While decorating her husband's restaurant, Cheryl Hackett-Galvin visited a sail loft and discovered stockpiles of old sails. Inspired to introduce people to the extraordinary fabric, she teamed with sailmaker Dolph Gabeler to design custom awnings, table skirts, lamp shades, dodgers, handbags, cushions, pillows, window treatments, bed skirts, artwork, and even clothing. "I hated the thought of them being cast aside," she says. "They're fine textiles with incredible handwork, just like quilts. Every sail has a story to tell, from each stitch sewn by its creator to the incredible journey traveled. No two are alike."
Cheryl notes that the fabric's neutral color and ivory stitching make it easily adaptable to home decor. The eco- and cost-friendly material also wears well, which makes it particularly versatile. "Recycled sailcloths are made from Egyptian cotton and Dacron, so they're suitable for indoor or outdoor use," she says.
For those who want to try working with sailcloth at home, Cheryl recommends purchasing vintage cotton or lightweight Dacron sails found in marine consignment shops. Depending on variables such as size, make, age, and condition, sails cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000. After devising a pattern, use a sailmaker's needle to easily penetrate the thick cloth and a sailmaker's palm to protect your hand from the needle. Want the look without the labor? Check out sailspiritdesigns.com.