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Old 03-31-2014, 06:59 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1975 31' Sovereign
1973 31' Sovereign
Manlius , New York
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 9
Any experience making your own awning?

We have all the hardware for the awnings, but the fabric is shot. Has anyone had any experience making their own awnings?
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:11 PM   #2
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1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
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I have a friend who has made her own awnings for her historic home. She used Sunbrella fabric. The main problem she ran into was finding a sewing machine with enough power to go through several layers of fabric with the necessary Sunbrella thread. Most of the work was done with a 70's vintage Singer slant stitch worm gear drive machine, but even then she had to take a little part to a shop with a really heavy duty machine.

I think most RV awnings are fairly simple compared to what she was making with side panels and drop front box ends. But she did have a pattern, and you may not have one.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:14 PM   #3
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1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Yes, I made a new awning for the zip dee hardware on our '71 Tradewind.

The details are in my blog here

We had to replace the channel at the top end. We bought some aluminum stock from Sailrite. If I recall correctly, that's where we bought the sunbrella fabric as well.

I had access to a walking foot industrial sewing machine and I'd say that's a pretty necessary piece of equipment. On a home sewing machine, the fabric is only moved by the feet that grab the underside of the fabric. This means that the bottom layer often moves faster than the top and the bottom layer gets puckered with respect to the top layer. The walking foot machine grabs both layers at the same time so the ends of the seams matched up, even after 9 feet of stitching.

The one thing I would do differently is not assume any stretch in the sunbrella at all. We made it a tad short on the length from top to tube, thinking that would make a nice, taut awning. The awning doesn't sag at all, but a side result is that there is barely enough awning fabric to allow us to pull the arms out into full lock. Maybe I need to do more pushups.

Another thing that I didn't fully allow for is the amount of material taken up by the seams. I tried to match the pattern exactly for the seams that joined the three panels at the sides. Due to extra take-up in the seams, the stripes where the seams run are slightly narrower than their counterparts without seams. This wouldn't have been an issue at all, except that it would have made the curves at the top of those scallops shorter. I solved that by flattening the top of each scallop so they are all the same height anyway. The standard awnings don't have scallops at all, so that wouldn't make a bit of difference for those.

I bought a double-sided fabric tape to hold the seams since Sunbrella is too dense for pins and pins would distort the seam anyway.

I used a double fold under for the side seams and a matching bias tape (also Sunbrella) along the scallops. I would go more carefully along the scallops next time. No one else notices the places where the seam ran off the edge of the fabric underneath, but I know the holes are there.

Long story short, with the right tools, it's very doable. And even if you try for extra details and it isn't perfect, it still comes out great. We love having a functional awning again.
Our travel and renovation blog:
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:30 PM   #4
1 Rivet Member
1975 31' Sovereign
1973 31' Sovereign
Manlius , New York
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 9
Thanks for all the information! It looks like we have access to a commercial machine with a walking foot, and the awning is currently on our '75 but the thread is rotting and the material is a bit too weak to re-sew.
Our '72 is a bit different story. We have part of the Zip Dee awning parts, but no, I guess I will review your Tin Pickle blog and take a shot at the first one. Thanks again!
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