Saturday, May 11, 2013

Making Your Own Umbrella Cover

As you have seen, I try to have at least one class a month here at Windmill Farm.  Teaching life skills or having my friends and professionals come and teach these classes are a wonderful experience.  I started out having a few farm spa events, then a dear friend suggested having other types of classes.  I started teaching canning classes and from then on, it has exploded into about 1-2 classes every month.
But I like taking classes too, I think we are never too old to learn a new skill or improve upon the skills we may have already. 
Recently, Triad Plus had a class on how to cover an outside patio umbrella.  It seemed simple enough, but because the fabric is normally an outdoor/Sunbrella fabric; very expensive and difficult to sew on, I wanted to learn first before I bought it.  The class was great so I made my purchase and home I went to make my own umbrella.
I cut up one panel off the old umbrella, added 1" (1/2" around each side and bottom).
You flip it over to maximize the usage of the fabric. So short size is cut from last large end.  Only problem is that you have to make sure that the pattern of the fabrics look like they match or line up.

After cutting out the number of triangles you need to start sewing them all together(count the number on your old umbrella or from the supports on your umbrella frame).  Mine had 6 pieces.  This will create your smaller round opening at the top.
After I sewed the 6 triangles together, I wanted to make sure it fit before I hemmed up all around the bottom raw edges and the top edge.  I clipped it on the frame using folder clips.
It fit fairly tightly, could have been a bit bigger.  Then I sewed under 1/4" all around the larger ends and around the circle.  Next came making the little pocketed you sew to the inside to keep the metal frame in place.  I forgot to take a photo of that.  I cut out the old one from my old umbrella and cut 6 of them.  They were basically a square that you fold over to make a triangle, flap in the sides of triangle and the center point and make a small square.  Sounds easy but it wasn't.  Turned out this part was the hardest and took the longest time.  Then you sew this pocket on to the tip of each point of the triangles.  Unfortunately, for most people, you do not have an upholstery machine.  I do and even then, it struggled to go thru so many layers.  You have the 2 layers from the folded over edge of the umbrella, you have 4 layers of the folded over pockets and you then sew all 6 layers at the corners.  There is a larger circle you cut and place over the hole at the top and then there is a 3rd circle on top of that,, all those go on top of umbrella, like a cap,  you make a slit and the top ball of the umbrella goes thru that hole to hold it down.  I hand stitched the circles where each frame sits.
The finished umbrella, felt pretty good about completing it.  This is what I learned:

1.  Pick a fabric that is bold.  As you can see from this photo, even though I thought the fabric was bright and bold and had lots of colors, outside it looked fairly light.  And you look up at the umbrella from the bottom on the underside of the fabric, so it was pretty washed out colors.
2.  After it was all sewed and finished, the finished edges started to fray so I now have these small string hanging around edge, it was not fraying when I sewed it.  I should have allowed extra yardage to fold over finished edge twice.
3.  I spent $75 on fabric. Took about 3 hours from beginning to end.
4.  Frank and I went to Target the other day and they had 6' umbrella, beautiful bright colors on sale WITH THE UMBRELLA CRANK FRAME for $60.00.

Moral of story, it may not be worth it to cover your old one, just purchase a new one.


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