How To Sew A Sail

An improperly sewn sail can fall apart at the seams, so whether you are doing a repair on a sail or making a new sail, these directions for how to sew a sail will help you get lasting results. Sail fabric frays easily if the raw edges are not properly finished, so cutting corners may save a few cents, but it can be dangerous. In addition to following the steps for sewing a sail, it is helpful to have either a heavy duty zigzag or industrial sewing machine, because a light duty household machine will not stand up to the abuse of sewing sails for very long.

 To sew a sail you need:

  • Basting tape or rip-stop tape, width 1/4 inch wide up to 1/2 inch wide
  • Sewing machine, zigzag, threaded with heavy UV protected thread

The steps to follow when sewing a sail are:

  1. Place a strip of either basting or rip-stop tape along the raw edge of the sail fabric, on both pieces you will be sewing. This prevents fraying and reduces the chance of the seam ripping out.
  2. Position the raw edges of the sail fabric so they overlap 1/2 inch, unless you are using a kit that offers directions for a different seam allowance. If you are patching rather than joining a seam, position the patch so it is centered over the hole.
  3. Sew using a zigzag stitch 1/8 inch from the edge of the overlapped fabric. If you are using a 1/2 inch overlap, flip the sail over and sew a second line of zigzag stitching 1/8 inch from the taped edge on the back of the sail fabric. If you are sewing a patch, make sure you keep the sail fabric flat under the patch, and sew around the taped edge of the patch.
  4. Make a double-fold that hides the raw edges and prevents fraying if you have to use a straight stitch machine. To make the double fold, fold the edge under 1/4 inch, then fold it under a second time, making another 1/4 inch fold that completely hides the raw edge.
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