Posts Tagged canvas

Tutorial: Simple Canvas Dayshade for Events (with or without wings)

2 June 2014

CanvasDayshadeTutorialHere’s how to make a simple canvas sunshade that is pretty easy to set up and take down. The benefit of this particular sunshade is that it has a sloped back wall, providing protection against sun, wind, and rain. It even gives you a bit of privacy, useful for when you just want to shut out the sight that modern road behind you. You can add on optional wings for more privacy, and if you do, you can drop the front and effectively close up the space.

Dayshade Materials:

Here’s what you need to make this sunshade

  • Enough canvas to make a rectangle that is 120″ wide by 172″ long — you will need to piece lengths of canvas (use my tutorial on a felled seam to attach the lengths together) *
  • (Optional) Extra 60″ x 120″ of canvas for the privacy wings
  • Seven strong metal rings about 1″ in diameter (nine if you do the wings) — for reinforcing your hand-sewn grommets
  • Heavy cotton or linen thread and a long, strong needle — for sewing your hand-sewn grommets
  • One 2″ x 4″ x 132″ long wood ridge pole
  • Four 3″ x 3″ x 81″ long wood poles
  • Four 4″ long threaded bolts (to go into the end of your poles)
  • Seven 12″ long heavy-duty “nails” to use as tent stakes
  • Four 1/2″ cotton ropes
  • (Optional) Finials for the tops of the poles and paint for the poles/canvas (or just stain for the poles)

* Note on the canvas: If you only need sun protection, not rain protection, any outdoor-rated canvas will do. If you want your dayshade to keep the water off your head and belongings, however, you’ll need a heavy duty, water repellent 100% cotton canvas, such as 10 oz. Sunforger canvas. We do not recommend you use the canvas drop cloths from a hardware store unless you don’t mind getting wet!


Dayshade Pattern:

Here is the original plan of the various components of this sunshade (each set of gridelines represents one foot):



Dayshade Instructions:

1. Cut your canvas as show in the pattern above. You’ll likely need to join several pieces of canvas to get a 120″ width (use my tutorial on a felled seam to attach the lengths together).

2. Hem all four sides of the main dayshade. We folded over the edge twice — a simple rolled hem — and stitched it on our sewing machine. Note that not all sewing machines can handle really heavy-duty canvas, so test yours out first. I used my ’90s era Kenmore sewing machine and went slowly.

3. Add grommets in each of the four corners, plus an extra one centered on the back edge. We do not recommend the brass grommets you can buy at the craft store — they will likely rip out (been there, done that). Instead, take the time to hand-sew your grommets. Use these directions, and sandwich in the metal ring between the canvas for extra reinforcement. Here’s what our grommets look like after plenty of use. Not pretty, but works great.


4. Cut your four poles to 81″ long and screw in a bolt to each end, making sure about 2″ of the bolt is sticking up. Make sure the bolt is small enough to easily go into your grommets made in step 3.

5. Cut your ridge pole to size (132″ long) and drill 1/2″ diameter holes roughly 6″ in on either side. Make sure your holes are large enough to allow the bolts inserted in step 4 to pass through.

6. If you want the optional privacy wings (we have not added ours yet), attach the longest side to the sides of the back sides of the day shade (use a flat fell seam again) and add grommets to the outer corners so you can stake them down or tie them to your poles.

7. If you want finials, find something appropriate at your local hardware store (or make something), drill a hole in the bottom that fits the end of your bolt, and stain/paint to look the way you want. Here’s one of our finials:


That’s pretty much it!


Dayshade Setup:

1. Lay the dayshade on the ground, positioning the back edge where you want it to be.

2. Stake the back edge of the dayshade to the ground using the 12″ nails (or real iron tent stakes, if you have them).

3. Fold the front edge of the dayshade back, put the ridge pole on the ground in about the spot you want it, then fold the dayshade back over the ridge pole (it’s all still flat on the ground at this point).

4. Position the four poles on the ground around the corners of the dayshade.

5. Take a pole, insert it’s top bolt through the hole at the end of the ridge pole, then through the grommet in your canvas — stand it up, hook/tie a rope around the top, and stake it down. Repeat with the pole on the other side of the ridge pole. (We do this as a team — it’s much easier with two people.)

6. Insert the two front poles, attach the rope, and stake them down.

7. If you made finials, just put them over the top of your bolts in your poles (they stay on by gravity).

8. If you attached privacy wings, either tie the sides to the poles or stake the edges down through the grommets you added to each corner.

We use this sunshade at day-trip events — it sets up in about 10-15 minutes, and comes down in less time.

Here are some photos of the dayshade at events:

dayshade-red-dragon2 dayshade-red-dragon dayshadefront dayshadeback

We still plan to attach the wings, but as we have not yet, be aware that our pattern may not be perfect — we haven’t yet tested the wings. Looking at the angle of the dayshade when it is set up, it looks a bit more angled than we allowed for in our pattern. Yet that angle in the pattern should be correct, based on our calculations of the length of the top and back. So keep this in mind and your mileage may vary!

We have plans to pain the back of our dayshade since it provides such a nice big, blank canvas — we’re thinking something like this:


This is the heraldic shield on the back of Gregor’s cart and it incorporates the personal heraldry of our family, plus the German double-headed eagle. We shall see if we manage to do that!

If you have questions about the dayshade, please post here and we’ll do our best to help!

How to Sew a Flat-Felled Seam (Making a Shade Canopy)

22 June 2011

To make our shade canopy, I needed to join two large 9′ x 12′ pieces of heavy canvas together. My research indicated a “flat-felled” seam would be the strongest for this type of sewing. The idea behind it is that it makes the join stronger  because two lines of stitches get run through each piece of fabric (plus it hides the raw edges to prevent them from unraveling). It took a while to wrap my head around how to do this seam, so once I figured it out, I took photos of each step. Here’s how to do a flat-felled seam:

1. Place your two pieces of fabric (right sides together), but allow the bottom piece to stick out 1/2″ longer than the top piece. Stitch the two pieces together 1″ from the bottom piece (1/2″ from the top piece), as shown below:

Lay two pieces of fabric together, with the bottom extending out by 1/2" inch, and sew a line of stitching 1" in from the edge.


2. Flip the bottom piece out from under so the seam is lying flat, like this:

Flip the bottom piece out from under the top piece and lay flat


3. Lay the longer flap of the bottom piece over the shorter flap of the top piece, like this:

Lay the longer flap over the shorter flap


4. Now fold the longer flap over the shorter flap, and press flat, like this:


Fold the longer flap over the shorter flap


5. Sew a line to stitching to hold down the flap, like this:

Sewing the flap down


This is what the flat-felled seam looks like when finished:

A flat-felled seam

By the way, if you’re working with huge pieces of canvas as I am, you’ll find it difficult to maneuver all that material. So what I did was rolled up one edge of the canvas so it would fit into the sewing machine, and it worked very well. Here’s how I did it, in case it helps anyone else who is attempting to sew canvas with a regular, home sewing machine:

Roll or fold up one side of your material to sew the seam


By the way, I used a size 18 needle and extra-strength thread, and adjusted the tension on my sewing machine a bit, and it worked like a charm. No broken needles!

A Shade Fly for Pennsic: Ideas and Links

17 June 2011

Among my wish list for Pennsic is a shade fly to put out in front of the pavilion. What is a shade fly? Basically, a shade fly is a piece of canvas that is suspended with wood and ropes to provide a shaded area. I want one because I know I’ll prefer to spend my time outside (it’s supposed to be hot at Pennsic!) but I’m super sun-sensitive, so I need shade. A shade fly is my answer.

First, I checked to see how much a shade fly would cost from one of the pavilion suppliers. Panther Primitives wants $203 for a 14′ x 14′ fly made with 10 oz. Sunforger (cheapest option) — and that’s without poles/ropes, which are $174 extra. Plus shipping costs on top of that, so I’d be looking at $450 or even $500.

Second, I looked at how much it would cost to buy Sunforger canvas by the yard to construct it myself. I found 36″ wide 10 oz. Sunforger canvas for $6.25 yard. Since I wanted at least a 12′ x 15′ shade fly, that would be $125 + shipping for 20 yards of 10 oz. Sunforger. Still a little more than I want to pay right now. Perhaps in the future when I feel more secure in my fly/tent-making skills.

Third, I checked out alternate canvas sources. Joann’s has outdoor canvas for $20/yard — too expensive! Cotton duck canvas is $13/yard  — still too much. Even cotton twill is $5 yard, and I don’t know how well that would even work. Looking around online, I see people have had success with heavy-duty painter’s canvas drop cloths. Lowe’s has  9′ x 12′ 10 oz. cotton canvas drop cloths for $20. They aren’t “boat shrunk” like the Sunforger stuff, but I could pre-shrink them by washing them several times in hot water. And two put together — after sewing edges and reinforcing the center — would give me a shade fly of about 11′ x 16′.

So, after thinking about it quite a lot, I decided to get the drop cloths. They’re in the washing mashine now, shrinking, before I begin sewing. While I was at Lowe’s, I also got a 2″ x 4″ x 12′ ridge pole, some 2″ x 2″ x 8′ poles (8), lag screws (8), 10″ steel nails (10), and rope.

But now that I have it all, I realize I don’t see how I’m going to put this shade fly up by myself! I’m strong, but not that tall … and this is tall and big. I think I’m going to need to sew the fly (including grommets), attache the lag screws to the tops of the poles, and then wait for Gregor to come in July before we assemble and test it. He’s tall — he can help!

Here’s my inspiration for my shade fly, and about what I want it to look like:

A Simple Shade Fly

In the meantime, here are some useful links about shade fly construction:

Tent Information/Research (this is the main inspiration for my shade fly — post is about 1/2 way down by asbrand)

Shade Fly 101 by Maestra Giovanna

Shade Fly by Adventures of a Wanna-Be Seamstress