Tips on Sewing Marine Upholstery


Marine upholstery requires special fabrics and threads to withstand the elements. If you're sewing custom marine upholstery for a boat, ensure you're using the proper fabrics and thread for optimum life of the item.

Marine Upholstery Fabric Choices

  • Waterproof fabrics are a good choice for marine upholstery because the material repels water as it splashes. Fabrics that are non-absorbing and mildew-resistant help with outdoor spills and constant contact with both saltwater and freshwater environments. Bright sunlight fades and bleaches out bright colors if they are not colorfast, so choose fabrics that are UV-resistant.

Seam Finishes

  • Canvas is a durable fabric that is easily fabricated into deck pillows, bags and chair coverings. Canvas and other thick natural fabrics are inexpensive and scratch-resistant, but will also unravel easily if not cut on the bias. When you sew a seam for any item that uses a material that unravels easily such as canvas, ensure that the edges are either serged with an overlock machine or over stitched with a standard sewing machine to prevent unraveling. You can also use French seams because the edges are entirely encased within the seam.

Decorative Trim

  • Choose trim for marine upholstery that can perform well with marine upholstery fabrics. Automotive fabric trim that is water-resistant is a good choice for boats and comes in many colors. You can use trim for seam edges, seam fillers and it adds color to a plain upholstered item. Choose webbing for handles or fasteners that will resist any water damage, such as mildew and rot.

Marine Sewing Thread

  • Use thicker thread or waterproof thread when sewing marine upholstery to make strong seams. Monofilament and nylon thread both come in different weights for both machine sewing and hand sewing projects. If you use polyester thread, choose a fade-resistant type to ensure any topstitching decorations stay true and do not fade with sun exposure.

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