Wednesday, August 11, 2010

DIY Sheet Shade Structure

We celebrated my in-laws 40th wedding anniversary last summer. We decided to have the party at our house, well in our backyard anyway. Our backyard has almost NO shade at all. And since we were having the party in August, that would not do.

We priced shade structures...yikes. Very expensive, not in our budget. So we decided to improvise and make our own. My wonderfully smart Momma gave me the idea to make one with PVC pipes and sheets. This is what we came up with, not perfect but it definitely helped. Let me explain what we did.
First we went shopping. We bought 10' sections of 1" diameter PVC pipe. Then we bought 3' (I'm pretty sure they were that long) plastic coated metal garden spikes. We hit IKEA for cheap flat bedsheets, we bought them queen sized. Then I bought a grommet kit from the fabric store.

We drilled small holes at the top of each section of the PVC pipe, four total on each top. We just used a regular drill, but we did notch out each area we were going to drill with an awl to help the drill bit get started. It went quickly, as the pipe was really easy to drill through.

I then set to work applying grommets to each of the four corners of the sheets. This proved the most labor intensive, but if you want to reuse and wash your sheets (like we did) then I wouldn't skip this step. If you are using old sheets or fabric that you don't plan to reuse again then I'd say you could skip this step and just cut holes directly into the sheet/fabric.

We then drove the metal garden spikes into the ground, leaving about a foot or so exposed. This wasn't too hard, but we did use a mallet and that helped alot. I wouldn't recommend trying to use just a hammer as you need some extra heft. We then slipped the PVC pipes over the spikes, making sure the ends with the holes are on top. Then up on the ladder to string the sheets to the tops of the poles, and I just used plain 'ol heavy duty cotton twine.

As you can see, it's not perfect but it's definitely a solution that worked for us. Had I to do it over again, I would have set the structure up the day before to see where the sun was going to hit during the time we'd be outside. We ended up setting up the tables not quite right (as you can see) and the table fronts were exposed in some places. I also would have had sheets come down the sides in the front, to somewhat close off the area and help provide extra shade. However all and all it worked and we had several comments on our industriousness.

Please click on "Linky Parties I Love" on the right to see where I'll be sharing my idea. Thanks!


  1. Oh I like this idea a lot! What a great solution:) looks like it was a lovely afternoon!

    ~Emily N. from "too Blessed to Stress"

  2. It sounds like it would be expensive until I remember how much my friend paid to rent tents for her son's wedding reception. I love the red - very festive!!

  3. Ingenious!

    I would have never 'thunk' this one up.
    Think I should link to your post - others would benefit from your mother's (and your) creativity. :o)



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