Road Trip, Episode 2: the Top, part 1 by quornflour

So I ended up in Columbus, OH. Where I learned that if you are near campus and yelled O-H! Someone would be compelled to echo back with I-O. Now, of course I did not believe such a ridiculous tale, but it was later confirmed by folks so I believe it, though I failed to test it out.

I also checked out the Garden of Roses, which is this insanely huge lot of pretty much any sort of roses you could imagine. It has been raining off and on so it was empty and there was not a bunch of pollen flying around, because that probably would have knocked me to my ass.

All of that is not why I found myself in Columbus though; I got here because 3 years ago, I bought a Jeep Wrangler.

In that time I came up with this idea, that I really wanted a pink soft top for it, but discovered that this was not so easy to obtain. Impossible one might even say.

So, I thought to myself, I am pretty clever; I could just make one myself. Then I thought, I can sew, I can cut stuff, but I have never made something quite so industrial. So what to do: Then Flamestitch (FS) came to mind. She makes these super rad bags (of which I have 5) and things and has a past life in upholstery, has super duty sewing machines… so maybe she would want to help take on this feat of nonsense with me.

Seems good right?

Absolutely! Though, fact of the matter is we had only ever met on the internet. So, here I am, “hey stranger from the internet, want to take on a colossal undertaking and make a pink sparkly soft top for my Jeep, because I want one?”

Stranger from the internet agrees.

So here I am in Columbus, OH.

Now I have a 4 door Jeep, these things are not small. I am not entirely sure she really knew what she was agreeing to when she said yes. So after a number of exchanges, my dog and I show up at her door.

I had sent her measurements and FS had ordered some Naugahyde and we set out to work, realizing soon on that the heat sealed windows were going to be a little more of a hassle for a first attempt and so we decided to regroup.

This is how we came to the decision to reuse the back portion of the existing soft top and the windows and to embellish them. This was good since it turns out the measurements I had sent translated to the incorrect yardage of Naugahyde.

It is probably good that we did. Not that you would have to, but with a few challenges, if we had also had to deal with windows and zippers I probably would have been sent packing with a blue tarp for a soft top.

After a little planning, we started in. Taking pictures and cutting apart the existing top.

We also let our plan morph with the progress, changing designs, discovering things, dealing with a top that wanted to make us its bitch and then there was the rain. As a result of the rain there are seams that I need to waterproof, but otherwise it is road tested and ready to go.

What we ended up with is nothing shy of awesome. I will write up a (sort of) how to in a future post and share some of the learnings we made along the way. While you wait, check out the pictures.

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