03 6 / 2014
17 5 / 2014
17 4 / 2014
In my quest to make everything myself and to reuse any items I can to help our poor beaten up Earth (while remaining somewhat practical), I decided to try making my own sand anchors for our first camping trip of the season. I’ve had my eyes on this set of 5 on multiple websites for some time now and even though reasonably priced (~$13 not including shipping), I’ve also been itching to find a project to reuse the fabric from a few umbrellas I have stowed.
Certain items that I know inevitably end up piling high in landfills leave me feeling guilty, not to say I am some broken umbrella hoarder; I just tend not to break them (or lose them). Though, in the five years we’ve lived in this apartment, I admit to gathering three broken umbrellas and have neatly kept them in a tiny corner between the bookshelf and wall behind our front door, along with the few good ones. We live in a studio, finding nifty corners to store our sh-stuff is key. We live a real live game of Tetris.
But I digress. I looked up projects to use this umbrella fabric about two weeks ago, but nothing made me happy. All gaudy ideas mostly and the only suitable one I found was a grocery tote, but I have three million of those! Duh, of course I bring a tote with me and neurotically request no bag for my one item I am fully capable of holding in my thumbed hand.
My friend, Michelle, prodded me to make my own anchors, but to buy a suitable fabric and rope would actually cost more than the set I saw online. Then it hit me. Umbrella fabric is durable and somewhat like tent material, though I don’t need it to remain waterproof. It also is easily cleaned off, if sand or dirt gets on it, and light weight! Perfect!
In the end, the cost of the 50’ rope was $11.99, so really this project isn’t some incredible bargain. Though, that really isn’t my motivation either. Well, that’s not to say I would have made these had they cost significantly more than the set online - I want less human garbage to end up in a landfill. Reuse and recycle, right? Plus, the project doesn’t require 50’ of rope and every camper needs rope in the bag, so maybe it is a deal.
So, now that I’ve bored you to tears with my doings and rationale for keeping broken umbrellas, here are step by step instructions on how to make your own, if you, too, are a Earth loving DIY fool such as myself.
Things you will need:
- 1-2 broken umbrellas
- Tailor’s chalk or plain chalk
- Seam Ripper
- Open your umbrella. No, there is no such thing as luck, so yes open it indoors. Besides, Mother Earth will spread good things your way for sparing her another umbrella and the manufacturing of another sand anchor set from new materials.
- Take your seam ripper and gently pluck the threads that bind the fabric to the metal skeleton of the umbrella. Try not to poke holes in the fabric or tear the seams that keep the triangles of fabric together.
- Now the fabric should be only attached at the very top. There is no graceful way to do this, but tear it off.
- Lay out your fabric in half, so it looks like a flattened, half umbrella and draw a 12X12 inch square as close to the edge (as pictured), as possible.
- Now fold it once again, so you have four overlapping areas and cut along the lines for your square. You should be left with four squares. You will need more fabric to make a fifth square, which you may have left over if your umbrella was really big or you’ll need to rip into that second broken umbrella. OR, you can be really crafty and sew the leftover pieces from the first umbrella together, then make a square and really minimize waste!!! I will say right here that the squares you cut will not be perfectly flat and exact due to the way the fabric was sewn and suspended over the skeleton, but it won’t mess up the final product. You’ll hardly notice.
- Fold over each corner 1.5” and pin in place. The tip of the corner should measure 1.5” from the new edge.
- Topstitch this triangle in place. I used the setting on my sewing machine to make the smallest inseam possible.
- Now you want to make an itty bitty inseam on the four edges between the corners you just made. Perhaps you can skip this step, but I chose not to because within the squares you cut out, there may be seams from the manufactured umbrella and when you cut through them, those seams now have the potential to split.
- Take your new top stitched edge and fold it over towards the center to meet with the horizontal top stitch of the triangles on either side. You are making a little tunnel for the rope to go through later, like a drawstring. Pin in place. Do this to all four sides.
- Top stitch along the seam you just made, being careful NOT to go past the tunnel beginning or end. Again, repeat to all four sides. You should end up with corners that look like this, so loops of rope can pop out of each corner: And, a square like this:
- String enough rope through the tunnels you just made, leaving a small loop at each corner visible. I am always unsure of how much rope to cut, so I strung it through then decided where to cut, also leaving myself enough rope to properly knot the two ends together.
- So far this is what your anchor should look like. I made this a separate step because I wanted to highlight the knotting of the two ends of rope on the bottom left corner. I used a Double Fishermen’s bend, though it looks like from the online set, the manufacturer uses a simple overhand knot with both ends side by side. We aren’t rappelling down a mountain, so the knot I used is probably excessive, but I got sucked into googling knots and went off into a tangent of playing with all sorts of knots and I liked the appearance of this one best and it is very sturdy and will most likely not untie under the sand, so there.
- Thread another piece of rope through your four corner loops and knot those two ends together as you did in the previous step. This piece of rope threaded through the corner loops is what you will attach your guy line to (and then you bury the anchor) with either another knot, carabiner or what have you.
- Repeat four more times. AHHHHH! It’s worth it in the end, I swear. The Earth, it thanks you.
Here’s what it looks like, well sorta’. We haven’t gone on our trip yet, so I don’t have any action shots, but use your imagination! I put a big rock in the anchor part, which is something you can do at your site , in addition to burying it. Also, I only finished two so far, a glass (or two) of wine distracted me.
Oh, and thus far each anchor weighs about 1.5 oz, which doesn’t sound heavy at first, but multiply it by five and they’re almost a half pound. That could matter if you’re backpacking. If you use thinner rope or a different kind then mine, I am sure you can get that down. I chose Polypropylene (1/4” thick) for its rot resistance since these puppies will be buried in sand, which could be damp. My second choice in rope was parachute cord, but got dissuaded by a phrase that said it has some stretch to it. I think that would have worked fine though, because it’s beneath the sand and won’t be able to stretch… I think. Point is, there are lighter ropes to use, if need be.