How to Make a Pontoon Boat Cover

How to Make a Pontoon Boat Cover

If your pontoon boat needs a new cover you
could purchase one of those cookie cutter covers that seldom fit well and never lasts
long or you can hire a canvas shop to make a custom fitting cover which could cost $1200
to $1400 dollars. But if you’re handy and like to do things yourself you could make
a custom fitting pontoon boat cover for as little as $350 bucks. This video will give
you step by step instructions on how to make your own custom fitting pontoon boat cover
yourself using supplies from Sailrite. Do it yourself and save! Angela from the Sailrite
loft is going to show us how it’s done. The first step in making a pontoon boat cover
is taking measurements to determine how much fabric is required. We will measure from the
location where snaps will be installed along the edge of the boat. Then to the center line
of the boat with the support pole raised to the height we desire. Then measure from the
position at the stern where snaps are installed to the bow. It is best to measure along the
same plane as the support poles, we do not have all 4 in place, but notice that Angela
is holding the tape measure up in an attempt to replicate them. The support poles are used
to tent the boat cover which will prevent water from collecting on the cover. Write
those measurements down, we will also be adding extra length just to be sure we have enough
fabric. Now take those measurements and uses these
equations to figure the length of each panel and the number of panels required. The extra
20 percent and 5 percent is used for a safety factor the 4 inches is used for the double
hem all around the sides. Here are the figures for our 24 foot pontoon boat.
We need 6 panels of fabric, our fabric is 60 inches wide, that are about 151 inches
in length. That is a total of 25 yards of fabric. Here Angela is using a straight edge
“T” to mark the fabric to size. Then she uses scissor to cut it out.
When each panel is cut roll it up so the outside surface is being rolled in towards the center
of the roll. Do this procedure until all the panels required for your pontoon boat cover
are cut to size. For this pontoon boat we made the cover out
of Surlast fabric! Surlast fabric is an all-weather 100% solution-dyed polyester that offers great
protection for anything outdoors! Surlast was originally developed for the marine industry
to endure the stress of boat covers. Surlast fabric is a tough, non-abrasive polyester
fabric with excellent weather and abrasion resistance and good breathability making it
the number one choice for pontoon boat covers. Surlast fabric is solution-dyed meaning that
the color, UV inhibitors, and stabilizers are actually a part of the fiber and cannot
be separated, resulting in a fade resistant fabric which is a strong, long lasting fiber
with rich color that will not wash out or transfer to your gel coat. A urethane coating
is added to one side to provide additional stability, increase water and mildew resistance,
and minimize shrinking or stretching. Surlast fabric is available in multiple colors at SurLast fabric has a outside surface and an
inside surface. The side with the Urethane coating is the underside it is often darker
in color. Here Angela is grabbing two of the panels and laying them so the outside surfaces
are facing each other and all edges are lined up. Now she is applying double sided tape
or seamstick, this is part number 129 to the long edge of the panel underneath. She will
peel off the transfer paper revealing the glue and now she will baste the panel on top
so the edges are lined up evenly. Seamstick is a major time saver especially
for those who are not professionals, you can baste seams, hems and patches to the fabric
so it does not move around when you take it to the sewing machine to sew it. Sailrite
highly recommends its double sided tape for canvas which does not yellow and is just the
right consistently for fabric sewing to hold panels and not gum up the needle much.
It is now time to sew these two panels together. We will use the Deluxe Magnetic Guide to keep
our stitch about a ½” away from the raw edge of the fabric. We are using a V-92 Polyester
thread with a #20 size needle. Our straight stitch length is set to about 6mm, sewing
with a long stitch length will help prevent puckering of the fabric.
This type of seam we are sewing is called a semi flat felled seam. Once the first stitch
is in place along the length of the fabric we will splay the fabric panels open so the
outside surfaces are facing up. Then we will roll up the panel that will be feed under
the arm of the sewing machine exposing the seam. Now we will sew a top stitch which is
about an 1/8 inch away from the fold being sure to catch the ½ inch flap of fabric on
the bottom side as we sew. This illustration will show what we are doing in better detail.
Notice that as Angela sews she is being careful to pull the fabric apart so the seam (of the
first stitch) lays flat. She does this as she sews the top stitch. Also note that when
she stops sewing she will typically bury her needle to the thickest part of the shaft,
this makes it possible to rearrange the fabric around while still maintaining the last stitch
position. Another good habit for sewing a semi flat felled seam is to check to be sure
the ½ inch flap on the bottom side is on the correct side (so it is being sewn thru)
when and every time you stop to readjust the fabric. You can see her do this with her right
arm going under the fabric to check for this. Let’s take a look at the semi flat felled
seam from the top side and bottom side. Repeat this procedure for all of your pontoon
boat cover panels until they are all sewn together. We have skipped ahead and are now
showing the 6 panels all sewn together. Take the cover to the boat and drape it over
the boat so it is centered. We will use pony clamps to hold it in place temporarily at
the stern and bow. As we cover the boat we will place support poles that are adjusted
to the desired height in the approximate positions we want along the cover. We will be using
the boat vent 2 along with Sailrite’s support poles. At this point the task at hand is only
determining where each support pole should be positioned on the cover. Angela is doing
this on her own, but a second helper would make this job much faster. Just center the
cover on the boat and place the support poles where you want them, usually the center line
of the boat and spaced evenly along the length. Angela is laying a tape measure down the center
line of the boat, since she has not spaced the support poles out evenly she will use
the tape measure to determine where the pole will actually be positioned on the fabric.
Where she wants the pole there is where she will mark the location on the underside of
the fabric with the soapstone pencil. She’s using the tape measure as her reference to
where she want the support pole positioned so it is spaced evenly along the length of
the boat. Do not worry about where the center is from port to starboard, because we will
determine that at the loft table by folding the fabric in half. Just be sure you have
enough fabric at the aft and bow to cover to the snaps and still include for a double
hem. Lay the cover on the floor and fold it in
half to find the center, be sure the outside surfaces are facing each other. Now find your
marks that you made for each support pole and make a new mark at this new center location.
Do that for all the support poles. Using some of the scrap fabric we will now make patch
reinforcement circles for the boat vent locations, this will take some of the major abuse off
the cover when the support pole is pushed up at that location. We will make the circles
about 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Then we will cut them out with scissors. We will use 3
patches at each boat vent location. So we are going to sew these patches together first.
This keeps them from moving around when it comes time to sew them in place on the cover.
Angela cuts a rough size circle in the center so she can position the patch on the underside
of the cover over the mark she made earlier. If you’re not using a boat vent but rather
a grommet or snap do not cut a rough hole like this. Before doing that she will use
seamstick for canvas and place it around the parameter of the patches, this will enable
her to sew it without it moving around. She will feed the fabric under the arm of the
sewing machine and twist the fabric clockwise before she even starts to sew. This makes
it easier to sew around the circle patch in one easy step or pass. Now simply sew it in
place. To sew this pontoon boat cover were using
the Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1 Sewing Machine. This is a portable heavy duty walking foot
sewing machine that is perfect for making boat covers like this and many other tasks.
After building one boat cover like this you will easily pay for the cost of the machine.
You can get one from Notice that when Angela stops sewing she will
bury her needle to the thickest part of the shaft and then shifts the fabric around, in
doing this she prevents losing her spot while adjusting the fabric. Then when she get to
the end she will do some reversing, just as she did at the beginning to lock the stitch
in place. The crude hole we made earlier needs to be
enlarged and also the cover itself needs to be cut. We want this hole to be large enough
to fit the boat vent 2. If you are using spur grommets you would cut a hole the size of
the spur grommet. If you are using a snap you would not cut a hole at all you would
just install a snap. The Boat Vent 2 has a bar key on one side
it will need to line up with the bottom washer’s slot. When they are matched up the washers
and umbrella slide together matting perfectly. Position the lower washer under the cover
being sure the fabric does not cover the center raised circle of the washer, if it does cut
away more fabric. Take the upper portion of the vent and push it down thru the washer
then screw your wing nut on. The Boat Vent 2 and the Cam-Lock Support Poles make a perfect
combination for a boat cover like this. The Cam-Lock Support Poles are superior to any
thumb nut mooring pole. You can purchase them both from Sailrite.
Now you can install the reinforcement patches and other boat vents as required for your
cover in other locations. After all the support pole reinforcement patches
and vents (if required) are installed we will now need to position the fabric over the boat
for patterning. To accomplish this task Angela will use strapping tape and a seamstick which
is placed over the snaps and along the sides of the boat. Here you see her using just the
strapping tape and carefully running it over the path of the snaps, which have already
been installed in our pontoon boat. If your boat does not have snaps installed this tape
should be placed where eventual snaps will be installed. Where this strapping tape is
installed is where the double hemmed edge of the boat cover will stop. Now on top of
the strapping tape she is using seamstick for canvas. If she were to just place the
seamstick on the aluminum frame it would likely never come off easily. This will allow us
to pull it off easily when we are done. Now reposition the cover onto the boat and
install the support poles as you do so. Using pony clamps is a must to keep the cover in
position and they will also be used to create our pattern darts which we will do in a later
step. A second person is very helpful here. This pontoon boat has a bimini, we will need
to remove it for proper patterning of the cover. Be sure the cover is centered from
side to side, just use a reference like the railing and ensure that the fabric edges fall
in about the same spot on both the port and starboard sides. Keep using pony clamps to
hold the fabric in place. Angela is going to check to be sure the vents
look centered from above and they do. Now that it is positioned roughly in the correct
spot she will remove the wax paper from the seamstick for canvas which reveals the glue
on the double sided tape. Then Angela can start to baste the cover in place.
Don’t worry about making finial pleats or darts in the cover yet, but instead just go
around the boat basting and get a general idea of where large darts will need to be
placed as you baste small portions in place. The job of creating finial darts or pleats
will be done once a total walk around is complete. The whole goal here is to create a tight fitting
cover by removing the excess fabric to make it form fitting. To make it form fitting she
will have to create darts or pleats (folds of fabric) which will take up excess fabric.
So, she must determine where the best location is to create the dart. How is that done? Well,
by trail, just place the dart and see if you like it at that location, if not, move it
to another location to see if it would possibly look better. The truth in the matter is there
are no rules for creating a dart at any one location, do what seems to work best for your
boat cover. As she continues her walk around pre-basting
the cover in place we will show this in double time.
During this stage of patterning she will move the pony clamps down so they are no longer
above the snap line, but below. It is still very important to use the pony clamps, they
will keep the cover from being pulled off an opposite side as it is being patterned
since she will have to pull snugly to accomplish this task from the opposite side.
Ok, it’s now time to start securing the darts in place. Here at the stern corner you can
see a very large amount of excessive fabric that has to be removed. To pattern this area
she will use a pony clamp and clamp the fabric in an attempt to remove the excess fabric
for a better fit. This task will be duplicated any place on the cover where it is not fitting
snugly. The pony clamps you see here along the bottom
edge are only used to keep the cover in place, those are not being used for darts.
Generally her job is to create a rough dart anywhere one is required all around the sides
of the cover. Then after all of the required rough darts are secured in place with pony
clamps she will go back to each one and make finial adjustments using either pony clamps
of office clips we will show that a little later on in the video.
We will be showing creating a few more darts in the cover, then we will skip ahead to the
finial adjustment of the darts once they are all in place which will result in a tight
fitting cover. As you can see she is creating a dart in center here at the bow, so darts
can go anywhere they are required. Also notice that she is using the seamstick basting tape
(the double sided tape) that was affixed to the strapping tape to help hold the fabric
along the edge of the boat as she creates the darts and pulls the fabric taught.
Angela did not include enough fabric here at the corner where the forward deck meets
the railing. But that it not too big of a deal, she will just have to create a triangular
wedge which will be sewn in at that location in a later step. That is one nice fact of
working with fabric, you can remove fabric and add fabric as needed. So we are going
to ignore that for now and continue to pattern and create darts.
Use the basting tape or seamstick you applied around the sides to aid in your patterning
as Angela is doing here. As you can see if you don’t like how it is stuck down you can
pull the fabric away from the seamstick and reapply it.
At this location you can see the windshield is sticking up and that will require us to
create darts along the sides at that location as well.
Ok let’s move on to the point where all darts in roughly in place and now start to finalize
each one with office clips. We’re going to move ahead.
We have skipped ahead to the point where all the darts are placed on the cover for a good
fit now we will fine tune each dart with office clips prior to marking them. This step takes
extra time, but in the end usually results in a more pleasing fitting cover. The large
pony clamps can be rather heavy and may pull the fabric in an undesired way, using these
smaller clamps will avoid that possibility. If the dart is rather large leaving the pony
clamp in place may be better than these smaller clips.
We will continue to do this all around the cover where required. We’re not going to show
all of this. Where the bimini frame will protrude out from
the cover, we need to cut slits to allow the cover to be pulled around the frame. At those
locations we will cut horizontally up into the cover to that location and then cut away
any fabric that is on top of the mounting hardware. At these slit locations we will
do either one of two things. We may opt to create a flap with Velcro (if the slit is
rather large). Or we may just install binding and leave the slit open, if snaps can secure
it firmly in place (that means it needs to be a rather small in size). For the one she
is working on now we will create a fabric flap with Velcro. The second position for
mounting frame hardware will have a much smaller slit, though it does not look like it in the
video, but much of the fabric will be cut away along the bottom edge here. At this slit
we will not create a fabric flap but just use binding.
Here at the aft even though we have made darts and pleats in the fabric we will be cutting
away the fabric that hangs vertically. Why? Because we have a system here that looks better
than creating all these small darts. We will show you that later on in the video, here’s
a sneak peak. It is now time to use chalk or a pencil and
mark the fabric. To begin with mark where the bottom edge will stop, at this time we
will not account for a double hem, that will be done once the cover is removed from the
boat. The bottom edge of the rail the snaps are installed in is a perfect guide for our
pontoon boat. Were just running that chalk along the bottom edge of that rail.
When Angela gets to a dart she will mark right around it being sure the chalk mark comes
all the way to the folded point of the dart on both sides. Now she will follow the dart
up and mark along the fold portion of the dart along this side and the opposite.
In a future step these two lines will be used as a reference point where a straight stitch
will be sewn to in effect remove that portion of fabric from the cover. Notice that this
dart goes up further past the rail, but at this point she can’t reach the rest of it
without a ladder, so she will move on and come back to it yet again to finish it off
past the rail. Here is yet another small dart.
At this location our cover edge takes a radical turn upward. We have a few options create
a vertical upward turn or a gentle slanted edge. Angela is feeling for the snaps now
so she can determine which approach she wants to take.
At first she decides to that the vertical upward turn, but then after marking the fabric
she changes her mind and instead finds the two snaps that are cattycorner to each other
and marks the fabric with an angled edge up. Which approach is better? I do not think it
would have mattered which approach we took, so the choice is yours. Here she’s also marking
the fasteners, so she knows exactly where they will be when she is patterning the fabric
for that angled turn. More darts to mark. The process is exactly
the same. Here you can see she marks where the dart will start or end.
Just in case you want to pattern for the vertical fabric hanging down along the aft portion
of the cover, we will still create our darts there. However we will actually be cutting
away the fabric right along the top edge of the rail and adding a vertical panel that
hangs straight down in a later step. Notice that if you make a mistake and mismark
the fabric it is easy to remove the chalk. We will skip ahead and show this completed
here at the aft, then we will move to the bow and show a large dart there.
Angela had to crawl up onto the boat and hang over the edge so she can reach the top of
this extra-large dart. She marks it just as she did with any other dart that you have
seen previously. Since they are so large she is simply striking marks instead of one continuous
line, she can join them when the fabric is lying flat on the floor in a later step.
It is not a bad idea to mark where snaps are along the edge, this does not mean we will
install a snap at this particular location, but it does help us ensure that the edge of
the fabric is stopping in the correct location, just under this snap mark locations.
Earlier we discussed not having enough fabric here at the deck. Now Angela will mark where
the snaps fall at this spot and places an arrow here indicating that she needs more
fabric. We will not worry about putting this in just yet, but later on it will be ready
for a wedge triangle to be installed here. As you pattern it is highly important to mark
areas that may be prone to abrasion from sharp objects underneath the cover. We will be creating
chafe resistant patches for those locations. So be sure to mark that all around the cover
for any area that is prone to abrasion. Now we can remove the pony clamps that hold
the cover onto the boat and remove the cover. It’s not necessary to remove the clamps that
are on darts unless they are holding the cover to the boat.
The cover should be laid on a floor so hem allowance and darts can be defined and or
cut out. We are going to use a straight edge which is 2 inches wide and lay it up against
the line we stuck on the fabric indicating where the bottom edge would stop. This 2 inches
of extra fabric will be used to make our double hem which will go all around the cover’s edges.
Here she is coming up to the location where the fabric takes an angled turn and she will
continue to add the 2 inches for the hem along those lines also.
This is the area where a triangular wedge will need to be inserted (we discussed that
earlier) she will skip right over that part as she continues to add the 2 inches for the
hem around the edge. Now we are coming up to a very large dart
(here at the bow) and you will notice that our edge line is missing, so we will trace
for this line creating a gentle curve, since we know this is an outer corner of the boat.
Here at the bow we did not mark the edge as we did elsewhere, instead we marked where
each snap is located. So we will strike our 2 inch hem line below those snap positions
as though a line were struck down at that location.
We are going to skip ahead to the stern section now. Here at the stern we are going to cut
away this fabric that hung down vertically because we do not want to create darts here,
but rather install a boxing or facing type strip. So Angela is marking the beginning
point with a straight line and then she will make a ½ inch away a dotted line indicating
where we will cut the fabric to include for a ½ seam allowance.
If you prefer not to do this you can just continue around adding the 2 inches and then
create the darts here at the aft portion of the cover. But we think the cover looks best
when this panel with darts is removed and a straight facing or boxing strip is sewn
in its place. Notice that the line going from port to starboard
side is not drawn all the way across, Angela will simply strike a line joining up the two
that are on the opposite sides. Before we cut anything let’s turn our attention
to the darts and cut outs for objects. Here she is working on a small dart. This dart
was marked with just a few reference marks, she will now strike lines so she can easily
follow them when the cover is taken over to be sewn.
And here is where we made a cut vertically into the side of the cover to allow for a
bimini mounting hardware to protrude out of the cover. We will simply cut an opening the
width of the hardware on the boat, ours is about 2 inches so we will strike a line 1
inch from the slit cut we made when patterning. Here is yet another small dart which is being
traced around to be sure it is ready for sewing. When we get to a larger dart we will actually
cut away the fabric making it easier to sew. How to do that is coming up.
This pontoon boat cover has several large darts, this is one of them. Angela could not
reach the very top of this dart when it was on the boat so she will refold the dart and
find where the peak of it will stop and then will trace down the marks joining them together.
Follow this procedure for all the darts, let’s move on.
Before she cuts away the fabric here at the aft, a measurement needs to be made to determine
the correct size of the facing strip that needs to be cut. Here she is getting a measurement
of 9 inches add 2 inches for a double hem and ½ inch for seam allowance and we get
11 ½ inches. So we need to cut a facing strip that is 11 ½ inches wide. The length will
be as long as the cover’s fabric blank, we will have to shorten it when it comes time
to sew it to the cover. Now we can cut away the fabric at the aft
cutting on top of the dotted line which is a ½ inch away from the line that indicates
where the rail edge was. We’re going to start here in the center and cut up.
When that is done at the aft we can transition to the line we struck down indicating where
the 2 inch double hem edge stops all around the cover, we are not going to show any more
of that. Let’s now turn our attention to the large
and medium size darts. We need to cut away the extra fabric in the center of each of
the large to medium sized darts. To do this cut a ½ inch inside the dart line (this leaves
you will a ½ inch seam allowance). This makes the sewing of large pleats or darts very easy.
We have already completed much of the cutting away of large darts and the vertical cut outs
for the bimini hardware. Here are some close up shots of those areas.
Notice that large to medium size darts have the fabric cut away a ½ inch from the dart
line. These darts are typically on an outside edge. However, smaller darts or darts that
do not cross over the cover’s edge do not have fabric cut away from the center of the
dart. You could do that if you choice, but we find it easier to leave the fabric in place
for those. It is time to start sewing the cover again.
We will first join the facing or boxing strip that we created for the aft portion of the
cover. This strip hangs vertically directly on the edge of the stern rail. At the corner
where we cut away the fabric for this we need to cut a ¼ slit in the very corner which
will allow us to make a 90 degree turn when we are sewing the strip to the cover.
Outside surfaces must face each other when sewing this on. It looks like we may have
made a slight measurement mistake, because our facing strip is wider than the sides are.
That is no problem, we can simply cut it down to size after it is sewn on to match the sides.
Angela will match up the facing strip to the very corner where she made the slit. It should
overlap at that location about a ½ inch (which is our seam allowance).
We will use the deluxe magnetic guide here and position it on the Ultrafeed LS-1 so we
can consistently sew about a ½ inch inside the edge.
Now start sewing, reversing at the beginning to lock the stitch in place, with about a
6mm long straight stitch lining up the edges of the fabric as it is being sewn. When we
reach the corner we will do a little reversing and then bury our needle to the thickest part
of the shaft, lift the presser foot, and rotate the fabric around, lower the presser foot
then continue to sew down the other edge. The cover’s fabric edge (the one on top) is
not perfectly straight, it has some curve to it. So, notice that when Angela sews it
to the facing strip (underneath) she is carefully lining up the curved edge with the facing
edge as she sews. Since the facing strip is longer than it need
be. We will stop sewing at the opposite corner and cut off the excess length before finishing
sewing the facing strip on. We are now looking at the outside surface
and you can see it is too long, so Angela will determine where it should be trimmed
to size by lining it up. It is best to have extra here rather than too little, the extra
can be trimmed in a later step, too little well, it would be bad.
She will also cut about a ¼ inch at the corner on this side also. We are not going to show
sewing this yet again, but instead skip ahead to the top stitch. We are creating a semi
flat felled seam here so we will now sew a stitch about 1/8 inch away from the fold just
as we did when we first sewed the panels of fabric together to make the cover. This is
the outside surface facing up. When she gets to the corner where a turn needs
to be made again the needle get buried the presser foot gets lifted, fabric gets turned,
foot gets lowered and continue to sew. Here’s what it looks like when we are done
sewing it on. Since it was evidently cut too wide we will trim away the excess. We’re going
to use a ruler here and mark it to size strike a line and cut it off.
Next were going to concentrate on sewing up the darts. This is one of the many small darts
which does not have the fabric cut out from the center. We will show how to sew up one
of these and then after it is done we will show how to sew up one of the larger darts
with the fabric cut away. Notice that Angela finds the peak or end of
the dart then folds the fabric over at that location with the outside surfaces facing
each other. She will start sewing at that position doing some reversing and then she
will carefully line up the lines so they are directly on top of each other and sew right
on top of them. True you cannot see them because they are inside the fabric, but if you sew
a few inches then stop and check on the inside that they are lined up then continue sewing
it does work nicely. At the end of the dart do some more reversing.
Next she will create a top stitch on that same dart. This time she is going to be sewing
this on the outside surface of the fabric about 1/8″ away from the previous stitch,
just as we did with any other top stitch. Be sure to apply a slight pulling action against
the first stitch so it is splayed apart well as you sew. It is also important to reverse
at the beginning and end of your run. Here is what the bottom side looks like, notice
we sewed thru the folded over portion of fabric when we created the top stitch. That’s important.
This cover has about 6 small darts like the one we just finished, we are not going to
show any more of them, but instead we will move on and show sewing a large dart.
Here is one of our larger darts which had the fabric cut away from the center, making
it much easier to sew this one together. All Angela has to do is line up the cut edges
of the dart and sew about a ½” away from the raw edges of the fabric lining up the
fabric as she sews. It’s important to start at the peak of every one of these large darts.
Here she stopped sewing with the needle buried in the fabric and she is being sure the fabric
will line up before she sews all the way down the length of the dart. Then she continues
to sew once she has confirmed that. Once that is done she will splay the fabric
open and sew a top stitch on the outside surface being sure she catches the flap of fabric
on the underside as she sews it. Do this just as you did with any previous top stitch. We
are not going to skip ahead and show all the darts completed.
We marked areas on the cover where chafe or abrasion may be an issue. Now we want to create
chafe protection patches for each of the areas. These patches can be made from the left over
fabric. We like to use at least two layers. These patches should be large enough to cover
the area with about 4 to 6 inches all around. After we have it cut to size we will sew the
layers together then apply the seamstick for canvas to the underside and then baste it
in position to the underside of the cover. Then we will sew around the perimeter of the
patch securing it to the pontoon boat cover. The next task is installing the double hem
around the edges of the cover. In some places it may be difficult to make a double hem,
like here where the canvas takes a number “7” like turn. Almost all pontoon covers have
one or two of these areas someplace on the cover. So, what do you do? Well just take
a 1 inch Polypropylene webbing and create a single hem with the webbing on top or sandwiched
in-between for those areas. In preparation for that Angela is marking
the fabric with the soapstone pencil at the 1 inch location from the edge where the webbing
will be used instead of a double hem. Remember when we marked around the fabric 2 inches
for our future double hem? Well since it is difficult for that to be done here we are
removing 1 inch of that here, so we can use the webbing and a single hem. This can now
be folded under to about 1 inch and the webbing can be used on the underside as reinforcement.
We will do that next. A slit needs to be made at the transitional
corner so the fabric can fold nicely, this slit should be no more than 1 inch. Next turn
the fabric so the inside surface is facing up and start to sew the webbing on either
inside the fold or on top of it, as shown in the video.
She is going to go rather slowly here at the turn, being sure the webbing and the hem will
lay nicely when done being sewn. As she sews she also folds he fabric so it
takes up about 1 inch and she looks to be sure if snap locations have been marked they
are positioned at the correct distance from the edge.
Since this area transitions to an area that will have a double hem installed, we will
stop sewing the webbing about 1 or 2 inches from the edge so it will make it easier to
install the double hem along the bottom edge of the cover. We will cut of the excess with
a hot knife. At the transitional area where the webbing
and single hem were created we want the fabric to lay flat. To accomplish this task cut a
slit in the webbing allowing it to relax at the turn. Do this with a hot knife. That makes
a nice turn, but if we look on the outside surface of the fabric a mark has been made
indicating that a snap will fall right at this “V”. That area is no longer reinforced
for the snap, so we will cut a small scrap of webbing with the hot knife. And then sew
it in when we sew the opposite side of the webbing in place. That will reinforce the
snap installation that will take place at that area, in a later step.
A side note — Sometimes covers are made with a 2″ Polypropylene webbing which is sandwiched
in a single hem or sewn on an edge while binding is being installed around the whole edge of
the cover (some believe this to be a time saver). The advantage of using a wide 2″ webbing
is that fact that the snap has more space to be installed along the edge. Since we are
trying to save money we are simply going to create a double double hem along the edge,
thus saving us from having to buy the 2″ webbing and the 1″ binding which would go all around
the edge of the cover. To create our double hem all around the cover,
we are going to use double sided tape or seamstick for canvas and baste the hem in place prior
to sewing, this holds the fabric in place so it is much easier to sew the double hem.
The first fold should be about 1 inch. Then she will install more seamstick for canvas
along that folded edge and then fold it up about an inch also.
Continue this process all around the covers edge.
After that is done take it to the sewing machine and start sewing along the inside edge of
the double hem all around. Using a straight stitch set to about 5 or 6 mm in length.
Remember that when we initially made the panels that make up the cover, we did not make the
bow section panel wide enough to cover all the deck area near the gate. So, Angela positions
the cover on the boat and calculates where it will fall at that location for the added
triangular section that needs to be sewn in there. She will mark on the fabric the general
size and where the snaps will fall. Then she will take some measurements from snap positon
to snap position (adding about 3/4 inch extra so the snap will be installed in fabric and
not just the panel’s edge). Here you can see from the middle of the snap
to the next snap we get 19 inches so she will add the ¾” to that making it 19 ¾ inches
for that side. The cover is back at the loft table and we
are working on that same area. Angela is marking the excess fabric here so it can be cut away.
She needs to add a ½ inch here for the panel that will soon be created to fit in this spot.
That’s for seam allowance. Let’s take a sneak peak of the triangular
panel after it has been installed on the boat cover. You can see that two of the sides have
the double hem and one has seam allowance. So, we need to add the correct amounts to
the sides to accommodate for that. So from the measurements we took we will add those
amounts. She has laid the scrap fabric under the cover
at that location and she strikes a line along the edge of the fabric here. Then she will
measure the panel so it matches the finished sizes that we came up with while the cover
was on the boat. After that is done she will then add for the 2 inch double hems and the
½ inch seam allowance. Notice that when the 2 inches is marked she hold the ruler perpendicular
to the edge. The double hems are marked now she is marking
for the ½ inch seam allowance. Then she will cut it out and baste the hems. We will not
be showing all of that. Be sure when basting the hems that you baste them to the underside
of the fabric. Before sewing all the hems in place check
to be sure it is the correct size. If not make modifications. Now sew the hems in place.
After that is done apply seasmstick for canvas to the seam line on the cover. Then baste
it in place. It may be necessary to rip some of the stitches at the “V” junction, otherwise
you may not have enough fabric to sew it securely in place. Be sure the panel is basted so outside
surfaces are facing each other as shown in the video.
When joining panels like this it is not unlikely to have a corner that will need to be trimmed
away. We are trying to line up the hem edge not the corners.
Sew a stitch about a ½ inch away from the raw edges of the fabric. Then when that is
done sew a top stitch just as done elsewhere in this video.
After it is all sewn, here at the “V” junction you will notice we need to do some more sewing
to strengthen this area. That is easily done. Any time Angela needs to take a turn she will
bury the needle and pivot on it just as she has done elsewhere in the video.
We will next concentrate on the opening slits that will allow the bimini frame to exit from
the cover. Very small openings that do not go deeply into the cover may just need a binding
around the cut out, but larger ones that go down the side by several inches should have
a covering made to give it a finished look. Here we are going to show a larger opening
slit and we are installing a binding on the edge using the Sailrite Swing Away 1″ Binder.
When Angela comes to the corner where the opening takes a 90 degree turn she will swing
the binder out of the way and feed the binding on by hand at that location. When she gets
past the two 90 degree turns she will swing the binder back and continue to sew the rest
on with the binder. This straight binder is by far our most popular binder, however it
does not do too well with inside turns like this. For an application that has a lot of
inside turns you may want to consider the right angle binders from Sailrite. However,
they will not typically feed heavier bindings like what is being used here.
Now, she is past the turns and before sewing the binding on the next leg she will place
a 2 inch Velcro strip in place so while the binding is being sewn down the edge the Velcro
will also be sewn on at the same time. Then she will sew around the other three sides
of the 2 inch Velcro securing it to the cover. Measure the width of the opening from binding
edge to extreme Velcro edge. Then measure the length or height of the Velcro to the
bottom edge of the cover. Cut a fabric flap from scrap fabric that size.
Then cut the opposite side of the Velcro (here it’s the loop side) the same length as the
fabric flap. She will then place the Velcro on the underside of the fabric and sew the
binding around all 4 sides catching the Velcro’s edge as the binding is being sewn on. Since
the corners are at 90 degree turn she will cut the binding at the corner and sew the
opposite leg on so it covers the first. Use a hot knife to cut the last portion of
the binding ends at each corner. This will seal the edge.
Sew the unsewn side of the Velcro to complete the flap.
Now all we need to do is sew this flap onto the cover. It will be sewn obviously to allow
the hardware to protrude from the cover and so it matches up with the Velcro on the cover
and the opening as it should be lying flat. If done appropriately it should be sewn directly
on top of the binding. Our flap did not go all the way to the bottom
edge of the cover, it could have if desired. Here is a small cut out for the hardware,
we will simply sew binding around it and not make a fabric flap here. We will not be showing
all of this as it is done in exactly that same way.
All that is left now is to install the snaps. We have placed the cover on the pontoon boat
and will not install the snaps. If you are replacing an old cover you will often find
snap studs that are missing or no longer have any threads in the metal or fiberglass to
hold the snap stud secure. If that is the case Sailrite highly recommends using the
SnapRite Surface Mount Stud Die to replace those snap studs.
To use this die install it in a standard riveting tool and then use a standard snap stud and
a SnapRite Blind Rivet. The SnapRite Surface Mount Stud Die holds the snap stud securely
as you take it to the hole in your solid surface to install it. Now simply hold the die firmly
against the surface and depress the lever a few times until the mandrel breaks and your
snap stud is installed securely in place. Sailrite constantly receives phone calls asking
about what to do about snap studs that no longer have small enough hole for a screw
stud, well the answer to those issues has been resolved with the SnapRite Surface Mount
Stud Die available at exclusively at Sailrite. Snaps can be installed in the cover with a
number of different tools. We have chosen to use the Sailrite SnapRite System. To use
place a mandrel through and a snap socket onto the socket die. Then snap the die onto
the snap stud. Position the fabric over the mandrel and carefully push the mandrel thru
the fabric at the correct location. The button die has been screwed onto a standard riveting
tool and a SnapRite button placed into the die’s cavity. Now, run the mandrel thru the
center of the SnapRite Button and die and while holding the die against the fabric firmly
depress the lever until the snap is installed securely in the fabric. The mandrel does not
necessarily need to break. Snaps should be installed at the stern first
then after they are installed the support poles should be positioned under the cover.
The die can now be removed and used again. Now just snap the components together and
you are done. Another advantage of using the SnapRite System
is the fact that it can be used as a positioning device for each of the snaps. Once the mandrel
is pushed thru the fabric if you don’t like its location you can re-punch it thru the
canvas at another location before installing the snap.
If the snap stud is on a surface that does not allow the die to be snapped, like here
where the rail is concave in shape, that is not problem. Just use as normal, except do
not snap it to the stud. Before installing snaps along the port, starboard
and bow the support poles should be in place under the cover.
Angela will install snaps at key areas first to hold the cover in the correct location,
before just working around the sides installing snaps one after the other. We are not going
to show installing more snaps using the SnapRite System, but wanted to show another very popular
snap installation tool that you may want to consider called the Pres-n-Snap tool.
This tool cannot be used to help position the snap, but it does install snaps very easily.
Just locate the correct position for the snap and press the lever of the tool and the hole
for the snap’s barrel is cut and the snap is set in just one squeeze of the lever. The
Pres-n-Snap tool is also available at Sailrite. Our pontoon boat cover is now complete, don’t
go away coming up next is the materials list and tools that we used to make this cover.
If you’re located in the tropics you may want to consider using Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric
as it will last longer in tropical conditions. If you have questions about what fabric to
use, give us a call at Sailrite. Here are the quantities of items we used to make this
cover for our 24 foot pontoon boat. The material supplies, not including the tools, totaled
about $450 for this cover. For more free videos like this be sure to
check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel. It’s your
loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these free videos available, thanks for your loyal
support! I’m Eric Grant and from all of us here at Sailrite, thanks for watching!

14 thoughts on “How to Make a Pontoon Boat Cover

  • July 9, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Angela is Super Fitter and Super Sewer. Wow!!!

  • July 18, 2014 at 2:31 am


  • August 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm


  • September 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Do you have a picture of the underside/inside of the cover top? What fabric have you used? Yes this lady is a fantastic smart person. Don

  • August 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Not a DIY project

  • August 27, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Got news for you. I would gladly pay someone to do this. Just too much for me. Handling a custom made cover is enough issue after a boating trip. How does this material do at 70 mph behind truck on interstate?

  • March 10, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    A lot of hours to make one of these. Could you sew in webbing for added strength at stress points.

  • July 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I am a fashion design and have taken draping which helped me as I have been making my pontoon cover. The video has been very helpful but I am thankful that I how how to "wing it". By not having room to lay out the cover on the floor I am measuring and comparing the port side to the starboard sides. I also have the disadvantage of having my pontoon in the water. (after all it is summer) This is a challenging project which I don't recommend to beginners.

  • August 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I am very impressed, amazing workmanship.

  • August 17, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    DIY ???? Nahhh !!!!!! Great job Angela !! Money well spent !!!

  • January 28, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    who could make me one please contact me at 763-257-3728

  • December 5, 2018 at 7:33 am

    How many hours did it take Angela to do this? I figure if I did this myself I would multiply by 3 to 6 hours

  • June 21, 2019 at 11:56 am

    This is an excellent video to show why it is better to pay Angela to do it.

  • September 2, 2019 at 5:09 am

    This is definitely not a DIY project but very interesting!


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