How to Install a Slit in a Boat Awning for Topping Lift

Item # X-HT-200369

Some sailboat awnings require a slit in the backstay for the exit of the topping lift. If you have an awning that does not have a backstay slit and needs one added, this video will help you with that process. Our boat awning rests on a telescoping awning pole and so we need to insert a slit in the awning to accommodate for the topping lift. This slit will also allow for the backstay to rest upon the telescoping awning pole inserted in the sleeve of the boat awning. This is a simple process that even a novice sewer will be able to tackle. Watch our step-by-step how-to video for the full tutorial.

The first step is to measure your awning to determine where the slit will be placed and the depth of the slit. Measure from the aft edge of the awning. Our backstay slit will also feature a velcro flap closure that will keep the two edges of the backstay slit fabric together.

Once you have your cutting lines drawn and marked for the topping point and the backstay point, cut out the necessary portion of fabric. Next, sew binding around the now-raw fabric edges to prevent the fabric from raveling. Now, we’ll flip our awning over so the underside is facing up and create a pocket along the raw aft edge of the awning. First, create a 1/2-inch hem before folding the fabric up to create the sleeve pocket where the pole will be inserted.

The last step of this DIY is to create the pocket flap and sew it to the top of the awning. The size of the flap is not super important — you can make yours however large you’d like — but you’ll want to allow for the topping lift to exit and for the backstay to exit. So, your pocket shouldn’t be too big. Use Seamstick double sided basting tape to create the double hems for the pocket. The basting tape will help hold the fabric layers together before they are sewn. We highly recommend Seamstick Basting Tape for Canvas (#129) for almost every canvas sewing job. It’s a sewer’s best friend!

Watch our how-to video to see how this entire process is done. At Sailrite®, we’re your one-stop shop for all things DIY! Not only do we carry a full lineup of fabric, tools, supplies and sewing machines, but we also provide you with free high-quality project videos to help you sew with confidence.