How to Remove Dips or Hard Spots at Zipper Pockets for Dodgers & Biminis
A dodger or bimini adds a nice, shaded covering to your boat, sheltering you from the harsh sun and offering protection from rain and spray. Sewing your own dodger or bimini is a great way to save money, practice your sewing and DIY skills, and gain a sense of accomplishment and pride at constructing something that others spend top dollar having custom marine shops sew for them.
The benefit of making your own dodger or bimini is that you can customize it to the exact size you want and have it fit your boat perfectly, but you don’t want to spend time and money sewing your canvas top and have it look less than perfect. In this blog, we’re going to show you a clever tip for adding a wedge of fabric at the curves of the forward and aft bow pockets to create a better fitting bimini or dodger top. This extra width will prevent a hard spot from forming at the corner pocket locations on the bows, resulting in a professional looking top.
Keep in mind that these instructions are only for preventing a dip or hard spot in your dodger or bimini top. They are not full instructions for sewing your own dodger or bimini. We have multiple blogs and videos on how to sew a full dodger or bimini enclosure on our website; simply type “dodger” or “bimini” into the search tab for our complete selection of detailed how-to videos.
After you’ve patterned your bimini or dodger frame and cut out the pattern panel(s) for the top, it’s time to trace and cut out the sleeves, also known as pockets, that are used to secure the cover to the frame at the primary and secondary bows along the forward and aft edges. These are the sleeves to which you will add an extra wedge of fabric to prevent dips or hard spots from forming. It’s unnecessary to add this extra wedge of fabric to the intermediate bow(s) as that bow has a shorter sleeve that does not reach the outer curves of the bow frame.
Steps for Adding a Width of Fabric to Bow Sleeves
1. With some unused fabric, make a 6-inch-wide sleeve for both primary and secondary bows, matching the curves found along the aft end of the aft panel and the forward end of the forward panel. Use the aft edge of the aft panel to pattern the aft sleeve. Trace the curve of the panel onto the unused fabric inside the edge enough to allow room for a 6-inch-wide sleeve, plus a few extra inches at the ends and about 3/4 inch beyond the width on each long side.
2. At the end of the curve, strike an 8-inch line parallel to the skirt edge of the aft panel on the same material for the sleeve. Upon reaching the outboard corner, the curve must be extended. Use a flexible ruler on its edge and bend it to match the first drawn curve, leaving half of the ruler extending beyond the corner; extend the curve along the ruler by about 3 inches.
3. Next, draw a parallel line 2 inches inward of the 8-inch line on the end.
4. Do not cut the aft sleeve out yet. Now is when you will add the extra wedge measurement on the convex side right at the end of the curve to accommodate the curve in the frame and to prevent a hard spot from forming on the cover. Working from the erected frame of your dodger or bimini, measure from the center mark out to the start of where the curving of the corner begins (For our bow it was at 38 inches; yours might be different.).
5. Transfer this measurement to the sleeve, measuring from the center of the convex side outward. Mark the position along the sleeve edge. A wedge of material will be added to widen the sleeve from this point carried to the outboard end. This wedge measurement should be about 1/2 inch. Extend the line of the straight end outward of the convex curve side by 1/2 inch. Now use the flexible ruler once again and bend it to create a very similar curve to the original convex curve but moved to create the wedge. Trace this new curve line.
6. Finally, measure and mark a series of points 6 inches perpendicular to the inside of the curve. Make sure to measure 6 inches from the original panel edge and not from the added 1/2-inch wedge.
7. Follow this same approach to widen the opposite corner of the sleeve. Finally, cut out the aft sleeve, taking care to cut on the latest lines drawn to include the wedge addition.
8. Repeat these steps to create the forward sleeve, using the forward edge of the forward panel to pattern the sleeve.
There you have it! This extra wedge of fabric built into the sleeves is easy to add while you’re patterning the forward and aft sleeves, and it will prevent the fabric from pulling too tightly at the curves of the bows and creating an unattractive dip or hard spot. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning this clever little trick we’ve discovered while working on our own bimini tops. Do you have any neat tips or tricks like this one you’ve found while sewing your own boat enclosures? Please share in the comments section below.