Do it Yourself Portable Shade Structures

Updated April 17, 2017

Perhaps you're planning a trip to the beach, or maybe you want to have a party in your own backyard but don't have a way to shade the patio from the sun. Create a portable sun shade that you can make yourself, use, then easily take down to use again another day. Pick up umbrellas at a yard sale or thrift shop and use them to create a colourful portable sun shade. Umbrella fabric makes an effective sun shade due to its versatile outdoor design.

Snip threads holding the umbrella fabric to the ribs and frame of the umbrella using scissors. Set the umbrella fabric aside, then repeat and remove fabric from each umbrella until you have as much fabric as desired for your portable sun structure.

Lay out all the fabrics next to each other to form one large piece of fabric, then pin the pieces together, overlapping at the edges, using straight pins.

Pin on even more umbrella fabric, if you want to cover a larger area, until you have the desired size.

Sew seams together with a sewing machine.

Pound on grommets about 1-1/2 inches in on the four corners of the fabric using a grommet kit. Use the grommets to thread rope through the opening to hang your shade.

Tie ropes through grommet holes in your sun shade, then stretch out fabric and tie to trees or building eaves to cover the area you want to shade. If there are no trees or buildings to which to attach ropes, then use wooden poles stuck into buckets of sand.

Screw a cup hook (usually used on the underside of a shelf to hang cups) in the top of each of the four wooden one-inch dowels.

Whittle the bottom end of each pole into a point with a sharp knife, if you're going to stand the poles in the sand.

Place cup hooks through the grommets in the fabric and stretch out the fabric tightly to cover the desired area. Then, either place poles in the sand (if at the beach) or use buckets filled with sand or gravel.

Place poles into buckets, then fill with sand (or push into sand-filled buckets) until the poles are secure.

Stand the four poles in the corners of the desired area, stretching the fabric out to cover the region.


If you make a larger shade, you may need to add more grommets and poles to secure your shade.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 or more umbrellas
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Grommet kit
  • Rope
  • 4 one-inch dowels (6 feet long each)
  • Cup hook
  • Sharp whittling knife
  • Four large buckets filled with sand or gravel (optional)
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About the Author

Larraine Stacey started her career as a reporter and editor in 1966, when she wrote daily columns, features and editorials for "Grand Prairie Daily News." A University of North Texas journalism major, Stacey writes for Let's Go Travel Guides and other websites. She is also the author of a bestselling young-adult fantasy series.