making canvas grab rail covers

August 23, 2014

Teak is beautiful, but topside it's a pain to keep up - especially grab rails where maintaining it means you're always bent over in a million awkward positions. One way to keep this maintenance down is keep the rails covered. If you can sew a straight seam it's easy to make your own, and really easy if you have some old rail covers to go by.

rotating hole punch and snap fastener kit
rotating hole punch and snap fastener kit

Parts, Supplies & Tools

  • 38 inches of Sunbrella canvas 60" wide - amount of canvas will vary depending on rail length of course
  • Nylon Bonded Finish Thread - this is extra strong for heavy fabrics
  • Snap fastener kit - Ace Hardware $7.49
  • Hammer
  • Rotating leather hole punch - Hobby Lobby $21.99
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Tailors chalk
  • Leather point size 16 sewing machine needle

Finished rail covers

finished width 5 inches wide finished width
finished length About 111 inches long

Finished size: 5" wide by approximately 111 inches long

How to make your own canvas rail covers

  1. Cut the 60 inch wide canvas into 4 9.25 inch lengths. Or 9 1/2 inch lengths, you don't want to cut it too short. Rather trim later but you can't add more if you cut too much.
  2. Right sides together, sew 2 pieces together on the short end (to make one long piece), turn right side out and sew across the top of the seam to make a nice finish and reinforce.
iron to make 1 inch doubled over seam 3: Iron to make 1 inch doubled over seam
  1. Fold canvas to make 1" seams and press.

sew the angle 4: sew the angle

If you're really pro, you'll sew the ends first and then the entire length in one shot. Not me - here's my technique:

  1. Sew one end at the appropriate rail angle.
  2. Sew straight down 2 inches from the the angle.
  3. Fold the seam over and sew. It's going to be really bunchy where you're scrunching all the material into the angle.
  4. Sew the seam until a foot or so from the other end.
sew straight down and cut 5: sew straight down and cut
sew the end 6: sew the end
sewn end rail end sewn
right side out rail end right side out

  1. Take the canvas and tailors chalk to the rail, fit it on the rail and mark on the unfinished end where to end the rail cover. Sew the angle, take it back topside a couple more times just to be sure...
  2. Sew the other rail canvas end like the first one.
  3. Make another trip topside with your canvas and mark where you want the snaps.
punching the hole
Punch the hole for the snap
  1. Use that terrific rotating punch to make the holes for the snaps.
  2. With the snap fastener tool and hammer, put the snaps on - use a snap cover on both sides for a nice finished look.
canvas snaps
Canvas snaps, use the snap cover on both sides
canvas rail cover
Sunbrella canvas rail cover

Photos of this project

Making canvas grab rail covers


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