How to Make a Boat Cover

An SUV towing a covered boat.
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Heavy canvas or hard plastic
Sewing machine
Punching machine
Ropes or drawstring

Making a boat cover does not entail much work, but the benefits it proposes are numerous. Hence, it is a good idea to learn how to make your own. You might opt to buy a ready-made boat cover, but it may not be of a very good fit for your specific boat, not to mention that the cost of purchasing it will inevitably surpass the money involved in making one yourself. Besides, you can be as creative as you wish and choose a material and color you prefer. Read through these basic tips and steps and give it a try.

Step 1 - Measure the Boat

First of all, you have to measure your boat. Start with measuring the stern at its highest point, on the stern itself or the rail if there is one. In the event that there is a stern rail on your boat, you’ll want to take a quick measurement of the height from this piece down to the rub rail at the edge. This way, you can account for the extra height you’ll need in order to cover it. Create a rough sketch of the top of your boat so you can note your measurements right on the diagram.

Next, measure the overall width of the windshield and the height from its peak to the rub rail once more. Then, do the same thing for the widest part of the bow, measuring height to the rub rail again if there’s a railing there.

Finally, take one last measurement from the bow rub rail to the stern rub rail, from end to end. Drape the measuring tape over any high points, like railings and the windshield for an accurate measurement. More information can be noted about the specific dimensions of your boat if you want to get the tightest fit, but for an easier project, this should suffice.

Make sure you record all measurements accurately to ensure a good fit for your boat cover. You do not want the cover to be too tight as it might easily flip over and fail to cover the boat well. However, you do not want it to be too loose either as it might allow water and other dirt to get into the boat.

Step 2 - Purchase the Materials Needed

The best types of materials for making a resistant boat cover are hard plastic or heavy canvas. To purchase enough material according to your boat’s dimensions, use your total end-to-end measurement and divide it by the width of your fabric bolt. This will give you the number of panels you’ll need in your cover. Then, for the total length of the fabric you need to buy, take the measurement of your boat at its widest point and multiply that by your number of panels. You may need to add about five percent to this total just to be sure you have enough fabric.

Step 3 - Cut the Material

At this point you can start cutting out the material. Be as accurate and precise as possible while bearing in mind to add an allowance in order to stretch the cover below the sides of the boat and make any necessary ties which will keep it stretched and tightly fitted.

Each panel has been calculated to fit widest segment of the boat, so panels laying across the other, thinner points will need to be trimmed to the appropriate length after you finish stitching the cover together and doing a drape test on the boat.

Step 4 – Stitch Panels Together

Lay each cut panel over the boat, overlapping the edges with a 5/8-inch seam allowance to test that the cover will fit as it’s supposed to. If everything checks out, go ahead and stitch the seams between the panels, pressing them flat on the inside and overcasting the raw edges if you’re using canvas.

Drape the sewn cover over the boat once more, making it as even as possible on both sides. Now, use marking chalk to note places where the edges need to be trimmed for a consistent, even length all the way around. Then, make some quick cuts as needed before you continue.

Step 5 - Punch Holes on the Sides or Sew

Afterward, punch holes on the sides of the cover. The holes need to be wide enough to allow the rope to pass through without problems. For extra protection on the holes, to prevent them from ripping, see if you can find some industrial-sized grommets to cover them with, such as those used on shower curtains.

Alternatively, if you are going to use canvas or some other type of fabric, you may opt to fold the sides by about five inches to create several pockets for threading drawstrings. Don’t forget to leave two open ends right next to one another for the drawstring to enter and exit.

Step 6 - Insert the Ropes or Drawstring

Insert water-resistant ropes through the holes, or if you chose to sew pocket linings, you can thread a drawstring through.

Step 7 - Lay the Cover On the Boat

Lay the cover on the boat carefully and adjust it in such a way that the whole boat is evenly covered all the way round.

Step 8 - Pass the Ropes or Drawstring Beneath and Knot

Make sure you have enough excess rope or drawstring to pass the ends beneath the boat. Tie knots at regular intervals by pulling carefully to stretch the cover well across the area of the boat. The number of knots will depend on the size of the boat. To ensure a good job, it is best to have someone help you out at this point.

Making your own boat cover can be very satisfying and by following these guidelines you will certainly succeed in doing a good job.