There are a wide variety of ways to make a camping hammock. Some take a while, others can be managed quickly. Cloth hammocks are the easiest, while macrame or crocheted hammocks can be both attractive and satisfying to make.
DIY Camping Hammock
Before beginning your DIY camping hammock, it is a good idea to review some hammock strap safety basics.
Whether you are creating a cloth hammock or making one made from rope or string, it is a good idea to keep strength in mind. Both the hammock sling and the end fasteners need to be strong enough to hold up the person who will be in it.
That often means adding metal grommets, hanging bars, or specially reinforced loops to your hammock. If you use fabric sleeves to enclose a hanging bar on a canvas or ripstop nylon hammock, double or triple stitch the seams and use polyester thread for durability.
Make Your Own Camping Hammock
A simple way to make your own camping hammock is to purchase canvas duck, often used for window treatments or upholstery, by the yard. Prices will vary, but a little shopping around should locate some that will cost less than $10 a yard. Better yet, you are not limited to plain canvas color. Modern canvas duck is available in a variety of colors and prints.
For a good hammock, you will want 2.5 yards, which will provide six feet for the bed, plus 9 inches on each end to form a hanging bar sleeve or to add grommets, or both. A good construction method for a sturdy canvas hammock is to fold one end over a piece of metal plumbing pipe and tuck in a hem and pin in place.
Remove the pipe, stitch through the edge of the hem. Just below the inside edge of the hem, add metal grommets spaced about six inches apart. When the grommets are in place replace the pipe, thread the ends using a pipe threader, and add cover caps.
Loop heavy cord through the grommets over the pipe. This reinforces the end holder. Bring all the ends to a single metal ring, and knot them there. From the single ring, create a hanging loop.
At the other end, add a hem. Gather the fabric together, pleat it, and place a single grommet. This will be the foot anchor. Add a sturdy hanging loop.
DIY Macrame Hammock
Creating macrame hammocks is a skill that predates Columbus visiting the “New World.” He describes seeing people sleeping in bug nets, which is a sensible and comfortable way to relax in warm climates. He brought the idea back to Europe with him.
If you are familiar with macrame, this could be a way to make a special sort of hammock rain fly that is uniquely your own. However, do not expect to begin your hammock underquilt on Friday night and have it ready to go on Saturday morning!
The process is similar to the creation of a canvas hammock. You will need 2 hanging rings, 2 spreader bars, 150 yards of hammock string, 10 feet of edging string, and if you want to add a fringe to your hammock’s edge, about 85 yards of thinner string to use in making the trim.
First, you attach the “saddle”, a solid V-shaped mat of macrame, from which will depend the support strings. These will attach to the spreader bar. You will then create a finger-crocheted edge the length desired for the hammock stand.
Temporarily, the edge will be fastened to a macrame loom, which can be as simple as two two-inch by four-inch pieces of wood that are firmly fastened at the desired distance apart. Then loops are added to the edge piece, and a loom or ball of macrame cord is threaded through the loops to form the rows of netting.
Once the desired width is obtained, the netting is fastened to another length of finger-crocheted edging. The ends of the net are then knotted onto the spreader bar. If fringe is desired, it is attached to the edging pieces as a last step.
The fringe can be decorated with beads or similar items. Keep in mind, however, that hammocks have been known to fall down. You don’t want anything that will create sharp edges if it breaks upon impact with the ground.
The hammock in the example is a simple net weave, but if you are experienced with macrame, you can create more elaborate designs for the body of your hammock. Just keep in mind that it is probably best to keep knots toward the edge of the hammock body since they will be a bit lumpy to lie upon.
DIY Crocheted Hammock
A DIY crocheted hammock is created in much the same way as a macrame hammock. You will need the hanging rings, the spreader bar, and you have the option of adding fringe.
The amount of string you will need for the body of the hammock will vary according to the weight and type. You can use a macrame cord, paracord, or cotton heavy-duty crochet thread for this.
If you are short on cash and have a lot of old clothing lying around, you can even make cloth strips and create your hammock using those. Just keep in mind that they will not have the “give” provided by a regular cord.
You can use a variety of crochet pattern stitches for the body of the hammock, ranging from a basic square net stitch to one of the many gorgeous afghan stitches.
It is advisable to use the same construction method as is used for the macrame hammock, that is, creating a long support edge and then working the body across the width of the hammock.
Creating your DIY camping hammock could easily be a winter project, carried out by a warm heater or fire while you dream of summer excursions beneath a canopy of swaying trees. Just remember, any hammock you make needs to be able to hold the weight of a live human being.
The old nursery rhyme about a cradle swung from the treetops might be fun to sing to your child, but the tumbling down part leaves something to be desired as a positive camping experience.