Summer is almost over, but not before they surprised us here with a nice week of hot weather. The perfect conditions to take a break, look for some shade and relax in a hammock. If you have one, hmmm. Not the case. A quick search through the attic later and I got a bag of old flags and a bunch of paracord, will it work? It will look great with all those colours, the fabric feels sturdy, yet smooth and soft for a hammock, ...
How long will it be this warm? Another week, let's go for it and make this relaxing summer break opportunity with recycled flags!
A little spoiler alert: the hammock turned out perfect! Not as good as a trillium hammock of Tentsile (I would love one of those, so a vote is super welcome!), but large enough to hang with the kids in the shade or sleep comfortable in a diagonal lay. If you see any room for improvements or want to share your hammock design, please do! I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools
The material list for this project is pretty short:
- a bunch of old flags. I used advertisement flags for this project. You can probably gather some from companies or events that don't need them anymore because they are outdated (old logo, previous edition of their events, ...).
- 6 meters (20 feet) of paracord. Make sure it can hold your weight at least 5 times (I personally used the design guidelines to go for 10 times).
- a bobbin of thread, I went for white, since that is the base colour of most of my flags.
For this project you will also need:
- pen and paper to plan the sewing project
- some needles to hold the fabric together while sewing
- a tape measure
- a sewing machine.
I didn't have a sewing machine, nor experience with it, so I asked around in my neighbourhood (using a neighbour sharing app called peerby). A couple hours later I had one. The neighbour even offered to give me a short introduction on how to use it. So don't let this part of the Instructable hold you down, there is always somebody around who loves to hear what you want to make and let you borrow his or heir sewing machine.
Step 2: Make the General Sheet of Fabric From the Flags
After some research I found that the minimal dimensions of a good hammock should be at least 1.8 m by 3.2 m (approx. 70 inch by 125 inch). So I checked my stack of flags and found a possible good options to patch a double sheet of flag fabric together in this size.
The most important part of this step is to plan ahead. I numbered all my flags in my notebook and planned which seams I would do first and how I would build up the hammock sheet. In the end I went for two 1.90 m wide sheets that would allow me a bit of margin when sewing the two sheets together.
For the next part it helps to clear out the middle of your living room so that you have a large open surface to lay out your pieces of fabric like you intend to sew them. This way you are sure you put them the same way as you planned it.
To sew two sheets together, I placed them on top of each other, put in needles to connect them firmly so they won't shift or move compared to eachother and sew a zigzag line at about 1cm from the border of the fabric. The zigzag line allows a little strech in the fabric, which is needed when using it as a hammock.
When attaching the top to the bottom layer of fabric, make sure that all the seams are on the outside. After stiching the two pieces together, turn the fabric inside out and you have nice and clean seams.
Step 3: Make Mounting Loops
We are almost finished with strugling with the large sheets of fabric. Hold on tight. We will need two mounting loops at the end of the hammock to tie the hammock together and afterwards in the tree. Repeat the following steps on each side:
- fold over 2 cm on the end of the hammock sheet (both layers)
- fold over 8 cm and pin the fabric in the border where you now have 6 layers of fabric (two folds and the original 2 layers from the hammock sheet)
- sew it together with a zigzag stitch, you now have a 4 cm wide channel for your paracord to go through.
- take your long piece of paracord and put it into the chanel
- pull it tight and leave about 10cm of paracord on each side
- cut off the paracord and melt the ends to prevent fraying
- knot it together using a flat knot (google it or check the pictures in this step)
- pull the knot tight and turn the loop so that the knot is positioned inside the fabric, this helps when hanging the hammock
You can now take your hammock outside :-) Luckily it was still nice and sunny and I didn't miss the good weather by sitting inside and sewing my hammock.
Step 4: Hang the Hammock
I knew I had a goot spot in my garden to hang the hammock, but in case you are wondering: you will need a spot with two strong mounting points (thick branches, a strong tree, ...) at about 1.6m above ground that are approx. 4m away from eachother. A little bit shorter might work, a little bit longer as well, but you will probably need more paracord then.
So you found the ultimate spot to relax, hang, sway a little bit with the hammock. Good, it is time to take the leftover paracord and make two cords of about 2.5m (this gives you a little bit of extra length if you find a spot in the future where you need that extra 0.5m). Again, melt the ends to prevent fraying.
Follow the pictures in this step to make a strong connection to the three/pole/...
- fold the cord in half and loop it around the tree
- pull the two ends through the loop and take them to the loop on your hammock.
- go through that loop from above and fold it under the left side
- enter the loop again from above and fold it over the under the right side
- enter the loop from above and come up between the crossing you just made
- pull tight on the hammock and ropes.
Before adding the knot on the other side: pull the hammock tight so your bottom won't touch the ground.
The first time you will sit in the hammock when you made these connections it will make a sound, that's the knots pulling tight. Don't worry, but sit down gently. If you are not sure if you made the knots correctly, tie the hammock a little bit closer to the ground so the *boink* on the ground won't be that hard.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Sit down on the hammock, take of your shoes and lean backwards. I get the most comfortable hang from this hammock to lay a bit diagonal, by putting my feet against one side and my head against the other, about 45 degrees of the line between the two mounting points.
Or have your kids in them, bouncing and swinging. The flag material has proven strong enough to hold me and my son playing in the hammock. Take a book, fold over the sides of the hammock and disappear from the world for a while. Foster those last hours of summer. Just enjoy!
Step 6: Bonus: Make a Stuffbag From an Old T-shirt and a Short Piece of Paracord
Having a hammock in your garden is heavenly. But someway or another summer will end. Or you want to hang somewhere else. So after two days of hanging in the garden it was time to make a sack to stuff the hammock and the cords in. Nothing fancy and keeping up with the recycle theme of the flags I decided to make one out of an old T-shirt.
Materials: 1 old T-shirt, 50cm of paracord, some thread on a bobbin.
Tools: sewing machine, scissors
- turn the T-shirt inside out and sew the bottom of it completly closed.
- sew the two sleeves untill your about 0.5cm from the top.
- turn the t-shirt back through the neck opening.
- thread the paracord through the two small openings in the sleeves and make a knot on each side to prevent it from being pulled through again.
- stuff the hammock and the two pieces of paracord in the t-shirt bag and tie it.
- Find your next hammocking spot and continue to enjoy the summer!
The good news: there is still some room in the bag to add a good book or some drinks and snacks, so you are fully equiped to hang around.