So… last time I ordered fabric from ripstop by the roll to make a hammock chair, I thought of doing something else along with it. I have a nice rainfly tarp to cover my hammock but its heavy and bulky. I was hoping to improve on it.
The thing is, rainflies are expensive. Even the cheaper ones run over $75, and the Cuban Fiber tarps, look out… sure they’re light as air and fold up to nothing, but they cost over $250 and they don’t fend off punctures well.
So I figured why not try and roll my own. After all, 1 ounce calendared fabric isn’t that expensive, plus it would be a fun summer project while I’m stuck at home unable to hike.
First, I decided on a color. Why go with a single color? I’m going to have to sew it together anyway, I might as well sew together two different colors. Second, why would it have to be two pieces joined in the middle where the ridge line is? That’s where the seam always is. Why? it’s easy to make one seam vs two, but the seam is right over the ridge line, right in the middle where all the forces pulling on it are the worst. Rubbing along the ridge line, pulled from the ends attached to the trees, and pulled apart from the guy lines. No, I wanted something a little different.
So I went with red and deep purple. Red will help me be seen from the sides, but the purple I felt would help block out light directly overhead, from the moon on nights with a full moon. I chose 1 ounce hyper-d fabric, which is supposed to be pretty tough yet as light as nylon comes. I would have to treat it with silicone myself.
First I measured my hennessy hex tarp and found the length of the top line Vs. the length of the bottom line. It’s not a true Hexagon, in that all the sides are equal and all the angles are the same. Its six sided, but the two end angles are wider than normal. The ridge line section is close to 12 feet, and the bottom of the tarp was 84 inches. I decided to cut mine to 86, to provide a little room for rolling hems and finishing.
First I cleared a space and laid everything out on the floor. Scratch that, first I looked up how to make a decent seam on the thru-hiker fabric web site, and found what I needed to use is called a “felled seam”. Basically you sew two pieces together, then roll the short parts that stick out, over themselves and sew it back onto itself. It’s easier to look at the pictures and figure it out than to explain with words. I had to draw it out and label parts. Layout once, check five times, pin, check again, and sew. Because cutting off a 12 yard seam would piss anyone off.
The purple is bottom up, and the red is bottom down. I had to sew them together and then flip the purple out from under the red. Looks like a plastic garbage bag, doesn’t it? It feels and acts like one when you lay it on the floor. The slightest breeze or movement and the whole thing wants to move around.
Here I’ve sewn both red bottoms to the black top. Everything is folded bottom to bottom, and I haven’t yet rolled the outer seam onto itself, so the red looks shorter than the purple along the long edge.
How many sewing projects require Duct tape and a steel tape measure? I don’t know… In this picture I’ve finished the seams and the tarp is laid out so you can see one side. The purple on the right would be the ridge line (the piece directly over my head). The red on the left side would be near the ground. I measured in from the ends, marked everything and cut the hex shape. The Duct tape kept the fabric in one place while I cut, and the tape measure is there for the obvious reason, measuring in 30-some-odd inches in from either end. Now – on to rolling a hem around the entire perimeter, and making attachments.
I plan on making a few upgrades to my attachment and tie-out points. First, most tarps have some sort of tie-out rings, usually large plastic D’s or triangles. I chose smaller, 3/8 triangles, since the rope I’m using isn’t that big. It will be secured on the tarp with grosgrain. Rather than run a rope all the way down, I’m considering using the same grosgrain the length of the ridge line, tacked in place with the silicone waterproofing.
On the corners I will use the same guy line pockets that hennessy uses, because they are so convenient. Instead of rings for tying ropes to (which takes way too much time to set up right) I’m using line-locs. They’re little plastic things, when you pull a rope through them the rope locks, until you flip the plastic thing up, and then the rope releases. The other end of the rope will have little mitten hooks attached, for clipping to the stakes, or even better, around a bush, tree, or log, and back on the line itself.