vinyl bimini top

How to Make a vinyl or canvas or vinyl bimini top for a powerboat. The boat used in this process is a family cruiser Maxum 2900 SCR.

to Make a vinyl or canvas or vinyl Bimini Top for a Powerboat

Boat Covers & Tops

Boat Accessories - Boat Covers, Tops

You can purchase these items from Sailrite. Coming up soon a full boat enclosure will be added to this powerboat. The principles and techniques used to make enclosure will be soon be available. Watch for them at or the Sailrite

In this tutorial we will show you every step required to make a canvas or vinyl bimini top for a powerboat. The boat we will use demonstrate the process is a Maxum 2900 SCR powerboat.

a Replacement Bimini Top (part I)

Do it yourself: bimini top

To Make a Replacement Bimini Top

The procedures outlined will also work for sailboats. We will be working with a boat that already has a tubing frame erected. Let's get started. Here is the original bimini. As you can see it is rather loose fitting.

It was designed by laying two panels together and a seam running from bow to stern. For shape the seamstress inserted darts on both the starboard and port sides.

Our bimini will be much tighter and will have panels that are sewn together along the top of each bow with seams going from starboard to port. The advantage is a tighter and better form fitting bimini top, the disadvantage is the extra fabric that is required, but the extra few yards is in our opinion well worth it. How much fabric will you need and what width fabric should you use?

Because we will have individual panels between each bow and bows typically are never more than 42" apart a 46" width fabric is perfect. To calculate the amount of fabric required simply measure from mount position to mounting position from starboard to port then multiply that amount by 1.6 for each bow section (a single panel will be made between each bow).

So for this boat we measured 87" from mounting positions. Multiply that by 1.6 equals 139.2 inches. We have 3 panels for our 4 bow bimini, as the radar arch serves as our 4th bow, so multiply that figure by 3 then divide by 36. So we will need to order 12 yards of 46" width Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric from Sailrite.

I am sure some of you are saying that is a lot of fabric for only 3 panels on a bimini. So, in an effort to show you why lets show all the patterns and panels that are first required for a 3 bow bimini. As you can see each panel or pattern has curved edges and the sleeves are curved it will take much more fabric than just a straight edge rectangle would have taken.

Now let's look at a 4 bow bimini layup, this is the bimini we are building for this project video and it does require 12 yards. A full materials list and the tools we used will be found at the end of this video. To prep for patterning be sure the frame is uniform from side to side. Take a few measurements on one side then compare that with the opposite side, make modifications where needed to ensure that the frame is horizontal and all bows are as uniform as possible. Then check to be sure all set screws are snug. After that we are ready to start patterning. Let's get started and show you how to make your own bimini. Since our old bimini top is installed and the frame and we are using rigid supports for this frame all we have to do is secure any frame that will move once the old cover is removed. For this bimini that is only the intermediate bow.

We will use 3M Filament Strapping tape to secure this bow so we can pattern without it moving. If your bimini top fabric is missing and you do not have rigid supports but instead have webbing straps you will need to use this tape to secure all bows where you want them before patterning. You can run the tape to various locations on the boat to accomplish a firm sturdy frame position. Since we have an old bimini top and we like where the skirt edge falls (that is the outside edges on port and starboard) we will mark that area on hard positions on the boat like this radar arch and on the tubing.

These marks will tell us where we want the skirt plane to stop on the new bimini pattern we will be making. If you do not have an old bimini or you just did not like where the depth was positioned all you would need to do is run a straight length of tape along one side of the frame assembly from bow to bow to establish the depth of the skirt. The depth and angle you pick should result in a pleasing shape. Since we will be making side curtains , Side curtains - attach to a fabric bimini, part II (window panels) after the bimini is complete we want to make the skirt edges straight, not curved.

This will make it easier to make our side curtains. Here is a look ahead at the skirt edge on this bimini.

The frame is now secure and will not move and the depth and angle of the skirt has been determined. It is now time to remove the old bimini top so we can make patterns off the bows. It is very important that we find the center of each bow. To do this we will use a flexible tape measure and we will be measuring from this rigid support jaw slide on the port side to the one on the starboard side.

Divide that total in half to find the center of the bow and mark it with a permanent marker. Do that for each bow position. The Maxum 2900 powerboat has a radar arch which will act as our 4th bow. We need to make the center of it also, since we do not want to use a permanent marker on the fiberglass we will use the filament strapping tape and mark on that.

Along the side of the radar arch we placed a line with our yellow grease pencil on the fiberglass to determine the skirt depth. If your boat has a bow instead of a radar arch the process is still the same. We will place tape over that mark and place a dot along the outer edge. This dot will be used as a reference to join panels together and also may be used for the creation of the side curtains, which will be the next endeavor for this boat. On each bow, where the skirt edge is desired place dots on the outside edge of the frame.

You may want to measure them for consistency on the port and starboard sides.

Centers are marked and dots have been placed along the skirt edge. It is now time to use filament strapping tape along the plane of each bow. This filament strapping tape is used as a way to easily remove the double sided tape or seamstick that will be used to hold the pattern material in place.

Seamstick or double sided tape will be placed horizontally along the forward bow and if our boat had a bow at the stern (ours has a radar arch) it too would be placed along a horizontal plane. All intermediate bows the tape is place along a vertical plane on top. This is the forward bow. Once the filament tape is down Angela will use Seamstick for canvas part #129 and place that on top of the tape.

Notice that along the sides of the bow the tape is towards the outside of the bow, but then as it transitions to the crown section of the bow the tape is almost vertical on the bow, as we discussed earlier.

Here on this intermediate bow and the adjacent one behind we will place the tape and seamstick along the top of the bow. The tape and seamstick should run all the way to the dots we placed on each bow. Since our powerboat has a radar arch we will place the tape and seamstick on a horizontal plane just behind the snaps that are already installed. If you have a bow instead place the tape on a vertical plane just as you did on the forward bow. Here you can see the seamstick for canvas (part #129 at Sailrite) going down.

This double sided tape will hold the Dura Skrim pattern material in place in the next step. Let's start patterning the stern panel first. Peel the transfer tape off to reveal the double sided tape. Then use the Dura Skrim pattern material which has been cut to the approximate size of the area. Obviously much bigger, but not too big that it's hard to handle. Find the center and then carefully baste it over the double sided tape. Try to keep the Dura Skrim pattern material smooth as you baste it, but expect to make modifications.

It is much easier to pattern with a helper, in fact we do not recommend doing this alone at all. Your bimini may have a bow that is made from a tube rather than a radar arch, the process would be the same, except that you basting not along the top, but rather vertical or almost vertical along the bow. After preliminary basting on the radar arch then move to the next bow and repeat the process. Your goal, baste the pattern material down smoothly, without wrinkle or hard spot. If your pattern is perfect your bimini top should be also, if your pattern is done halfhazardly you can expect problems in the finished top. So, take your time and fix any and all possible issues now in the pattern.

You can expect to peel up the Dura Skrim pattern material in spot and pull out inconsistencies. Having a helper on the opposite end (one along the forward and one along the rear bow) is very helpful in resolving issues in the pattern.

Dura Skrim has a reinforced ribbon weave which makes it highly tear and stretch resistant so it can be pulled tight over the frame without stretching out of shape. However, it is possible to pull too tight and stretch it too much, so watch for that, if it happens replace the pattern material and start over. Patterning may require you to climb on the seating or may require the use of step ladders, so be careful as you pattern.

Here you can see Angela pulling up the material and re-basting, that is one major advantage to patterning with Seamstick for canvas and Dura Skrim from Sailrite. Let's watch here as Angela and Trent make adjustments to this side until they are happy.

If the pattern material is too large cut of the excess, but don't cut any filament strapping tape that helps keep bows positioned. It is now time to mark the pattern. To mark the edges we will use a PVC pipe that has been cut in half and a hole has been drilled in it. This should help make it easier for us to run our marker along each of the tubing bows. It is not required, but we find it helps keep the lines nice and straight. Locate the dot on the frame and mark the pattern material with a dot directly over it.

This is a intermediate bow so we will strike a line vertically along the bow with a sharpie marker. We will use our PVC jig that we made to help guide our line. Start the line a few inches from the dot you just made. If don't make a jig like this, simply run your line as carefully as possible along the bows side, to the top and then down the opposite side stopping short of the dot on the other side. When that is done be sure to make the center location on the pattern material. We typically use a line and then mark it with a "C" to indicate the center. It is also very important to label the panel with "Sout" and "Pout" indicating the starboard and port outside surfaces of the pattern.

We will also label this Aft pattern #1 along the forward edge because it will line up with an intermediate pattern which we will also label #1 in a later step, this will keep confusion to a minimal when the patterns become fabric and is sewn together. Now we will strike a line at the radar arch this line will be struck down holding the marker vertically, but if you have a tubing bow it would be held horizontally along the bow.

Be sure to make the dot and then a few inches away from the dot strike a line, just about 1 inch away from the snaps that are already installed in the radar arch. If you have a hard surface rather than tubing and plan on installing snaps later on make about 1 inch away from the location you desire the snaps to be installed.

This line is where the edge of the bimini will stop for our application, if your bimini had a tubing bow this again is the will stop, but a sleeve will be sewn to encase the tubing in a later step. Remember to make the center location as well. It is not a bad idea to mark where the snaps rest on the pattern material, but we typically find it only important to know where the last snap is located so she will place an "X" at that location on each side.

This Aft pattern is ready to be removed from the radar arch (or aft bow, if you have that).

Do not remove it from the intermediate bow yet! Before we can start the intermediate pattern we need to secure that bow so it does not ride back when the pattern material is pulled tight, we forgot to do that earlier on. We're going to use our strapping tape to do this. Ok, now we can pattern the intermediate panel. To do this we will apply seamstick for canvas on top of the previous pattern, the Aft pattern. We want to run this tape along the same plan where the line was struck down on the pattern material.

Then using our helper again we will remove the seamstick backing and lay the next panel of Dura Skrim in place along that bow. The filament strapping tape must not be removed, so we will have to work around it when performing our patterning. The process is the same as the aft pattern, but just in case you want to watch us do it all we will continue to show how it is done in double time. Looks great!

Cut off any excessive material and label just as you did earlier on the aft pattern. Since this panel falls on two intermediate bows the lines will be struck so the pen is held vertically along the bow. Where going to use our jig here again. When we get to the area where the strapping tape is securing the bow we will move our jig to the other side, we will trace that portion of the line by hand. You probably can't tell, but we have moved to the bow where the opposite pattern material is still basted in place. We can see through the Dura Skrim pattern material and want to mark our dots and also directly on top of the line we place earlier on that pattern. We can easily do this without our jig by hand.

When done, don't forget to mark the center location and label the new intermediate pattern with "Pout and Sout".

Also for easy identification later on, we will mark the rear of this pattern with #1 and the forward of this pattern with #2. Now we can remove the rear portion of this intermediate pattern, do not remove the forward portion. You will repeat the process for the forward pattern. Notice that some of the forward pattern pulled up when she was removing the rear, she will have to reapply that.

The seamstick is still stuck to the aft pattern with the line under it, we will not remove it until we reach the loft or sewing table. Later on when the seamstick is removed it will pull up some of the marker line, but usually not all of the line. We will show that later on. Along the forward edge of the intermediate pattern Angela is applying the seamstick over the line, just as we did earlier for the other panel. Then we will apply a new section of Dura Skrim Pattern material in place following the same procedure as demonstrated for the intermediate and aft patterns. We will show this in double time. Mark the center and then strike your line holding the marker horizontal this time, since this is the forward edge of the bimini. We are using our jig again.

When the line transitions to the side notice that it follows the outside edge of the tubing there. Label the pattern well. Then trace the line on the rear portion of this the forward pattern over the line that was struck down for the intermediate pattern. Before you remove the pattern we need to discuss the forward pocket, here's Matt Grant to help explain the importance in marking the pattern for its creation.

Hi I'm Matt Grant and I want to talk to you about the front sleeve on our bimini top. Actually it would be the front or back sleeve or any sleeve on a bimini top where the sleeve wraps around a bow. And, basically what you want to think about when you're thinking about a sleeve is that when we do our patterning we are drawing a line with the pen held horizontally here and if we were to come around and draw a line with the pen held vertically here. That's the amount of material that is required to wrap around this tubing.

From the seam point to the very bottom of the tubing. Here that distance is quite a bit shorter. And anywhere on this horizontal piece it is quite a bit shorter than it is when you get to the edges where the zipper stops because here I'm not wrapping around it this way, I'm going front to back so I'm going across a diagonal of the tubing.

And obviously going across a diagonal it's going to take more material to wrap around the tubing to get to the spot where the zipper attaches to the top. So, basically what that means is when we do our sleeve, we can't really leave our sleeve a consistent width from the front to where it attaches to the top. We actually have to bend the sleeve in toward the vary edges of the bimini top in order to allow so looseness in the material. So that it can wrap around this longer distance of the diagonal of the tubing here.

And the reason I bring this up, you will see how this works when we're cutting this at the table. I just want to show you what to do at the patterning step in order to make this work. The first thing you need to do is determine where you want your zipper to stop. And we want it to stop about an inch above, let's go, let's actually go and inch and a quarter I think would be a good measurement. So, we already have a mark here. So, that's about where we want our zipper to stop.

I need to take that inch and a quarter and I need to transfer that to back side or on top of the pattern.

So, I am marking that right on the line that I previously, we previously drew… on the pattern material. So, that will be where our zipper stops. And then I need to come up and we need to think about where we want to start curving that pocket in. And that should start somewhere to the inside of the curvature of the bow, usually about ten inches to a foot from the outside of the framing. Best way to do that is to just take a measurement holding your ruler at the spot that you marked for where the zippers going to stop. next >>

Make a Bimini Top, Part II, III

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