Yes. It's true. I'm a nut!
I have been, for the last year, taking apart outdoor picnic table umbrellas, and reconstructing them with the fabrics I love. I know, I know. But they look SO COOL with the vintage and retro fabric and trim I use! Yes, it's a lot of work. And yes, I love it!
I don't have any process photos but its pretty simple. I find (and am now given!) old outdoor umbrellas at, you name it: thrift stores, tag sales, estate sales, etc. I take them home and look for my BFF, the seam ripper. I take said seam ripper and choose one panel from the umbrella and begin to disassemble it. Once I have one piece seam ripped, I use it as a pattern piece to lay out and cut out the fabric(s) of my choice. Yes, it takes a fair amount of fabric. And that's why I like to use at least two styles per umbrella. I discard the rest of the original umbrella material, saving the plastic tips that go over the metal umbrella rods, and start the repiecing. Once I have all the new pieces of umbrella panels cut out, I begin the assembly.
Here is another view of one with a different fabric and a different trim on each side.
The umbrella assemblage is pretty simple. It's just sewing each panel to the next with a long line of stitching. Once all that is done, you add the edge trimming. I personally like the vintage dingle-ball trim the best. I have been amassing and hoarding a fair amount of it! I have many colors and styles. My second choice would be vintage trim that I call "fluffy or fuzzy," like the trim seen above.
I am just slightly obsessed with trim and ribbon. This doesn't even touch the tip of the ice burg in so far as the amount of trim I have stashed around here. And ribbon....I better not even get started on ribbon. My ribbon stash can be compared to Anna's yarn stash!
This umbrella is child size. I LOVE this one. Its one of the first I ever made. The vintage green and white ball trim is to die for, as far as I'm concerned! And the stripes! Come on! Perfection! We use this at a kid size picnic table we have when we have outdoor gatherings.
Once the material for a new umbrella is sewn up, I just place it casually over the opened umbrella framework and begin to slowly attach the fabric to the frame. I do this by cinching up the top while also making sure not to cinch too much so I have the right amount left around the edges to secure the little plastic tips that cover the poky metal ends. This is the most time consuming part. The fabric needs a certain amount of tension all the way around so the plastic tips are tight enough to stay on the rods but not too tight so that when you open it, it feels likes its going to explode. Its a delicate balance but one I find immense pleasure in discerning.
Wow! Here is one where I used the same fabric for the entire thing. If I remember correctly, this material is a Waverly print. Very shabby chic with the pinks and cabbage roses. It was a couch slip cover so there was a TON of material. I made a carrying case for this one too, out of the same fabric.
The other side of the one above.
I have sold a few of these out of my space at M&M. They are a bit hard to display down there but I've managed. I do take custom orders on these so if you or anyone you know would like to own one, it can be yours! You can pick your fabrics and trim to match your own decor.
I am hanging onto the ones I have now for my own yard until I get a few more made. You know, things are always moving in , around and out of here so it's really just a matter of time before these are all for sale too!
This is another photo of the first one, above. I wanted to show you how this is not a picnic table umbrella, but rather an "attach to your lawn chair," umbrella. These have come in super handy when we go to festivals or concerts with our low-to-the-ground lawn chairs and need a respite from the sun. They just attach to the arm of your chair. Plus it's super cute, right?!
Here is a closer-up view of this one. I LOVE the vintage bird fabric and green trim.
So, that's it folks! My umbrella story.
what are you deconstructing, reconstructing, upcycling, recycling, making, etc?
Working on a birdie sling,