Tips for sewing gimp

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It’s the little things that can make or break a trailer. Handmade gimp is one of those special touches that can have a huge impact on the final look of your restoration.

Gimp welting is trim that goes between the wall and cabinets, or almost anywhere that 2 pieces join and are visible.

I wanted to keep this project as close to original as possible. Some people like to use wood trim. While this looks nice, it does not flex with the movement of the trailer, or prevent the squeaking from wood on wood contact.

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I found fabric that was pretty close to the original., and purchased 5/32 welting cord (the standard size for gimp welting)

Cut your strips 1.25 inches wide. When cutting on the bias, you can get a bit over 25 yards of gimp per yard of fabric (out of 54 inch wide fabric). If cutting a straight cut, you can get 35 yards of gimp per yard of fabric.

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NOTE: If you are using vinyl, there is no need to cut it on the bias. If using another type of fabric, I would recommend cutting it on the bias, as it helps the fabric bend around corners.

I went ahead and purchased a welting cord foot for my sewing machine. If you do not want to do this, you can use your zipper foot

Live and Learn Moment: When sewing with vinyl it sticks. It sticks to your foot. It sticks to your plate. It refuses to slide properly. Its a pain on the arse. I glued a piece of thin teflon sheet to my foot and plate to prevent this from happening. Using tissue paper (the normal way to prevent vinyl from sticking) does not make sense in this case and is very timing consuming.

Join your strips at an angle (Here is a great video on this ) as it reduces bulk.

Use a very long stitch length. There is no need to have a supertight stitch. This is temporarily holding the gimp together until it is stapled to the wood. (When these trailers were originally built they did not sew the fabric around the cording, the strips were wrapped around the cord as they stapled it on. ) Get as close to the cording as possible.

Just keep sewing…..just keep sewing ( in Miss Dory’s famous words). Keep going until you have the amount you need!

This is an undertaking not for the faint of heart or those who have a UFO (unfinished objects) basket as big as a bath tub.

Making your own gimp is easy with basic sewing skills.

Time Heals all

We had wrapped up the Airfloat for winter in September of 2016. She sat patiently waiting for her trip to the spa.

That winter was hard on us. sickness, death (my dad), flooding and numerous other things seemed to plague our family. It took us until early spring to start looking for a place to start her restoration . I put an add on a local bulletin board.  I was so excited when someone responded! She had a space we could rent. It was nothing more than a piece of land, but it would do! We purchased an event tent (the largest one we could find), and waited for the ground to dry out.

The rain receded and the day finally arrived when we could install the tent.  They say building a house is hard on a relationship….I think putting up a tent is worse.

 

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They day we moved her in was momentous.  She was finally in a place we could start working on her.

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We could not wait to dig in. We did an inspection of things we knew we needed to replace. She was complete (sans 2 lights), but things like hinges, and lights were going to need to be replaced due to rust or heat damage. We needed to know up front what to look for, as parts can be scarce.  Lists were made. Lots and lots of lists.

Then, we started the painstaking process of  meticulously tearing her apart. This process can be disheartening. Just keep reminding yourself that you have to go down to build up.

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We labeled everything that came off of the trailer. On a smaller trailer, this is not as important. On a large trailer, it is a must. We wanted to save every part and piece possible. If we couldn’t use it, we needed it for reference at the very least.  I found Tyvek labels on Amazon.  The wires work well for tying on to parts.

TIP: Remember to measure everything before you take apart your trailer. Do not just go in with a sledge hammer and start demo! Measure twice. Keep a notebook. Even things you do not think you will need to measure. 1/4 inch can make a huge difference in the end product.

 

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Once we started pulling the skin off, we  were baffled she had made it home in one piece.  We came to the  conclusion that she wanted to get here. Her front and rear ends fell apart as the skin was peeled back. On one hand, we were not surprised, and on the other we had hoped we had for a better pattern to go by which would make the restoration go smoother….but this was not meant to be. In some areas, we were actually taking it apart with a vacuum (yes, really!) All the trim was put on with screw nails. These things were the bane of our existence.    Vampliers to the rescue. These things are, seriously, a life saver!

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In one of the cabinets, we found what we believe to be the original shipping label from the factory. She had made it full Circle, and was back in Sonoma County.

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Airfloat Label