How to Make a Shade Sail

Janice Anderssen
by Janice Anderssen
After fitting a small - very small - shade sail outdoors to cover my outdoor sofa I decided to rather make my own much larger shade sail to provide shade outdoors, and save quite a bit of money in the process!
The new shade sail is fitted over the top of the existing shade sail and provides far more shade than the little triangle-shaped sail that was expensive, while the made sail cost a fraction to make. The new shade sail is 3 metres wide at one end and tapers into a triangular shape of 5 metres in length.

Was it difficult to make... definitely not. The tricky part is cutting the fabric to get the shape right. You don't cut a straight-edged triangle, but rather curve the edges inwards slightly. And although I made another triangular shade sail, you can make one in any shape.

Shade net

Nylon line

Eye hooks if mounting on timber / expansion bolts if mounting to walls

Sewing machine and accessories

1. Fold the fabric in half and lay flat in an area that allows you to cut neatly. Taper the cut inwards as you cut half the triangle shape from one end to the other.
2. Use a sewing machine to double fold and sew a double row of running stitches along the fold. I thought sewing on the machine would be difficult, but it was actually quite easy. Don't sew right to the end just yet.
3. When you reach just before 10cm from the edge, insert the rope and sew this closed. Run the stitches over the nylon line here and there to secure firmly inside the net sheath. Go slowly so as not to break your sewing needle and if you find that the machine just won't sew along the line, remove it and do this by hand. I didn't have any problem but not everyone's sewing machine is the same.
4. When you are joining together two folded-over sections you will find it difficult to sew over these, so only do what you can and continue to sew closed by hand.

Use a lighter to melt the cut edges of the nylon line to prevent unraveling.

Secure your shade sail to large trees using eye hooks, or drill for expansion bolts if mounting to walls
Janice Anderssen
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 9 questions
  • Gkm22738697 Gkm22738697 on Sep 16, 2017

    What stops the rainwater from pooling in the middle?

  • Linda Shirar Linda Shirar on Jun 10, 2018

    Maybe, Where can I buy this material? I think I can do the rest.

  • Laurie Laurie on Jul 11, 2020

    Hi can you use good upholstery material ?

Join the conversation
2 of 67 comments
  • Joe Sepkovich Joe Sepkovich on Aug 19, 2017

    Mess Tarps from Harbor Freight make great Shades for our motorhome. Cut and sewed by hand then installed grommets which can be purchased at Harbor Freight.

  • Lad7651971 Lad7651971 on Sep 12, 2017

    If you use any type of canvas then you will have your choice of colors and patterns. Plus there companies out there use a waterproofing system called "MicroSeal" which also prevent the canvas from ever fading against the sun. Then you will be able to take this down and and throw in the washing machine or the company you used to MicroSeal your canvas should offer to come and clean the canvas and a couple of times during the year for free. I know the one here locally will do it 2 times a year and we just had them do our sofa as we have a dog that loves getting on our sofa and now our sofa repels any and all types of liquid. So this is a great way to get a custom look in your backyard. What a great idea for a shade sail!!!! I absolutely love it. And now with these fabrics coming in 108" widths it's perfect. I think that will be one project for next summer so that we have some shade on our patio. Thanks ladies!!!!!