This is a guide to making a DIY gathered end hammock. This DIY gathered end hammock I am making will be made using Epsilon Multicam fabric. It is a 1.5oz fabric and will hold around 225lbs. It also has some weather resistance, which we will get to later in this article. The main reason for making a DIY gathered end hammock versus purchasing one is the price. You can purchase just normal 1.5oz or 1.9oz nylon fabric, which will do the trick for making a hammock for around $15 for a ten foot dimension'd hammock. Almost all hammocks are sold for over $45! That gives you another $30 to purchase better suspension parts than what you would get with one of those expensive store bought hammocks. So making your own hammock gives you options, and saves you money.
When it comes to fabric of course everyone wants to have super lightweight fabric that is tough, supports tons of weight and is weather resistant to a degree. But we cannot get everything we want. Making a hammock does not have to be complicated, so when you are getting started just roll with the punches and get a regular 1.5oz or 1.9oz fabric at JoAnn’s Fabrics, WalMart, eBay, etc. I have had my eye on some Ranger Green 1.9oz fabric on eBay for a while now, and it is $3.50 per yard, and to make a hammock you need between four and five yards. So as I said earlier, around $15 will get you decent fabric to make a hammock. If you weigh under 200lbs you might be able to go under the 1.5oz fabric, just test it out if you feel the need to shave some weight off, but a 1.5oz hammock will be mighty light to begin with so I recommend starting with 1.5oz on your first DIY hammock. When looking make sure to purchase “RipStop” nylon fabric, so 1.5oz or 1.9oz nylon RipStop is what you want. This will make sure you have a tough hammock, as RipStop nylon has special reinforcing that makes it resistant to tearing and ripping. RipStop has small squares in the pattern, so when looking for fabric look for the tiny squares, that is about as easy as I can say it.
This is a personal decision, and I always like large hammocks so I usually will go larger on the sizing. Most fabric comes in 60” width, which will be fine for a good hammock. The other dimension is the length, which I like a 10’ hammock. My favorite size is my Kammok Roo hammock, which is 10’ long, so when I make hammocks I go 120” (10’) plus 12” to 15”. So total is about 133” and the reason for this length is because we will be placing a knot in each end of the hammock, which will create that classic hammock look and give us a point for the suspension and hanging it. Once hemmed you will lose some sizing, so remember to account for about 2”-3” of less final size due to the hemming.
The main thing you have to do when making a hammock is hem the edges. This will be the main reason your hammock will last a long time. The reason is simple, you will have fraying on the edges of the fabric, by folding that over twice and stitching it, basically hemming it, you will keep the fraying at bay and not have your hammock fall apart after a few uses. To hem up the edges, you want to do all the edges of your hammock and to make sure the corners are “X” stitched if you will for strength. So fold over one side’s edges, then fold again to have a double fold. At this point you can either pin it all together, or just run it through the sewing machine, stopping every so often to readjust. Remember, this does not have to be perfect, just functional enough to keep fraying at bay. I recommend triple stitching the edges, so make sure to run three rows of stitching down each side. Remember with some fabrics there is an inside and an outside, so make sure to always hem towards the inside, never inside out.
To construct the hammock, it is quite simple. Go to one end and with the inside facing you start with one end of the hammock in your hand and gather it from left to right or right to left, whichever way you want to go. Once completed, make sure the hems on the end are facing the correct way, and then pull the ends of the hammock, there are two ends. Pull them out about six inches. So you should have something that looks like long edges and shorter middle. Then run your hand down the gathered end, and make a knot as close to the end as possible, just a simple over hand knot will do. Tighten it up, and then do the other side. If you created the gathered end correctly there will be a “V” at the end, and when hung will look like a cocoon if you will. As pulling those two edges on each end slightly longer than the middle with make the hammock taught.
The suspension for me is the simplest part of this whole DIY Hammock project. I love Whoopie Slings, so I recommend you get some. They are light, super-fast with adjustment and last a long time. As far as tree straps, get some tree huggers (6’ sizing will get you through most any hang) that are polypropylene webbing, do not use cord for tree straps. It will harm the tree in the long run, and we should practice “Leave No Trace” as much as possible. Anchoring these two items together can be done a few ways, I recommend two ways. Either get two carabiners, something like the CAMP Nano 23 or Mad Rock Ultra Lightweight Wire Gate, and use them to link the tree huggers to the Whoopie Slings, or get some soft shackles from Whoopieslings.com. Either way will provide plenty of durability and excellent holding strength.
Creating a DIY hammock is pretty simple, and the best part is you can customize it to your liking. If you want to buy some white fabric and call your winter hammock “Yeti”, then so be it. Those are the kinds of things you cannot do with a box store hammock. Also, the thrill and satisfaction of making something yourself can never be overtaken, it is a great feeling. So good luck, and I hope you have found this article helpful. Happy hammocking!