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).
i followed your tips and im proud to say that i have been living in this tent for 3 months now. if my parents could see me now. last night i ate wild onions and dog meat for dinner.
where are you camping and how do you have internet access?
<p>Probably by a river in some city near a coffee shop...</p>
<p>dog meat?</p>
This is one of my favorite responses, and I'm glad to have played some small part in the realization of this Dream.&nbsp; <br />
<p>this is a great 'ible and my mind is reeling. The is pretty cheap on e-Bay and so is the mosquito netting, has anyone considering rather than dealing with zippers maybe using Velcro?</p>
<p>You are so entertaining! Great fun, useful and instructive instructable...fantastic!</p>
<p>Awesome.... </p><p>Repurposing is always awesome. Love the detail you put into this.</p>
<p>I am a stupid person with my hands but I think some of my ideas are not too bad... ANYWAY: do you think that you could make a tent that you could flip over on so that you could use it as a kind of cot? I thought about having the cot frame be the tent frame and the cot surface be the tent itself. You could set up the cot to lie around in the sunshine in the daytime (or sleep under the stars at night) and just flip it over and have the cot surface kind of fold out to cover the frame and make a tent.</p>
<p>I don't argue with my S.O. over such things as tent guy lines, I let him have his day in the sun on the little stuff. </p>
<p>Until now I have resisted an account here... already too too much mail in my box. But I wanted to comment about your tent adventure and thus took the plunge. Great narrative and exciting re-use of found tent and materials. The recipe for waterproofing sealer DIY spray was secondary in the push to be able to comment. That might be immediately useful to me. Thank you for sharing. I don't think I will be making my own but I enjoyed your adventure and tackling and encouraging sewing as a no-gender excluded oh so very useful skill set. Thanks a million for my a.m. coffee mug entertainment.</p>
Epic and a fun read too. Thanks.
<p>this is a great 'ible and my mind is reeling. The is pretty cheap on e-Bay and so is the mosquito netting, has anyone considering rather than dealing with zippers maybe using Velcro?</p>
Crayfish to a discarded toaster?! Can you elaborate on that?!
Why are you sitting on a table?
<p>If you have estate auctions in your area, then try there to get a good deal on a good quality sewing machine. I picked up a Pfaff portable complete all the feet and spindles for $75. I see good quality sewing machines come up at the auction a quite a few times a year and even some big commercial machines. I am going to have to try your seam sealer formula. </p>
Wow, for a beginner you actually did quite an amazing sewing job!!! I've been sewing for years, and I'm sure my attempts at constructing a tent would not be noticeably neater! <br><br>I commend you on your spelling as well....rarely do I read an 'ible that has so few spelling errors. It made my reading very pleasurable. Your attention to detail in making your tent AND delivering your instructable is greatly appreciated!
<p>+1 I agree!</p>
Where did you find that huge tent so cheep?
thats so cool! <br>
Great Instructable! The write up was immensely entertaining as well.
I have been trying to find someone to make me a lean-to with a screened in front for a long time, I have been using big plastic tarps but they just don't do what I want them to. Now I guess I'll make it myself. Surprised I didn't think of this before.&nbsp; As far as the sewing machines go, I have to say that my mother has a Singer and has had lots of problems with it. I bought a Brother machine (that's right, my own machine, single men need things sewn too), and have never had any problems with it. Have made a couple small bags for water bottle and camp cooking stuff (besides patches on my jeans), have sewn web straps on jean material without any problems, guess they are not all that bad.&nbsp; I would also like to know whats the weight on your almost perfect tent. Might be a project for after the lean-to.<br />
I agree that we should stop gendering tools and activities--masculinity as it's been imagined and practiced falls squarely into the spectrum of hilarious-to-pathetic at this point.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I also find myself disillusioned with the Romance of the Tarp.&nbsp; Bugs and animals crawl on your face at night, and I&nbsp;don't feel protected against monsters and Satan the way I do in a nice, enclosed, candle-lit tent. * <br /> <br /> Surely there's a comfortable mean between super-equipped 1960s Man Scout-style camping (canvas everything, Axe-n-saw for erecting a semi-permanant cabin, chairs, table, spruce-bough bed, etc. from the abundant &quot;saplings&quot; that are always supposed to be around in an inexhaustable supply), and the self-sacrificially-macho Ultralight thing where you &quot;Toughen Up&quot; and swing superiorly down the trail like Tarzan wearing nothing but a loincloth made out of beef jerky that supposedly doubles as raingear, tent, first aid kit, and food source.&nbsp; A nice lean-to for example.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I think I put the weight down here somewhere, but offhand, I think it was 4.4lbs.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> And yeah--a brand name doesn't gaurantee anything one way or the other.<br /> <br /> *Note to the over-helpful reader who is now itching to assert his greater knowledge and experience and importance in the world of manly pursuits by chiding me for using a candle in a tent: save it please. <br />
&quot;I also find myself disillusioned with the Romance of the Tarp. Bugs and animals crawl on your face at night, and I don't feel protected against monsters and Satan the way I do in a nice, enclosed, candle-lit tent.&quot; <br> <br>I love that! My sentiments exactly! :oD <br> <br>Nice instructable! Thanks.
personally i prefer using cyclone lanterns. Kerosene is pretty cheap and you don't get wax everywhere
Hey, you found real nylon thread! kudos! I'm looking for this stuff. <br /> <br />My dad picked up the end of the huge sppols from the industrial sewing machines that made seat belts and safety harnesses. Brilliant stuff, and whatever you are sewing will break long before the thread will!
nicely done, the siicon stuff where do you get it out in the real world. ?
I think he's talking about 100% silicone caulking from the home improvement store. It comes in tubes and is applied with a &quot;calk gun&quot; a kind of clamp like thing that pushes a plunger up the tube and squeezes out the contents through a hole in the tip of the tube. <br>From the description sounds like he's making his own silicone paint with the mineral spirits as the solvent vehicle. <br>Spray it on, the spirits evaporate leaving behind silicone impregnated cloth. <br>Clever
Yes that is what i thought. Bought multitubes of silicon caulking and mixed with the mineral spirits, use cheap garden sprayer and sprayed it on my canvas. I used it, and it only sprinkled but no drops inside noted. Still the real test awaits in a thunderstorm...lol
I actually like this. Be surprised. <br> <br>I'm more of a solo tent kind of guy, and see some promise in the tent displayed in pic #4 and 5.
wow! your tent design is very close to what i imagined would be the perfect tent for me. you made it really easy to understand the construction process. thanks for all the excellent tips and instructions. hope my tent turns out as sweet as yours!
Whenever I see the thumbnail for this Instructable, I think you are laying on some invisible wall or falling backward. The stool you are leaning back on just blends in with the ground.
i thinks it's called a baker tent. i made one years ago using coated ripstop nylon sail material. very light weight &amp; strong. worked well on the Appalation (spelling ) trail in Feb.
Cool tent.<br> &quot; &quot; Instructable.<br> &quot; &quot; Author.
This is by far the best DIY project I have ever found. Thanks a million for all your hard work sharing it with the planet! You Rock!!
Brillant! I think I'll make this my winter project! Love the discription of cons of guy lines...will completely hold true with my friends :) Cheers!
This is absolutely amazing. I especially like the design, it looks like the legendary 'campfire' tent that Bill Mason loved so much. I have never seem one in nylon, maybe I will try one too :)
I was thinking the same thing. Looks like Bill Mason's classic tent.<br><br>Great job on making something so usable. Might do this myself.
World class!<br><br>I've tried most all tents from lean-to to canoe fly to Baker, tube and beyond. <br><br>This is the most reasoned and proven approach I've seen.<br><br>Camo fabric is available online:<br><br>E.G. http://www.lurasfabricshop.com/fabric-choices/camouflage.html<br><br>Now I need a temptress; oops seamstress (first.)
This looks like a pretty great tent! Where were you able to find ripstop nylon in widths greater than 60&quot; ? I've been unable to source anything larger than that.<br>
hmm, I don't know if I did. Maybe see the sections on patching together the panels out of multiple scraps of materials?
Harbor Freight Tools sells green farm tarps so you can blend in better. They may sell brown ones and, do sell silver ones for winter use. Really like your design.
After reading comments, seems It's all been said.&nbsp; Ah, sew what.&nbsp; I'll say it again.&nbsp; Great idea, design, ible and sense of humor - scratch that - sense of enjoyment.&nbsp; Most excellent.&nbsp; Thanks for sharing.<br /> <br /> Just emailed a PDF of your work to older (my out door hero) and younger brother (current multimedia guru for Gert's Co. somewhere in OR). I'd be surprised if one of them doesn't pull a couple of old tents out of the geerage up thar in the NW and make their own version of this beauty.&nbsp; Then again, this might just be the nudge I needed to finally find out if the singer passed on from my grandmother-in-law, who passed on, actually works or needs to be passed on.&nbsp; I've got an old tent and a father-in-law with more tarps, canvas, military extras and the likes to make me something I can be proud to call my home away from home.&nbsp; My only mod would be an access flap on one side about the size of a soup bowl and probably some extra waterproofing below it down to ground level.&nbsp; No sense in leaving the tent to pee.&nbsp; Course I'll have to keep it's purpose a secret until my wife sees how useful it is.&nbsp; The flap that is. She's convinced of the usefulness of... well... uh, never-mind.<br /> <br /> I do have one question.&nbsp; Did you marry that gal that proposed in her comment?<br />
Nice!--I always wondered about a urinal hole, but was afraid to try it.<br /> <br /> And, though I wish I could pass on a story about connecting with a now-wife through this, and then write it up for The Reader's Digest with an uplifting and &quot;deeply human&quot; message of Hope, I figured she was referring to my far more photogenic brother, the model in the photos...<br />
I was delighted with your sequence and persistence!<br /> You have surpassed any recommendations about tailoring and manufacturing of tent with a canopy!
Good job! I used to use &quot;Baker&quot; style tents and home made lean-to's in the scouts when I was a kid and was lamenting that no one made a backpackers Baker tent. Well now I can make one for myself! I'm going on a motorcycle road trip this summer with my cousin and some friends. I may have to see if I can bash one of these together in time&nbsp;. It would be nice to have a porch for the Harley when its a wet camp. <br /> <br /> You are an inspiration to us all my friend.
A very cool instructable. Love the star gazing feature and really well written. You should write articles for travel/camping magazines (if you don't already)!!! I admire the recycling and design your dream tent aspects too.&nbsp;
1. This has to be the best tent design I've seen, and it's certainly one of the best (most comprehensive, informative, well-written, etc.) instructables I've ever read. <br /> <br /> 2. One suggestion: you mentioned in another comment that you used a candle in the tent. Maybe a small vent at the top would help (like a chimney).<br /> <br /> 3. Most of this page is bold. It seems you forgot to close a bold tag in step 1.<br /> <br /> :)<br /> <br />
I'm loving your facial expressions in those pictures.<br />

About This Instructable




Bio: just some fella
More by bentm:The Near-Perfect Tent: Design and Build a Recycled Tent 
Add instructable to: