Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Alright fine. Not my finest hour. Er, week.

So there was this one time, I did this competition.  Ok, so there were two times.  But most recently I did this craft competition and made it ALL THE WAY... to the top 4.  Bummer. 
During the contest, I was posting my crafts about two weeks after they'd been voted on, so you saw my audition piece, my dollar store, my thrift store, my knock-off, my just scraps, and my upcycled projects.  

And then I was booted and I moved on to other projects and things came up, and, well, I failed to show my last few weeks worth of items.
And, ok, I'll admit it.  I got hung up on the Sunshine project because, let's face it, it's not my best.  But I feel it's time to bury that hatchet and get one with things, for crying out loud.

Plus, now that summer is unabashedly, intensely, searingly, fiercely, BEATING DOWN UPON US, this little number doesn't seem like such a bad idea anymore... (even if it didn't turn out exactly as envisioned.)

Let me just tell you ahead of time that I definitely learned why you're not supposed to take photos in direct glaring sunlight.  Moving on... ahem.

For your Sun Tent Kit, you will need:

And in order to assemble those things into a kit, you first have to make them.  So let's do it!

In trying to find some light colored canvas that was economical as well as large enough, I happened upon this dropcloth at Walmart.  It's NOT the light canvas I wanted.  BUT, it was $4.  And that trumped all.
Get yourself a canvas dropcloth, some natural cotton twine, lemon yellow liquid Rit dye, sunshine orange liquid Rit dye.  A note about dying: In all the dying I've done, I've discovered that liquid dye is the easiest, most vibrant and most even results. 

I do not dye things in my washer.  You can, but I don't.  So, I started with my trusty bucket with boiling hot water from the stove...

But it wasn't quite big enough, so I quickly moved on to the plastic storage tote idea.  
Anyway, make sure you get your canvas dropcloth completely wet.

Oh, and look!  I remembered to wear gloves this time!  Unlike the last time, when I dyed my hands oompa-loompa orange.  But I digress...
So, put your gloves on, and make sure the boiling water is covering your dropcloth.
I tossed my twine in while it was still on the roll.
Pour in your Lemon Yellow dye.
Mix it up.
Make sure you poke the fabric back down wherever it rises.

After 20 minutes, pull the top part of the dropcloth out.  I just let it sit in the bucket.
Keep the next portion in the dye for 20-30 minutes longer.  (and, um, you probably noticed that my photos are out of order... WHOOPS!  This step is down there on the bottom left...) Then pull a little more out.
Add your orange dye and mix it well.
Keep the next portion in for about 20-30 minutes, then pull a bit out.
And let the last section sit for 20-30 minutes longer.  Done!
Just wring it out, rinse it (with the hose, if you're outside like me), and run it through a rinse cycle, then dry.

To finish it up, you'll just need to add some grommets.  Which I totally forgot to take pictures of.  But you're smart, so you can follow the little illustration...
The tool to insert the grommets is sold separately from the grommets themselves, but usually right next to them on the shelf.  You'll need a hammer and a super hard surface, like concrete.
Just insert the grommets three on each long side.

Now that the canvas is done, you can move on to the dowels.  Easy enough to get these ready.
I spray painted my three dowels orange - you can skip that step if you want.
On two dowels, you need to whittle one end slightly smaller, as indicated by the arrow below:  (Just on TWO)
Then just slide a rubber washer over this whittled end.  (That's the black ring there.  It isn't on the list of things you need, but you will need four of them.  You can find rubber washers in the hardware department.  Use the smallest ones you find.)

Now, onto the drawstring tent bag.

You guys.  One of the down sides to waiting a millennia to post something you've made is that the likelihood of losing photos is pretty high.  So here are some beautiful illustrated instructions for making your very own bag.  I think it's phenomenally clear what to do - even better than photos... yeah.  That's it.

Then all you have to do is slide your rope in through the top casing.  You can use a large safety pin for that.
The little pocket is to keep your twine all nice and neat.

Speaking of twine, you will need to make yourself some small spools.  Cut your twine into pieces that are about 12-20 feet long.  You'll need seven pieces.  Take each piece one at a time and tie the ends together to create 7 loops.
Wrap the loops around clothespins (as if it was still just a long piece of string and not a loop) and secure the end of the loop in the mouth of the clothespin.  This will keep your pieces of twine tidy so they won't get tangled.
Finally, you'll need 6 smaller sandbags.  This is what you'll use to secure your tent, since stakes won't work in the sand.  I decorated mine with strips of fabric before sewing them together, but that's up to you.  (That step isn't described in the following instructions which are, you guessed, drawn by me!)

To make the sandbags:
Now your kit is fully made, and you just need to assemble it!  It's easy to pack up in the tent bag.  Just fold your canvas up and then roll it around the dowels.  Put this in the tent bag first, then put the sand bags on top.  Cinch the drawstring.  Everything else is kept in the side pocket.  Handy and compact!

To set up your tent:

First, get your littles started filling the "buckets" as mini called them.  This will be the most fun part, in their opinion.  Guaranteed.  

Now, take your loop of twine and loop it around the sand bag first, then the grommet in the tent (not the other way around or you'll be flipping that big canvas thing all over trying to put it through the string...).  Once your bags are full of sand, pull them out so the string is taut.

Take your two dowels with whittled ends and plant them in the sand, whittle side up.  Put the rubber washers on the ends.  Take your third dowel and place the rubber washers on both ends (they act as "stoppers" so the string won't slide off).  Now, use your last loop of twine and tie each end to the whittled part of the two dowels.  Then tie the middle parts to the third dowel, on the inner side of the rubber washer.  Pull the twine tight and retie the knot as tightly as you can.
Drape the canvas over this, placing the whittled ends of the dowels in the middle grommets.
Pull your sandbags out so the lines are very taut and the tent is held up firmly.

Voila!  Rest and relaxation out of the sun!

This tent would be even better had the dowels been a bit longer.  I know PVC pipe would certainly work better, but I'm not a PVC pipe connoisseur.  I was trying to keep this really lightweight, portable, compact and easy to carry, which is why I went with dowels instead.  BUT, there may be a different, more stable PVC pipe frame in our future.

For now, at least the kids can enjoy some covert ops (I wonder what they're planning in that picture??) and some naps without getting sunburned!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

1 comment:

Michelle L. said...

I love it, Kimberly! The little sandbags that the kids could do: so clever!!! All beach forts are low to the ground - I think it's a beach fort sun tent.

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