How to Repair Sails: A Video Series

Our sail repair posts and videos have been so popular that we recently decided to go all out and create a comprehensive video series on the topic. We filmed all of our techniques as we inspected and did regular maintenance on the sails from Sailrite founder Jim Grant’s Islander 37 sailboat. The series is broken into 13 videos and walks you through a variety of different repairs as well as inspecting and folding your sails. Watch all 13 videos or jump right to the one you need!

Sail Repair Video Series Includes:

  1. Inspecting Your Sails for Next Sailing Season: For seasonal sailors, the end of sailing season is a good time to inspect your sails so you have all winter to make repairs and get them ready to go for the spring. In this video, Jeff Frank, our sail designer, inspects the sails for the Islander 37, sharing as he goes what issues to look for and how to approach common fixes.
  1. How to Replace a Sail Window: If the window material in your sail is cracked or just hard to see through, we’ll show you how to replace it without causing performance issues in your sail. This video also demonstrates how to add a brand new window to a sail.
  1. How to Repair Sail Luff Tape: This video will show you how to repair a rip or a tear in your sail’s luff tape without having to replace the entire tape. Also included is a quick fix for when the end of the luff tape is shredded at the head of the sail.
  1. How to Restitch Damaged Sail Seams: It’s not uncommon for the seams on your sail to fail from UV damage, stress or abrasion—even new sails have this problem. This video is a quick demonstration of how you can fix those seams that are coming apart by sewing right over them.
  1. How to Patch Holes & Rips in Sails: If you find you have holes that need patching after your sails have been in storage or from a rough day on the water, this video will walk you through the process step-by-step.
  1. How to Remove a Spur Grommet: If the grommets on your sail are corroded and failing, you can easily remove them and replace them with new grommets. This video shows you how to use a Dremel tool to remove an old spur grommet and how to set a new one.
  1. How to Repair a Sail’s Batten Pocket: This video demonstrates two different batten repairs. In one, we replace the elastic at end of the batten pocket and in the other repair we replace the Dacron on the pocket because the batten has chafed through the original material.
  1. How to Repair a Sail’s Spreader Patch: A spreader patch is used in sails, especially genoas, to combat damage that the mast’s spreader tip can cause to the sail when they brush against each other. This type of damage is common and on our sail it was pretty extensive. In this video we demonstrate how to remove old patches, replace the damaged sailcloth and install a new Insignia Dacron Spreader Patch.
  1. How to Repair a Leechline Cleat or Tensioning Device: This video will show you how to remove a broken Leechline clamcleat and how to install a new one. We also replace worn out Velcro on a Velcro tensioning device.
  1. Re-cutting a Sail’s Leech and Foot Edge: The genoa on Jim’s Islander 37 is an older sail, and when used it was clear the leech had stretched out because it was fluttering terribly. To get a few more years out of the sail and improve performance we decided to cut down the leech and foot to provide a better shape.
  1. How to Re-Install a Sail’s Corner Ring: When cutting the leech and foot of the sail to enhance the shape the sail’s corner ring had to be removed. This video will show you how to use Dyneema webbing to install a new D-Ring at the clew corner.
  1. How to Fold a Sailboat Sail: This video will show you the proper techniques for folding (or flaking) a mainsail, a dinghy sail and a genoa sail.
  1. Using the Speedy Stitcher to Sew Webbing and Canvas: In this bonus video we demonstrate how to use the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl, which is a handy tool to use for sewing projects and repairs when a sewing machine is not available for practical. To demonstrate the tool we also show how to make a “dog ear” to help the sail reach the tack pin.

We hope these videos will be a help to you the next time you need to make a repair on your sails. You can find all the materials needed for your sail repair including the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine at Sailrite.com.

Did you learn anything new from these videos? Share your thoughts on this new video series in the comments.

How to Upholster Bar Stools

Wooden bar stools are common in home bars and at kitchen counters. Give your wooden stools a little more personality and a softer seat by upholstering the top. We’re going to show you how to add upholstery to the top of a plain stool. If you have an already upholstered stool, you can remove the fabric and then follow these same instructions. This is a great entry-level project if you’re interested in trying out upholstery but don’t feel quite ready to take apart a big chair yet.

To start this project, we did a little thinking about how we’d like the finished stools to look. We decided to run a row of piping on both the top and bottom of the chair to create a really professional and polished look. This piping is an optional step and can be left out if that’s your preference.

Our stools were going to be for a kitchen counter, so we chose a Covington Indoor/Outdoor fabric because it’s durable and easy to clean. Any home upholstery fabric could be used for this project, so the choices are wide open. For the foam we went with Fairfield Nu-Foam Compressed Polyester, which is an economical option for occasional seating like this. If your stools are a high traffic seat in your home, you might want to opt for using polyurethane foam, which is less likely to compress over time.

Materials List:

You can find all the materials needed to upholster your wooden bar stools at Sailrite.com. If you want to learn more about upholstery, check out our other upholstery posts.

Any upholstery beginners out there? We’d love to know how your projects are coming! Leave us a comment and let us know.

How to Make Dinghy Chaps

When you’re on your boat, your dinghy is like your car; it’s how you get to shore or to neighboring boats for sundowners. As an important piece of your boating equipment, you’ll want to keep it in good working order. Inflatable dinghies, which feature rubber inflatable tubes, are a popular style. Protect the tubes from harmful UV rays and chafe with dinghy chaps, which are like a leave-on cover on the topside of the tubes. Every dinghy is slightly unique, so the best way to get a precise fit is to have them custom-made. We recently sewed up a set of dinghy chaps for Jim Grant’s dinghy for his Islander 37 sailboat. Watch our step-by-step video to learn how to pattern and sew your own custom dinghy chaps.

The key to getting well-fitted dinghy chaps is careful patterning. We used 12 gauge Plastipane clear vinyl as a pattern material for this project. The clear vinyl was a little sticky against the vinyl of the dinghy, so it stayed in place well while patterning. We also let a tiny bit of air out of the dinghy when we patterned, to ensure a snug finished fit when fully inflated.

We used Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric for the main body of our dinghy chaps, with Shelter-Rite vinyl for chafe protection patches. At the aft end of each tube we switched the material to Phifertex Mesh to help promote water drainage at the rear of the boat. This is an especially good idea for dinghies that plane at faster speeds.

The chaps are secured to the dinghy via a leech line drawstring around the outer edge of the cover that is cinched in place. On the inside of the dinghy, we attached the cover with snaps and YKK® SNAD fastener studs installed directly onto the side of the dinghy.

Materials List:

You can find all the materials needed to make custom chaps for your dinghy at Sailrite.com.

Have you made your own dinghy chaps before? Do you have any tips to share on the process? Leave us a comment and share your experiences.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

At Sailrite, we want to help equip DIYers for any sewing project you want to take on. If you’re interested in learning how to upholster, we have great videos that will walk you through the process of upholstering a variety of furniture pieces step-by-step so you can learn as you go. Before you start your first upholstery project, we recommend stocking up on a few useful tools that will make your job much easier.

There are a lot of specialized upholstery tools that you can invest in later if you want to continue upholstering, but for beginners we recommend a kit of mostly basic sewing supplies with a few specialized tools. We worked with our staff upholstery experts to create this list to help you get started. So here are our top 8 beginner upholstery tools, in no particular order.

8 Beginner Upholstery Tools

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

1. Sewing Machine: Although upholstery is a lot of pulling and stapling, there is often sewing involved as well. Sew up your own custom piping, new covers for seat cushions and more with a good heavy-duty sewing machine. Upholstery fabric assemblies can get pretty thick and the Ultrafeed LS-1 Sewing Machine will walk over them all without issue. Ultrafeed Sewing Machines also all feature a built-in welting tunnel in the standard foot, so you can sew 1/4” piping without changing the foot.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

2. Pneumatic Stapler: An upholstery must-have is a good stapler. Save your hand the workout and use a pneumatic stapler like the EZE TC-08 Staple Gun. This stapler is lightweight, easy to use, and reasonably priced. It comes in two different models, a long nosed and a short nosed version and both work great for upholstery projects. You will need an air compressor, hose and fittings to operate this staple gun as well. Those fittings can be purchased at your local hardware store.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

3. Rawhide Upholstery Mallet: This lightweight mallet is great for hammering tack strips into place. It offers the force needed but also has a soft striking face so it won’t damage your fabric.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

4. Tack & Staple Remover: This tool is great for beginners because it pulls double duty. Use the end of the tool to pry up and remove staples. Then use the side teeth to pry up and remove tack strips. This tool works best when used in conjunction with pliers. Together you can easily pull staples to remove the old fabric from a piece.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

5. Soft Tape Measure: Having a soft tape measure is helpful because it allows you to take accurate measurements around the contours of cushions, armrests and more.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

6. Curved & Extra Long Upholstery Hand Needles: The curved needles are used to sew the decking to the chair, slip stitching cushions, and stitching springs to webbing or burlap. The long needles are used to add buttons for tufting and attaching springs to bottom webbing.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

7. Straight Pins: Straight pins are so helpful for sewing projects. Use these pins to hold your sewing together or to mark fabric when pattern matching.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

8. Fabric Scissors: A great pair of scissors is essential to any fabric project and upholstery is no different. We really like these Gingher Knife Edge Scissors. It can also be helpful to have a rotary cutter, cutting mat and acrylic ruler around as well, especially for making bias piping.

In addition to those tools, you’ll need other materials that can be purchased on a project-by-project basis like fabric and trims. However there are a few materials that get used in most projects that we think would be worth keeping around your workshop.

Materials to Keep on Hand:

Armed with all the right tools and materials you can take on any upholstery project! Ready to get started upholstering? Check out one of our upholstery posts and learn how to recover an armchair, channel back chair, or a recliner.

If you want to order all of the materials listed above, check out our easy-to-order Upholstery Tool Kit. You can find all these tools along with thousands of home décor fabrics at Sailrite.com.

Upholsterers, what did you think of this list? What tools would you add or subtract? Share your ideas in the comments.

How to Repair a Rip in Clear Vinyl

We all know that rips and tears happen, but when they happen to the clear vinyl in your dodger or enclosure it’s a real bummer. Rips and tears often occur when something sharp or heavy hits the vinyl or falls on it. Don’t worry; it’s a common and fixable problem. We’re going to share with you two different methods for fixing your rip or tear, patching it and replacing the vinyl, so your clear vinyl will be good as new in no time.

Patching Clear Vinyl

The quickest and cheapest way to fix a rip or tear in your clear vinyl is to patch it. Ultimately, we prefer to replace the window but if you need a quick fix or just to make do until a bigger renovation a patch is a great option.

To patch the window, use Tear Aid Type B. These adhesive-backed patches can be used to repair holes and tears in any vinyl or vinyl-coated application so they’re great to have around your boat. Tear Aid patches are durable, flexible and puncture resistant to protect against abrasion, moisture, saltwater, UV rays and extreme temperatures. The patches are clear, but they won’t disappear completely on your clear vinyl.

How to Repair a Rip in Clear Vinyl

How to Apply Tear Aid

  1. Cut the patch so that it is one inch bigger than the rip or tear on all sides.
  2. Then carefully peel back the paper liner and start to position the Tear Aid over the rip on the fabric.
  3. Slowly peel back the liner while carefully applying the patch, taking care to work out any air bubbles.
  4. Rub all the edges to seal the patch in place. If you can, we recommend patching both sides of the rip.
  5. Tear Aid Type B will need 24 hours to fully cure.

Getting the patch on without air bubbles can be tricky, so be sure to take your time. It helps to use a straight edge like the side of a credit card to smooth the patch down. If you do end up with air bubbles, you can carefully pop them with a pin and work them out flatter with your fingers.

Replacing Clear Vinyl

The only true way to fix the rip is to replace the window entirely. This can easily be done without having to completely dismantle your canvas work, too. Here we have a video that demonstrates the process of replacing the glass on a dodger window. You can use this same process on clear vinyl that has become wavy, creased or brittle as well.

How to Replace a Clear Vinyl Window

  1. If needed, rip the stitches so the window will lay flat.
  2. Cut a new piece of window material that will fit the window, using the current window as a pattern.
  3. Baste the new window to the old on the inside of the piece.
  4. Sew the new window material in place.
  5. Flip the piece over and carefully cut out the old window.
  6. If you ripped seams in Step 1, carefully sew that area back together

That’s all there is to it! You can find Tear Aid Type B and replacement clear vinyl at Sailrite.com.

Have you ever ripped your clear vinyl? How did you fix it? Share your experiences in the comments.

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Before you sit down to sew up new shades, curtains or drapes for your home you need to pick the right fabric. There is a lot to consider when selecting a fabric for window treatments. You want to think about the style of curtain, the décor of the room, and the function of the window treatment. Since the color, pattern and style of your fabric is a personal choice, we’re going to focus on the more objective side of selecting fabric—the function of the window treatment. We hope this guide will help you think through the selection process and feel confident in your decision.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the considerations you’ll want to think through when selecting curtain fabric.

Natural Light: In or Out?

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Lightweight sheer fabric: Softline Penrose Burnout Champagne/White

One of the first considerations for curtain fabric should be the amount of light the room gets and do you want to let the light in or block it out? If you want to block out light, try a heavy fabric with a tight weave or a blackout curtain fabric, like the Softline Suite Collection. You can even back a lighter fabric with a blackout fabric if light blocking is your top priority. See an example of how to use blackout fabric as a liner in this Roman Shade Video. If you enjoy natural light in your room and want to filter it, try an open weave or a sheer fabric. Fabrics with metallic elements are also great for bouncing the light around a room.

Keep Out the Cold

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Softline Suite Silver Blackout Drapery Fabric

It’s also common to want your window treatments to provide some insulation against the cold. A heavier weight fabric with a tighter weave will be better at keeping the cold out than a sheer or open weave fabric. Blackout fabrics often features insulating properties as well. You can up the insulation factor of any fabric by adding a flannel interlining to the back of the curtains. The interlining will also protect the fabric from UV rays of the sun and add more body. 

UV Rays and Colorfastness

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

For great UV resistance try Sunbrella Sheer Mist Snow fabric

The sun’s rays can be really harsh on fabric. You don’t generally think about interior fabrics needing to be UV resistant, but curtains can see a lot of sunlight streaming through the windows. That’s why we recommend thinking about the colorfastness of the fabric you choose for curtains.

This isn’t an issue in every window, so you’ll want to think about your home, which direction the windows face and how much natural light they let in, and decide if this is a concern for you. In general, south-facing windows will see the most sunlight during the day.

If UV exposure is a concern, look for curtain fabrics with UV protective qualities. Solution-dyed and vat dyed fabrics will be the most colorfast and printed fabrics the least. However, you can always add a drapery lining to the back of the fabric to protect the decorative fabric itself from UV rays. Curtain lining is also great for making fabrics a little more opaque and for adding more body for fuller looking drapes.

Fabric Width & Repeat

How to Select Fabric for Curtains

Large-scale pattern Jennifer Adams Home Henley Henna Red

Especially when on a budget, it’s important to consider how many yards of a given fabric your curtain project will require. Fabrics with a thinner width or large repeats could mean you’ll need to do more seaming in drapery panels and order extra fabric to pattern match.

Typically, you want to use the length of the fabric as the length of the curtain so you might need to seam two or more panels together to get the appropriate width for your window. If your fabric has a pattern, note the pattern repeat. For the best looking shades you’ll want the patterns to match at the seam point, and a large pattern repeat can mean you’ll need to order extra fabric to get a good pattern match.


Now that you have a good idea of the functionality you want out of your window treatments you can focus on the design! Browse through thousands of great home décor fabric options at Sailrite.com.

When you’re ready to order you’re fabric, check out our post on How to Measure for Window Treatments to help determine the yardage of fabric you’ll need.

What are your main concerns when deciding on window treatments? Share your experiences in the comments!

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag

Don’t show up empty-handed to your New Years Eve parties this year! Grab a bottle of wine or champagne as a host/hostess gift and toss it in one of these easy-to-sew fabric gift bags. These gift bags can be made from fabric scraps left over from other projects and will add a festive flair to your bottle. We’ll show you step-by-step how to make these gift bags for yourself.

We used fabric that was leftover from other projects to make our gift bag. You could really have a lot of fun mixing and matching the fabrics and the ribbons for different personalities and seasons. This project is a great way to impress your friends and doesn’t take anymore time than going to the store and buying a gift bag!

Wine Bottle Gift Bag Materials:

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag

How to Make Wine Bottle Gift Bags

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Cut your fabric so it measures 33” x 8”. I used a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and cutting mat to make sure my cuts were straight and square.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Fold over a small single hem on each short side of your fabric. Pin the hem in place.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Take your fabric to your sewing machine and sew a straight stitch down each hem to secure it in place.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Fold your fabric piece in half so that the hemmed edges are together and the right sides of the fabric are facing.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Sew down each long side of the fabric.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Turn your bag outside right, making sure to poke out the corners.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Place your bottle of wine or champagne in the bag.

Make a Wine or Champagne Gift Bag
Then tie a decorative bow around the neck of the bottle to secure the bag. Fluff the top fabric so it looks nice. Now it’s ready to gift!


You can find great fabrics for this and other projects at Sailrite.com.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year!

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