Polycotton covers

16/10/2009 18:14:59
I've collected my (first) new polycotton cover, custom made to dimensions I supplied, and was concerned to see that negligable allowance had been made for shrinkage - its a lovely fit but apparently no room for shrinkage. Some manufacturers I asked said they allowed as much as 4% shrink and others 2.5%. This would be around 105mm/170mm on length and 55mm/85mm on width. Having raised it with the supplier, I'm told that it shouldn't be an issue, that they know what they're doing, but it just doesn't ring true to me.

My question is does polycotton shrink at a steady rate, or is there a large initial shrink then it stabilises? I'm trying to figure out how long to leave it before returning it for re measurement.
Or do the new polycottons just shrink much less than they used to?

16/10/2009 19:50:25
I bought a polycotton cover from Speed and basically they supplied it to completely the wrong dimensions, even though I had given them the correct ones at the start. Fair play to them, they took it back and supplied a brand new one within 3 weeks and without so much as a moan but, like yours, made the replacement precisely to the dimensions I gave them, even though I discussed a shrinkage allowance with them beforehand. My experience was that it shrunk within about 6-7 weeks and stabilised - hasn't changed much in over a year now (couldn't guess at the percentage of shrinkage though). For me its a bit annoying as I really have to stretch the cover over the bow now to get it fully secured, but nevertheless it does fully cover the boat so its not the end of the world and I decided to leave it at that. Perhaps your supplier will agree to let you monitor it for a few weeks and if its shrunk too much speak to them again. Reputation is eveything in the sailing world so if they're a decent supplier I'm sure they'd agree. Good luck, hope this helps!

16/10/2009 22:42:14
Thanks Paul, sorry to hear about your similar experience, thought it was just me! The fit now is what I'd like it to be in 1 or 2 years time, and I can't see that happening if it shrinks at all, but if 6 or 7 weeks should see the worse of the shrink, I might reserve judgement.

17/10/2009 11:26:42
I find is that its really important to fit the cover correctly every time its taken off with all straps tight. At least that way it shrinks in a controlled manner.

Leave a strap loose one week and it wont fit again the next


18/10/2009 22:00:10
I had one a couple of years ago made to measure from P & B and have not experienced any shrinkage that I can notice.

Wonder if you wetted a shrunk cover then put in on boat and stretched it to the correct fit would it hold its shape? This seems to work with undercovers that shrink.

18/10/2009 23:00:12
One of our club memners had a realy nice cotton cover made, yet the same company has now had two goes at making an over cover for the same design for a nother club member and neither has fitted?!

18/10/2009 23:41:09
Thanks for the feedback on covers  
The P+B experience gives me some cause for optimism, and hope mine's made from a similar brand of polycotton.

I actually tried soaking the old polycotton cover which had become a good 4 inches short and also too narrow, but only managed to split the seams around the hoop pocket when it dried out and shrank back again! Just a knackered old cover I suppose.

I spoke to one cover supplier who implied that after all of the dimensions were punched in, the pattern and shrink calculations were generated by a template programme on computer, so presumably repeat accuracy ought to be possible.
Perhaps some suppliers still make each one individually, and maybe its not the same person on the cutting table each week.

I don't want to unfairly label the supplier of the cover as being 'bad' as it's obviously still new and hasn't actually shrunk yet, so I'm not naming them, if that makes sense.

19/10/2009 09:00:24
Garry R
I used Rain and Sun for a bespoke Merlin cover and am more than happy.  The Firefly one was good too and the one I saw on a Finn convinced me.

19/10/2009 13:46:03
I supply the Rain and Sun covers but I'm fairly sure all the manufacturers are pretty much the same. The really really important thing is to make sure the cover is fitted on the boat with the straps done up really tightly. (It's important therefore that the cover is strong around where the straps are sewn on) That way shrinkage is minimised. As Ian says above the first time you don't fit it properly it will shrink. And the sun will shrink the cover during the summer as much as when it dries out from wet.


cover anorack

19/10/2009 16:04:58
I ordered a new cover from DS back in March, it was probably about 6 inches too long at the bow but over the season has shrunk to a perfect fit. Certainly agree with the comments regarding keeping the thing tight, in fact I asked for extra straps on mine which helps prevent it flapping while towing. Whichever company you buy from make sure you go for polycotton; pvc covers are a waste of money in my opinion.

19/10/2009 16:40:43
The B14s sware by Rain & Sun. Phil Bull very accommodating on spec and probably the best covers the class has ever had. We co-ordinated a winter bulk buy last year and will be doing the same this year. Faultless service, relaible and good value. What more can one ask for.

19/10/2009 16:42:12
David Gates
I have to agree with all the comments above. I have used Rain & Sun for many years now on various boats, with no problems. Phil is really helpfull. He is based in Southampton. If you take your boat down, he will make a templae and cut the cover specifically for your boat. If you go for polycotton you will not regret it. Contact Phil on Rain & Sun 023 8023 0444 or 07786 393539.

08/11/2009 21:51:16
Chris 3441
We have just taken delivery of a new custom made cover from Wave Loft, I’m told is made from a breathable Acrylic Canvas which does not shrink at all. Initial impressions are good, the fit was perfect with lots of tensioning points and a side split from mast to shroud. So far I would recommend.

10/11/2009 12:53:57
Ask for "Top Gun" fabric for highest quality breathable covers.

13/11/2009 09:13:34
Fabric Guru
Let me see if I can answer any fabric questions and reply to some miss informed facts. Poly cotton although a very old fashioned and potentially out of date fabric is still one of the better materials to use for covers. It is inherently waterproof and breathable at the same time, although its weakness as you are all aware is shrinkage.

Commonly the PC sold in the UK will shrink between 2-4% dependant on climate (ie how frequent from damp to dry once settled. This can also be affected by how quickly your panels are cut after being unrolled of the roll. Everyone is right though your cover when new should have a shrinkage allowance built in and this will typically take 1 to 2 months to settle, however once it has you will have a very nice and hard wearing cover for your craft of choice. You should make sure in that initial fit that all straps and drawstrings are used to ensure and even shrinkage.

You will find that the material used by nearly all cover makers in the UK comes from the same source which used to be Kayospruce and I am sure still is, indecently founded and owned by an Ex Merlin Sailor Ian Dawson and indeed another ex Merlinitte Peter Bainse still works their.

PJ - I am sorry to have to break it to you but Top Gun is not a breathable Fabric, yes a fantastic cloth but not breathable I am afraid! It is an Acrylic coated polyester, which needs breath ability built in to it in the case of vents or mesh based airing pockets.

Chris - Acrylic Canvas is as above a fantastic fabric and many hundreds of thousand linear metres are sold in the UK each year, mainly recognisable as Sprayhoods, Dodgers, stackpacks on yachts etc.. Indeed even crossing over into awnings and sun shades, none of which is relevant though! Acrylic would make excellent covers except for its one inherent weakness which is its Rub or Abrasion resistance. You need to make sure that you have re in forced points on any area where chaffing may occur, typically a pvc based sacrificial strip!

Sorry for the long waffle but I hope that clears up some confusion


13/11/2009 10:17:06
"indecently founded" Gosh, i wonder what he did ;)

13/11/2009 10:25:18
Could he mean incidentally?

13/11/2009 11:42:03
Mr Blobby
This shrinkage of covers, could this also apply to clothes. Like trouser waist's, shirt sizes etc. I would rather believe this than anything to do with the beer and food.

13/11/2009 13:17:12
Fabric Guru, can you send me you e-mail address I have a question I'd like to ask you?

13/11/2009 13:21:38
Very informative post from Fabric Guru and interesting to learn that most of the polycotton for covers comes from the same place.
If the fabric is the same, and we all share pretty much the same climate, I wonder why some cover suppliers choose to allow virtualy no shrink allowance and others provide 4% plus? I wonder do they know something the others don't?
Surely the risk of losing custom through supplying less than adequate covers is bad business - after all a badly fitting cover is on display 365 days a year with the makers name all over it.

On a lighter note, since our boats consume neither beer or food, I'd say they can not be implicated in the cover shrinking, and therefore are unlikely to be responsible for clothes fitting less well after a night out. The answer must lie elsewhere....

13/11/2009 13:32:11
If Top Gun isn't breathable why do Kayospruce and many others advertise it as follows:
Top Gun is a superb marine cover fabric designed for long lasting colour, super high strengths, abrasion resistance, breathability, virtually no stretching or shrinkage over time, mildew and ultra violet resistant and very water repellent.


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