Monday, March 25, 2013

Homemade Play Parachute

My boys love parachutes.  And now I am pretty sure they think know that I am a genius after making a parachute of our own.  If you look online, large parachutes that are 10'-12' can retail for $25-50 or even more.  And who knows how much a custom-made parachute would cost.  I'm frugal so I decided to make my own.  And I ended up making one for only $6 using shower curtains found at the dollar store.  Yes, $6!!

The inspiration came to me a few months ago.  We have a shower curtain that we use as a splat mat for K when we eat in the dining room as we have light colored carpet in there.  I was attempting to fold the shower curtain when K started lifting it and wiggling it.  So I started moving it up and down like a parachute.  He thought it was awesome and couldn't stop laughing.  And that's when I had my aha moment!

So here's my tutorial on how to make a play parachute using dollar store shower curtains.  The final diameter is approximately 10'.

Tutorial for sewing a homemade play parachute made from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

What You'll Need to Sew a Homemade Play Parachute

Materials
  • 4 shower curtains (not fabric ones) - I paid $1.50 for each one.
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread in a coordinating color
    Dollar store shower curtains used to make a homemade play parachute from And Next Comes L

How to Sew a Homemade Play Parachute

Tutorial
I should mention that I am terrible at taking photos while I make any project so I do not have pictures for every step in the tutorial.  So hopefully I can describe the process clearly enough.

It took me about 2 hours to make the entire parachute.

Step 1: Find the top of the shower curtain where the curtain hooks would go.  Cut that part off.  Repeat for all four shower curtains.

Step 2: Lay the shower curtain on the floor and fold diagonally (i.e., match top left corner with bottom right).  Cut along the fold.  Repeat for all four shower curtains.  You should end up with eight pieces.

Step 3: Lay out all the pieces on the floor (or outside if you need more space).  Be sure to organize it in the order that you want the final parachute to be.  When all the pieces are laid out, it should form a rectangle.

Step 4: Pick two neighboring pieces to start with.  Sew the right sides together.  I used a 4/8" seam allowance.  Well, I tried to...I don't always sew straight.

Photo tutorial for making your own homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

Step 5: Find the next piece and sew right sides together.  Repeat until all eight pieces have been sewn together.  It should form the large rectangle that you had laid out back in step 3.  It was at this point that I realized that my crazy idea was actually working out!

Photo tutorial for making your own homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

Step 6: Fold the rectangle until it forms a large diamond, with the center of the parachute at the top.  Try to flatten the material as best as you can.  Cut the top of the diamond in a semi-circle shape.

Photo tutorial for making your own homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

Photo tutorial for making your own homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

Step 7: Unfold the diamond so that you return to your rectangular parachute.  There should now be a circle in the middle of the parachute.  Sew a hem along this inner circle.

Photo tutorial for making your own homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L

Step 8: Cut your entire parachute into a circle.  This step took a few practice cuts on a piece of folded paper before I figured out the easiest way to cut the parachute.  I didn't want to screw it up, so that's why I practiced with paper first.  I suggest you do the same.  Or lay the parachute out fully and cut it in a circle that way.  Do whatever is easiest.

Step 9: Hem the outer edge of the parachute.  I made a really huge hem so that the kids would have a better spot to hang onto when playing with the parachute.

Step 10 (OPTIONAL): Make handles using the scraps and sew them onto the parachute.  I did not make handles and the kids have had no problem hanging onto the parachute so that's why this step is optional.

That's it!

The Finished Product
The parachute ended up being approximately 10 feet in diameter, so it is quite large.  We can play with it in our basement (which will be perfect for rainy days and cold winter days), but I can't wait to use it outdoors.  Now if only the snow would go away...

I tried numerous times to take a picture of the parachute in action, but the kids ended up all blurry and I had to help hang onto the parachute.  Regardless, here are a few pictures to show you what it looks like.

Here is how large the parachute is in comparison with a large 18 month old.

Make your own 10ft homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains with this tutorial from And Next Comes L

Here's the parachute, folded in half, laying on my couch.

Make your own 10ft homemade play parachute from dollar store shower curtains with this tutorial from And Next Comes L

I love how well this parachute turned out.  It's so bright and cheery!  And the fact that it's translucent is a bonus because I can always tell where a child is underneath it.  It's homemade and inexpensive, which are two more reasons to love it.

I happened to finish making it before picking my niece up from school, and she was sleeping over for the weekend, so we had plenty of opportunity to try it out over the weekend.  It seems to be holding up well so far and the kids have LOVED it.  It will be a wonderful addition to our playroom.

DISCLAIMER: Never leave your child unattended with the parachute.  It's essentially a gigantic plastic bag.

Other Ideas You'll Love




Tutorial for sewing a homemade play parachute made from dollar store shower curtains from And Next Comes L
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34 comments:

  1. So cool! But I doubt I could clean a 10' are in my house to play with it! :P

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    1. You could always make a smaller one or wait until the snow melts.

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    2. True, outside there's room. It would also be a good homemade gift.

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    3. I agree. It would make a great gift!

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  2. What a fab idea - and I'm just getting going with my new sewing machine so think I might give it a go - it's certainly a lot 'bigger' than anything else I've made!

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    1. It's definitely the biggest thing I've sewn! Good luck with yours.

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  3. Awesome idea and so affordable!! Love it!!

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    1. I know, eh?! So easy and affordable!

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  4. This will be so much fun outside this summer!
    Great tutorial!

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    1. I definitely cannot wait to try this parachute outside!

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  5. Thank you for this - I've pinned it and it's something that I will be making for us at home,

    I'm popping by from Tuesday Tots Linky and wanted to say a big thank you for linking up this week.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and for pinning my post. I'd love to see your parachute when it's finished!

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  6. Brilliant! My kids are going to love this!

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    1. I hope they love it as much as my boys do!

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  7. Hi! This is a great idea... but I am confused on how you start the cutting process. If you cut the curtain (rectangle) in half, from corner to corner, wouldn't that give you 2 triangles? Do you think you could draw how to cut and lay it out and post it as an image? I'm usually good with visualizing this kind of stuff but for some reason, just can't see it. : P

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    1. I should have been better at taking pictures along the way, but yes, cut each shower curtain so that you get two triangles. I will try to draw an image as soon as I get a chance.

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  8. Hi, this is a brilliant idea! I'm off to Sri Lanka this year as a volunteer with college and we were looking to buy one of these but then saw the price so I'm going to make one and hopefully the kids out there will love it! Great idea, thanks!

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    1. That sounds like an amazing opportunity. I hope the kids love it too!

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  9. Awesome idea. Just one question - why the hole in the center? Is that normal for parachutes?

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    1. I am not sure if it's normal per se, but I like having the hole for two reasons. First, it's another way to see the kids underneath. Second, you can use it for parachute games such as bouncing a ball on the parachute to try and get it through the hole. You could always leave that step out as it isn't necessary. Hope that helps!

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. It is normal to have the hole in the middle. It may have something to do with air flow as the parachute is moved up and down. Also with enough kids they can create a dome and sit inside the dome if the fabric is ideal. To make the dome, have the kids grab hold of the parachute as usual, stand facing away from the center of the parachute (backs to each other). The kids will raise the parachute together to get air flowing underneath (use a 123 count). When the parachute comes down have the kids to lower it all the way to the ground stepping backwards a bit toward the center. They will have to squat or lower to their knees. Secure the parachute as much as possible with hands on the ground or floor to keep air inside. When the kids are just the right distance apart from each other and from the center of the parachute and if the parachute fabric is ideal it will make a dome with them on the inside. You can also position them to be on the outside of the dome, but to be underneath is much more fun! The distance apart will depend the arm length of the children. I have done this before and it is simple, but amazing for kids. However, the parachute I used was purchased not a DIY so it may not work with a shower curtain, but I do live this idea!

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    3. I remember making the dome as a child in elementary school! So much fun! I've never tried it with our DIY one because we have only ever had a maximum of three kids playing with it at a time.

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  10. This is great! Thanks for posting it! How has this held up?

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    1. So far so good. It has a small rip in it and that's it. It really depends on what your shower curtains are like. These ones are quite thin.

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  11. My first though is wondering if this is anything like plastic bags? Am I being over paranoid? I just wonder about suffocation risk...

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    1. As I mentioned in my disclaimer at the end of this post, never leave your child unattended with the parachute as it is like a giant plastic bag.

      Having said that, please always do what you are comfortable with. You know your children and yourself best. Use your own discretion. My children are always fully supervised during all activities found on my blog, including playing with the above parachute.

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  12. fantastic idea, could be useful for the dementia home I work in. brilliant idea.

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    1. Oh how wonderful! Thanks for your comments!

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  13. Great idea! When you have it all folded up to cut the center circle you could use a string and pen to create a perfect circle. Before cutting the center circle just secure a string at whatever length you choose with a thumbtack or clip to the point, then attach a marker to the other end of the string, stretch the string out and draw your circle line. Same idea as a compass. Then you can cut both ends while it's all folded up. I'm definitely going to try to make one of these!! Thanks!!

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    1. Now that's a great idea! Thanks for the tip.

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  14. I'm just curious how well this works as compared to the nylon ones you can buy? Is the "fabric" light enough to have the same effect as the nylon?

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    1. It's been a long time since I've played with a nylon one, but I think that this homemade one acts and feels similar, at least to the best of my memory.

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  15. Question- I have the 4 curtains cut into the 8 triangle pieces, but I just can't figure out which tip is considered the top or center of the parachute. I have laid it out on the floor but it is puzzling me. Can you help explain? The fold line that you cut the curtain in half with is the longer of the 3 sides. At least mine are. Are the 2 equal sides considered to be the sides that you match the right sides together with and then you just have to cut it into a circle and hem the bottom? I just keep placing it out on the floor and trying to analyze it too much I guess. I'm anxious to start sewing. Hope to hear from you soon. Char Hawkins

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    1. Goodness, it has been so long since I made this that I am trying to remember exactly what I did. I *think* the longer of the 3 sides is what I matched up to sew with another triangle. I remember that once I had all the triangles arranged that it ended up looking like one gigantic rectangle that I then cut into a circle and hemmed.

      If it helps, take a look at the first photo in the blog post and notice the triangle that has the stripes. Those stripes ran vertically on the original shower curtain. So if you can use that visualize how I arranged the triangles, then maybe that will help?? If only I had taken more step by step photos while I made this!

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