Canvas Repair

If you need to fix a canvas awning, start by inspecting it to see exactly what is wrong. If the fabric is intact but the thread has rotted away (this is really common in awnings,) you can clean it up and repair the seam.

If you are doing this professionally, of course you would like to make more for a full replacement awning, but people respect honesty, and you will get repeat business by doing a small repair when possible. You will make more in the long run.

If you are just repairing your own awning, you still want it done right so it will hold up and look great. Just remember, repairing an awning can be like putting together a puzzle, so work as slowly as needed, and take the time to get the pieces lined up in their original positions.

This step-by-step tutorial will take you through the basics of repairing a canvas awning.

Before photo: As you can see by the table boards showing through from below the awning, this awning has a huge gaping hole. The canvas fabric is intact, but the seam has absolutely decayed. Bits of decayed thread and frayed canvas are sticking out all along the canvas seam edges, which are still folded.

Supplies You Will Need to Repair a Damaged Canvas Awning
  • Scrub brush
  • Trimmer's shears or heavy duty scissors
  • Ultra-Violet Protected Thread
  • Industrial Sewing Machine (but you can get by with a heavy duty sewing machine in a pinch)
Steps to Follow When Repairing an Awning With This Type of Damage
  1. Grab the scrub brush and gently brush the damaged area of the canvas' surface. This gives you a dust/dirt-free surface.
  2. Pick out the decayed thread. Just use your fingertips unless you have a lot of decayed thread to remove. If you have a lot, you might want to use long, pointed tweezers to keep your fingers from getting sore. 
  3. Without cutting into the canvas, use the shears to trim off the frayed canvas fibers from the fabric's raw edge.
  4. Thread your sewing machine with the UV protected thread. UV protected thread will last longer than regular thread for an outdoor-use awning.
  5. Slide the seams together, so they rest in their original  position. The folds should go in opposite directions, so when the folded sides slide together, the raw edges are completely encased.inside of the seam. (You can see the opposite folding in the "Before" photo above.) If your original seams are not folded in opposite direction, just put them back as they were originally set.
  6. Start sewing about an inch before the end of the existing seam, overlapping the old stitches that remain and the new stitching. Do not back-tack, and do not trim the thread ends. Sew the length of the gap in your awning, keeping the stitch line on top of the holes from the original stitching.
  7. Most awnings have double-stitching, so check to see if your awning's seam originally had double-stitching. If it did, move your needle over, line it up with the second line of stitching, and repeat the previous step.
  8. On the back side of the awning, pull on the thread end gently, until you see a loop of thread coming through the fabric from the outside.
  9. Catch the loop with your fingertips or a needle, or even a pencil's point, and pul the thread loop all the way through.
  10. Tie the two threads ends securely three or four times, then cut off the thread ends. Keep going until every loose seam has been repaired.

The color was a little off on my camera for this picture, but it lets you see the old, decayed thread; and if you look behind the needle in the image, you can see a lump of old thread that was not picked out properly. It just looks better, for the finished repair job, if you take the time to do all of the steps properly.

In this picture, you can see that some of the original thread is left in place, to overlap with the new seam. If it had been too decayed, it would have had to be removed, but it was still strong in the parts of the awning not directly exposed to sunlight. (The bits of decayed thread shown in this picture were brushed away after the sewing was completed.)

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How to Patch a Polypropylene Awning
As always, if you try this and have any problems, or comments, leave a comment or contact me through the "contact us" form on this site. Thanks for reading, Laure.

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