Sunday, March 03, 2019

How to Sew an RV / Trailer Spare Tire Cover for less than $10 Tutorial

It has been a long year already. We sold our 3,000 s.f. house in November, sold some stuff and packed up everything else and put it in storage, bought a brand new Grand Design Imagine 19RLE travel trailer, drove to California (without the trailer) to visit our kids & their families, came back, tried to take some trips in the Imagine. There were quite a few, mostly small, problems! So we have been tied down, not wanting to go far from the dealer until we get the problems fixed. I am so disappointed - I was really impressed by the Grand Design reputation, but I think our trailer was assembled by squirrels.  The design and details of the trailer are AMAZING! I now have large windows on all sides in the back of the trailer. I can't wait to get to a park and have a great view! Some day we will be on the road!! Really! I believe this! It will happen!

In the interim, while we are 'yard-bound' I have done a few mods to the trailer already. I'll share them soon, but right now I want to show you how to make a really nice, very durable and inexpensive tire cover for the spare tire on your rv or trailer.

Walmart sells really nice heavy, waterproof, exterior fabric that looks like canvas. It comes in quite a few colors, I chose gray for mine. I've used it for a lot of things - carriers for beach chairs, covers for totes to waterproof them. It's fairly easy to sew, and holds up well.

The tire cover is SIMPLE! Don't be intimidated, it's really a quick and easy job. 

If you have to buy everything, it will still cost under $20, but you only use a little thread and about 6' of shock cord.

You will need:
1 yard of 60" wide fabric*
String & Chalk
Shock Cord, Elastic or Heavy Cord

* if you have other fabric, you will need enough to make a circle the size of your tire, and to make a strip about 12" wide that is long enough to go around your tire. I used heavy outdoor fabric, but I have seen covers made from tablecloths, and just plain fabric. They don't hold up as long, but might be cuter.
** I got mine on ebay from a thread manufacturer in N.C in large spools for about $6/spool but it's been awhile. The company may be gone. This is a similar thread from Amazon. It is a lot cheaper than buying those little spools, and you'd be surprised how many uses you have a really strong thread.
I used this shock cord. It is really handy to have a roll of this with you. It has a lot of uses.

By the way if you don't have a bodkin, have never heard of one - buy this!! Seriously, it will make your life so much easier! This is the easiest way to thread something through a casing!!

This set has 10, you can buy fewer, but they cost about the same, and they get lost :)

I assume you have basic sewing knowledge. This isn't a complicated thing to sew, but some things might not make sense if you haven't sewn before.

Measure your tire. You will need 3 measurements. 

PIECE "1":
A - the distance across the center of the tire (diameter)

PIECE "2":
B - the distance around the tire (circumference)
C - the width of the area you want to cover. 

Make sure you make #C wide enough cover the backside of the tire, almost down to where it attaches on the trailer.


Short Instructions:

You need two pieces -
Circle 2" larger in diameter than your tire
Strip - as wide as "C" + 2 - 4" and as long as the circumference of your tire + 6"
Hem both short edges of the strip.  Divide the strip into 4ths and mark it, divide the circle into quarters and mark. Align the marks, sew the strip to the circle, overlapping the ends. Make casing on edge. Run shock cord or heavy cord through casing. Put over tire, draw up cording, tie knot in shock cord, slipknot in cording.



You want to cut a circle about 2" wider than your tire. 
This will make a cover that is a bit bigger than it needs to be, but is easier to get on and off.
If you'd like it tighter, you can make the circle 1" larger than your tire, but it will be tight.

Measure a piece of string 2" longer than measurement #A and fold it in half. (This is the radius of the circle you will draw)
Tie a piece of chalk to both points.
I don't cut the string, so I can adjust it as much as I need to. It usually takes a few tries to get it where I want it.

Using two pieces of chalk hold one end of the string to the center and mark with the other end
Make your circle as close to the edges of the fabric as possible.

MEASURE before cutting! You will probably have to adjust it a couple times to get it the right size. It should be the diameter (A) + 2"


Now, for the piece that goes around the edges.
Cut a strip as wide as your measurement # C + 2" and as long as you can. You will probably have to sew two pieces together to get it long enough.

Your total measurement for this piece will need to be as long as the circumference, plus 6" and plus 1" for each seam you have to have.
For example, it will take about 74" to go around a 24" tire. 
So you would cut 74" + 4" and add 1" for each extra piece you need to add.

Sew the pieces together - use a flat-felled seam if possible.

Measure Piece "2" - make a hem at each end so that it is about 6" longer than 


It's easiest to fold the long piece into fourths and mark it. Remember to allow for the overlap. (In other words, overlap the extra fabric, then fold in in fourths)
Then fold the circle in half and half again (into quarters) and mark those. Line up the marks on the long piece with the marks on the circles to keep it lined up right. If you have sewing experience, you know what I mean. If you don't, write me and I'll explain it better :)

Sew Piece "2" to Piece "1" using 1/2" seam. Don't clip the edges, it will lay flat on the tire, and the clips make the seam weaker. You can do this, just finagle the fabric around until it works. I think it is easiest with the circle on top. But I could be wrong LOL

If you have problems with the plastic sticking to the sewing machine, use a little bit of corn starch rubbed on the seam area, or lay tissue paper down.

Overlap the edge where it meets. This will form a gap that will allow any water to drain out of the cover. 

Before sewing the casing, check the fit on the tire. You may need to adjust it. It's okay if it is a little loose, the elastic will pull it tight.

Turn over the edge to make a casing. If you are using the plastic backed canvas from Walmart, you do not need to finish the edge , it will not fray.  Insert shock cord or heavy cord through casing. Put over tire, put the slit on the bottom for water drainage, draw up cording, tie knot in shock cord, slipknot in non-elastic cording, so you can release it and get the tire out. Be sure to leave extra cord so it doesn't pull out of the tire when you release it.

There! Now your expensive RV tire is protected! I am thinking of making a set of these to go over the running tires, I don't like the cheap ones they sell. Are you interested in me writing a tutorial for them? Let me know in the comments section, please :)

Thanks again for visiting, now go play outside!



  1. Great tutorial, thanks so much for sharing. Need to make one for our 5th wheel spare.

  2. I make little dresses for Africa and have always used the safety pin method of inserting the elastic in the casing. Joann's had gadgets on sale and I bought my first bodkin. Oh my goodness where has this gem been my whole life (all 70 years). I agree it is the best gadget I have bought in years. Thanks for the tutorial. Super easy to understand.


Visit My Etsy Shop

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Check this out!

Join Passport America! Save Money!

Seriously, save some money! USA, LLC