Instructions for making your own hammock for relaxing in the back yard, with only some fabric, rope and a little time.
What's more relaxing that lying around in your backyard in your hammock, napping in the summer breeze? Oh, you don't have a hammock in which to relax? No problem. You can make a hammock very easily out of some fabric and rope. You'll need 3 yards of some type of very durable fabric, at least 36" wide, needle and thread or sewing machine, and 50" of 38" diameter polypropylene rope, scissors and measuring tape. When choosing a fabric, select something that is breathable. Choose a fabric that when wet, dries quickly, or your hammock could mildew if accidentally left out in the weather. Remember, dark colors attract the heat more, so if you'll be using the hammock mostly in the hot sun, you might want to choose a light color of fabric instead. When possible, select a fabric that is wider than the 36" if there will be couples using the hammock. For the rope, choose a type that specifies "working load" and check the weight warnings. Select a weight that will hold at least the two heaviest people in your home. Since polypropylene rope won't mildew, it is recommended for this project. If you'll be using poles or posts, set them before beginning the hammock. Some people set the posts with eye bolts, but whether you decide on poles or trees, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of a couple of people. And remember, the further apart your poles, the higher up you'll have to tie the hammock to keep it from dragging the ground when you get in it. To make the hammock, hem the fabric on each end, and the sides, if necessary. Cut the rope in half and thread half through one end hem and half through the other end hem. Use a clothespin to help thread the tope through the hem. Gather the hem on the rope by scrunching it together, then tie a double knot to secure. Repeat for the other end.
Some hammocks are secured to the poles or trees with one rope that is tied around the support with a bowline or several half hitches, but you can also take both rope ends, loop them around the support and tie them to each other. Pull one end of the rope and wrap it twice around the support, then tie one end of the rope to the other using the Josephine knot, also known as the Carrick bend, which is easy to untie when taking down the hammock. To make the Josephine knot, take the two ropes on one end of the hammock, form one into a loop and place the loop on top of the other rope. Now take the end of the second rope and lay it over onto the bottom of one end of the looped rope, slightly below where the loop begins to form. Now take the second rope piece and place it under the other end of the looped piece, just under where the loop begins. Now bring the second rope piece around, over the top of the loop. Continue to move the second rope piece until it is now underneath itself and has formed a loop of its own. Pull both loops tight until they form a knot. This should hold your hammock in place. You can purchase mosquito netting to put over your hammock, before attaching it to the poles. It can be sewn to three sides of the hammock with a zipper on the fourth side, or it can be sewn to one side, and made to pull up over yourself while you're in the hammock. You can also sew a pocket onto the side of the hammock for placing glasses or a book. This can be made from the hammock fabric or another piece of lightweight fabric. Even an old craft bag makes a great pocket for a hammock, just remove straps and sew onto the side of the hammock. If the pocket swings while you're in the hammock and this bothers you, you can instead make a pocket underneath the hammock for sliding in magazines and such. If you want protection from the sun, you can make a makeshift roof for your hammock by tying a tarp over the top. Another hammock accessory is a rope which you can tie above the hammock and use clothes pins to hang a flashlight or other necessities.
Here's how to make your shoes last longer with a few quick and easy steps.
BEFORE WEARING Have a cobbler put sole guards on leather-soled shoes. The thin pieces of rubber protect soles and prevent water from penetrating the leather. Be sure to waterproof leather and suede shoes. Silicone sprays provide superior waterproofing, making them ideal for use on heavy boots that must withstand the elements. They do tend to darken light to midtone leathers and leave an oily residue, so for more delicate leather, suede or even fabric shoes, use a nonsilicone spray. Remove any dirt or dust from shoes before you spray them, and let them dry overnight.
MAINTENANCE Clean and protect your shoes, no matter the material. Leather: Polish leather shoes every third or fourth time you wear them. Apply shoe polish with a horsehair applicator. Let polish set, and then buff shoes with a soft cotton cloth. Over time, the wax polish will dull the sheen of the shoes and block the pores of the leather. To remove buildup, use a cleaning solvent designed to dissolve oil-based stains. Apply according to the manufacturer's instructions. Follow the cleaning with another application of waterproofing spray. After the shoes have dried, polish them once more to restore the oils. Suede: Carefully remove dust from the shoes' surfaces using a nylon brush. With a soft cotton cloth, apply a liquid cleanser made specifically for suede. Cover the shoes' surfaces completely. Once the shoes are dry, use the brush to restore the nap. Suede erasers can be used to clean scuff marks. Patent leather: To keep it clean and supple, polish with spray-on furniture polish. For an occasional quick fix, you can restore the shine to patent-leather shoes with an ammonia-based glass cleaner and a soft cotton cloth. (It may also be worth investing in a special patent-leather cleaner, which won't dry out shoes.)
MORE MAINTENANCE TIPS Don't wear your shoes on consecutive days. Moisture from your feet can damage leather and distort the shape. Leave shoes out for a day in a well-ventilated place before returning them to storage or wearing them again. Keep shoes free of dust, which can damage leather by drying it out or by trapping moisture. Give your closet a once-over every four months or so. Clean muddy or worn footwear. Use a gentle leather cleaner, such as Lexol-pH (oily leather cleaners, such as saddle soap, leave a sticky residue). You may be able to treat some stains on your own, depending on the type of stain and the severity. Baby wipes are terrific for removing dark scuffs from leather shoes. For water-based stains on suede or nubuck, use a suede eraser, or go over the affected area very lightly with an emery board, being careful not to disturb the grain of the suede.
STORAGE Keep shoes in a dry area, free from dust and direct sunlight. Use flannel shoe bags. Avoid plastic containers. They don't let air circulate around the shoes, which can lead to mold or dryness. Cardboard shoe boxes are not up to the job either. They can trap moisture and allow mold to grow. Some shoes come with flannel bags, but you can also buy them from a shoe-repair shop. Use shoe trees and toe shapers to maintain the shape of your shoes and control odors and moisture. For sturdy leather styles such as men's dress shoes, use cedar shoe trees - the cedar naturally absorbs dampness and unpleasant odors. For more delicate women's shoes, use toe shapers. They are particularly handy for pointy footwear and other styles that can lose their shape. Use boot shapers to keep your leather and suede boots from slouching.
PROFESSIONAL CARE Replace soles. To determine whether a shoe needs a new sole, press its center with your thumb; if it feels springy, it's time to visit a cobbler. When considering professional repairs, note the value of your shoes. It may not be worth investing $70 to resole a $40 pair of shoes. Replace heels. If you break a heel or decide you'd like to change the look of your shoes, your cobbler can increase or decrease the height of your shoes up to a half-inch when reheeling. A cobbler can also add a different style of heel. Adjust the size. If your shoes are snug, they can be stretched up to half a size; some cobblers can take in the calves on a loose pair of boots. Dye the leather. This is a great way to give new life to old shoes. In general, you should dye shoes to a darker shade; some suede and fragile or worn leathers may not be suitable for dyeing.
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