This is both my first instructable and sewing project, so this probably won't be pretty. The goal here is to create a two person hammock, but the process could be applied to any hammock. This will be a three panel hammock due to width of material. The sewing is not too difficult for beginners, but if you have never used a machine before I suggest enlisting a helper, preferably with experience. I am not responsible for an injury resulting from this guide, your safety should always come first.
Step 1: Materials
Nylon (fabric)- roughly 3.5 yards, but you can measure and change the length to need. (Im 6'2, 185lbs)
Rope or webbing for tree straps
Sharp scissors (the sharper the better)
Sewing machine (or do it by hand, but I wanted mine this decade)
Carabiner or s hooks rated for heavy duty or similar
Heavy duty thread (upholstery, outdoor, carpet etc.) (if you have no clue what I mean google it or go to a local fabric store)
Washable glue sticks, masking tape, or many many sewing pins. (to connect the different panels when sewing and help with hemming)
I am using 1.9 oz Ripstop Nylon, which should hold between 300 and 450 pounds. There are other material possibilities (I believe my Grand Trunk Ultralight is polyester taffeta) but I wanted mine to be very solid. The nylon should not stretch, and is well tested in sails and parachutes.
I am also using a 9mm poly rope from a local outfitters, when researching rope make sure you look for the working load. I have two sections of three feet, but two sections of two feet would also probably work. This will be used to connect the fabric to the suspension system.
I am using two wire gate carabiners from the same outfitter that are rated for 22kN horizontal. MAKE SURE YOU USE PROPER SUSPENSION PARTS OR YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF. Its never fun to have weak parts shatter or bend and drop you.
Step 2: Connecting Panels
I am using a full flat felled seam to connect my panels because it hides the raw edges of the fabric as doesn't take away from the fabric strength. I ordered all my fabric and thread from http://ripstopbytheroll.com/ and it seems to be high quality. To connect the panels, I used three stitches (for both panels, so six total). Make sure your machine is set properly for your fabric and thread. The type of stitch should stretch with the material, as mine doesn't stretch under load, my stitch doesn't really matter. I am not good at sewing, so find someone who is or use youtube to learn how to set up your machine correctly. The seams do not have to be pretty, just complete. Dont forget to back stitch the ends of each seam.
First I glued the two panels together, overlapping about half an inch. It helps to actually measure and mark this. I used glue sticks to avoid sewing over pins or tape. Leaving tape in the seam will make the hammock hard to pack in a stuff sack, and tearing it out weakens the thread and stitch. I then ran a straight stitch down the middle of the over lap, to make the following two stitches easier. Next, I folded a z around the overlap, such that the original overlap was in the middle and all the rough edges were hidden. For more clarification, search Youtube. There are several helpful guides. This is the one I used https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BvIr1mNYiE . It is the third stitch shown. Repeat this for the other side panel. When you finish you should have three panels sewn into one large sheet, roughly the size of the finished product.
Step 3: Hemming
Make sure to hide all the rough edges of the fabric to prevent unraveling. Fold the rough edge over twice (see picture) and stitch once on the long sides. These stitches wont be holding much weight, so one stitch will do. Again I used glue sticks to hold it in place while I stitched it together. (when you wash it, the glue goes away!).
The short ends are a little different. (Pic 2)
The rope channels need to be a couple inches wide, so hem the short sides as you did the long ones, then fold them down so that there are three inches of overlap. Stitch the edge into You will want the original hemming stitch followed by two more stitches about 1/4" apart to secure the channel. After the rope channels are sewn, you are ready to add rope.
Step 4: Rope
Push the rope through the channel and tie a knot to secure the rope in place. To help push the rope through you can use a pipe slightly smaller than the rope. Fix the end of the rope to the inside of the pipe, then pull the pipe through. This could also work with smaller rope or a rod. Make sure the knot is load bearing (either google or testing (I used old five gallon paint buckets to test light loads and then my body weight)). Then attach your suspension system. I am using carabiners, but other hammocks have s hooks or chain quicklinks. If in doubt, google climbing knots, they are very strong.
As a note, be tree friendly. Damaging bark or limbs can kill a tree, so make sure to use thick rope (or better webbing) for your tree straps.
An excellent alternative to rope is climbing slings. These are usually under $5 and very strong and in many colors and designs! Run one side of the loop through the channel, then back through itself. That simple.
The suspension system I use is 11mm rope, towing straps from lowes, some steel rings, and some carabiners (load bearing, make sure they are rated). Its a little complicated, but it means I can adjust the height of the hammock easily and that I dont have to tie knots.
Step 5: Optional Stuff Sack
Many hammocks have attached stuff sacks, and this is very helpful and simple to add.
You will need to find scrap material, Ripstop has a DIY box that is very nice. I have leftover material from my original order, because I could only order in full yards. (long story short a friends and I both made hammocks and split the accent panels to avoid waste) So I have half a yard by about two feet, which is more than enough. Size the sack so that the hammock and tree straps can fit in the same bag. Cut two rectangles the same size and place them outside face to outside face. Add a short rope channel for a draw cord, using the same process as before. Sew a seam along three sides. Remember to keep as many rough edges and seams hidden as possible, it'll help everything last longer. Stitch the sack onto the side of the hammock, then run the draw cord through the channels. You could use a slip knot or cord pull to tighten the draw string.
Now go hang it!
Final notes. I made this last summer, and have since used it very often. Triple check that all seam ends are properly finished, and keep the nylon fabric away from heat, it burns easily. Ripstop nylon is unaffected by holes, but I have a couple from poorly placed camp stoves.