Introduction: Umbrella Parachutes

Picture of Umbrella Parachutes

I have been making parachutes from umbrellas for years. The nylon is from an old umbrella and is perfect for them. Now that I have kids I get to use their old ones to make new toys for me and them.

I made this Dora parachute for my daughter. The weight/passenger came from the handle of the umbrella. My four year-old is not big enough to throw high enough, but she does enjoy trying to catch it.

Step 1: Skinning the Umbrella

Picture of Skinning the Umbrella

Start by cutting the fabric from the ribs of the broken umbrella. I use a box cutter or xacto to carefully the threads that the hold the material to the metal ribs. If you can salvage the tip leave them on, you can tie the strings to those.

Here are some that I have some saved up for a rainy day.

Step 2: Choosing Your Parachute

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I have been waiting to try making one from an old golf umbrella.

Step 3: Measuring the String

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Get some string, nylon cord works best. I use about 1 1/2 the radius of the umbrella. Don't cut yet. Keeping doubling until you have eight strands (depending on the number of seams of the umbrella).

Step 4: Tying It Off

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Tie one end into a knotted loop.

Step 5: Now Cut

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Cut the end of the other end, leaving eight strands.

Step 6: Connecting the Ends

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I got lucky with this umbrella, it had plastic tips on the ends, a first for me. Just make a slip-knot and tighten.

If you don't have tips, then knot each end and use a sewing machine to stitch back and forth over the knot.

Step 7: Adding Weight

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Make sure the do the strings and order all around the umbrella. Then attach a good weight. Heavier than you think, it will help you throw it further and unroll in the air better.

Step 8: Packing the Chute

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Gather the chute together.

Step 9: More Packing

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Fold over.

Step 10: Ready to Launch

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Fold again, and wrap the strings around. Not too tight. It needs to unravel on the way down.

Step 11: Launch!

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Then launch it! Throw it up as far as you can. Watch out for trees and wires. Be careful that no one is underneath when throwing, sometimes it is wrapped to tight it won't open.

I made this one and around 15 minutes.


bwente (author)2012-05-14

Parachute update!

We had my daughter's birthday party last week. It was a Hunger Games theme and I was able to make a silver parachute for the party.

I had a broken umbrella I was saving for a rainy day. It was black and I painted it with silver spray paint. It lasted long enough for the party. I came up with a better weight for the payload. A couple of end caps and a scrap of PVC. They loved getting the gifts from the sponsors.

TheMrCOOLguy2 (author)2013-10-19

Do you know what the desent rate is?

TheMrCOOLguy2 (author)2013-10-17

Very neat thank you

4cuckoo (author)2009-09-20

That is soooooooo cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

mikaelthemycologist (author)2009-06-14

I make a backpack similar to this one for all of my parachutes, and I use a mini parachute to pull on the static line once the parachute begins to fall. I also use this backpack for similar inventions.

Kaiven (author)2008-03-04

Umm... my umbrella has been broken for a while, and rusted, and i wonder if I can use it even though there are holes where the joints were. And when I take out the handle, there will be a hole in the top. Is this a problem? Should i sew a patch over it? if so, I can.

Mattrox (author)Kaiven2009-05-01

The hole will help to keep the parachute stable. I have actually made the holes bigger with a diameter of maybe an inch and they are very stable.

bwente (author)Kaiven2008-03-04

I had a hole in the center of some of my umbrella skins (they a had a fancy point for the shaft). Didn't make any difference that I could tell. They have a lot of surface area.

lasersage (author)bwente2008-03-05

the holes will benefit it. Real parachutes need a central hole to let the air escape, otherwise too much air is caught and the load will begin to pendulum swing side to side as air escapes from the sides of the parachute. Ultimately it can cause a complete canopy collapse! Keep the holes for a nice stable flight.
google search gives more scientific explanation:

Bigdawg (author)2008-03-04

This is an awesome idea. I was looking to make some parachutes with my sons but online instructions for making the canopies are complicated.

Now, in order to make them even more fun, time to rig a launcher. I'm thinking a large slingshot type launcher and a golf umbrella 'chute with a significant weight for some serious air time!

Nice instructable, thanks!

bwente (author)Bigdawg2008-03-04

The umbrella material is pretty durable. I made plastics one, but they tore. Or I would use tape to attach the strings and would slip. The nylon does make them a bit heavier, but I bet not much of a problem with a launcher.

Mattrox (author)bwente2009-05-01

I used cotton string in my experience it works quit well

toogers (author)bwente2008-03-19

to launch really high,use a spud gun.

tommycorbin123 (author)2008-09-21

I used my spud gun and it went like 300 feet high and landed perfectly, thanks so much

bwente (author)tommycorbin1232008-09-22

Any details? What did you use for a weight? I still want to make an air cannon. Did you wrap the string around the parachute? One time when I was throwing mine it got tangled in the string and did not open, came close to hitting a kid in the head.

Mattrox (author)bwente2009-05-01

I have made some of these recently except I used fishing sinkers and a .9 kg weight, made drone shoots(They work much better than streamers).

Wafflicious (author)bwente2008-12-06

i tryed what he said... you dont fold it you roll the bag and put it in weights last -- i used 5 washers

seasonticket1256 (author)2008-11-21

coolness. Mines made fom THE DOG(tm) toy and straws and a bag !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ernestoaug (author)2008-09-25


pyroman50 (author)2008-05-25

you could just make the string longer and attach a handle and use it to pull you on a skate board

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-04

Wow, what a neat idea! Maybe you could make an Instructables Robot toy figure or something, and add it to an orange and white umbrella, that would be awesome! Great job, +1 rating. (added to favorites)

pyrocop1 (author)2008-03-04

What a great idea, I might have my son try this, for his rocket for 4-H this year. Anyway little tip I learned from rockets. If the weight is twisting up the string add a large fishing swivel prior to the weight. Then if it turns no string twist . In the pic you see a nose cone for a rocket with the swivel attached to the string.

fishhead455 (author)2008-03-04

FLATULATIONS-- Amazingly I JUST took apart a dollar-store umbrella to make a parachute to fire from my potato gun. I was going to "wing" it...trying this and that. And then your "ible" came to light. Thanks for being right on time and causing me to miss not a step. Funny how life works when you don't needlessly squash bugs. 5 starz.

bwente (author)fishhead4552008-03-04

Synchronicity at work! I took the photos awhile back and was waiting to make my own launcher and release them together. Never got around to making the pvc launcher and decided I might as well post the parachute.

inquisitive (author)2008-03-04

Shweet! I will have to do this for my friends kids that are outgrowing their umbrellas!

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-03-03

Cool! I used to make little ones, but nothing like these.

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