How to Make a Winter Sailboat Cover

Item # X-HT-300229

Protect your boat during the off-season with a well-made and durable boat cover that you can use year after year. This thorough how-to video offers detailed, step-by-step instructions for patterning, sewing and installing a custom winter sailboat cover. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive project, but making your own boat cover will save you a lot of money. So if you have the aptitude and determination, this DIY is well worth the time and effort.

Make a winter sailboat cover with help from Sailrite.

First, let's talk about cover fabrics. For our winter boat cover DIY, we chose Top Notch® 9 canvas fabric. Top Notch 9 is a solution-dyed polyester with a fluorocarbon finish. It's breathable, reversible and highly water resistant — a very important feature when leaving your boat on the hard all winter. Both sides of the fabric are the same, meaning that either side can be exposed to the outside. This makes it ideal for such a large project so you can nest panels to get the most use out of your fabric. It also makes assembly and sewing much easier not having to worry about right side/wrong side.

Another reason we chose Top Notch 9 is for its superior abrasion resistance. This is an important feature in a winter boat cover. In addition to Top Notch 9, we'd also recommend Top Notch® 11.5 (heavier weight than Top Notch 9), Top Notch® 1S (lighter weight fabric for smaller boats) and Top Gun®. If you're wondering whether Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric can be used for a winter boat cover, yes it can. However, where Top Notch and Top Gun excel over Sunbrella is in their abrasion resistance. Both brands are 100% polyester, and polyester fabrics are inherently more abrasion resistant than acrylic fabrics (Sunbrella). So keep that in mind when selecting your cover fabric.

A great resource when shopping for cover fabrics is our Sailrite® Sample Book for Cover & Top Fabrics (#122118). This reference book contains one sample of each fabric line of our marine and outdoor fabrics that we recommend for boat covers, biminis, dodgers, protective covers and more. It's a great way to inspect a fabric in person before purchasing yardage. When you've chosen your fabric, the Sailrite Fabric Calculator will help you determine how much yardage you need to order.

Watch the video tutorial below for our complete step-by-step instructions for sewing your own winter boat cover. If you have any questions along the way, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our friendly customer service representatives are available via email, phone and the chat function on our website and are happy to assist with all of your product and project needs.

Video Chapters:

  • Securing Boom & Base Structure — 1:36​ min.
  • Measuring & Using Fabric Calculator – 1:35​ min.
  • Patterning Boat – 9:54​ min.
  • Cutting & Basting Fabric Panels – 25:30​ min.
  • Sewing Panels Together – 33:31​ min.
  • Cutting Fabric to Size – 45:12​ min.
  • Marking Pleats, Shrouds & Other Exiting Points – 52:20​ min.
  • Creating Skirt – 58:56​ min.
  • Sewing Webbing Loops on Skirt – 1:16:48​ min.
  • Sewing Pleats – 1:21:06​ min.
  • Sewing Skirt on Tent – 1:31:35​ min.
  • Time to Order Zippers – 1:44:38​ min.
  • Cutting Skirt Ends & Boot Openings at Midship – 1:49:50​ min.
  • Cutting Boot Openings & Skirt Ends at Transom – 2:01:56​ min.
  • Cutting Boot Opening at Bow – 2:09:43​ min.
  • Making Boots – 2:14:39​ min.
  • Sewing Boots to Tent - 2:20:50​ min.
  • Sew Zippers – 2:38:57​ min.
  • Adding Webbing Loops to Zipper Opening Ends – 3:08:08​ min.
  • Installing Ties, Snaps & Zipper Stops – 3:11:44​ min.
  • Installing Cover – 3:27:03​ min.
  • Materials & Tools List – 3:31:13​ min.

Materials List:

  • Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material 74" (20 yds.) #122457​
  • Filament Strapping Tape 3/4" #5643
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas (50 yds.) #129 ​
  • Sailrite® Sample Book for Cover & Top Fabrics #122118
  • Boat Cover Fabric from Sailrite - we used Top Notch® 9 Fabric 60” #120451
  • Thread from Sailrite® - we used V‑92 White UV Bonded Polyester #100079
  • Leech Line Dacron® 1/8" - White #21209 or Black #212114
  • Webbing Polyester 1" 1500# - White #531600 or Black #103416
  • YKK® Finished Zipper #10 Single Pull (VISLON® Chain) - White #104887 or Black #104830
  • Polyester White Hook 1" #473100
  • Polyester White Loop 1" #478100
  • Seamstick 1/4" Basting Tape for Canvas & Upholstery (50 yds.) #104167
  • Side Release Buckle 1" - White #371100 or Black #104322
  • Grosgrain Polyester Binding Beige 1" #105423
  • Tape Shelter‑Rite® 18 oz. White 3" (Not Adhesive Backed) #104223
  • SnapRite® Fastener Cloth‑to‑Cloth Set (Nickel‑Plated Brass) #104909
  • HullBlanket Headliner/Hull Liner Carpet Type Silver Grey 72" #102637

Tools List:

  • Gingher® 8" Scissors Right Handed #19104
  • Chalk Pencil Cartridge Set #121669
  • Soapstone Fabric Marking Pencil White #102766
  • Deluxe 5 1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide #103597
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ‑1 PLUS Walking Foot Sewing Machine (110V) #300602
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® Collapsible Sewing Table #104821
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" #102400
  • Triangle Tailor's Chalk – White #121912
  • Sailrite® Edge Cordless Hotknife 18V Package #122177
  • Tempered Cutting Glass for Hotknife #121915
  • Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler #107040
  • Scratch Awl Yellow #2354
  • Tape Measure 120 Inch #102986
  • Sailrite® SnapRite® System Complete Kit #104500​
  • Pres‑N‑Snap Installation Tool #109011
  • Tape Measure, Packing Tape, Marker, Straightedge, L Square, Stapler, Drill, Electrical Tape