Making Your Own Boat Cover

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The Materials

  • Boat coats need to be rugged because they are used outdoors in all conditions. They are made to protect your boat from rain, and need to withstand driving winds, which whips against the large surface area of the cover, making it into something like a sail. That's why most covers are made of heavy canvas or synthetic fabrics. Canvas is durable and can be coated with waterproofing materials. It is also heavy, however. Synthetics like rayon and other fibers are usually lighter, strong and also very light.

Sizing Up Your Cover

  • When sizing up your cover, be sure to make generous measurements. It is not always easy to estimate how much you need because the area you are covering is not flat. So measure not just the width, but the height, and remember that the cover is going to extend below the sides of the boat. It will also have to stretch across the wind shield, and it should cover the engines if they don't already have covers.

Cutting the Fabric

  • Once you have a length of fabric, you need to make your cuts. The easiest way to do this is to lay the fabric right over the boat and pull it down on both sides to where you want the cover to go. Make marks with a marker on one side while someone else is holding the cover tight on the other. Don't worry about getting the measurements exact. You can always trim some off, but you can't put more back on!

Making the Actual Cover

  • If you want a drawstring cover, all you need to do is cut it to size (leaving an extra 6 inches to create a fold over for the drawstring), stitch the drawstring channel and then insert the string. For a snap-on cover, you need to cut a rough-sized cover, then lay it on the boat. Carefully measure where it contacts the boat edge (where you will install the snaps) and then stitch a 2-inch-wide double-fold edge. Carefully mark and line up the cover with the snaps on the boat, and then rivet the cover snaps into place.

More Advice

  • Making a cover is not easy. It will take a lot of patience to make one that fits correctly. Be sure to line up the snaps carefully as the cover will seem to shift as you build. The point is to try and make it fit as tightly as possible so it stretches cleanly like a drum over all the parts of the boat.

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