BlackBird TopcoverBy FishinFinnThe basic idea for this design was to create a topcover for the Warbonnet Blackbird hammock for winter or cold weather hanging. A topcover is simply that – a cover for the top of your hammock that holds in heat, and blocks the wind.
There are only two tricky parts to this topcover, and I will emphasize the way I got around the issues. If you can find a better solution, you have more time on your hands than me, and are welcome to share that information.
Materials needed for this project:
3 ½ yards of Fabric (58-60” is best)
1 roll (8 ft. min) of ggr (grosgrain ribbon)
12” + of Velcro or Omnitape
18 inches of 1/8 or larger shockcord
2 cord locks
1 package of ¼” or ½” elastic
The first step in making the topcover is selecting an appropriate fabric. I’ve found that 1.1 untreated ripstop or the various types of silk generally available work best for a topcover or sock for many reasons, but breathability and lightweight are the main positives in using these materials. Using a non-breathable material will result in massive condensation in colder temperatures unless adequate ventilation is supplied, which mostly defeats the purpose of a topcover or sock.
CUTTING THE SHAPE OF THE TOPCOVER
After selecting the fabric for your topcover, the easiest way I have found to get the correct shape and length for the topcover is to hang your BlackBird tightly, with little sag in the ridgeline. Lay your fabric over the ridgeline of the hammock, securing each end with a clothespin. Make sure the fabric is wide enough to cover both wings while extended, with at least 4” of overlap on each wing. Then cut to length.
Once you have the length, it is time to cut the basic shape. If the wings of the Blackbird are not extended, pull them out and secure them at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible, with the fabric still draped over the hammock bodyStarting from the foot end of the hammock and about 4” from the ridgeline, cut the fabric in a loose arc, following the basic shape of the hammock towards the Blackbird wing, making sure that as you reach the wing you leave at least 4” fabric overlap on the wing – the more overhang, the better.
Continue cutting in an arc as you pass the wing, following the basic shape of the hammock. As you reach the end of the fabric at the head end of the BlackBird, you should be approximately 4” from the ridgeline. Repeat this process on the other side of the hammock.
CUTTING THE WING SLOTS
Now that you have the basic shape of the topcover, it is time to cut the slots that the wings will pass through, and that help to hold the topcover in place. With the fabric still draped over the Blackbird and the wings of the Blackbird extended, locate the black guyout lines for the first wing. CAREFULLY place your scissors along the black guyout line for the wing closest to the foot end of the hammock, and cut a slit in the fabric towards the BlackBird wing and hammock body. (I recommend lifting the fabric in one hand and cutting with the other to avoid cutting either the guyout line or the wing ggr.) Stop when you reach the outer edge of the wing. Then CAREFULLY change directions and continue that slit, following the outside edge of the wing, towards the head end of the hammock (AGAIN, I recommend lifting the fabric with one hand and cutting with the other.) Stop when you reach the outer edge of the wing, and the other end of the wing guyout line where it attaches to the wing. Do the same for both sides of the hammock (both wings.)
PINNING THE WING SLOT OPENINGS.
You will have a flap of fabric hanging below each wing, where you cut the wing slot openings. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE DESIGN, and one of the most complicated parts of making the topcover! It is a lot easier to do in practice than it sounds, as it is complicated to explain.
With the fabric still draped over the hammock, take the end of the flap that is hanging down, and lift it back towards the foot end of the hammock and the edge of the slit that you cut earlier. Pull the two loose ends together, eliminating several inches of fabric below the wing slot and creating a “V” shape of extra fabric where the fabric now joins back together, with the flap that was previously hanging. Pin together the flap and the main fabric body to hold this shape. The effect should be one of “wrapping” or “cupping” the wing opening, with the outermost edge of the fabric below the wings closer to the hammock body than the wing slot.
Repeat this process for the other wing. Once both wings are pinned, cut and remove the extra “V” of fabric created by the lifting/pulling/pinning steps above, leaving enough to create a sewn seam.
The topcover body can be removed from the hammock now by releasing the wing guyouts and removing the clothespins from the ends of the fabric. The resulting topcover body should look like the following picture: notice the straight ends – these will come into play shortly:
SEWING THE WING SLOTS
Sew the pinned sections below the wing slot opening like this, with your favorite seam:
I did a very simple seam by folding the two layers of fabric into each other, and sewing together. You now have a wing opening. With a roll of ggr, fold a strip of ggr over the wing opening and finish the wing opening like this:
Rather than starting in the corner of one of the wings, I start in the middle as it is more difficult to finish a ggr strip in a corner on a curve than it is to finish on a straight edge. I overlap the ends of the ggr.Once the ggr is added, I add 3 small strips of Velcro, spaced evenly across the wing opening. Repeat this process for the other wing opening.
SEWING THE ELASTIC EDGING
If you have never sewn elastic, practice on another piece of fabric before attempting this step. Different machines may also have accessories for doing this. I am giving instructions for how I did it, with no accessories and a simple presser foot. THIS IS DIFFICULT TO DO IF YOU HAVE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE, AS IT REQUIRES 2 HANDS ON THE FABRIC AND ELASTIC AT ALL TIMES! This is what holds the topcover to the hammock, and is very important in the design.
You should have a straight edge on both ends of the fabric body approximately 8” long. Do not sew elastic to the straight edges – either pin a piece of ggr, or fold and pin those straight edges so that you know where you are starting and stopping with the elastic– this is the draw channel for your shockcord.
Starting on one end of the fabric body at the edge of your rolled edge or ggr, lay the elastic on the fabric about 1” from the edge of the fabric, roll the 1” of extra fabric over the elastic and put a couple of stitches through the fabric and elastic – a ½ inch at best. If your machine can back-sew, put a couple of back stitches in as well. This will hold the elastic in place as you perform the next step. This is the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole process. In the pictures that follow, I have already sewn the draw channel on before sewing the elastic – DO NOT DO THIS – it makes it harder to start the elastic.
Reach around the back of the presser foot, and grasp the fabric/elastic end with your left thumb and forefinger and hold. With your right hand, about 4 “ in front of the presser foot, pull the elastic to near its maximum stretch while rolling the fabric over the elastic. You have to keep even pressure on both ends of the elastic as you sew, because while you are pulling on the elastic, you are fighting the presser foot and the advancing of the fabric. It’s tricky to get the amount of tension/pressure just right – it requires some coordination. I had to use one hand to take the picture, otherwise I would be pulling from both sides of the presser foot in this pic.
You will be sewing one side of the topcover, 4” at a time (or as much as you think you can handle, while holding/rolling/pulling the elastic at the same time as sewing,) until you reach the straight end on the other end of the hammock. Then, repeat the process for the other side. Believe me, If I knew of a better way to do this or had an accessory to do it, I would have done it a different way. If you don’t care about the pretty edge for the elastic, you can forget about rolling the fabric over the elastic and just sew the stretched elastic to the fabric – it is WAY EASIER, just doesn’t look as nice.
SEWING THE SHOCKCORD CHANNELS
Using either a ggr channel or rolled hem channel on the 8” straight ends of the topcover body, sew a channel. I folded the shockcord inside the ggr, then sewed them to the hammock body using a zipper foot to allow for the shockcord/ggr height and bulk.
Attach a cord lock to one end of the shockcord. Behind the cord lock on the shockcord, make a loop in the shockcord. This will keep you from losing the cordlock. Do the same to the other end of the shockcord. Repeat these steps on the other end of the hammock.
Your FishinFinn BB Topcover is complete! Attach to the BB by wrapping the shockcord around the ridgeline on the foot end of the hammock. Cinch the shockcord tight, then push the cord lock through the loop on the other end of the shockcord to hold the topcover on the ridgeline.
Pull the other end of the topcover to the head end, and repeat this process. Run your wing guyout lines through the wing slots and tie out the wings. Your topcover is installed.
Once the wings are attached, you can remove the head end shockcord to reveal the head end of the hammock like this:
*teaser – the BB sock instructions use pretty much the same methods, minus the elastic. Basically, once you have the top shape done, you lay that on another piece of fabric, and cut a mirror image of the shape, minus the wing slots. Then sew one side together, and attach the other side via zipper. Instructions to come*