How-To Projects & Tips

Here at Sailrite®, we want you to be well-prepared, self-reliant sailors. Rips and tears happen in sails, battens fall out, and hardware comes free. With the right knowledge and tools, you can make repairs and fixes to your own sails, both in emergency situations and carefully on the docks. We’re going to share a multi-part series here on the blog with repair techniques for fixing the most common problems. Today, we’re focusing on small rips and holes.


We’re defining a “small” rip or hole as a hole 6 inches or under and a rip 12 inches or under. Small rips and holes like this can easily be patched. If your sail has a large rip, you’ll want to consider why the rip occurred before patching it. If the rip was caused by damage, you can use a large patch or even replace the entire panel of the sail. If the rip was more spontaneous, it’s likely that your sailcloth is getting worn and it might be time to consider replacing the sail altogether.

The instructions below are for making permanent repairs to your sail. If you’re in an emergency situation and you need a temporary repair until you can take the time to sew a proper patch, we recommend using adhesive backing strips. Sailrite stocks Dacron®, Laminate and Ripstop repair tapes that you can affix to both sides of your rip as a fast patch. Patches should be sewn on later to better secure and more permanently fix your tear.

For your patch fabric, use the same fabric (or a slightly lighter weight) that your sail is made out of. Non-adhesive backed tapes can be convenient for patch applications. Their smaller size makes them easy to work with and easy to store.

For this repair you’ll need:

  • Patch fabric
  • Scissors
  • Basting Tape
  • Thread
  • Zigzag sewing machine

How to Patch a Rip or Hole in a Sail

  1. Cut a patch that is 1” larger than the rip on all sides.
  1. Using Seamstick basting tape, baste the patch in place. If you’re repairing a rip, try to keep the ripped sides as close together as possible.
  1. Sew around the perimeter of the patch with zigzag stitches.
  1. Turn the sail over. Carefully cut out the frayed, ripped edges of the fabric so a clean edge is left next to the stitches. Doing this step last helps to maintain the shape of your sail.

Here’s a video that shows this same process being done on a rip in a spinnaker. Since the rip is close to the edge of this sail, you’ll notice we add extra stay tape along the edge of the sail to nicely finish that side of the patch.

You can find all the necessary sail repair tools and materials, including our Sail Repair Manual written by Sailrite founder, Jim Grant, at

Be sure to keep an eye out for the subsequent posts in our sail repair series that will be coming out in the coming months. Subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss a post!

How to Recover a Recliner Cushion

On Wednesday we shared how to reupholster a chair. Today we’re back to show you how we sewed up the seat cushion for the chair. The new cushion cover is a pretty straightforward sewing process; let’s take a closer look!

The cushion of this chair mostly assembles like any other box cushion, but the zipper plaque is a little different. For this cushion we wrapped the zipper around the sides of the cushion and then covered the ends with fabric. Since both the sides and the back of the cushion will be hidden on the chair, this is a good way to give the zipper a little extra protection.

We used the old cushion cover to pattern the fabric for the new one. This is an easy way to make sure your new cushion cover will be the right size for the foam and the chair. Additionally, we reused the original foam because it was still in really good condition. You can fluff up older foam with a polyester batting or, if it’s beyond a facelift, you can replace the foam completely. Be sure to use high-density foam that’s appropriate for upholstery.

In this video you’ll learn how to pattern the cushion fabric, create the zipper plaque and assemble the seat cushion for an upholstered chair.

Materials List:

  • Upholstery Fabric (we used P/Kaufmann fabric)
  • 3/8″ Seamstick Basting Tape
  • Nylon Thread
  • YKK® #5 Continuous Coil Zipper
  • YKK® #5 Metal Locking Zipper Slider

You can find all the materials you need for this and other re-upholstery projects at

How to Reupholster a Recliner

Recliners are popular seating options for family rooms because they are comfortable and casual. There is something so relaxing about putting your feet up in a soft, reclining chair. But you don’t have to trade style to get that feet-up comfort in your own home. If you have an old recliner that doesn’t fit your décor anymore, why not cover it in new fabric? We made a step-by-step video that will walk you through every detail so you can DIY reupholster your own recliner.

The recliner we’re recovering in the video was in really great shape but the fabric wasn’t working in the owner’s new home. A quick way to tell if a recliner is worth working on is to check the stability of the arms—are they loose or shaky? If they are only a little loose, you can tighten them, but if they are very wobbly, the chair may be beyond saving. Also make sure the reclining mechanism is still in good working order.

How to Reupholster a Recliner

When selecting a new fabric for your recliner, think about the pattern. We don’t recommend choosing a very linear pattern, like stripes or plaid, because of the chair’s many moving parts. It can be hard to line the pattern up along the chair and as you use your recliner the pieces might shift and make the piece look sloppy. We chose a large-scale paisley, P/Kaufmann fabric, because the paisley print won’t have to perfectly align.

Reupholstering a recliner is a little different from other armchairs because it will actually disassemble into smaller parts. You can remove the back from the frame and then the seat deck and footrest. Each piece is reupholstered and then reassembled.

In the video, you’ll learn how to disassemble the chair and remove the old fabric, how to sew and install piping, arm covers, the seat deck, and the attached back cushion.

To see the full materials list, visit and search (#200680XHT).

You’ll notice in the video that we didn’t cover how to sew the box cushion for the seat. We have a a separate video for this, which we’ll be sharing here on the blog on Friday. Be sure to check back!

Have you ever reupholstered a recliner? Share your advice and tips in the comments!

How to Recover a Horseshoe Buoy

An important piece of boat safety equipment is an easily tossed floatation device like a throw ring or horseshoe buoy in case of a man overboard situation. To keep these safety devices ready-to-go all the time, they often are sitting out exposed to the sun. If your horseshoe rescue buoy’s vinyl covering is starting to look worn out, you can reuse the foam inside and sew up a new cover for it.

Most safety buoys like this are covered in vinyl. We decided to also use a vinyl fabric for our horseshoe buoy cover, choosing a Naugahyde® Universal fabric. You’ll want to use a bright color, like yellow, orange or red, so your buoy will be easy to see in the water. You could also use another type of vinyl or even other water-repellent fabric like Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric if you wanted.

Sewing this horseshoe buoy is very similar to sewing a box cushion, just with a few more curves. If you can sew a box cushion, you can sew a new cover for your horseshoe rescue buoy.

In this video you’ll learn how to pattern the fabric, create the zipper plaque, add the webbing and D-rings, and assemble the cushion cover.

Find all the materials needed for this project, search (#200569XHT).

Have you ever re-covered a buoy? Do you have any tips to add to this process? Share your suggestions and ideas in the comments!

If you’re looking into building a dodger or a bimini one of the decisions you’ll have to make is how you want to add additional support to the frame. This additional support helps to tension the fabric and keep the frame firmly upright. The two main options are using a webbing strap or another piece of tubing which is called a rigid support strut. If you’re not sure which one is for you, we’re going to break down the pros and cons of each.

Webbing Support Strap

Webbing Support Strap vs. Rigid Support Struts

The webbing support strap is a strip of webbing attached to the main frame of your dodger or bimini at one end and attached to your boat via a snap hook and a strap eye. The webbing strap is adjustable so you can get a tight, taut fit. Using an adjustable webbing strap is the more affordable option and many people find it easier to break down than a rigid strut. Webbing straps are also lighter than struts, so they save weight on board.

A common concern with webbing straps is that webbing is not as UV resistant as the tubing. However, using a highly UV resistant webbing like Sunbrella® webbing can help mitigate this concern.

Webbing straps however, are far less secure than the solid rigid support struts. Additionally, some people don’t care for the look of the webbing or the fact that they flap when traveling at higher speeds, like on a powerboat.

Rigid Support Struts

Webbing Support Strap vs. Rigid Support Struts

Rigid support struts are tubing pieces that attach to the dodger or bimini frame with a jaw slide on one end and then to the deck of your boat via an eye end and a mounting plate on the opposite end. This creates a very solid connection and a strong support for your dodger or bimini. Rigid support struts are sturdier and make better handholds than webbing straps. They also provide more consistent tensioning.

Using rigid support struts also offers more design flexibility than webbing straps because a pole can push or pull the frame into place, whereas a strap can only pull. This means there are more ways to position a support strut for equal or better support than from a strap.

A common drawback for rigid support struts is that they can be harder to disassemble than the webbing straps. If disassembly is a concern for you, rigid support struts can be set up using a flat mount with a quick release pin. This makes the disassembly time about equivalent to that of webbing straps.


We recommend using rigid support struts if cost is not a concern because the support is really much stronger. As one of our crew members put it, guests on board will hold on to whatever is handy for them, which is likely the bimini or dodger frame, so having those secure is key.

You can find kits to make webbing support straps and rigid support struts a

Which do you have on your boat, webbing support straps or rigid support struts? Why did you choose the one you did?

Have you ever noticed that Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric can be difficult to fold over and crease? If you’ve ever tried to hem it, you’ve probably run into this problem. The stiffness of the fabric doesn’t take a crease well, so the hem wants to continually unfold. Today we’re sharing three quick tips for getting a nice crease on Sunbrella to make it easier to work with.

1. Press the Fold

3 Ways to Crease Sunbrella Marine Grade

Probably the easiest way to get a good crease on your Sunbrella is to press the fold. To do this, you’ll want to fold your fabric over first. Then take a ruler or a putty knife and run it over the folded edge. This will help flatten the fold and keep the crease secure. Be careful not to press too hard and break your ruler! We really like this method because it is great for bigger projects and is pretty foolproof.

2. Score the Crease

3 Ways to Crease Sunbrella Marine Grade

For a different approach, score area of the fabric that will become the crease before you even fold it over. To do this, mark a line on your fabric where the crease of the fold should go. Then using the end of a small screwdriver, gently score a line on the fabric all along the intended crease. Be careful to not apply too much pressure to the screwdriver so you don’t rip any of the fabric’s fibers. When you’re finished, your hem should nicely fold over at the location you scored. This method is great for larger projects and helps keep your fold neat and aligned.

3. Crease on a Table Edge

3 Ways to Crease Sunbrella Marine Grade

This method works really well, especially on boxing and other small pieces of projects. To do this, fold your hem into your fabric. Then, while holding the hem in place, pick up your project and run the fabric up and down against the edge of your table. This works best on tables or surfaces with sharp angles.

Hopefully one of these tips will help you on your next Sunbrella project. You can find Sunbrella’s full marine grade fabric line at

Do you have any other tricks for creasing Sunbrella? Share your tips in the comments!

How to Reupholster a Truck Seat

Whether you restore cars as a hobby or if you just have need for new seats in your vehicle, we’ve got a great tutorial for you. The seats in pickup trucks often take a beating. Trucks are used hard and if it’s a work vehicle, especially, your truck seats see a lot of in and out and wear and tear. We’re going to show you how you can sew your own seat covers for a truck.

The seats in this 1976 Ford F350 had seen so much use they were disintegrating. To recreate the seat covers, we removed the entire seat from the truck and removed the cover. We patterned our new cover from what remained of the original.

Just like before, we used a vinyl fabric for the edges of the seat and recreated a channeled fabric for the center of the seat. For the vinyl edges we used Naugahyde® Universal and for the channeling we sewed Sunbrella® Sling to a 3/4″ Polyurethane sew foam. In the video, we walk you through step-by-step how to measure the fabric and sew the channeling for a perfect fit.

You can find all the materials needed to complete this project at by searching (#200651XHT).

Yesterday was the first official day of Fall and as the seasons change so do your DIY project needs. Whether autumn means taking your boat out of the water or turning your sewing efforts inside your home instead of out, we’ve rounded up ten of our favorites projects that are perfect for Fall.

10 Fall Project Ideas

Trailer Bunk Carpet


For boaters in colder climates, fall unfortunately means taking your boats out of the water. Before pulling your boat onto the trailer be sure the trailer carpet is in good shape. If it needs to be replaced, this post will show you just what fabric to use and how secure it.

Winterize Your Sailboat


This isn’t a sewing project necessarily, but it does need to be done. When preparing for colder temps, don’t miss our winter checklist. Remember, the better your boat is put away, the quicker you’ll be on the water next spring!

Replace Worn Out Snaps


This is just a small task more than a project, but when you’re packing away your boat canvas for the season, it’s a great opportunity to replace any worn out snap fasteners that aren’t holding the way they used to. This quick, 3-step process will be worth the time to fix.

Make a Stadium Cushion


Fall is football season and if you’re heading out to a game, why not sew up a stadium cushion to take with you? Stadium seats are uncomfortable and this great beginner project will be a welcome companion.

Make Patio Furniture Covers


Nice quality patio furniture can be an investment. To be sure your patio set looks nice season after season, you can sew up custom covers to perfectly fit your pieces and protect them from bird droppings, insects and harsh winter weather.

Make a Grill Cover


Grill covers from big box stores can be really flimsy. If you want to keep your grill protected from the elements, you can make your own custom grill cover that fits like a glove and will last for years to come.

Make a Boat Cover


Keep your boat fully covered when mooring, trailering and storing with a great fitting custom cover. Whether you have a sailboat, powerboat or pontoon boat we have full boat cover tutorials for you.

Recover a Lamp Shade


As the weather cools, you might want to turn your DIY efforts towards the interior of your home. Start refreshing your space with simple updates like recovering a lamp shade with fabric. This is an easy, no-sew project that you can complete in just an hour!

Make a Table Runner


Get a jumpstart on preparing for holiday entertaining by making new, festive table runners. This is a great project for beginners and will bring a lot of color and personality to your dining room.

Recover Your Salon Cushions


Fall is a perfect time to do big boat sewing projects. Bring your cushions home for the off-season and pattern all new salon cushions for your cabin. We’ve got a great video to help you along the way!

You can find all the materials needed to complete these project (and more!) at

What projects are on your to-do list this autumn? Tell us your plans in the comments!

How to Reupholster a Channel Back Chair

Do you have a chair with a channeled back like this one? It may look tricky to reupholster, but if you take your time assembling back of the chair even a DIY-er can get a professional looking result. We’re carefully breaking down the steps we used to reupholster this simple channel back chair in our latest video so you can revive great chairs like this for your own home.

We loved the lines of this chair, but the yellow velvet fabric was looking dinghy and very worn making this chair the perfect candidate for new upholstery. For the new fabric, we chose a small-scale stripe fabric from P/Kaufmann. This fabric’s pattern fit with the scale of the chair and it has 51,000 double rubs making it a really durable choice for upholstery.

This project features new upholstery skills for beginners learning along with us. As our upholsterer took the chair apart she had to fix the webbing under the seat to better keep the springs contained. She also walks you through the process of creating and stuffing the channeled inside back and shows you how to use Flexible Metal Tack Strip to get a clean, curved edge on the chair’s outside back.

For the full materials list and tutorial video, visit and search (#200673XHT).

Many of the tools featured in the video are included in our new Upholstery Tool Kit. This kit is perfect for beginner upholsterers to be fully stocked. You can find this kit along with other upholstery tools, notions and hundreds of fabrics at

Do you have a specific type of chair you’d like to see us reupholster? Leave us a comment with your suggestions!

Sur Last® is one of our most popular fabrics. This solution dyed-polyester is great for a variety of cover applications from boat covers to patio furniture covers. It has a urethane coating on one side of the fabric that provides added stability, minimizes shrinking and stretching, and increases water and mildew resistance. The coated side should be the inside of the fabric when used in an application, but sometimes it can be really hard to tell the difference between the coated and uncoated sides. In fact, this is actually one of our most frequently asked questions!


We made a quick video to show you an easy, fool-proof trick for determining which side is the inside, coated side and which is the outside, uncoated side. Ready for our tip? Sprinkle water on the fabric! The outside of the fabric will cause the water to bead up on the fabric’s surface while the inside will soak in the water more, just like in the photo above. This trick works on all Surlast fabrics, no matter the color.

If you have older Sur Last that has been out in the weather for a while you can restore this water resistance with 303® Fabric Guard   This easy to apply spray will make the top of your fabric repel water so it beads up and runs off your cover again. The video will also show you what a great job this product does at restoring water resistance. We recommend treating your Sur Last whenever you notice water not beading and after each time the fabric is washed.

Learn more about Sur Last fabric and if it would be right for your next cover project at

Is this something you struggled with before? How did you figure out which side was which? Share your experiences in the comments!


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