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
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
I have been waiting to try making one from an old golf umbrella.
Step 3: Measuring the String
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
Tie one end into a knotted loop.
Step 5: Now Cut
Cut the end of the other end, leaving eight strands.
Step 6: Connecting the Ends
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
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
Gather the chute together.
Step 9: More Packing
Step 10: Ready to Launch
Fold again, and wrap the strings around. Not too tight. It needs to unravel on the way down.
Step 11: Launch!
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.