Making your own umbrella from scratch is not an easy task. Even if you know how an umbrella works, finding all the necessary parts to construct the body and putting them together could prove very tricky. Thankfully, there is a much easier way to do this.
In this article, you will learn how to make a workable umbrella at home using the body of an existing umbrella as a starting point.
The process is pretty straightforward, but it requires some basic sewing skills. If you’ve never used a sewing machine before, you might need to enlist the help of someone with a bit more experience. That way, you can turn this into a fun craft project for the whole family.
What You Need
To build your own umbrella, you will need the following:
- An old umbrella – Take any old umbrella that you own, no matter if it’s collapsible or not. Just make sure that the body is fully functional and that there are no broken wires
- Fabric – You will use this fabric to make the umbrella cover. Because you’ll be making each panel separately, you can combine two or more different fabrics. To keep the cost down, you can also reuse old tablecloths or shower curtains
- Clear vinyl – You will need clear vinyl to waterproof your main fabric. Make sure to get thin, 6-gauge vinyl as it’s lighter and more flexible than thicker vinyl
- Fusible webbing – You will use the fusible webbing to connect your fabric with clear vinyl. Since they’ll be standing atop each other, make sure to get double-sided fusible webbing
- Leather needles – As you already know, you’ll use a sewing machine to complete this project. Because you’ll be working with vinyl, you will need leather needles with wedge points
Disassembling the Old Umbrella
Before you start making your new umbrella, you need to disassemble the old one.
Here’s how to do it:
- Open the umbrella.
- Cut through the tiny loops that connect the umbrella cover to the ribs. Remember the position of those loops because you’ll need to attach your new cover the same way.
- Unscrew the small cap/ferrule from the top of the umbrella.
- Remove the umbrella cover.
Once you’ve completed these four steps, you’ll have the body for your new umbrella.
Making the Cover
It is now time to get crafty and creative with your new umbrella cover.
Although this process might appear difficult, it is actually fairly simple. Here’s what you need to do.
- Take the old umbrella cover you’ve just removed and cut out one of the triangles. Make sure to cut along the seams, as you will be using this triangle as a template going forward.
- Start cutting out the triangles for your new umbrella cover using the triangle from Step 1 as a template. For every triangle of fabric, cut out a vinyl triangle that you’ll cover it with. If you’re using a directional print, make sure to cut the fabric in the right direction.
- Take one of the fabric triangles and cover its face with double-sided fusible webbing. Now turn it upside down and iron it according to the instructions on the packaging.
- Slowly remove the paper cover from the webbing you’ve just attached to the fabric. Now take a vinyl triangle and place it on top of the webbing. Turn them upside down and start ironing the triangle until the fabric and the vinyl are joined together. To prevent the vinyl from melting, make sure to choose the lowest setting and not to touch the vinyl with the iron.
- After you’ve finished attaching vinyl to all your triangles, it is time to sew your cover. Lay the triangles next to each other so that they form a circle with a small hole in the middle (this is where the cap will go). Now stitch the first two triangles together using your sewing machine. The seam allowance should be as narrow as possible, preferably no wider than 1/4 inches. Keep adding one triangle at a time until they’re all joined together into a large circle.
- Use a serger or very precise scissors to even out the edges of your newly-made cover.
Assembling the New Umbrella
Now that the cover is ready, you just need to assemble the new umbrella.
This is how you do it.
- Lay your cover upside down and place the opened umbrella body on top of it so that the ribs are in line with the seams of your cover.
- Thread a needle and hand sew the seams to the ribs to attach the cover to the body of the umbrella. Ideally, the loops you create should be in the exact same location as they were on the old umbrella. Keep in mind that the cover needs to be tight, so make sure to tug and pull it throughout this step.
- Decorate the top cap to your liking and screw it back on.
And there you have it – your own homemade umbrella.
The umbrella you’ve just made is fully functional. In fact, because you’ve waterproofed the cover with vinyl, it will protect you from the rain even better than most $5 or $10 umbrellas out there.
But most importantly, your umbrella is unique and no one else will have the same one – that is, unless you make one for them, which shouldn’t be a problem now that you know how to make a functioning umbrella at home.