Another skylight cover for the boat

You might mistake me for someone who actually enjoys sewing home dec for the sheer amount of it I've been doing this year. But considering the amount of time we've spent at home (ie: every waking moment for the past 8 months) it's probably not surprising that we keep seeing ways to improve things. The latest in my home improvements was sewing a new cover for the smaller, bedroom skylight in the back cabin. Unlike the skylights in the main part of the boat which are flat, these older covers over the original 1930s captains cabin are peaked, triangular wooden framed skylights which need custom shaping. The last one I made for this particular skylight was made in Jan 2011 so it nearly lasted ten years! But you'll see further down how badly it needed replacing...

You might mistake me for someone who actually enjoys sewing home dec for the sheer amount of it I’ve been doing this year. But considering the amount of time we’ve spent at home (ie: every waking moment for the past 8 months) it’s probably not surprising that we keep seeing ways to improve things.

The latest in my home improvements was sewing a new cover for the smaller, bedroom skylight in the back cabin. Unlike the skylights in the main part of the boat which are flat, these older covers over the original 1930s captains cabin are peaked, triangular wooden framed skylights which need custom shaping. The last one I made for this particular skylight was made in Jan 2011 so it nearly lasted ten years! But you’ll see further down how badly it needed replacing…

All the outdoor fabrics and clear PVC were originally from Pennine Outdoor and thankfully I had enough in my stash from previous ones that I didn’t need to buy anything this time around. I love a project that reduces my stash! Thankfully I also had the measurements in the old blog post so I didn’t have to go outside and re-measure, either.

It’s hard to stress enough how absolutely awful these are to sew – you can’t use pins or backstitch (tying the thread ends together is a PITA), the fabrics are stiff and have a mind of their own and don’t yield when they hit the back wall behind my sewing machine… and this is the smaller one – the larger skylight cover is another level of pain altogether!

Like leather, every needle pass leaves a permanent hole that can weaken the fabric (and let rain in!) so I choose to use leather needles that do a great job of piercing the fabric. I used my walking foot, which helped keep the fabric from sticking to the machine itself, but I still had to use both hands to manhandle the rest of the cover instead of guiding it under the needle like I usually do.

This time I was smart enough to remember to attach the clear plastic window segments first and THEN cut out the hole in the green PVC afterwards – it’s way easier to attach this way instead of cutting the hole first and then trying to stitch it to a frame that can move around as you’re sewing (remember, no pins!)

All in all, the sewing actually only took about twenty minutes, mostly because I have very low standards for this kind of stuff!

Here’s the previous cover I was replacing – the vinyl had gone brittle and stiff in the elements and ten years of UV exposure, but most importantly, the thread had completely disintegrated and my attempts to glue it a few years ago were only partially successful.

I could’ve chosen to use a different thread here (maybe upholstery weight?) but frankly, 8-10 years is a pretty good lifespan as far as I’m concerned and if I’d improve anything, it’d be to maybe add some waterproof seam tape at a later date. The goal here is to prolong the lifespan of the woodwork and window sealant underneath, not to be 100% waterproof.

And here’s my new cover in its new home. It fits, hurrah!

We always hold these covers in place with a few magnets on the sides to keep them from blowing off – it’s a lot easier to achieve than trying to get a super close fit or using drawstrings, and way more effective, too!

It’s not the sort of project I get excited about, but it does feel satisfying to see it in place afterwards!

9 Comments

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  1. 1
    Chris Schwab

    I have purchased double-sided tapes, like for leather projects, from Wawak in the US, to hold stuff fabrics together to go under the presser foot. It helped a lot but wrestling was still required. Nice job to have done… imagine what you’d have to pay for someone else to make this, and how long you’d have to wait these days….

  2. 2
    djaktief

    Great project. I know how hard it is to make things like this. We used to have no covers on board over the skylights. My father sanded and painted it every year. That was a hell of a job too. I often use glue clamps when I cannot use pins.

  3. 3
    M-C

    Wow that sounds like a major PITA project . Hope this rev lasts just as long as the last, which is sort of worth it. But did you realize you can just use a shower curtain next time? The good ones are the exact same PVC, minus shipping and general hassle

  4. 4
    Anita Steiner

    It looks good, so it was worth the effort. Hope it lasts as long as the previos one. All the best for continuing good health. Anita from Basel, where we had the first snow today

  5. 5
    Lee Hernandez

    Just FYI, when I was getting ready to sew a vent cover for an air conditioner on a camper, I noticed in the thread dept. at JoAnn’s that there is a line of thread called Outdoor. There were a few basic colors. Maybe, if you decide to try some, you could have your mom buy some and send it to you.

      • 7
        Lee Hernandez

        The company that makes a line of thread for use on outdoor projects is Coats and Clark. In the U.S.A., it is one of the most commonly used thread companies. It is readily available at all sewing stores here and you should be able to purchase it through Amazon if you have access to that.

  6. 8
    JenK

    Sometimes I think it would be easier to not know how to sew…I would throw more away and just buy what I need. I know, I know it’s neither green nor frugal!! Nice work!!

  7. 9
    Donna

    Many years ago I repaired my husbands cover for his bass boat. I set up my machine on the dining room table instead of tne cabnient where it usually sets. I also repaired the seam with fine fishing line. I hand filled the bobbin and loosened the tension on the bobbincase and put the roll of the line in a glass jar behind the machine. I used a Denim needle size 120. Your cover may be smaller, but the idea would be the same. My husband also hand fed me the cover to keep it from pulling and breaking the needle. I used a Bernina 1230 for the job. Back then they said if you could get it under the presser foot, the machine would sew it. It did!

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