Author Archives: Matt Grant

I have a hanked-on Genoa. Does the sail have to be recut to work with a FF2 furler?

Great question, and the answer really depends on the length of the leading edge of the existing headsail. The sailmaker’s rule of thumb is that the luff (leading) edge is cut to be about 95% of the forestay length. This generally means that by the time the furler drum and head swivel (if any) are in place, the existing useable stay length is reduced.

If the luff is close to full hoist, the sail almost always must be recut to shorten the luff length. The most common method for recutting the sail is to cut a wedge from the leading edge that is wider at the top and tapers to nothing at the tack (lower, forward corner). Click here for instructions on how to recut the luff.

If the sail is not full hoist, you can simply cut away the existing luff tape (grommets, hanks and all) in one clean cut, and then install #6 continuous support tape (size appropriate for the Flexible Furler). Create new attachment points at the top and bottom of the sail with loops of 1″ tubular polyester webbing. Secure a stainless steel ring in the loops for larger sails. Smaller boats (under 30′) do not require rings.

Don’t forget to add sun protection to the furled sail by sewing a sacrificial cover onto the leech and foot edges of the sail. You can install a sacrificial uncover using Sunbrella or UV Insignia with kits from Sailrite.

I’ve started making a new bimini top, and my wife wants to try using Velcro instead of zippers due to trouble we’ve had in the past. Does Velcro have enough holding power to work in this application?

Velcro has great holding power initially but will lose strength over time from UV exposure and repeated use. Long lengths of Velcro can also be difficult to close evenly which can cause problems if using for frame pockets on biminis. I recommend using zippers, but keep in mind that all zippers are not created equally. Sailrite prefers YKK or RIRI brand zippers because they offer high quality, UV treated zippers that have proven superior when compared to other competing brands.

Does Sailrite have a solar shade fabric to make a cover for the windshield of a motor home?

Yes, a commonly used material for window covers is Phifertex. There are two different varieties: Standard Phifertex, which provides about a 70% shade factor, and Phifertex Plus, a tighter weave with about a 90 to 95% shade factor. Both materials are designed to be used outdoors.

Building the actual shade cover is quite simple. Pattern for the shape of the window and then add extra for edge hems and overlap for attachment areas. Typically snaps or Common Sense twist lock type fasteners are used for attachment and a hem of three layers of material is sufficient for installation. Use a V-92 weight polyester thread with a #18 to #20 sewing machine needle. Sewing can be done in straight stitch but make sure the stitch is as long as possible (6mm is ideal).

Click here for a helpful video on securing snaps to fiberglass.

What is the best material and seaming method for making a waterproof overboard bag?

Technically, the best material for a waterproof overboard bag is one that can utilize “welded” seams. Welded seams are created with special machinery that create permanent bonds by shaking the molecular structure of the two material layers and then forcing them together. The result is a very strong seam that is completely water and air tight. Unless you have the equipment to do this, your only alternative is to purchase a premade dry bag.

You could always make a bag on your own using PVC-coated materials like Shelter-Rite and HH66 Vinyl cement. The HH66 glue will do a very nice job of bonding layers of vinyl to create both air and water tight seams.

Can I set spur grommets using my plain washer die set that I purchased at my local hardware store?


#2 Spur grommet

#2 Spur Grommet

Although spur grommets and washer grommets are sized by number (1,2,3 and so on), a #2 spur grommet and a #2 washer grommet will not match in size. Washer (or plain) grommets are always smaller and as a result use different die sets. Keep in mind that spur grommets are stronger and have teeth that cut into the fabric and roll under to keep the grommet from twisting. Spur grommets also have rounded rolled edges so the grommet will not damage the material when secured. Sailrite recommends spur grommets in all cases except flags and burgees.

What is the best outdoor fade resistant fabric for a boat cover?

Sunbrella® marine and awning grade fabric is the best outdoor fabric available because of  its high resistance to fading, fantastic color options, and long life span. In fact, Glen Raven Mills, the manufacturer of Sunbrella, warrants the material against fading for 10 years. Not only is Sunbrella fade resistant, but this 100% solution dyed acrylic is UV, water, and mildew resistant and does not noticeably shrink or stretch. It is breathable to prevent condensation, stain resistant, and easy to sew.

Sailrite has sold Sunbrella brand fabric since the late 1960s, and in all that time, we have had very few warranty claims of any type. Glen Raven even upgraded their warranty from 5 years to 10 years in 2009 because the material is so good. Sunbrella Marine Grade truly is the standard covercloth for the marine industry and is perfect for boat covers, dodgers, biminis, awnings, boat tops, sun bands, outdoor furniture, cockpit cushions, and enclosure curtains.

Shop for all your outdoor canvas needs!

What material should be used for sail spreader patches?

A sailboat mast is typically supported with stay wires that connect to spreaders. Spreaders are horizontal extensions that protrude from the mast. The spreader tips can damage the front sail on a boat if it comes into contact with sail when sailing closehauled or tacking (changing direction through the wind). The solution to increasing sail life is to buffer the contact between the spreader and the actual sailcloth. We recommend using 54″ Insignia material, a pressure sensitive adhesive backed Dacron fabric that adheres to both Dacron and laminate sails. Cut the insignia material down to the size and shape you need, just make sure that all potential contact points will be covered on both sides of the sail. Smooth the material out over the sail and let it sit for the day. No sewing required! When the patch starts to show wear, pull it off and replace it.

I do sail repairs,  mostly sewing type repairs for myself and friends, and I  need to replace the 2″ large grommet in the clew. The largest grommet on your website is 5/8″. I could put on  a large ring and tape it, but a grommet would much quicker. Can you supply a larger grommet? What is the best way to set  a larger grommet, by hand or with a small press?

This is a very good question. The largest grommet Sailrite offers is a #5 grommet with a 5/8″ ID because relatively small grommets can be installed with hammer type die and anvil tools. Larger grommets require significantly more pressure to close than is possible with a hammer. In fact, large grommets typically found at the corners of modern sails are installed with a specialized hydraulic press with up to 30 tons of pressure. If you want the modern large grommet (aka Rutgerson or Inox Rings), visit a local sailmaker to have one installed.

Alternatives to the large grommet:

Traditional Sewn Rings

Before hydraulic presses were available to sailmakers, the standard method used to build a strong grommet into a sail corner was to sew in a large brass ring and press a liner (eyelet) into the whipped ring. The liner would keep the twine (used to sew the ring in place) from chafing with the movement of the sheet attachment or corner pin/shackle. Brass rings are available in up to 1-1/4″ in size. For really large boats and sails, it’s important to cluster groupings of these rings and bind together with lashings of twine to increase strength. The result is a very strong, but labor intensive ring assembly. For Sailrite’s do-it-yourself customers, this task is fairly reasonable depending upon how your time is valued. Die and anvil sets are available for 7/8″ and 1-1/4″ ring and eyelet assemblies.

Webbed Stainless Steel Rings

As you mentioned, the other alternative is to web a D-ring or round shaped stainless steel ring into the sail corner with three or four straps. Loop the straps through the ring and around to the opposite sail sides and sew to the sail corner. Sometimes webbing straps are covered by an outer layer of sailcloth to protect and conceal the webbing from sun damage. Finely made sails will also have a leather boot that covers the base of the ring to protect the corner from chafe as the ring is tossed about.

We want to make a jib sock for our Pearson 10M. The luff measurement is approx 48′ so we would probably need a zipper close to that length. You don’t offer that length but do have continuous zipper material. In addition to the zipper and a pull, what else would we need? And how is this done?

Sailrite currently offers several long separating zippers (aka jacket style or finished), for example we have one that is 508″ in length. Although this zipper is not 48 feet long, please keep in mind that it is actually better to use at least two zippers for a jib sock. The shortest zipper should be used at the bottom of the sock and sized so that it ends roughly where the jib sheets would exit. In this case, it is normal to build the sock so there is about a 1 foot gap between the two zippers to allow for some movement in the sheets.

A jib sock can be created using just one continuous zipper that runs its full length. In this case, lead the sheets out to the bottom of the sock (keep in mind that you will need provisions to prevent headsail unfurling). Position the continuous zipper so that it extends about 12 inches beyond the top edge of the sock. Attach the zipper tapes to each side of the sock. At the top edge of the sock, cut only one side of the zipper off so that only 4 inches extends beyond the sock edge. To test the closure of the sock, work the zipper slider onto the long zipper tape end and then work the short tail into the slider to get the zipper teeth to mesh. Some zipper sliders (locking style) will have a locking pin that activates anytime the pull has no pressure on it, simply pull on the zipper pull when trying to mesh the teeth.

Slide the zipper slider down toward the bottom of the sock. At the bottom of the sock, install a zipper top stop on each side of the zipper tape to keep the slider from coming off the end of the zipper tape. The most common type of zipper stop is a metal shaped “U” that clamps over a tooth on the zipper tape. This completes the bottom end of the zipper.

Back at the top of the zipper, take a 2 inch section of the scrap zipper (previously cut away) and mesh the teeth with the end of the long row of zipper teeth. Start at the top cut end and tap the teeth in place using just about anything. Melt the teeth together slightly using a hotknife or soldering iron to keep the slider from coming off at the top.

There will be a 6 inch gap at the top of the zipper between one side of the zipper tape and the top stop on the other side. Once the slider reaches this gap, the zipper sides will separate. To start the zipper each time the sock is used, the short side of the zipper will need to be fed into the slider. When in use, the zipper teeth will hold fairly well on their own, but in a good blow the sides will separate. To keep this from happening, create a velcro strap or snap tie at the top to wrap around the neck of the zipper tape about 2-3 inches above the sock. The idea is to place positive pressure to the zipper sides so they cannot start to come undone until the tie is removed (which would be done each time you drop the sock).

Supplies required to do the project with continuous zipper: #10 YKK vislon zipper chain, #10 slider single pull, 2 ea top stops, thread V-69, basting tape, sock material (SurLast), webbing and velcro for wrap, webbing for halyard hoist attachment, webbing for loops for securing at bow.

Hope this helps! 

Can I get material wide enough to handle the full width of Sailrite’s largest 72” roller shade?

Sailrite offers a few materials that are wide enough to fit the full width but none are really desirable for shade applications. The fact is that the desirable shade materials (Sunbrella Furniture Fabric, Sunbrella View and Phifertex) are all 54” or 60” wide. So the only way to make use of the full width of the roller shade is to seam the material. But here is where it gets tricky. If you create a vertical seam you better create equal thickness hems along both edges as well. It is imperative that the fabric bulk on the roller be balanced from end to end or the shade will not rise evenly. With some materials hems and seams are just not desired at all. And it is true that the best rolling shades are simple flat panels of fabric with heat cut edges. So how does one handle widths over 60 inches in these cases? The best solution is to create horizontal seams that will not impact the evenness of the roll. Simple overlapping seams are sufficient but French seams might be less visible depending upon the fabric. Keep in mind too that all roller shades can be cut down in width by simply cutting the aluminum tube to which the fabric attaches.

View roller shades here.

%d bloggers like this: