Many cruising boats have an adjustable padded seat on board. The Sport-a-Seat is a great one, and West Marine has one as well. We end up sitting in a lot of awkward places (on top of hatches or piles of lines, against railings and other hard objects) and these help make that comfortable. However they will eventually pick up salt from the air and your fresh-from-the-beach body, suntan lotion, sweat, even blood as we all know how much we bleed on board. The seats can be washed and do dry within 24 hours in the Mexico sun, but I don’t believe the water is good for the interior metal parts. Plus the cover will eventually wear out. So a slipcover will prolong the life of these not-inexpensive items. In this article I show you a simple quick way to make an attractive cover for these types of seats. The sport-a-seat cover will extend the life of your sport-a-seat by years.
By the way, before we get started, if you are looking for a seat like this, I do highly recommend the Sport-a-Seat. They are more comfortable for this old body than the West Marine version which has less padding. They are made of actual Sunbrella and have a five year warranty. I bought mine 4 or 5 years ago and although they are still unscarred and work perfectly they were quite dirty despite several cleanings over the years. (I use a scrub brush and laundry soap to clean them). This winter I finally had time to tackle the issue of covers.
Having made many sets of cockpit and salon cushions, my initial thoughts about the design of these were based on those models. I was thinking zippers and a super tight fit to mimic the existing design. I drew up several plans. Finally I became a little more sensible and decided to make it easy. No zippers, a close but not tight fit, and a couple of details to spruce up the look a bit. This design will be quick to make – an hour or two for most people.
The Sport-a-Seat itself is 18″ x 40″ but the sport-a-seat cover is larger to account for the thickness of the padding and a little more for ease on slipping it over the existing cover. If your seat is a different brand I recommend you use a cloth tape and measure all the way around (up one side and down the other) then divide by 2 and add 2 or 3 inches for the 1/2″ seams and ease in putting it on. I added 2 inches to the width and 3″ to the length so that the open end would still hide the seat inside without a zipper or velcro, although you can add these if you wish.
Handle: Minimum cut size 8″ x 3″ (one per seat) for a 1″ wide handle.
Cover: Cut (2) 22″ x 46″ pieces.
- Make handle. Fold over each long side of the handle material about 1/2″. Crease or seam-stick the hem. Join the long sides together and sew the hem. You now have a doubled strip of cloth 8″ by about 1″ wide. Set aside.
- Optional: If you want to apply any decorative elements, such as the contrasting patches in the ones I made, apply them now.
- Mark the narrow side of one of the cover pieces with a 1″ line for the hem. Fold up the material to the line, creating a 1/2″ hem. Fold over again to hide the cut edge for a 1/2″ hem that is 3 thicknesses of sunbrella. Sew this hem. Repeat for the second side of the cover.
- Fold the handle into a C shape as shown in the drawing
- Place the RIGHT SIDE of the front of the cover on a surface. Lay the folded handle as shown at the end in the center of the long side. Baste the handle in place with a 1/2″ seam.
- Now lay the back piece of the cover on top of front and handle. Sew together the two long sides and top with a 1/2″ seam.
- Optional if you want rounded top edges: Lay the seat on top of the cover and trace around the rounded top on the cover. Re-sew the corners with a 1/2″ seam around the corners. Trim the excess material.
- Turn the cover right-side out.
- Optional: To clean up the edge a bit you can oversew on the finished side. Simply sew a very narrow seam along the three closed edges of the cover. You will be sewing through four layers of sunbrella. This will strengthen the seam and also gives a more finished appearance to the cover.
- And you’re done unless you want to close the bottom edge with velcro.
That’s it! Your sport-a-seat cover is complete. Let me know how it goes for you and I’d love to see pictures of your results in the comments below.