How to Repair Torn Canvas on a Pop Up Camper

This was the last picture taken with Peggy Sue's old canvas.

Repairing Pop Up Camper Canvas

Our pop up camper is a 2001 Jayco Qwest that is a great find for our family.  I cannot wait to start camping.  However, when we were remodeling, we had some tears and weak spots in our canvas.  So, I had to learn how to repair.  I'm dreaming of a new canvas and hope to purchase one at the end of the year.  In the meantime, we are going to make it through this year with what we have!

If you are going to repair your canvas, you are going to need a few basic things.
  1. Canvas repair kit - Attwood Corporation Canvas Repair Kit comes with both canvas that is waterproof and glue
  2. Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl
Both of these items are minimal in comparison to a new canvas and can be easily used.  I used both items for repairing our canvas and now have a handy repair kit tucked away in our camper for repairs just in case.  (which I hope we won't need!)

First, it is important to assess the damage and determines what is the best tool for the job.  We had some rips that needed to be repaired with the canvas and glue to ensure everything is waterproof and well sealed.  Another place needed to be repaired on an actual seam that could be sewn shut.

The repair that you see first was on the canvas that was not on the main seam.  I tried stitching with the sewing awl tool, but it seemed to make it worse, and I feared that I would not have a sealed seam that would be waterproof.  So I opted to use the canvas repair kit.  I glued a piece of cut canvas repair fabric on both the interior and exterior of the camper.  This has made a nice solid repair.

The canvas and glue repairs are fairly simple easy.  The main thing to do is measure the length of the canvas that is going to cover the tear.  It also needs to be long enough to cover so that holds well.  The canvas needs to be fully opened and allowed to dry for several hours after applying.

The glue in these repair kits is fairly thin.  Apply the glue to your cut canvas in a circular motion.  It will bead on the canvas and roll off easily if you apply too much.  You may also want to get someone to help you hold it in place as you are topping over the tear.  You want to make sure the tear is closed and covered with the canvas entirely.  Repeat on the interior of the camper.  I cannot stress the need to allow ample drying time for this type of repair.  We did this late afternoon and allowed to dry for nearly 24 hours before closing.  This is much longer than the required time, but it ensured that everything was dry before closing up.

The sewing awl is a great tool and simple to use.  However, I do recommend watching a video to help with the use of this.  I recommend getting on a step stool or little ladder and working outside of the camper.  It is impossible to do what you need to do inside on the bedding.  Bad idea.  I tried and failed.

Basically, this tool is like a little handheld manual machine.  Follow the instructions on the video to sew.
  1. Pull out enough thread to complete your repair.  Use the length of the tear to measure and add a few inches to it to give you enough to complete.  
  2. Make sure your thread is wrapped around the little nail or bobbin on the handle.  The thread is going to be inside of the handle.
  3. Insert the needle into the canvas piercing through both layers you are repairing to rejoin them and pull the thread all of the way through while the needle stays put.
  4. Pull the needle out along with the thread to the halfway position.  STOP.
  5. Reinsert the needle at the length of the stitch for the project.  
  6. Pull the needle back a little to create a little loop along the needle.
  7. Insert the half of the thread through the loop that was remaining out from the first insertion and pull through.
  8. Now, pull the needle back out.  This creates a stitch.
  9. Continue with steps 5 through 8 until you have stitched the canvas back up.  
Stitch evenly - being careful not to tear the canvas and not drawing it up so much that you will be making it hard to expand back out.  This is one reason that the canvas and glue can be a good option for the repairs in some places.

A sewing awl is a great tool because it is strong and can pierce through the canvas in double layers.  Also, the waxed thread that comes with it makes it ideal for making repairs.  

Another thing that can extend the life of canvas on the bunk ends is the Pop Up Gizmos.  I am purchasing some of these before a trip in March.  A friend recommended them to me, and I am going to follow his lead.  This help insulates, keep tree sap off of the canvas and protect from sun damage.  Think basically big blankets to cover and insulate the bunk end tops.

If you are looking for more tools that I used to remodel our Pop Up Camper, be sure to check out my Pop Up Remodel Page.  You can also see our finished camper on my Finished Reveal Post.  We have our first little trip planned soon.  We will be able to test out our repairs and upgrades then.

Have you had to make repairs to your Pop Up Camper Canvas?  It's not always pretty, but it doesn't have to be terrible either.  I'm pretty happy with how our repairs and camper remodel turned out.  We have a great camper that will be fun to use as a family.  And when we do finally get a new canvas, we will feel like we got a brand new camper!

Share your repair stories if you like.  I'd love to hear how they turned out and new ideas for maintaining older Pop Up Campers.   Have a great week!

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  1. Great job Grace!!! Can't wait to go camping!!

  2. Thanks Christy!! So many good times ahead!!

  3. You've got the same camper as I do. Great post, great ideas. We have some small holes that need repair. Thanks for the photos and information.

    1. Hopefully this will help. We eventually replaced our entire canvas, but this helped until that happened! Happy camping!

  4. Replies
    1. Sadly, this would most likely need to be replaced. It is well worth the money to do it if you plan to keep using your pop up camper. I would encourage you to contact Canvas Replacements. That is where we bought ours. Great service and will help you through the process.

  5. I was in a panic over repairing our canvas until I came across this post. THANK YOU so much!

    1. As long as you don't have dry rot, you will easily be able to repair a torn canvas and keep trucking. We made our repair to kind of limp along until replacing the canvas. In the end, we wished we had just done the canvas right out of the gate. This would have been much better. Good luck! I hope it turns out great!

  6. Hi, Any ideas on how I should replace an entire canvas window that tore? The zipper and some material close to it is still there and for now I have a shower curtain cut out just clipped on but I’m not sure how that will up. We will be ordering a replacement canvas for next season. I fear the other windows are just as fragile, weathered and worn out due to cleaning that they will do the same. Thanks. Kim


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