted against each other but didn't overlap. That way I could sew along each fold, having no more than three layers of sunbrella in any part of the seam.

It looked something like this, viewed from the end:

_________________________
. . . . . . __|_____ _____|___)
. . . . . (__|___________|________________________

Ignore the periods on the left, they are to make the layers line up right.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:06 PM   #8
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Hi!
You can get Zip Dee parts from Out of Doors Mart on the web. I also have a source for someone who can provide the original designed zip dee material. The stripe runs in the proper direction for a vintage as needed. New material will not. Be careful. She was very inexpensive. I have a 20' GT and rebuilt mine. Let me know and I can get you her number if you want.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:15 PM   #9
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The metal parts work well now, since my husband made a new claw end. We had the aluminum and the tools went ahead and made the replacement without thinking to check Out of Doors Mart.

We chose a Sunbrella stripe that we like and went with that. Sunbrella stripes run the length of the fabric. I don't know if the new awnings have special Sunbrella that has horizontal stripes, or if the just run the seams sideways instead of up and down.

Running the seam sideways would make getting the awning into the channel much easier. I had to trim each seam down to a single layer of fabric where the seam ran over the awning rope. Otherwise it was too thick to slide into the aluminum channel. Even at a single layer of fabric, it was a tight fit.
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:18 PM   #10
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The new awning is up and fits like a glove! Hooray!

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I learned how to use an industrial walking foot sewing machine a week ago and spent about 14 hours last weekend cutting and sewing. Today was the first time we got to see if it fit or if I was going to have to re-sew anything. It's done!
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:35 PM   #11
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It looks nice! What did you use to finish the edges of the scallops and the ends?
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:50 PM   #12
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I used Sunbrella bias edging for the scallops. The sides of the awning are just folded under twice (the first fold held down with two sided seam basting tape), and then overstitched.

The bias tape comes with the sides already folded in. I learned partway through the sewing that it goes on best if:

1) You crease the tape in the middle before sandwiching the awning scallops inside. This helps keep the front and back binding even and helps position the needle so that you catch all layers without having too much or too little of any of them.

2) Be very careful not to pull the bias tape AT ALL when sewing it on. If anything, try to push it into itself to give more room for the outside edge of the bias tape on the curves. I didn't always do that, so it pulled the edges in and made the scallops puff a bit instead of lying all the way flat.

3) Practice helps. I only did about 5 inches of practice since I was pressed for time. If I had done more, I would have known all of these tips BEFORE I started on the real thing.

We ordered our materials from Sailrite. I'm sure there are other suppliers out there, but they seemed reasonable, we've dealt with them before, and they make very helpful videos.

Sailrite recommends a nylon edging as being easiest for sewing onto scallops. I have used it and it is probably easier. It doesn't need to be folded under at the outside edges, so you're sewing through fewer layers. But I also know that it doesn't wear as well. If it chafes against anything, it gets fuzzy. It still holds together fine and looks great from anything farther than stick-your-face-in-it. But I like the sleek, uniform look of all Sunbrella.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:18 AM   #13
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That's great you guys were able to work on it together.Looks really nice and what an accomplishment!
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:06 AM   #14
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Next, give us info on playa windproofing that great sail!
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