How to Design a Shade Sail
Shade sails are an attractive and versatile alternative to a fixed patio cover. They can be used as free standing shade for the yard or the beach. The name comes from their shape. Shade sails are traditionally made in a triangle shape that mimics the shape of a ship's sail, but they can be made in any shape and fabric pattern. They're easy to put up and take down and making them is a simple project that can be completed by a novice do-it-yourselfer.
Designing Your Shade
Select the size and shape of the shade sail. Geometric shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles are easiest to create from scratch. The size is determined by the amount of coverage you want the sail to provide.
Cut heavy fabric like canvas that will stand up to the elements to the size and shape of the sun sail. Iron a narrow hem along each unfinished side and sew the hems closed.
Use a grommet tool to put grommets in each corner of the shade sail. Lay one piece of the grommet on either side of the fabric and use the tool to press them together. If you don't have a grommet tool, use a rubber mallet to tap them together. Cut out the fabric inside the grommet.
Determine where the sail will be attached. If the sail will be over a patio at the side of your house, two of the grommets can be attached to the house and the others attached to trees or other supports. To construct a free-standing support, use a post hole digger to dig a hole for the support, fill the hole with concrete and place the support in the concrete. Allow the concrete to cure before attaching the sail.
Attach screw hooks to the places where the sun sail will be supported by drilling a pilot hole and then screwing the hook in securely. Slip one grommet over each screw hook.
Things You Will Need
- Canvas or other sturdy fabric
- Large grommets
- Grommet tool or rubber mallet
- Screw hooks
- Post hole digger or spade
- Use more than one shade sail for greater coverage and an interesting design. Supports can be made from lumber, decorative iron work Use more grommets along the sides for very large shade sails. Make a small, portable sun sail that can be supported by folding tent poles for the beach or picnics.
- Take the sun shade down if bad weather threatens. Measure carefully before constructing permanent supports to ensure that they're in the right location for the grommets. Make sure the supports create enough tension in the sail to keep it from flapping and working itself off the hooks.