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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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