So, you want to make yourself a gathered end hammock.
First of all,
Why would want to make your own hammock?
- Cool project
- Exercise your sewing skills
- Customizable to your desired length
- Skip waiting for a customized hammock
- Flexibility in adding a bugnet and ridgeline
Should you choose a single layer or a double layer?
Using a single layer has some benefits like:
- Takes up less space and weights less
- Ventilates better
- Easier and quicker to make than a double layer
Having a single layer also has a con:
- No space to insert your sleeping pad
- That’s about it
Personally i only use a single layer hammock. I don’t like the bulk of having two layers. If you have an underquilt, then you only need to have one layer. I’m going to tell you at the end what you need to do if you want to make a double layer.
With or without bug netting?
This setup is made to be customized. You can choose to add you own DIY bug netting at the end or purchase a commercial bug net to add on later.
Materials For Making You Hammock
We will need some materials for making a hammock. These are all the materials you will need:
- Sewing machine
- Rope (Zing it or Lash it)
- Suspension system (explained later)
- A little bit of patience
For the fabric you will need it to be:
- Not feel like plastic
For this project i have chosen to use the fabrics from ripstopbytheroll.com they are great providing quality fabrics at a competitive price. If we will look at the fabrics they have that are specifically designed for hammocks we see that there is a wide variety of choices. These are the most used fabrics for creating hammocks and their weight limit:
- 1.0 oz HyperD diamond ripstop nylon
- 1.6 oz HyperD diamond ripstop nylon
- 1.9 oz Ripstop Nylon
The difference between these three is the weight limit.
|1.0 HyperD||200 lbs||60||$|
|1.6 HyperD||300 lbs||60||$|
|1.9 HyperD||350 lbs||60||$|
|1.0 Robic XL||225 lbs||68||$$|
|1.2 Robic XL||250 lbs||68||$$|
|1.7 Robic XL||400 lbs||68||$$|
A lightweight hammock will come at a cost of not being the strongest.
- The HyperD fabric has a diamond grid.
- The Robic XL fabric also has a diamond grid but is stronger then the HyperD.
- The Robic XL is 8″ wider than the HyperD, respectively 68″ and 60″.
It’s up to you to make the decision on which fabric you are going to use. Some questions you may ask yourself:
- What’s my weight and do i want to have some spare weight, just to be safe?
- Do I want a hammock that is wider than 58 inches?
- Will you use your boots or any other sharp objects inside of the hammock?
- Can i justify spending more money on the wider and tougher Robic XL?
You will need to order 4 yards (12 foot) of fabric to make this hammock. You can also use their DIY kit here. Depending on how long you want your hammock to be, you will need to cut some material off.
You can do this with a basic but sharp scissor or a sharp pizza slicer on a hard surface.
You need to keep in mind that there will be a few inches ‘lost’ when making the gathered end. This will become clear later on as we progress but you should add 3 inches on each side.
For example; If I will make an 11″ hammock I will need to cut the fabric down to 11′ and 6′. Leaving 6 inches extra to experiment/practice with. If you need more to make a pouch for the hammock, simply order a yard extra of the same fabric or choose a waterproof fabric to protect the hammock from water.
The standard width of the fabric will be 60″ or 68″. We need 2 inches on each side because we will use side hems. So, each side will lose 2 inches making it 56″ or 64″ in width.
What Length and Width should I Choose?
A length of 11′ and a width of 60″ is generally considered a comfortable seized hammock to sleep in.
Which Thread Should I use?
A polyester thread is recommended. You can choose different colors from ripstopbytheroll.
Start Making Your own Camping Hammock
before doing anything make sure that the material is square. Meaning it has 90° corners and has the same dimensions all around. This shouldn’t be a problem but you should still check. The sides of the fabric will be frayed. There is no need to cut them off because we will get rid of those by making the hems.
Creating Side Hems
First of all we need to make the side hems of the longest side. A side hem is there to stop the fabric from fraying. Get your stitching machine ready! I’m not going in detail on how to stitch here, you can search the internet or YouTube for a tutorial on the basics of stitching.
We are going to make side hems on the longest side first. Fold the fabric inwards twice. This should cover up the frayed edge. The side hem should be around 1 inch in width in total. Now stitch at around 1/4 of an inch from the inside. Make sure you got all the fabric (3 layers) before you make the stitch. You should always lock stitch the beginning and the end of your sew. Repeat for the other side of the hammock.
Because you have folded over the fabric twice it will result in a 2 inch loss at each side times two for the other side which makes the total width loss to be 4 inches. You can make these edges narrower, but it’s harder and might require some practice. 1 inch side hems is generally considered to be a good measure. Check the tips section of this post to help you make the hems smaller.
Creating The Gathered Ends
Now that you have your long ends stitched we are going to continue with stitching the gathered ends or the short side of the fabric.
Remember we folded the side hems twice? For the gathered ends we are going to fold it just once. Take 1 inch of fabric and fold it over once and stitch it as close to the fray as possible. You will notice that you have to stitch over the side hems. Don’t forget to lock stitch every sew you make.
Now that you have stitched the fold you need to fold it one more time, but now take 2 inches instead of 1 inch. You will notice the stitch you have just made. Now stitch 3 more rows to finish the gathered end. The 3 rows need to be located to the inside of the hammock so you will stitch trough 3 layers of fabric.
This will leave you with a channel to put your rope trough. The channel will be an inch wide. Now do this for the other side too.
Congratulations! You hammock is almost finished. The stitching part has ended and we will shortly move on to the suspensions options. But first we need to tie a rope to the gathered ends.
Take your rope (25 to 30 inches) and feed it trough the gathered ends. It can be difficult to put the rope trough manually. By using a stick or something straight that guides the rope trough the gathered end will be much easier.
Then tie a figure eight and a overhand knot to secure it. You can hide the knot by sliding it into the gap of the fabric. You can also use a continuous loop for this. Repeating this to the other side will finish you hammock.
This loop will create more spread in the hammock instead of tying your suspension system directly to the hammock.
Now flip over the hammock and you will have a hammock without flaps.
Suspension Options for Your DIY Hammock
When you hang your hammock you need tree straps. Tree straps are there for protecting the bark of the tree. If you were hanging your hammock with a rope around the tree, it will have too much of strain and it’s not good for the tree. It’s better to distribute the weight of the hammock using tree straps. They must be wider than one inch. You wrap the straps around the tree and attach the hammock to it.
A suspension is a way to adjust the sag and height of your hammock. There are several suspension options available for your hammock. These are the most used ones:
- Whoopie slings (utility constructor ropes)
Using straps is an easy way to adjust your hammock. You don’t need separate tree straps because it’s already incorporated into the strap. You will need to have two carabiners attached to the gathered ends of your hammock. Wrap the tree straps around the tree and clip the carabiner into the desired slot of the strap. More information about suspension methods can be found here.
– Whoopie slings
Attach you whoopie sling to the gathered end using a larks head knot. From there run the whoopie sling to the tree straps.
Creating a Ridgeline
Creating a ridgeline for your hammock can give you the perfect amount of sag every time you use your hammock. I strongly recommend using a ridgeline. Find more information about adding a ridgeline to your hammock here.
Making a Double Layer Hammock
When you are creating a double layer you basically just do the same as a single layer. You will need to leave space open to insert your pad. The opening for your pad should be a little more than the width of your pad and should cross your hammock diagonally.
You can sew another layer to your hammock later on. All you will need to do is undo the gathered end so you can align the hammock to the new second layer fabric.
Tips for Sewing
- To hold a fold in place, you can put needles in the folds and sew over them. afterwards you can take out the needles without damaging or influencing your sew.
- To help with folding the fabric, you can use an iron and iron the fold down so it’s easier to stitch. Be sure to test the heath on a spare piece of fabric before you use it on your hammock fabric.
- You can add a double layer during the process or later after you have made the hammock. I recommend sewing the other layer on at the head and foot end and using Velcro straps spaced around the hammock.
- The thicker the fabric the slower you need to stitch.
I have to give credit where it’s due. The following tutorials have helped me product this article:
Weight limits of the fabric singe and double layer from ripstopbytheroll.com