How to Make a Boat Helm Cover

Item # X-HT-200672

Protect the instruments on your boat’s helm with a well-made, durable cover. We made this cover for the helm panel on our Project Powerboat as well as a wheel cover, which you can watch in another video (#200670XHT). This cover is a little more involved than the wheel cover, but since it’s small in scale, it would be a great practice project as you work up to a larger sewing project or just a quick sew for a weekend DIY.

Helm cover, front view.

The helm panel on our Project Powerboat has a curved top. To better accommodate that curve, we decided to make our cover from three panels of Sunbrella® Marine Grade fabric that we seamed together. Our cover is on the small side, but the principles used in the video can be scaled up to work on larger helms too. Sunbrella is a great choice for boat covers of all types, including winch covers, tiller covers, cockpit covers and more. We always have a huge selection of Sunbrella fabrics in stock and ready to ship. Explore our selection and pick a color that complements your boat.

The helm cover is attached to the boat by snap fasteners. To reinforce the canvas where fasteners will be installed, we added a strip of Shelter-Rite® vinyl behind the Sunbrella. To easily install the snaps on the cover to match up with the existing snap studs on the boat, we used the Quick Fit Kit. This kit contains snap sockets that have a pin on them so you can temporarily fasten the fabric to the studs for placement. It’s a great method for getting your sockets and buttons placed just right!

Helm cover, top down view.

In the video, you’ll learn how to pattern the cover on your boat, pattern the fabric, sew the panels together, add reinforcements and binding, and install the cover on the boat.

Video Chapters:

  • Making Patterns – 0:24 min.
  • Prepping Patterns – 9:55 min.
  • Patterning Fabric – 14:26 min.
  • Sewing Panels Together – 15:40 min.
  • Sewing Reinforcing Strips for Snaps – 20:16 min.
  • Installing Binding – 24:39 min.
  • Installing Snaps – 27:08 min.
  • Materials List – 30:00 min.

Materials List:

  • Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric (we used Tresco Birch #4696-0000)
  • Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material #122463
  • 3M™ Filament Strapping Tape #5643
  • Seamstick 3/8” Basting Tape for Canvas #129
  • V-92 Polyester Thread
  • Shelter-Rite® 18 oz. (we used Black #1120121)
  • 1” Sunbrella® Acrylic Bias Binding
  • DOT® Snap Fastener Cloth-to-Surface with 3/8” Screw Stud #333002

Tools List:

  • Soapstone Fabric Marking Pencil White #102766
  • Sailrite® Edge Hotknife Package (110 Volt) #103800
  • Deluxe 5 1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide # 03597
  • Multiuse Pins 1 1/2" (250 Pins) #102985
  • Fabric Marking Pencil Yellow #111002
  • Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler #107040
  • 1" Swing-Away Straight Binder #100103
  • Quick Fit Kit in Waterproof Box - Snap Positioning System #102565
  • Pres-N-Snap Installation Tool #109011
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LS Sewing Machine #300500
  • Scissors, Sharpie marker, straightedge