Step 2: Mock-up, Measurements
'1.)' Gather up your best dream-tent doodle, some sleeping bags, backpacks, other camping crap if you think it'll help, get a tape measure, a framing square, your future tent poles and pegs or some sticks of some kind, and get a couple hundred feet of strong string or parachute cord and head for the park or yard. (You may also need newspapers, tape, and scissors, SEE BELOW, 3b1).
2.) Choose your favorite design, and build a full-scale, 3-D string model of it using all of the stuff above. This is way better than simply calculating b/c it'll really give you a sense of what you're going to get.
a.) Lay out your sleeping bags and backpack and whatnot on the ground. Imagine that you're lying inside of your fantasy tent, changing, sitting in your camp chair, playing chess, throwing gear around, or whatever it is you aspire to do inside of it, then poke four pegs into the ground to mark out the rough shape of the tent floor's four corners. Tie some string between the four corner pegs and then re-assess your dimensions...adjusting as necessary.
b.) when you're satisfied that you have enough room to do what you'll want to do in your tent, measure the distances between the pegs along one side, and along the back, and round them up to the nearest whole number.
c.) Now, using the framing square and tape measure, re-lay the floor according to these rounded figures, making the paralell sides exactly the same length so as to form a perfect box or rectangle. Measure from corner to corner to get this box or rectangle perfectly squared (the distance between corners should be the same if it's squared.)
d.) Now put up the tent poles where you'll want them, using cords and stakes to hold them in place. Adjust the cords until the shape, height, etc. of your tent starts to seem right.
I don't have photos of my mock-up, but it looked exactly like the 3-D drawing below (with the angry cloud).
If you're designing your own tent, just spend some time playing house--sitting up, crawling in and out of, moving your hiking gear around inside of your imaginary tent, while adjusting the dimensions to your liking. Neighbors, passers-by will love watching this step. A random cat came over and "helped" with this step when I did mine...
3.) Now you have two options:
a.) When your ghost tent is up, your strings are all adjusted, and you love what you've got, take all the measurements for the tent off of your mock-up and transfer them to your drawing...redo the drawing first if you need to. See my diagrams below.
b.) OR, if you don't own a tape measure, forget the measuring altogether and just make some patterns. Here's how:
1.) tape together sheets of newspaper into larger sheets(or use some saranwrap or cheapazoid plastic drop cloths,) then tape/attach them to the strings to form panels where the cloth will be.
2.) Cut these out along the strings, and label them if you need to. A dome tent would be easier to make this way, unless you're a math gal with computer skills and some sort of drawing program.
Since I didn't do patterns for the Great Tent, I don't have pictures of how to do it, but I've done this for other projects and it's simple. Just be confident and it'll work out.
Measurements are probably the best way to go for a boxy tent, but if I ever make a dome tent, or something wacky I'll probably use patterns.
4.) The Fly:
a.) FOR THE MATH INHIBITED: don't bother measuring for the fly--we'll make it our way later. Just set aside a lot of cloth for it. DO NOT use my fly measurements below if you're copying this design; they're wrong.
b.) People with math skills: you'll be able to figger out what-all you need to do at this point in terms of the fly.
5.) doors and windows:
I just guesstimated these. See drawings for details. If You're making the Pretty Great Tent, measure what looks like a good door width for you, decide what shape you'd like it to be, and pencil them into your drawing with your measurements. Just be sure to leave 4 inches of cloth around the side and tops of the doors and windows for durability (see below for details).