Making your own play set canopy is easier than you might think. It only requires basic sewing skills and lots of fabric!!! I went on a thorough fabric hunt to find the perfect outdoor fabric. I also made sure I had a coupon for 40% off, then it turned out the outdoor fabrics were on sale at 50% off. I was able to purchase 6 yards of fabric for $9.99 per yard. The total cost of this project was less than $70.
Here is how I did it:
- Outdoor Fabric
- Heavy Duty or Nylon Thread
- Snap Kit (if applicable)
- Using the existing canopy as a guide determine how much fabric you need. My existing canopy was 60″ wide by 158″ long. It was seamed lengthwise in long strips. I determined if I created a new one the same way I would have needed 8 yards or more of fabric to get the length. I determined if I seamed it across the width I could get away with only 6 yards of fabric. This did require the fabric to have a non-directional print (looks good any direction).
- Cut your fabric to size. For my fabric, I needed 3 pieces to join together. My fabric had a tiled print. I carefully cut my pieces at least 64″ wide, but I made sure to cut along the tile lines so I could match up the pattern. This would allo me to line up the three pieces and match the pattern. I can trim the excess fabric width after joining them.
- I decided to use the full width including selvedges for my project. I used the extra selvedge inside the seam. To get a “seamless” look I created flat-felled seams (No, I am not an expert…I used Google to figure out what they are called). Flat-felled seams are like the inseam on your jeans. It conceals the raw edges and with double-stitching makes the seam a lot more durable.
- First use your finger to crease the fabric where the print ends and the selvedge begins by folding the selvedge onto the right-side of the fabric. If it does not crease easily you can press it with an iron.
- Repeat to crease the other piece of fabric, but this time fold the selvedge toward the wrong-side of the fabric.
- Now sandwich the two folded selvedges together, so the raw edges are concealed by the creases. Unfold one of the creases and line up the raw edge inside the crease on the other piece of fabric. Then carefully flip the unfolded fabric over along it’s crease. (Hopefully the pictures help, because this is way easier to do than it is to explain in words)
- Pin the two pieces together. Your pattern should be matched almost perfectly.
- Sew 1/8″ in on the top crease.
- Flip over and sew 1/8″ in on the bottom crease. The finished result will be wide double seam with concealed raw edges.
- Do this for both seams in the canopy to join the three pieces of fabric together.
- Okay the french seams were the trickiest part. Now it is time to trim the canopy to size. I used a large area in my basement to lay out my new canopy wrong-side up. I laid the existing vinyl canopy on top of it and centered it.
- I wanted a 2 inch seam allowance for a nice wide hem all the way around. I trimmed my fabric to be 2 inches larger than the vinyl canopy.
- While still on the ground I folded and pinned my seams.
- Fold the seam allowance in half (at the 1 inch mark) so the raw edge meets the vinyl canopy. Crease with finger and pin temporarily.
- Cut the excess fabric out of the corners by snipping off some of the corner.
- Remove the vinyl canopy.
- Fold seam allowance over on itself and pin.
- Create mitered corners (see pic above on how to fold the corners).
- Sew hem all the way around. This is super easy, but can be a little cumbersome due to the amount of fabric. You may want a helper to keep the fabric under control. I also sewed diagonally at the corners to secure the miter folds.
- The last step to completing the canopy is attaching the snaps (if applicable, other play sets may use hooks and grommets, which install very similar to snaps). My play set came with snaps for the cover. One side of the snap is screwed onto the play set beam and the other side is on the cover. Each end had 4 snaps for a total of eight (and wouldn’t you know it, apparently snaps are sold in set of 7). I found a snap kit with the 5/8″ heavy duty snaps at Joann’s. I had to buy another package of snaps to get 8. You really only need one side of the snap, but they don’t sell them like that.
- Use your vinyl canopy as a guide for snap placement and mark the snap positions directly on your fabric with a pen or marker.
- Use sharp pointed scissors to cut a small hole for each snap. The hole must go through all the fabric layers (be patient on the corners). Use the post on the snap as a guide to determine if you cut the hole large enough.
- Attach the snap head according to directions. Basically, you put the snap head wrong-side up in the anvil, put the fabric over the post on the snap head, put on the inside snap piece, use the post and a hammer to set the snap. It is really easy.
- Put your new canopy on your play set. Enjoy! See many more pics of my completed playground canopy makeover.
Thanks Cheryl! And thank you for continuing to read Teal & Lime!
That’s one pretty canopy. :-)
Looks great!! We have a canopy that is old and dingy and I would love to make a new one with fresher fun color / pattern. Thanks for the instructions!
i need to do this exact same thing as our canopy ripped and has been blown off in hugh winds! now to search for sales!!
I was just trying to figure out how I was going to do this very same thing, thanks!
Thank you so much! I was just out measuring our old wind torn canopy to make a new one when I stumbled upon your website. It’s so helpful!! Thanks!
Jackie, thanks for posting this. I was wondering about the snaps also. I didn’t realize the canopy was seamed. That makes it easier to choose fabric:) Also, I thought I should find fabric the same on both sides (which pretty much eliminates most prints), however, yours works pretty well! Thanks, again!
Hi Marlene. Yes, the seaming was critical to opening up fabric options. The 45″ wide fabrics were not wide enough for our play set, but of course the fabric I loved was only 45″ wide. Seaming helped me get the right width. I could have seamed the other way (lengthwise), but had calculated it would have taken more fabric, with more waste.
I used an outdoor fabric and the inside of mine looks like a faded version of the real print. Most outdoor fabrics are this way. Also, the sun shining on the canopy makes the print show through when you look up at it. Just avoid prints that would look strange in the reverse, like anything with text or numbers. Geometric and floral patterns are best.
Hope you come back and share your canopy when it is done.
I love the actual play set itself! Can you tell me where you bought it from or where to find the plans?
Christy, The playset is from Rainbow Playsets. We ordered ours with yellow slide and swings. We tried to get all the plastic attachments in yellow, but apparently that is not possible.
Very cute! I wish I had time to do the same. My canopy is all torn up, do you want to sell me your dark green one? :-)
I’m definitely bookmarking this tutorial! I just spent 8 hours outside today staining my kids’ play set that came with the house that we bought last August. It looks good as new, but I’m dreading having to put on the nasty blue and yellow tarp back on. It deserves a custom, new canopy cover!
Gracielle, A new canopy is definitely in order. The good news is it won’t take 8 hours to make.
I’m looking to do this project now and just came across your blog. How did your outdoor fabric hold up? (now that I see it’s been a couple of years) I was thinking about hiring an awning company to use marine grade fabric in stripes to do the canopy instead since I wasn’t sure if the outdoor fabric at the store would hold up. Thanks for any input!
Kelly, We are a few years in and the canopy is still going strong. The first year we kept it up for the summer and fall, then replaced it with the tarp the play set came with in the winter (since we get lots of snow here in MN). This past winter came on fast and we never took the “summer” canopy down. The outdoor fabric survived the winter unscathed. It is hard to tell, but I believe the fabric might have faded slightly from the sunlight, but it still looks great! Good look with your replacement canopy project!
I am thinking of doing the same, but using heavy duty Velcro to attach rather than snaps…we are missing the original tarp, and without the original to use as a guide for snap placement, I’m nervous…what do you think?