How to Sew a tarp

So this post is going to be in a this is what I did, this is what you should do format. Before you ask, yes I messed it up.

What you will need:

Cutting board:I really like my Fiskers.

Circular cutter: Fiskers again.

Material: I got 10 yards of 1.1 Silpoly from Here

Tie out anchor: I use .5 inch Polypro.

Tie out:I use TarpWorms.

Guy line: This is good stuff. You might need two sets depending on how long you want these to be.

Thread:Gutermann Mara 700 is good and should come with an order from

Pattern: You don’t need this, but it’s cheap and very helpful.

Disclaimer !! Right after I bought all this stuff, started to offer pre-cut tarp kits. It would have saved me some heartache, but been  little bit more.

When I got this I immediately opened and spread out the pattern.Diy-TarpIt’s huge. Hidden under there are a queen size bed and a wife. It also has gauges on the bottom to help with the cat cuts that aren’t 100% necessary with Silpoly for stretch, but are if you want a consistently taught pitch. Cut it out on a large open area. I used my cutting mat and circular cutter on my bed. I just made sure to keep the mat under my cutter.


Realize that this pattern is a quarter pattern. It doesn’t say it is on ripstop’s site and looking, it’s obvious. So fold your material in half. You should end up with two 5 yard sections, cut them out. Then fold each of those 5 yard sections in half, pin the pattern to the fabric and cut out the tarp. Repeat for the other piece.


Fail to realize that it is a quarter pattern even though it’s obvious. Fold the ten yards in half and then cut out the pattern. Leaving me with one five yard piece, and two 2.5 yard pieces.

Pin the template to the fabric so it doesn’t move around as you cut it.


Hem the edges at this point. If you sew the two pieces together now you’re going to loose strength. After hemming, sew the two pieces together on the long straight edge to form the tarp. If you want some extra strength, sew some Grosgrain over the two edges.


Sew the pieces together. Realize what I did. Swear. Say F@#k it. Start hemming. Break the needle on the crappy sewing machine I’ve had for years. Get frustrated and call my cool Aunt to see if I can use her super nice Bernina machine. She ends up sewing the rest.


At this point you have the edges hemmed, the Ridgeline sewed, and all you need to do is to put on the tie out points. For this I used 2 inches of the 1.5 inch Grosgrain and the same length of the .5 inch polypro. Sew the poly pro onto the corner of each tie out. Then wrap the corner with the Grosgrain and sew it on along the edges. It’s important to remind you to sew the reinforcing stitches along the polypro once the Grosgrain is on and not before. This put the tension on the Grosgrain, then the cat cuts of the tarp, which is what you want. Then seam seal with this silnet sealer.


I had my Aunt sew it. But I bought a new machine.

The Ultimate Chaffing Guide

I don’t know about you fine readers, but I chafe. I also read a lot. I really like the forum WhiteBlaze where I got the idea to do this article. The post I’m posting about is also called the Ultimate Chaffing Guide, and was written in 2011 by a guy with a great handle, Tolkien. It covers some basic info and then goes into a little more depth around the different anti-microbial (I mean the stuff used to cleanse) things to use. If you want to read it, I recommend it.

I also chafe and in some pretty sensitive areas. especially on ling mile days. What first got it started was a hike through the Flowers Trail in the Roosevelt National Forest of Colorado. We (Josh, Aspen and I) had it planned out to take Hourglass trail up to FT 941, then that north to the Flowers trail to see the downed B-1 bomber. We got up to the junction of FT 941 and Flowers, about 12 miles, and then stopped for the night. The next day we had planned to walk another 10-12 miles to the junction of FT 855 and FT 1009. But because certain people didn’t want to stop and sleep on the ground again, we did the whole 18 miles that day. I was chaffing so bad I was bleeding.  It was a bad time. From there I decided that I needed to have a chaffing plan.

Not a good plan….

The first thing I do is make sure I hike in a pair of boxer briefs, this pair is my favorite, even though they are expensive. They have a great little pouch that keeps everything together and nothing gets stuck to anything. Also my thighs chafe from rubbing. Any good pair of boxer briefs will keep that from happening, but these don’t ride up in my experience. But I still chafe in another area, and it’s harder to take care of.

Morning of the first day.

On the morning of the first day I make sure to put some type of chafing balm on my problem area before I leave for the trail. I also clean the area first with hydrogen peroxide. Alcohol, or hand sanitizer will work as well but they burn. As Tolkien says, you shouldn’t use alcohol on any kids chaffing as they will probably react poorly.  Iodine also works but from what I hear burns even more than alcohol.

Mid- day:

You should check and make sure you aren’t getting red if you can see the chaffing part, if it is, and you can put leuko tape, or duct tape on it to stop the friction it might be worthwhile. I wouldn’t recommend it on any hairy parts though. Toes and such are fine for this though and it’s the reason I wrap part of my hiking pole in duct tape.

Before Bed:

This is when you should take the time to really care for your problem areas. Clean them thoroughly with either some Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap, or some baby wipes if there is no water. It doesn’t have to be peppermint soap but I really like the peppermint, it feels soothing in a stingy way. Then allow the area to dry and possibly treat it with some drying agent like Goldbond Powder.

Common Sense:

If something like your pack belt is chaffing you, and adjustment doesn’t work, put something between you and it. Spare pieces of Tyvek with duct tape securing it in place does this well.


If it’s chaffing:

1. Clean the area and maintain it.

2. Put a buffer layer between you and the item.

3. Wear proper clothing.

Backpack DIY Source Compendium

I am planning to sew a backpack as well, and I am frankly intimidated the undertaking. However, I’ve never let the possibility of me screwing up stop me from doing much. So I am making a Compendium of DIY guides on sewing backpacks. To help me, and others.

YouTube finds:

Dave xtrekker, VERY THROUGH.

Part 1,  Part 2 Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7. Watch part 7 for final product, it’s nice and huge.

TrailForTwo, made with Cuban fiber, but the principles are the same.

Cuban Backpack

Northwest Backpacker, it’s a sped up tutorial so be ready to pause the video.

Ultralight Backpack


Around the Web:





The Epic G4 –– this will cost around $10 for the pattern with shipping.

Here is the pattern for free though. –

Mountain UltraLight Cuban Fiber Pack – This is a Great looking pack made from 1 yard of Cuban:

Lifehacker’s very through instruction on making a everyday pack, it’s good but it’s a better book bag. –