Every boat has fenders, so what makes them special? Sugar Shack came with lots of fenders – really big ones! It’s always good to have solid fenders and the bigger the better. Fenders are used when entering a marina, pulling up to a dock, and any time you need protection for your boat. We’ve pulled them out when a boat was dragging and coming down on us, we’ve used them for fun and games (think “wrecking ball” when you see image below).
In San Blas, we have 3 fenders out on the side of the boat so the pangas, ulus and dugouts don’t damage our boat when they come to sell us fruits, veggies, lobster, and molas.
The fenders have been working great and have protected our hulls from many potential impacts. However, as the fenders get used, they get dirty. When they are dirty, they transfer that dirt and other marks onto the hulls. Which sucks. So, we have been meaning to do fender covers for a very long time. Matt purchased and brought 50’ of blue fleece over 6 years ago along with two more large fenders. The felt has sat under our master bed ever since.
Until, I got a bug up my butt and decided to do something about it! Matt and I worked on several patterns for the A4 fender which are giant balls (well, funny shaped balls). We have 4-A4’s and 1-A5. Many months ago, we tried our hand at making a fender cover using old sunbrella for the A5. And, although it works, it is hideous.
We learned several things, sunbrella sucks as a fender cover, and our measurements were way off. So, the key was in the pattern. We made several patterns using shower curtains. They are cheap, easy to draw on, cut quickly, can be stapled, and gently manhandled into a form. Unfortunately, it took us a few tries to get what we thought was a decent pattern. We wrapped it around our A4 and then went to work with the fabric.
First, tracing the pattern on the fabric. Traced the larger pattern which has the ½” hem and then traced the actual panel inside.
After cutting the fabric, we sowed the panels side to side forming a giant circle. Then the top and bottom hems were sewed. We placed the cover, inside out over the ball. It was close, worked, but not tight enough. So, we pinned each seam making the cover form fitting, took it off, sewed it up and voila.
Since the first one was so big, we decided to make a new, smaller pattern. Each ball has 6 panels and there are 4 balls. With each fender, the covers got better and better. The 4th ball is on the side of the boat for the pangas.
Once the hard covers are done, we moved on to the “easy” F4s which are tubes for lack of a better description. Super easy.
We cut 28”x27” piece of fabric (almost a square), hemmed the top and bottom. Then we wrapped it on the fender, inside out so we could pin the final edge.
Gently scoot the fabric off without popping the pins, then sew her up. You want them to fit like a glove so that they don’t slip off during use. Once the cover was completed, we had to squeeze it over the fender – it was very much like putting something on over something unmentionable….
The four A4s and eight F4s look great and are now well protected. The only unfortunate thing is that we ran out of fabric before I could cover the last remaining A5 which happens to be the largest fender and the one we use the most ☹
Instead of enduring the ugly A5 with dirty sunbrella, I decided to use blue sunbrella scraps to make a new A5 cover. It would not be the same as the others, but it will be closer in color and look a lot better – or so I had hoped.
The sunbrella fabric is not as forgiving as the fleece and does not “mold” to the round shape of the fender well. However, I was determined. I did my measurements, added 2” and went to work. Cut out 6 panels, pinned then sewed the sides and tried her on. Hmph….too short, it did not reach all the way around. No problem, I added another panel. Tried again and it fit all the way around. Good news. I sewed the top and bottom hem, turned it inside out to try on again, and YUCK.
Matt jumped in as I was on the verge of panic and adjusted it a little. Several side seams needed to be taken in and then it looked rather good. But, in order to take in the side seams I had to take out the top and bottom seams (for Pete’s sake!). So, I removed the top and bottom seams, sewed my new side seams, resewed the top and bottom seams and it is what it is.
Boat project: Fender covers complete!
Useful, yet unusual helpful sewing items:
- Shower curtains for patterns
- Chalk for outline
- Binder clips to hold material