I made this sun shade from an old used sail that I picked up free at a local sail shop last year. I designed it so it could easily be put up or taken down as needed.
Step 1: Pick a Location
The Morning Deck, as we call it, is great in the morning. It is a perfect spot to sit and drink a hot cup of coffee on a cool morning and watch the kids play on the driveway and the swingset. After noon however, this beautiful spot is beaten within inches of life by the sun, making it unbearable to sit and enjoy for very long. I had seen sunsails for sale in various catalogs and found some online, but none of them really looked fantastic and the best looking were more expensive than I was willing entertain. My wife had seen a blog where someone made a tote bag out of an old sail that she had picked up for cheap (or free, i can't remember) at her local sailing shop. If they could get an old sail for cheap then why couldn't I? The seed was planted.
Step 2: Get a Sail
A coworker of mine knew of a good sail shop in town so I gave them a call. I asked if they had any old sails they would be willing to part with and how much they would cost. They asked me what size I was looking for and threw out a couple terms I did not recognize. I told them I was looking for a sail whose long side was 12 feet or so. I'm not sure exactly how big the sail I got was, but it was free and the perfect size for my space. I included a diagram I got from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parts_of_a_sail.svg so you can have some terms on hand for a better communication experience than I had. They were super nice once we were talking about the same thing. I was hoping for a sail with some color or numbers printed on it but no luck, maybe next year.