Canvas Jerry Can Covers–Take II

Three more jerry cans arrived on deck when we were in George Town, Exuma which meant sewing more covers to add to our can cover collection.  We like the canvas covers to help reduce the UV deterioration of the jugs which store extra water and fuel on deck.


Canvas Jerry Can Cover
Canvas Jerry Can Cover

I decided to try an improved cover design over the initial ones I made which I posted about here.  I’m sorry Julie Gifford that I ever doubted you.  For the first covers I thought I could bypass one of the steps outlined in Julie’s book, Canvas for Cruisers. This time I took her advice and  had a much better outcome.  One should listen to the professionals.  Lesson learned.

Water Jerry Jug
Water Jerry Jug

The Captain says this is a fairly standard water jug with handles on the top and side (6 gallons, 40” around and about 19” high to the top with a handle on the top and side). So here are directions for jerry can covers for this particular size.  Be sure to double check that these sizes work for your particular jerry can.  The directions would be generally the same with measurement adjustments for other sizes of course.  First a few tips…

— Mark with masking or blue tape the edge of the jug where the top slant starts.  This helped me visualize where the seam would be to connect the top and the body of the cover and give a consistent height.  Measure the height from the base or deck.

— Make the darts in the top.  It makes for a much better fit and look. Topstitching once the sections are done and you are happy with sizing adds a nice look and extra strength though is optional.

— Mark the hem and pin or clip it.  The medium sized binder clips are about 1″ deep.  Convenient!  I still differ with Julie’s directions on this item and prefer to hem at the end of the project.  But basting or pinning in the first step will help with fitting the top to the body.

Instructions for canvas water jerry can cover


Canvas like Marine Sunbrella – about 1 yard 45” width per jug

Grommets – 4 sets per jug

Notions – v92 or other UV resistant thread, metal rulers, marking pencil or chalk, heavy pins or binder clips or stapler, scissors, hot knife


1. Confirm measurements. Mark can with tape at the point where it slants. This is where the seam will be.  Cut the body (45 x 16 1/2”) and the top (22 x 16”) and hot knife to seal the edges.  This allows for 1″ seams and ease.  I like to make the covers a bit roomy, maybe 2-3” of ease, to allow for room when lashing to deck with line.

2. Pin the body around the jug to test for size and ease.  Sew 1” side seam.  The larger seam allows for adjustments.  Mark up and pin or clip the hem in place so you allow for a 1″ seam for the top from the tape marks.

3. Mark four darts on the top by chalking a 5” square on each corner.  Mark a diagonal line from the corner to the center point.  Mark a line 3” from the corner at each edge to the center point.  Stitch the 3” line to point for each corner.  Try it on for size.  Don’t cut the darts ends until you have checked positioning.  You could wait to cut them at the end but that leaves more bulk in the top (not a bad thing for a bit of “body”).

4. Mark the center of each side on the top and the body.  With wrong sides out, line up the marks with the right sides together, pushing the top inside.  Start matching up the middle marked point on each side.  Work out from there and pin or clip the top to the body being sure you have clipped right sides together.  You can do a fitting with the material inside out here.  The corners are a bit bulky.  This is a bit of tricky sewing at the corners.  You will need to work in the corners and keep the body and top aligned.  Watch to make sure you don’t catch the body underneath as you sew 1” seam by gently pulling it out straight.  At the corners it will feel like you are going a bit wide as you round the corners.

5.  Turn it right side out and try it on.  Recheck the length that you basted or pinned up and hem with approximately a 1” hem.  Trim any seams or darts as needed.


6.  Mark the centers of the handles on each side.  Add grommets to each side of the handles at top and side so that the jug can be lashed down on deck.  Be sure when cutting the grommet holes that you cut only one layer and not accidentally cut a hole where you don’t want one!

What? Doesn't everyone install grommets on the Government Dock?
What? Doesn’t everyone install grommets on the Government Dock?



2 thoughts on “Canvas Jerry Can Covers–Take II

  1. Interested in how much the material cost vs the cost of the cans… I priced up canvas for our six and even with the cheapest fabric I could find locally (that was in the Canaries) the skipper pointed out he could buy three replacement sets of cans for the total cost.

    1. Susie, You raise a valid point on cost. I hadn’t factored cost specifically on this project. My Captain said he paid $22 in the US (West Marine) and $38 in Georgetown Bahamas for jerry cans. I buy marina grade Sunbrella for about $17/yard/45″ width from Sailrite. Some folks find it cheaper at consignment stores or ebay. I use about a yard per can. So it’s a close call on price for me. We also like the look of having them covered in the same material as well as extending their life. If you can’t find reasonably-priced canvas and you can find cheaper cans, well maybe making the covers isn’t worth your time. Interesting consideration. I’ll try and remember to add a cost factor in future posts. Thanks for your comment. Best, Annette

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