How to make your own canvas tent

Written by mark quest
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Few experiences in life match the feeling of escape you get when tent camping. Using gear you've made yourself adds to the experience by seeing your handiwork at work. It is also a point of pride when someone compliments your equipment and you can say you've made it yourself. Here's a simple and functional tent that anyone can make at home. The tent is made of easy to find canvas and a few tent poles that you can find at camping outfitters.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • 17 3/4 yards of canvas. Use a lightweight canvas with a tight weave.
  • Two 4-foot long tent poles with tapered ends
  • One 7-foot long tent pole with flattened ends and a hole big enough for the tapered end of the other poles to fit in. You can flatten a tent pole and drill holes in the ends.
  • 10 metal tent stakes
  • Grommet kit with eight grommets.
  • Nylon rope
  • Four-foot long zipper
  • Two 3-foot long zippers

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Instructions

    Cutting list

  1. 1

    Set an area aside to work in. Begin by cutting the canvas to give you five pieces of canvas 4 feet, 6 inches wide by 7 feet, 1 1/4 inches long. Cut two triangular pieces with bases of 3 feet, 1 1/4 inches and sides 4 feet, 5/8 inches high and 5 feet, 5/8 inches long. Cut one triangular piece with a base of 6 feet, 1 1/4 inches by 4 feet, 5/8 inches high and sides that are 5 feet, 5/8 inches long. These measures include a 5/8 inch allowance for all seams.

  2. 2

    Make the floor by sewing two of the rectangular pieces together, overlapping them to give you a piece 6 feet, 1 1/4 inches wide and 7 feet, 1 1/4 inches long. Sew these so you have a lot of overlapping to help keep water out.

  3. 3

    Sew the remaining three rectangular pieces together with the one in the middle overlapping the outer two with the overlapping portion on the outside of the tent wall. The finished panel needs to be 10 feet, 1 1/4 inches wide by 7 feet, 1 1/4 inches long. Hem the edge of the canvas to prevent it from unravelling.

  4. 4

    Sew the floor to the sides with a 5/8-inch seam.

  5. 5

    Sew the larger triangle to the sides and floor at one end, forming the rear wall using a 5/8-inch seam. Do not sew all the way to the top; you need to leave room for the top pole to pass through.

  6. 6

    Sew the 4-foot zipper on, joining the two remaining triangles that will form the entry piece so that when closed the pull is at the bottom.

  7. 7

    Sew the two 3-foot zippers to the bottom of the entry. Do this so the three zippers come together when closed.

  8. 8

    Sew the entry piece to the sides using a 5/8 in seam. Do not sew all the way to the top; you need to leave room for the top pole to pass through.

  9. 9

    Sew the zipper at the bottom of the entry piece to the floor.

  10. 10

    Using the grommet kit, install a grommet on the bottom of the sides at each corner and one in the centre. Install a grommet on the top above the rear wall and one at the top of the entry.

    Setting up your tent

  1. 1

    Stake the tent to the ground by inserting stakes through the six grommets along the bottom, drawing it tight. If your stakes do not fit through the grommets, use the nylon rope to tie loops through the grommets and use these for the stakes.

  2. 2

    Insert the 7-foot long pole through the tent using the opening you kept at the top of the entry and the rear wall.

  3. 3

    Put the tapered ends of the 4-foot tent poles into the hole of the long pole.

  4. 4

    Tie loops in four lengths of nylon rope and loop them through the top grommets at the rear and at the entry. Do this to create two guy lines at each end for stability of the tent.

  5. 5

    Tie loops on the other ends and stake them to the ground. The stakes should be in front of and behind the tent slightly to the side of centre, drawn tight.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not touch the tent when it is raining. If you do you will get a leak at the place you touch. Don't worry, it's not permanent and will go away once the tent dries.
  • Put a plastic tarp under the tent to protect the floor from wear and to help with keeping the floor dry if the ground becomes wet.

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