Yes there is
and the internet is full of great ideas on this
subject. www.coverandcushion.com is possibly one of the best sites for
finding information and has a great forum on all aspects
of canvas work. But to get you started on your money
saving odyssey we start with simple winch covers, and the
answers to some very basic questions...
Why do I
want a winch cover?
A winch cover
will keep out dirt, keeping your winches cleaner longer
and running smoothly (as long as you maintain them
Why is boat
canvas so expensive?
Because YOU let it be so, the
market charges what the market will pay! It is not
rocket science to make your own canvas. From
covers to full spray hoods - anyone can do it.
Can I make
it myself ?
Yes, and save a
lot of money.
What do I
need to get started ?
A sewing machine,
nothing fancy, the kind your mother has knocking
about in the garage will do. If your mother's
garage is too far away look in second hand shops,
online, or even department stores, prices will start
at around 50 euros/dollars for a good quality second
hand machine. It is
possible to get all your canvas work done on an
ordinary 'domestic' machine, even a few sail
repairs as well. You don't need
anything fancy, just something that will do a zig
zag and a straight stitch.
will making a winch cover take ?
the more practice you get the less time it will
take, but once you've got the idea, allow about
20mins per winch cover, from cutting out the canvas
to putting it on the winch!
Where can I
buy canvas from ?
If you are in a
reasonable sized port, try a fabric shop or general
store, explain what you want, and if they don't have it,
they will know where to get it from. Prices will
vary, but expect to pay around 15 euros/dollars a mtr
for good quality acrylic canvas. Alternatively
look on the internet, ebay would be a good start.
Sunbrella is the market leader in canvas, but a good
quality acrylic will do just as well.
It's a well known
fact that canvas stitching will 'go' long before the
canvas itself. Don't
believe anyone when they tell you that their
thread/stitching will last 10 years.
There is however some very good thread which NASA
uses, but this will cost you more than your canvas,
and then some! Expect to get about 5 years from a
good quality thread. UV and humidity kills
stitching, so buy the best you can find, and that
your sewing machine can handle. You don't want
dynamic thread, check that it doesn't stretch.
do I need?
are a few other things you will need, scissors (if
you have a hot knife - brilliant - but it's not
necessary), chalk and your saloon table... and the
ability to just go for it!
So, how do
I make a winch cover?
Good, you've got
the machine, the canvas and the thread, and you are
ready to get started. There are quite a few
complicated ways of doing this simple job that
include calculating pi etc, however we will leave
that to the others, all you need next is some string
and a plate. Below
are all the instructions... and when you've
finished making enough winch covers for yourself,
your neighbors and any body else passing by you can
then move onto repairing your spray hood, dodgers
and lazy bag etc...
can I make?
cockpit bags, cockpit cushions, scatter cushions,
sail covers, lazy bags, names, and don't forget,
upholstery... you are now ready to tackle the
one job that would have broken the bank...
just remember, if you have the originals, don't
discard them, just use them as patterns, cut up your
new fabric and stitch it up. But you are not
finished quite yet, you are now able to mend all
your clothes - no more walking around in ripped
jeans and shirts (unless you want to).
So why is
canvas work so expensive when it's so easy?
Because as is said at the beginning, YOU let it
be so. There is very little skill involved - and now
that you know how to do it you will never pay over the
odds again. Having said that, if you really don't
want to do any canvas work, or feel that the job in hand
is too big, then go to a reputable professional.
But you're not finished
yet! What about a few sail repairs, yes, your
domestic machine will cope with quite a few of
these. Even heavy cruising sails. The
trick is to take your time and set everything up
first. If possible, try taking the machine
outside to work on the deck. If not, then
first things first, clear the saloon of anything
that can get knocked over or damaged by yards and
yards of heavy fabric. Think about the angle
of the machine, then get sewing. (If you can feed
the sail through a hatch it is possible to make
repairs whilst only having the relevant part of the
sail inside the boat.) The proof of the pudding is
always in the eating - so here are a couple of
photos from the other day. The sail in question is a
Doyle Barbados Offshore Yankee. The sewing
machine is a Husqvarna Viking. This machine
not only puts up with sail repairs, but makes any
type of canvas, running repairs on clothes and has
put up with the marine environment.
YOU WILL NEED:
thread, scissors, string and a plate..... oh and the
sewing machine. Alternatively you could hand sew
this in about an hour.
Take a plate or
other round object and check that it is the same size as
the base of your winch.
Draw around the
plate and then draw another circle inside for the hem
(about 1-2cm). Now take the piece of string to
measure around the circle... that piece of string is
now the length of canvas that you have to cut.
Now decide what type
of fastening you want for your winch cover, string or
velcro. Elastic is not a good idea as it degrades
with humidity. A velcro strap is easy, but will not
last as long as a piece of string. The string can
either be attached to the cover with one stitch, or be
covered with canvas.
Making the string
cover is easy. Cut a piece of canvas about 4cm wide
by the same length as your main piece of canvas for your
cover. Fold over the ends and hems and sew onto your
piece of canvas, leaving enough space either end to allow
for the hem. If you lay your string inside the two pieces
of canvas before sewing this will save time and hassle in
having to thread it through later.
Hem your piece of
canvas. turn it inside out and sew it up, at this point
check that it does actually fit the winch!
Take your circle of
canvas and simply sew it to the body of the winch cover,
if you want you can pin it in place. Trim all your
hems (just to be neat and tidy), and turn it back
NOTE: Try never to use grommets in canvas, they pull away
from the fabric - use loops of webbing sewn onto both
That is possibly the
most complicated bit of sewing you will ever have to do,
everything else from now on will be easy. You are
now a fully certified 'sewing expert'.
Of course the winch
cover can be used for other purposes as well, thread a
piece of cord through the hem and you have a handy bag ,
or make a slightly shorter one to cover a compass.
Using old bits of
rope as sail ties? Simply sew up some webbing and
make as many as you want, and to the length that you want.
Windlasses come in an array of awkward
shapes and sizes - this cover is for a LEWMAR VERTICAL -
making it seem as difficult as possible - here's how to
make a canvas cover for your lewmar windlass.
YOU WILL NEED: CANVAS (new or old) /
THREAD / SCISSORS / CARDBOARD / MASKING TAPE / STRING /
TEA PLATE / VELCRO / PINS / SEWING MACHINE /
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