How to Sew a Backyard Drive-in Movie Screen




Introduction: How to Sew a Backyard Drive-in Movie Screen

If you have access to a digital projector or you find a really good deal on a used one you can sew a movie screen in a matter of a couple hours.  This is a really simple project that you only need to sew straight lines for.

Step 1: What You Need;

White material - 5 yards of white cotton sheeting108 inches wide is what I used.  I had to order it online and it cost about $35.  My husband figured out what size would work best with the ratios for wide screen formatting.

1 9/16" White plastic grommets - You can find these at any craft or sewing store and you do not need a special tool to place them.

White thread - all purpose is fine

30 feet of 1/2" PVC pipe - the pvc came in 10 foot sections at the store I went to.  My husband cut them down to 5 foot pieces for easier storage.

4 - 1/2" PVC couplings - these are used to make the long extensions at top and bottom with the 5 foot extensions.

Sewing Machine


Straight pins

Iron and ironing board

Step 2: Pressing and Pinning the Ends

Begin at one of the 108" ends and fold the material over about 1" and press with a hot iron.  When you have pressed the whole side fold material over another inch and press and pin.

Step 3: Sewing Ends

Start with the outer side of the fold and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance back stitching at the beginning and end of side.  Repeat with the inner edge.

Step 4: Measuring and Sewing Gommet and Rod Pockets

If you use the same size pvc and grommets then fold the material 7" and pin.  The PVC pocket is 4"  Measure and pin the entire length of the fabric.  Sew the top of the fold, back stitching at each side.  Next,  sew along the 4" pin line back stitching at each side, removing pins as you go.  Repeat on other side.

Step 5: Placing Grommets

You need to have at least 5 grommets to keep the pvc rod and fabric taught.  Start by placing grommets on either end and center according to the package directions.  Then place grommet centered between the center and end grommet on each side.  Depending on where and how you are going to hang  you can add more grommets.  You may also need to add them at the bottom if you have a breezy location.

Step 6: Assemble Rods

Using the pvc couplings assemble sections of pvc.  If the couplings are not snug, can wrap the ends with duct tape before inserting into couplings.

Step 7: Insert Rods in Pocket

Insert rods in top and bottom of screen.

Step 8: Attach to Your Location

I tied a lightweight string to grommets and strung them up through our upper floor windows.  You could could also hang it from a garage, between a couple trees or a high fence.

Step 9: Pop Some Popcorn, Grab a Lawn Chair and Enjoy!

We have watched a bunch of movies already and it has given us another reason to be outside after dark.  Another fun thing to do is to bring your Wii out and play on the huge screen.  If the screen gets dirty throw it in the washing machine on delicate and tumble dry on low.

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    6 years ago

    I love Backyard Movie Nights. Instead of using poles at the top and bottom, I sewed pole sleeves on the side and use 10' closet dowels with a couple pieces of PVC that are now permanently in the grass. A local fabric store had 120" heavy nylon for $7 a yard. GREAT deal. When I set it up, I lay down a tarp under the screen and we throw empty bottles at the screen. Take your aggression out on the baddies. A major league pitcher couldn't hurt this thing unless the bottle was broken before he threw it. Also, I stretch the screen from the top to keep it wrinkle free.