before & after: old sailcloth chairs & curtains

I’ve been dreaming of a furniture project that would involve a sturdy recycled textile, and I was struggling to come up with the right fabric source; everything seemed too familiar and not interesting enough. So I was thrilled to see this amazing restaurant decor project from Jennifer Jako at Fix Studio, in which they used old sails to create chair slipcovers and curtain dividers for the interior. The results are stunning! I love the graphic impact of the sail numbers, and the red cording adds the perfect punch of bright color. This is great DIY inspiration, and I am going to follow her advice for sourcing sails like these. Awesome job, Jennifer! — Kate

“After” images by Dina Avila

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Cost: $4.84/yard for sailcloth

Basic Steps: We were creating a nautical, fresh feel for an interior and decided to recycle used sails from a local marine supply. Used sails can be purchased through local listings, or if you’re lucky, you might be able to find an old one for free from a local marina. You want to select medium-weight sails like a genoa or jib, not a main sail (too heavy) or spinnaker (too light). We looked for ones with numbers or pretty contrast stitching. We found an “86” and featured that on a curtain.

We used an industrial sewing machine with the heavier weight cloth, but you could get away with a regular sewing machine with sturdy needles and some patience. At the bottom of the chair-back slip covers, we added grommets and looped colored rope through.

For the curtains we used the existing D-ring on the corner of one sail and added sewn-in D-rings on the corners so they could be tied back. Laces were sewn on the top to roll up and tie off the curtains like a tent window. Grommets can be added as a way to hang them and for additional interest along the edges.

We’re so excited about sails, we’re going to use them next as a giant divider curtain in our new studio that has 16’ ceilings! Creative reuse is the ultimate in sustainability — recycled sails equal a beautiful look without the cost to the environment or your pocket. — Jennifer

Lauren Ashley

What an awesome idea! I love these in a restaurant, but would be perfect in a summer home (dare to dream) as well.



Love that it’s recycled materials, love that it’s handmade, love that these look like they are meant to be there! These covers and curtains are so darn cool!


This is perfect especially for someone like me who loves everything nautical!! Cool!


Cool! I’ve seen sailcloth bags before but this is even more fun. As a sailor (with quite a few old sails lying around) I could totally get into repurposing sailcloth in my home. Thanks for the inspiration!


This looks fantastic! I love the hanging panels on the walls too. Where is this restaurant?


Riffle NW in Portland, Oregon. More photos are on the restaurant’s web site as well!


I love the “86” with a restaurant — that’s a great inside joke for anyone in the business. Very cool project.


Wow! Another brillant idea by fix. Portland is lucky to have such great talent!

Erin Lang Norris

I was just given a sail and have been trying to decide what to do with it! I was thinking outdoor pillows, but this is a great idea for curtains in our guest room. I haven’t had a chance to look at my sail yet….now I’m curious what number is on it! ;)


fix studio clearly have great vision….please forward me your information for my own future plans.

Lucy Abel

Any issues with sail cloth being highly flammable?


This looks AWESOME. You have my head spinning with ideas. Where did you score the cool looking sail cloth from?

Paige Slater

Terrific. I’m looking for sail cloth to make interior decor for our Summer house in Maine. Can you tell me where to source the sail cloth? I probably need medium weight jib or genoa sail material.


I would love to know the source of the sail cloth. I’ve been looking everywhere but have yet to find one


I would also love to find a source for used sails. My daughters want to use as accents on their bedrooms and for curtains.