View Full Version : Anyone ever do any canvas work?

03-10-2007, 11:26 PM
I am not thinking of making new canvas, just replacing zippers. Anyone ever do this for themselves? What kind of sewing machine is necessary? Is it worth trying?

03-10-2007, 11:52 PM
When you say canvas work do you mean as in a boat cover? My best advice would be to look around and find someone who will do it for you as inexpensively as they can.

I can order a cover for my Star from the sailmakers for $600. I can get a lady here in Mobile to make one BETTER than theirs for $300, and I am not kidding. If I had to pay the $600 I would patch up my old one and make it last as long as I can. At $300 I just order a new one when this one starts to fail.

Canvas work, when done by a sailmaker, can get pretty expensive. I want to order a mast-up cover for my Dragon from Europe, but it is....drumroll please.......about $1500 shipped from the UK. I bet my local lady will do it for $6-700. Just shop around. Of course, I am pretty sure that there is someone here who has a machine and has already done this stuff. Hopefully they'll chime in.

Mickey Lake

03-10-2007, 11:58 PM
Mickey, I just need to replace the zippers in my flybridge enclosure. All of them. I have nothing to do in the evenings except play on the internet, I thought it might be something worth learning. If its practical, I have no idea.

03-11-2007, 12:08 AM
be practical for me to do it myself. Has it got those plastic YKK zippers and have some of the teeth dry rotted and broken away? You are exactly right in that it probably would take a seamstress on a machine ten minutes work to do it, but I couldn't do it to save my life.

I am terrible at doing stuff like that.

Mickey Lake

03-11-2007, 01:02 AM
Pat - sunbrella? how many thicknesses? if only a couple, a good regular home machine will probably do it. Use the biggest needle it'll handle, and good 'sunbrella' compatable thread and have a go! :) What's to lose? If it doesn't work, take it to the local canvas place....or local shoemaker! He/she can sew in zippers for ya.

03-11-2007, 01:04 AM
I hadn't thought about a shoe repair shop.

Mickey Lake

03-11-2007, 01:20 AM
Pat - are the zippers broken, or has the stitching just worn out (often the thread disintegrates before anything else)?

High C
03-11-2007, 01:26 AM
Sailrite is the main nerve for do it yourself canvas work. Their site is very informative, too. http://sailrite.com/

George Ray
03-11-2007, 06:50 AM
I built the canvas stuff for my old pearson commander out of sunbrella using a yard sale home machine. Had to slow walk the needle through corners with MANY MANY layers and wipe WD-40 on the window plastic to get it to feed and not stick. Now, I am fortunate to have a Consew and a Sailrite but would not hesitate to replace a zipper with a home machine. Some double stick tape will help hold things in place while you concentrate on sewing. The home machine can usually be 'slow hand walked' through the most incredible thick piles of material, canvas, leather. If you happen to break a needle or two (I never did) then the cost is still a lot cheaper than buying a $1K machine or paying someone else and learning little in the process.

Ian McColgin
03-11-2007, 02:51 PM
Zippers on flybridge enclosures are often through the clear plastic. This can be very hard to handle on a home machine.

So, why not do it by hand?

To make it come out right, use a C-clamp with wood shims at each end to clamp the work together and stretch it evenly - very important to get this to come out without a pucker. I usually hang the work across the room so the tension remains on and I can stitch in the air, as it were. I do not like the 'stitch-all' type of lock stitch tool nearly so well and going at it double needle. It helps to have both left and right handed palms.

If you must stitch in your lap, stretch the pieces together and then staple (easier than pins) at 3"-4" intervals. The classic canvass workers' staple remover has a rounded nose and a beveling up flat U section so you can just shove the tool under and it lifts the staple out. You could modify a screwdriver to work. The angled handle of the store-bought units is nice, bend the screwdriver.


03-12-2007, 12:04 PM
Thanks everyone, I found sailrite and saw that they encourage trying it using a home machine.

Nanoose, I've got both, I guess when you lose teeth you start tugging harder and then pull out the thread.

I am going to give it a try right after I get the engine out, which I have to do now because the new one is ready