Marine Fabricators Association 2023 Regional Great Lakes Conference

Chicago Marine Canvas welcomes over 75 fabricators and vendors to the 2023 Marine Fabricators Association Midwest Regional Conference
Chicago Marine Canvas welcomes over 75 fabricators and vendors to the 2023 Marine Fabricators Association Midwest Regional Conference

On Friday November 17, 2023, Marine Fabricators Association 2023 Regional Great Lakes Conference was hosted at Chicago Marine Canvas. Marine Fabricators Association members from across the country and different parts of the world including, New Zealand and Canada, traveled to the Windy City to be part of the two-day event being held at Chicago Marine Canvas. Fellow business owners, members of the MFA board, vendors, marine sewers and upholsters, and people wanting to learn more about the marine fabrication industry made up the list of attendees for the 2023 MFA Great Lakes Regional Workshop.

Everyone that attended this event did so for various reasons, maybe to learn something new, to network, to share business and product information, to exchange and expand their skills, or simply to be in the same space as like-minded business owners and partners.  Regardless of the reasons, Chicago Marine Canvas worked hard to ensure that there was something for everyone to take home with them by covering topics like:

  • Enclosures
  • Shop Safety 101
  • Shop Trucks
  • Sewing Machine and Cutting Tables Demonstrations
  • Upholstery


Chicago Marine Canvas owner Vince Innocenzi shows how to measure an enclosure with a Prodim Proliner

Using top of the line technology, Chicago Marine Canvas demonstrated how they take digital 3D patterns, design their covers in CAD software and fit their enclosures on a 1:1 scale frame. Not only that but they also fabricated windows from polycarbonate, pressed polished and rolled glass materials, discussing, and providing various examples of each one along the way.  Chicago Marine Canvas showed their sewing processes and fitting of the bimini top with different types of window panels.

Shop Safety 101

Shop Safety 101

We covered some common sense practices in the workplace, such as how work with sharp tools, equipment, potent chemicals, very loud noises, and other hazards, discussing the basic steps that every shop can take to ensure a safe workspace.  One key takeaway from the Shop Safety 101 discussion that surprised many fellow marine fabrication business owners, was the discussion of ototoxicants, certain chemicals that may cause hearing loss through exposure. This goes to show that there’s always something essential to learn in the marine fabrication industry.

Shop Trucks

Marine Tops Unlimited shop truck
Marine Tops Unlimited shop truck

Chicago Marine Canvas partnered up with Steve Griffith from Marine Tops Unlimited to show off their two different shop trucks. All the attendees were able to learn some of the tricks of the trade that both Chicago Marine Canvas and Marine Tops Unlimited use while they are on the road. Some of these cool features include custom made storage and drawers that Chicago Marine Canvas installed in their shop truck to ensure that they always have a secure spot for all their tools and equipment while they are on the road. 

On the other hand, Marine Tops Unlimited showed off their sewing machine along with the bits of fabrics and different kinds of thread that they keep on board for any quick and easy last-minute adjustments. Being able to see the different kinds of features from two different shop trucks, allowed the attendees of the MFA Great Lakes Regional Workshop to start thinking about how they too can start rolling in style by getting or modifying their shop trucks, in whichever way best meets their own marine fabrication industry needs when they are on the road.

Sewing Machine and Cutting Tables Demonstrations

Showing off our Double Needle Juki sewing machine and how it applies to upholstery projects

By continuing with a hands-on-approach, Chicago Marine Canvas displayed how they use a variety of sewing machines such as straight stitch, double needle, long arm, embroidery, and many other specialty sewing machines as well. There were a few brave attendees that dared to try out an unfamiliar sewing machine for themselves and a few other lucky ones were able to snag a custom keychain made by one of the Chicago Marine Canvas team members.

Almost 100 years old, this Singer sewing machine is still in use
Almost 100 years old, this Singer sewing machine is still in use

Team members demonstrated their Prosail and Gerber automated fabric cutting tables which are used in their production process. The tables have the capability of not only cutting a variety of windows but also the polycarbonate, Strataglass and rolled eisenglass used on boat windows.


An in-depth conversation about reupholstering commonly found seats for Sea Ray Sundancers
An in-depth conversation about reupholstering commonly found seats for Sea Ray Sundancers

The conference concluded with an in depth look at the process of reupholstering seats on a Sea Ray Sundancer. Chicago Marine Canvas explained the steps taken to prepare, pattern and upholster some of the common seats found on cruiser style boats. One of the more time-consuming steps in the process is foam preparation which is the foundation of any upholstered piece. The group discussed the many different ways to achieve a great looking cushion at the end.

Special Thanks

Chicago Marine Canvas showcasing their Prosail automated fabric cutting table
Chicago Marine Canvas showcasing their Prosail automated fabric cutting table

Chicago Marine Canvas wants to thank all of those that attended. It was great to see old friends and make some new ones too! We look forward to collaborating with everyone at the national convention in January.  This event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Chicago Marine Canvas team, the members of the MFA board, and everyone else who attended and made the 2023 MFA Great Lakes Regional Workshop a memorable one.  Chicago Marine Canvas would like to extend a special thanks to all the vendors and sponsors of the event including:

  • AP Consulting and Technical Services
  • Continental
  • Ennis Fabrics
  • Fasnap
  • Herculite Products Inc.
  • Keyston Bros
  • Marlen Textiles
  • Miami Corporation
  • Sattler Corp.
  • Serge Ferrari Group
  • Sunbrella
  • Trivantage
  • WeatherMAX Performance Fabrics
  • Xtreme Seal

Beneteau Swift Trawler 34

Enhancing the Beneteau Swift Trawler 34

This Beneteau Swift Trawler 34 was enhanced by Chicago Marine Canvas adding custom covers that elevate the boating experience. A Bimini Top, crafted from durable Sunbrella black material, shields occupants from harsh weather elements while providing a cool, shaded space for sunny days. This practical and stylish custom top includes convenient openings for handling mainstay lines to the mast with ease.

Bow Pad Cover

Customize the Swift Trawler 34 with a Bow Pad Cover, expertly crafted from SergeFerrari Stamoid White material, renowned for its resistance to UV damage and mildew. This cover keeps the yacht’s bow area clean and secure, preventing debris and dirt accumulation. The Bow Pad Cover perfectly complements the other custom covers, completing the ensemble of protection and style.

Bridge Railing Covers

The vessel’s appeal is further upgraded with Bridge Railing Covers made from Sunbrella Black fabric. These covers protect the railing system against sun damage, scratches, and wear and tear, lending the yacht a polished and sophisticated appearance. Bridge Railing Covers ensure the longevity of the yacht’s railings while adding an extra touch of style

Comfort and Style

The addition of these custom covers elevates the Beneteau Swift Trawler 34, making every boating adventure a delightful experience. The durable Sunbrella Black and SergeFerrari Stamoid White materials not only provide superior protection but also add a touch of sophistication. Whether planning a coastal cruise or an open-sea journey, these custom covers ensure comfort and style throughout. 

Lady M

Lady M

Embarking on a summer journey to Canada, the 65ft Navigator, Lady M, underwent a remarkable transformation with the help of Chicago Marine Canvas. Through innovative design and craftsmanship, a custom lower aft frame was fabricated, creating the illusion of a fiberglass hardtop. Complemented by the choice of fabrics, both inside and out, Lady M now boasts a seamless blend of style, functionality, and durability.

The Illusion of Fiberglass

Chicago Marine Canvas took Lady M’s aesthetic to new heights by crafting a custom bimini top spanning an impressive 16ft X 10ft. Constructed with 1 ¼-inch stainless steel tubing, this frame showcases the team’s expertise in combining structural integrity with visual appeal. By utilizing Serge Ferrari’s Stamoid Top fabric in white, and then black through the windows, an extraordinary illusion of a fiberglass hardtop is achieved, per the customer’s design choice.

Visual Harmony and Lengthened Appeal

Lady M’s custom canvas design makes clever use of color to enhance the vessel’s aesthetics. The black fabric seamlessly blends into the horizon, creating a sleek and uninterrupted profile. This choice allows the eyes to focus on the boat’s captivating features, highlighting its length and sophistication. Meanwhile, the white fabric blends harmoniously with the rest of the boat, elongating the vessel’s overall appearance and drawing the viewer’s gaze across its entirety.

Superior Comfort and Enduring Style

Chicago Marine Canvas didn’t stop at enhancing Lady M’s exterior allure.  Custom bridge and bow cushions made from Sunbrella Horizon in Capriccio White gave a touch of luxury to the vessel. These cushions not only provide unparalleled comfort but also demonstrate remarkable durability while still offering timeless elegance.

The Sunbrella Horizon Difference

Sunbrella Horizon fabric delivers exceptional performance and practicality, making it an ideal choice for Lady M’s interior cushions. The fabric’s resistance to mold and mildew ensures longevity, even in challenging marine environments. Additionally, its resistance to cold-cracking and UV fading guarantees that the cushions will remain vibrant and intact, withstanding the rigors of the summer sun. Furthermore, Sunbrella Horizon’s bleach-cleanable feature ensures easy maintenance, allowing for worry-free enjoyment of every adventure.

Lenzip Zippers and Solar Fix PTFE Thread

Lady M acknowledges the significance of dependable hardware and sewing techniques. This vessel is furnished with Lenzip zippers and Solar Fix PTFE thread, guaranteeing exceptional efficiency and durability. Lenzip zippers are accompanied by a restricted lifelong warranty, offering reassurance and dependability with each utilization. Coupled with Solar Fix PTFE thread, renowned for its robustness, UV resistance, and ability to withstand environmental harm, these elements guarantee the longevity of the boat’s canvas components.

Elegance and Functionality

Chicago Marine Canvas has truly elevated Lady M’s elegance and functionality with their custom canvas work. The creation of a custom lower aft frame, expertly designed to mimic a fiberglass hardtop, showcases their dedication to both form and function. The careful selection of fabrics, with the black and white combination, enhances the vessel’s aesthetic appeal, lengthening its profile and captivating the eye. Inside, the Sunbrella Horizon cushions provide unbeatable comfort, resilience, and easy maintenance. Look out for Lady M as she embarks on her voyage to Canada for the summer and then to the Caribbean in the fall!

Sol Mates

Sol Mates

Embark on a boating adventure with Sol Mates, a vessel that exudes elegance and incorporates top-of-the-line features. Recent upgrades by Chicago Marine Canvas showcase the finest materials and components, from Captain Navy Sunbrella fabric to polycarbonate and Strata Glass windows. This boat offers style, durability, and countless memorable journeys on the open seas.

Captain Navy Sunbrella Fabric

One of the standout features of Sol Mates is the use of Captain Navy Sunbrella fabric. Renowned for its exceptional durability and resistance to the elements, Sunbrella fabric offers reliable protection against UV rays, mold, and mildew. It not only ensures the longevity of the boat’s upholstery but also enhances its visual appeal with its deep, rich navy color.

Polycarbonate Forward-Facing Windows

Sol Mates takes visibility and safety to a whole new level with its polycarbonate forward-facing windows on the fly bridge. Polycarbonate is a robust, impact-resistant material that offers excellent clarity and durability. These windows provide an unobstructed view of the surroundings while protecting passengers and crew from inclement weather conditions.

Strata Glass Windows

Complementing the polycarbonate windows, Sol Mates features Strata Glass windows on the bridge facing the back of the boat. Strata Glass is a marine-grade vinyl material known for its exceptional clarity, scratch resistance, and long-lasting performance. These windows ensure an undisturbed view of the water while maintaining a comfortable and protected environment within the bridge.

SeaMark Fabric

To add a touch of elegance and functionality, the Sol Mates boat incorporates a laced-on bridge top made of SeaMark fabric. SeaMark fabric is renowned for its exceptional durability, water resistance, and color retention properties. This laced top not only offers protection from the elements but also adds a stylish finishing touch to the boat’s overall design.

Lenzip Zippers and SolarFix PTFE Thread

Sol Mates understands the importance of reliable canvas hardware and stitching. Equipped with Lenzip zippers and SolarFix PTFE thread, this boat ensures optimal performance and longevity. Lenzip zippers come with a limited lifetime guarantee, providing peace of mind and reliability in every use. Paired with SolarFix PTFE thread, known for its strength, UV resistance, and resistance to environmental damage, these components ensure the boat’s canvas components endure the test of time.

Stainless Steel Hardware

In line with its commitment to durability, all hardware on the Sol Mates boat is crafted from stainless steel. Stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and rust, making it the ideal choice for marine applications. By incorporating stainless steel hardware, the boat maintains its pristine condition even after continuous exposure to saltwater and other harsh marine environments..

Style and Durability

Sol Mates is a testament to the fusion of style, durability, and functionality. With its premium upgrades, including the Captain Navy Sunbrella fabric, polycarbonate and Strata Glass windows, laced-on bridge top made of Seamark fabric, and robust stainless-steel hardware. For these improvements on your boat, contact Chicago Marine Canvas.

Dockside Decking – Custom Logo

For this project, medium grey over light grey Dockside Decking was added to the swim platform and steps. It is a great addition to swim platforms since it a non-skid marine flooring product designed for rugged marine environments. 

When adding the decking to their boat, many people choose to add their boats name or custom logo. Just like with embroidery, we work together with the customer to match their vison and create the perfect design. 

Dockside Decking is a polyethylene based; UV-resistant closed-cell PE/EVA foam product currently available in over 10 color patterns. It’s soft on your feet and provides excellent traction when wet or dry. It also won’t absorb troublesome liquids that can be found on a deck like motor oil, fish blood, wine, ect! It is also very easy to maintain and keep clean

Full Enclosure, Dockside Decking, Cockpit Carpeting – Sea ray Sundancer

For this 1994 Sea Ray Sundancer we did a range of projects including adding Dockside Decking to the swim platform, a full enclosure with a new aft frame, and cockpit carpeting.

Doing multiple projects on a boat simultaneously is a great way to see a brand-new transformation when complete. 

We use many labor-saving, cost-effective tools when creating these projects that help us speed up our process. We first go out to your boat to take precise measurements for each of the projects using our 3D measuring device. Then we head back to the shop and start our design process.

Full Enclosure

Adding an enclosure to your boat is a great way to protect both you and the boat from the sun or rain. This makes it easy to boat in any types of Chicago weather. 

After getting the measurements from the 3D measuring device, we create a digital template on the computer of the enclosure. From there the seamstresses are able to start sewing together the canvas enclosure. 

Dockside Decking

For this project, Dockside Decking was added to the swim platform and steps. Dockside Decking is great for swim platforms since it a non-skid marine flooring product designed for rugged marine environments. 

Dockside Decking also won’t absorb troublesome liquids that can be found on a deck like motor oil, fish blood, wine, ect! It is also very easy to maintain and keep clean

Custom logos or the boats name can be added onto the decking. Check out this project!  

Cockpit Carpeting

Cockpit Carpeting is a great way to keep the interior and exterior of your boat clean while creating traction for walking on. The high-quality carpeting, we use is by Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl

The vinyl that it’s made of is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, so mold and mildew cannot grow here! Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl dries quickly and can never get soaked by any liquid. According to Infinity fabrics, if their flooring is submerged in water, it will actually float, not sink like typical carpeting.

There are new designs rolling out all the time and over 100 designs and patterns to choose from. To learn more about the carpeting and its benefits, go here

Aft Cover

For this Sea Ray we made a Forest Green aft cover using Sunbrella fabric and SolarFix thread.

Aft Covers are one of the most common types of boat covers in Chicago. You’ll see them a lot due to the overwhelming amount of cruiser style boats in the harbor. 

Aft Covers can be all canvas, have an eisenglass window in the back or be entirely made from eisenglass. But the last style is more common on complete enclosures. They are attached to other canvas panels and/or a radar arch with zippers and then to the boat by snaps.

Double Sunpads – Sea Ray Sundancer 40

These double sun pads were made for a 2004 Sea Ray Sundancer 40 using Sunbrella’s Adaptation Indigo fabric. Which comes with a 5-year warranty.

It was also made with Dri-Fast Foam that causes it to dry very fast. Since Drifast foam is a firm open celled foam that is very porous, it allows water to run through it easily, instead of absorbing it like other closed cell foams.

Having double sunpads instead of one giant one makes it easy to move and store. Since the sunpads are fully customizable, we have had customers make one, two, and three for this type of boat. 

These sun pads have built in headrests help with max comfort while relaxing. Sunpads are made with 3″ tampered foam, whereas the head rests are elevated to 6″.

It has integrated pockets and cup holders in the headrest to hold drinks, phones, and other valuables. No more having to worry about your phone sliding into the water while you’re relaxing.

Dockside Decking – Sea Ray Sundancer 280

For this 2005 Sea Ray Sundancer 280 we installed dockside decking to the swim platform. It is a non-skid marine flooring product designed for rugged marine environments. This customer chose brown over black for their material color. 

Dockside Decking is a polyethylene based, UV-resistant closed-cell PE/EVA foam product currently available in over 10 color patterns. It’s soft on your feet and provides excellent traction when wet or dry.

In addition to its good looks, it won’t absorb those troublesome liquids typically found on deck. Such as motor oil, fish blood, red wine or beer! Lastly, it is easy to clean and is stain resistant.

Check out this page to learn more

Process of a Custom Canvas

The Process

  1. After receiving all of the customers information, project details and deposit, we are able to start the process of creating their canvas. The first thing we do in our process is take measurements using our digitized canvas measuring system. This measuring system is a quick and efficient way to make a template of the boat without needing the actual boat or old canvas at our shop.
  2. After measuring the boat, we use the measurements to create the digital template on the computer. From there we are then able to start cutting the fabrics using an automated fabric cutting table. Once the fabric is cut the seamstresses get to work sewing it all together, and the hardware is added.
  3. Now that the project is complete our team installs the canvas onto the boat. If necessary, the canvas may be brought back for minor adjustments. It’s as simple as that!


Chicago Marine Canvas uses the most advanced measuring and manufacturing processes available to the industry today. Our digitized canvas measuring process uses laser technology that gives us pinpoint accurate dimensions. Which then translates to a 3D template of your boat and new cover.

This not only gives you a perfectly tight boat canvas, but it also reduces our manufacturing time by up to 80% which saves you money.

We have used this process for full enclosures, cockpit covers, framing upholstery (new and reupholster), eisenglass window replacement, carpeting and much more. Please view at some recent projects we’ve worked on to see the results.