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  1. #1
    Senior Member FreeTheWeasel's Avatar
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    Make or buy a larger tarp?

    Greetings,

    I currently use a Hennessy Poly Hex tarp which is nice but heavy. I would like to move to a silnylon tarp and I would like your help in sorting out two basic options: make or buy.

    I've never made a tarp but I have made two quilts, both of which turned out really well despite my complete lack of sewing experience. They were quite a bit of fun, but time consuming. I plan to make at least one more quilt and a bunch of stuff sacks. You see, I bought myself this $100 sewing machine so it would be a shame to let it go to waste . . .

    The Black Cat instructions call for 8 yards and i would probably get a bit more to add doors right away. At $11.45/yard at Speer (oooh, brown . . . ) that is at least $91.60 not including all the other stuff and shipping.

    MacCat Deluxe $115
    Jacks R Better: $109.5 (sale)
    Speer Winter: $119
    Warbonnet: $200.

    At those prices, I'm having a hard time seeing any advantage to making my own other than for the fun of it. And lets face it, these guys have done it before and worked out the bugs. My first tarp is going to be functional but not so pretty.

    I suppose that I could get 2'nd quality silnylon from OWF inc, at $5.60/yard but the fabric is not as wide (60" vs. 65"). Has anyone worked with 2'nd quality? Is it all that bad?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    FreeTheWeasel

  2. #2
    GrizzlyAdams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeTheWeasel View Post
    ...
    I suppose that I could get 2'nd quality silnylon from OWF inc, at $5.60/yard but the fabric is not as wide (60" vs. 65"). Has anyone worked with 2'nd quality? Is it all that bad?
    I've used nothing but 2nds and have never had a problem. Got mine from OWF, thru-hiker, and Speer (back when he sold 2nds).

    Grizz

  3. #3
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    2nds are generally speaking cosmetic blemishes or blemishes which do not affect the integrity or usefullness of the item. Example would be blotchy dye jobs. Uneven but adequate coating treatments (streaky but everything is coated adequately. Sometimes uneven weaves or salveges that are not even. 2nd quality material is just not as esthetically attractive.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    I've used nothing but seconds and only once found something that would identify it to me as a second. Sometimes it's only part of the bolt that's damaged, and the 15 or so yards I get has no blemishes on it.
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  5. #5
    Mrprez's Avatar
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    I have a cat tarp for sale in the FS thread. It is the Speer Cat Tarp. Good price too...

  6. #6
    Senior Member FreeTheWeasel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrprez View Post
    I have a cat tarp for sale in the FS thread. It is the Speer Cat Tarp. Good price too...
    I did see that offer and I was tempted. I will probably stick with the larger sized tarp, say 11x10, since that is what I have now and it works fairly well when I'm trying to use on tarp to cover both my daughter's hammock and mine.

    FreeTheWeasel

  7. #7
    Senior Member NCPatrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeTheWeasel View Post

    MacCat Deluxe $115
    Jacks R Better: $109.5 (sale)
    Speer Winter: $119
    Warbonnet: $200.

    At those prices, I'm having a hard time seeing any advantage to making my own other than for the fun of it. And lets face it, these guys have done it before and worked out the bugs. My first tarp is going to be functional but not so pretty.

    I suppose that I could get 2'nd quality silnylon from OWF inc, at $5.60/yard but the fabric is not as wide (60" vs. 65"). Has anyone worked with 2'nd quality? Is it all that bad?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    FreeTheWeasel

    I think that's a very good point. It's hard to justify making your own just on cost of materials these days (unless you get the seconds). There has also been a big jump in functionality vs. cost in the commercial tarps too. Everyone has stepped up their game a bit lately.

    One reason I'd still like to make my own (although just a simple one) is just to do it, to feel self sufficient, to make it how I want it, in the colors I want it in (or as close as I can get). But yeah, for the fancier harder to make yourself stuff, you can't go far wrong with any of the tarps on the market.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeTheWeasel View Post
    The Black Cat instructions call for 8 yards and i would probably get a bit more to add doors right away.
    When you are making a tarp that isn't rectangular, often you can minimize the scrap material between panels by how you cut the panels out. The savings isn't much when you are dealing with two panels and the price of fabric is low, but it is a different story when you are dealing with many panels or when the price of fabric is high. Basically you just rotate alternate panels 180 degrees (or flip them over) and it all works out. Maybe this sketch will show what I am talking about.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Youngblood AT2000

  9. #9
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    2nds from OWF are fine. The only problem you may find is a little extra silicone.

    What size tarp are you making? I've used a nominal 5'X8.5' hexagonal tarp for over 200 trail nights with no problem. You can make one that size with no seams other than the perimeter hems. Three yards of 2nd from OWF for less than $20, including shipping, makes DIY worthwhile. A hex tarp that size will weigh about 7 ounces with lines.

    I use 5/8" polyester grossgrain ribbon along all the hems and 7/8" for pull-out loops. The ribbon makes it easier to put some curve in the 4 end hems of a hex tarp. The curve makes the tarp set up smoother. I use a simple batton - offset 3 - 4 " in the center - to draw the curves. I leave the hems that are parallel to the ridgeline straight. Works fine with no reinforcements. I stitch the pull-outs directly to the hem ribbon.

  10. #10
    JaxHiker's Avatar
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    Do you stitch the ripstop hem and then stitch the grosgrain as a second step or do one fell swoop?

    I just went through this decision. I didn't like the stock Hennessy tarp and wanted more coverage. I'm still trying to pick materials so I bought a MacCat in the interim since I have a 3-day next weekend. It's very well made and I probably won't do anywhere as nice a job. I'm still going to make my own, though, just because I can. I'm using the Blackcat plans also.

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