Extending the life of pricey cockpit seats can save you money. These Sport-a-Seats aren’t cheap, but they are worth it for your comfort on a voyage. There isn’t a lot of sewing in this seat cover project, but there is plenty of planning. This is a good beginner project.
The idea for this project came from Good Old Boat magazine which had an article entitled “Protection in Plaid” by Don Casey (March/April 2014 issue, page 46). If you don’t have the magazine or don’t subscribe, you can buy a back copy for $8. (It’s not appropriate to reprint the article since it is their copy-written content.) It’s worth the price for this project as he has very good details and graphics showing the design layout.
I had ideas that I thought could improve on Don Casey’s pattern – silly me. When you have good instructions from an expert, stick with them as closely as possible. This blog is about how I constructed my covers based on the guidance of the GOB article. I made some changes and mistakes so I hope you can learn from them!
I didn’t want the double-layer hemmed flap per Don Casey’s instructions considering I was using Sunbrella and not a softer fabric as he had. So I made the covers as I did the envelope pillow covers. But with the rigid seat frame (unlike a cover for a soft pillow) you need to have a flap that isn’t too long or too short so it will flip closed over the top. About 5 1/2 – 6” is right. Don Casey’s instructions for the double flap would work better for a softer or stretchy fabric. I initially had a flap that was too short and had to re-work it to fully cover the back.
Using Sunbrella has pros and cons for this project. It is a bit heavy and stiff, but the trade off is for longer wear and durability for use in the cockpit exposed to weather. It is a bit clunky initially. I folded in the excess at the hinge when the seat is upright in place. Alternatively, fleece or a fabric with some stretch would have give at the folds and a nice hand.
I ended up with excess width across the back under the flap. There is some tapering on the seats. It doesn’t affect the cover just looks a bit bulky. One could add a dart or tuck or one could leave it alone. It’s on the back. Guess what I did…
Note that the cover encloses the original handle on the side. You could add a handle to the side seam if you want one. I didn’t think it was critical.
Summary of Lessons Learned:
– Know your fabric for the project
– Remember that the back of the seat will have more pull on it when flexed in place and there will be some extra fabric at the hinge on the front. Measure with the seat in place
– The flap on the back can’t be too long or too short
– A cover probably won’t look as tight as the original since you have to be able to get it on and off
– Go back and change up the design if you want. Add curves to the corners later if you want
Sport-A-Seat Covers (Envelope Cover Style)
~3 yards of 46” width Sunbrella for two seat covers. Patterns may require more fabric for matching.
Allow 4-6 hours for 2 seat covers
Finished back 42”, front 42” with flap 6”. (The back under the flap could be 41 1/2” and the flap could be 5 1/2” but not more than 6”.)
Finished width 20 1/2 (or up to 21”)
Cut length – Back 42 + 1/2, front 42 + 1/2 plus flap 6 + 1/2” = 91 1/2″ total length
Cut width – 21 1/2″
Note that these measurements worked for me, but the cover is a tad loose allowing ease for putting it on. You may want to adjust measurements. Measure your seat and compare sizes.
— Measure, mark the “cut” measurements. Cut or finish edges with a hot knife.
— Mark back where flap will fold with washable marker or chalk. Mark where the front finished edge with be so you can line it up for the side seams.
— Sew 1/2” hem on top of front.
— Sew 1/2” hem on back.
— Fold flap inside side seam so that when turned right-side out the right side of the flap comes over the top of the back hem.
— Sew 1/2” side seams. You could do a test fit after completing the first seam and after both seams are sewn to make sure you are happy with the fit. It isn’t exactly like the original fit since you need ease to get the covers on and off.
— Sew in curve on the corners if desired. (You can do this as you sew the seams or later and adjust.) Use a bowl or lunch side plate to sketch out the curve. Clip the curved seam for some give once you are satisfied with the fit. I curved the bottom corners once I finished the seams just because I thought it would look better.
— Once satisfied with the fit, hot knife the seams as needed. Turn right side out, slip on and enjoy.
P.S. A friend has also made Sport-A-Seat covers and shared her experience here. If you have experience to add, please add a comment.