Do It Yourself Automotive Repair

How to Repair a Convertible Top


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Anyone with a convertible knows that at some point you may have to repair your convertible top because it has become torn, or worse, cut open by would-be thieves. Small tears, less than 12 inches in length, can easily be replaced by sewing the wound with a needle and upholstery thread, just like you would a piece of clothing. Anything longer will take a bit more work on your part. In fact, you may be dissuaded by the idea of repairing a long tear, but most shops will want to replace the top if the tear is more than 12 inches in length, and that can cost upwards of $2,000. Here's how you can save yourself a lot of money and with a little time and effort you can fix your convertible top.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Upholstery thread, similar color to your top
  • Curved upholstery needle
  • Thimble
  • Fabric adhesive or Gorilla Glue
  • Marine canvas
  • Scotch guard
  • Duct tape or rip stop tape

Step 1: Sew the Wound

Start sewing the tear. Use more thread than you will need, and take your time. Sewing canvas is an extremely long process and it could take you several hours, depending on long the tear is. Make sure you keep the stitch as straight and as tight as possible. Try to keep the stitches about ¼" away from the tear while sewing. During this step it is a good idea to keep the convertible top closed and latched, so that the canvas can remain tight. Once you are finished, tape the underside (the inside of the car) of the stitch. This will prevent any glue from dripping through the stitch.

Step 2: Glue the Seam

Using your fabric adhesive or Gorilla Glue, glue the seam. The tape should catch any glue that drips through the seam.

Step 3: Apply the Canvas

Cut the marine canvas to the cover the tear. You can now stitch the new canvas over the wound. This is going to be an extremely long process and may require several hours, depending on how long the tear is. After the patch is in place you can use a seam sealer to seal around the edge of the canvas and the stitches, to make your patch waterproof.

Step 4: Sew the Inside

Remove the tape and sew the inside of the canvas, if needed. This step is purely cosmetic and does not require the use of glue or a new patch (unless you want a new patch). 

With a few hours and some labor you can repair your convertible top, potentially saving you a lot of money and allowing you to use your car for years to come.

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