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 ripstopbytheroll.com

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

Disclaimer !! Right after I bought all this stuff, ripstopbytheroll.com 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.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

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.

WHAT I DID.

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.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

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.

WHAT I DID:

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.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

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.

WHAT I DID:

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

How to Plan to Sew a Tarp

I have seen a lot of people post about tarps, and how to videos on the same. Few talk about planning.

I want this to as step by step and easy as I can make it for you, dear reader, so I will talk about the planning for a tarp first. This will probably be a two part post, with the next post being titled, sewing a tarp.

But since this is planning, we need to start at the beginning. With the most important factor being your budget. Figure out how much you want to spend, and this includes time. The planning for this tarp may take 15 minutes or your might still be deciding a week after reading this, and after that there is about 1-4 hours of creating time. That includes prep and sewing time. So decide what your time is worth to you. I think this is fun so I don’t care about time, but you might be different. Next determine cost. This will largely be determined by how you are buying the materials and what materials you are buying.

Cuban Fiber– I have seen a few how to videos by Sgt. Rock and some others on Cuban fiber and I can say without hesitation that it’s better to pay someone to make a tarp with this. It is usually around $18 for a half yard and you will need four yards for winter tarp, which is what I’m making. Also the tape used is strong, and is not conducive to screw-ups.

Silnylon or siliconized nylon is the most typical fabric. The problem is that it stretches when it gets really wet. It is made from nylon fabric that has been impregnated with silicone. It’s the cheapest material I’ll mention. If you decide to use it you should make what are called cat cuts (made famous by MacCat of MacCat Tarps, they allow Silnylon to be pitched taught even when wet. The fabric is the staple in light weight fabrics so you will find many shelters under two pounds use it. This Tarp, The Superfly and others from Warbonnet Outdoors are Silnylon, as well as the Gatewood Cape by Sixmoon Designs, among man others.

The newest fabric is called Silpoly and it’s claimed to be just as or more waterproof than Silnylon, lighter than Silnylon, and cheaper than Cuban Fiber. It’s more expensive than Silnylon though, so if you are going budget Silnylon is still the way to go. But it’s big selling point to me that it doesn’t stretch.

So I decided to hit up the only store where Silpoly is sold and buy four yards of it. And I found out they have templates available too, so I bought one of those as well.

Next you should decide on tie out design. Do you want rings? Beastee D Rings are popular because you can your poles in them and then making a porch is very easy.

Also line-locs are easy. You feed your line through and then just pull to tighten. It’s very simple.

I don’t want any extra weight since this will be a big tarp, and I’m also a damn of keeping the cost down, so I will just tie loops on the grosgrain and then use the tarp worms I already have from my Superfly.  Theses are good because the shock cord on them allows then to pull to keep my tarp taught, and when using an all in one suspension the tarp loosens as you get in the hammock.

So there it is. All of my components decided on. I already knew there I wanted a winter tarp with doors, as I really like having a big tarp that I can spread out in regardless of the season. But if you didn’t already know that, you should decide it before you buy your fabric, you don’t need four yards for a diamond tarp.

The G.U.H.D.S. all in one hammock suspension

I’ve been thinking a while, and it occurs to me that a unified hammock suspension system shouldn’t be that hard to make. So I am introducing the G.U.H.D.S.(Grand Unified Hammock Dangling System). And if I’m going to make it, I’m going to make it as light as possible. I am a winner.
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Notice that there is only one set of tree straps on the tree. YAY! 3 ounces for the pair. EVEN MORE YAY!!
OK. So here is how I made them.
You’ll need:
-One ten foot length of Kevlar straps from Dutch.
-One set of tarp flys, also from Dutch.
– One set of Amsteel continuous loops, or descending rings.
-One set of Dutch hooks, from Dutch.
– One set of Whoopie Hooks, also from Dutch.
– Dutch himself.
-All of it is here: dutchwaregear.com

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Start by cutting the Kevlar tree straps in half and then sewing the Dutch hooks into place on the one end of each strap. As you can see, I’ve tested this already. It holds me just fine at 226 pounds.
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Then sew the descending rings on. This was complicated, and the easiest thing to do is to sew the loop and then use a larks head to attach the descending ring.
From there attach your tarp tie out on the side of the ring that will be pointing up, and you’re whoopie sling with whoopie hook on it under the tarp tire out. If you look closely you’ll see that I have the tarp tire out bundled to the ring with a sandwich twist tie. That really helps keep stuff all together, and I do it to the tarp corner tie outs too. Free tip! No charge to you, just because I like you guys so much.
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Look at my fat fingers! And how this attached to a small tree. It really messed me up at first, I thought oh Sh!t. This is to big and I wasted all that money and my wife is going to kill me. But then, I realized I could just wrap it around twice and I felt pretty dumb. Anyway this is the strap in action.
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My other tree is way bigger. There I just loop the Amsteel through the Dutch hook. It’s not as clean as just using a smaller tree but in the back yard it’s all I have. If you find something that’s just the right size then don’t worry mon.
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Close up of the tarp in action. You could also use carabineers and Prussik knots too. With the Prussik on the strap side and the carabineer on the Prussik. Clip the carabineer into the tarp, and pull to tighten. But I like Dutch stuff, it’s light and intuitive. So you just wrap up the tarp if you’re using tarp flys. I’m assuming that if you have them you know how to use them, or that you can get to Dutch’s site and watch his how to videos. If not, hit me up and I’ll help you out.
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The whole thing. So what I have is a continuous loop on the hammock. The Whoopie Hook attaches to the loop via it’s inherent hook properties. Then you use the Whoopie sling to adjust the hammock to its 30 degree hang.

So there you have it! It’s all there and it’s all pretty light.