Camp Shade & The Ultimate Tapestry Hack

 Festival camping often means pitching your tent in an open field, mid-summer, with no shade. You have to make your own! Tapestries are a colorful way to cool your campsite and make it easy to find among a sea of tan and blue pop-up canopies.

Rothbury, 2008

Do you see any shade trees there? I don’t.

The sun is going shine on your back door at 6am, and it doesn’t care that you’ve only been in the tent for two hours. Your campsite is your home for the weekend, and a little work when you first arrive will pay off in turning your music festival into a vacation.

Doesn’t that look cozy?


Overhead shade is a must. The easiest solution is a pop-up canopy.

You need one, period.

This is the living room of your festival home. Expect to pay around $125 for a basic 10’x10′, which will not include side panels. DO NOT buy anything cheaper than $100. (This is an approximate price, at time of writing. Always do your research and read customer reviews.) The first light breeze or sprinkle of rain, and the “budget” shade will crumble like gingerbread.

Untitled design
These were all from last weekend. It didn’t even rain that hard.

Of course, the more you’re wiling to spend, the more features you’ll get. At around $200 you’ll get a long-term investment. This may sound like a lot on top of your expensive ticket, camping pass, etc., but if you’re ever planning to camp again you’ll spend that in replacement cheapo pop-ups.

Ease of assembly is nothing to sneeze at either. At one of our festivals last year, we didn’t get into the campground until 11:30pm due to severe storms.  The only available real estate was up a steep hill, and we had to slog our gear up hill in the mud (both ways). After 3,684 trips up the mountain, we were grateful for the simple set-up process our canopy entails. The removable sides pay for themselves during rain, and when closed provide some privacy.

Home Sweet Home

The problem I kept encountering was finding a damage-free way to hang my cherished tie-dyed sheets. One option I’ve seen suggested is to add grommets, as you would find in the corners of tarps.

giphy7No, not him. These:

Unless your tapestry is a heavy-duty fabric (like canvas), I do not recommend this. Once or twice through the laundry, and the grommets will pop out leaving frayed holes.

Last year, I bought metal curtain rings with alligator clips, and the buffeting wind tore holes where they were attached.

Oh, the humanity!

Which brings us to my epiphany:

Suspender Clips- The Ultimate Tapestry Hack


When the idea to use suspender clips came to me, I ran straight to the nearest fabric store and found them priced at $4 for TWO CLIPS (insert Wilhelm Scream here).  I immediately pulled up Amazon on ye-olde-smart-phone and found 30 clips for around $6. Much more do-able, even if I was fidgety waiting two looooong days to test my theory.

How it Works:

My preference are clips with vinyl grips or teeth. These are fairly easy to find as they are popular to use for pacifier clips, and no one wants their clothing (or babies) damaged by metal teeth.

Tie a length of paracord to the loop of the suspender clip, leaving a 4″-6″ tail.  Flip the short tail on to your tapestry, then fold a bit of fabric over the cord.

By sandwiching the paracord tail between the fabric, the clip has something to bite. That sucker’s not coming off.

Because I have done this a few times, I have a stash of clips already tied to ~24″ sections of paracord, which I use for attaching the taps to the canopy.

I keep these clipped to a scrap of fabric, then wrap the tails in the fabric so they don’t become tangled in transit.

Hanging the Tapestries:

Attach the short sections of cord to the upper corners of the sheet, and tie to the canopy frame.


When we get to the bottom corners, this is where we can get a bit creative.  I leave approximately 10 feet of line so we have options depending on weather.


Need more shade? Using extra tent stakes, pull the corners away from your canopy footprint, in traditional lean-to fashion.


This set up gives you another sitting area, and allows for some breeze to sneak in.

I’m relaxed just looking at this.

We put these clips to a serious test this past weekend.  The rain came in unexpectedly while we were down at the main stage, and we didn’t have the chance to take down the exposed tapestries. How much do you think a rain-soaked, king sized cotton sheet weighs? 20-30 lbs? Whatever it weighed, it was HEAVY, and the suspender clips held on tight!

Our “Dead Bear” tapestry after weathering the storm.

When you try this (we know you’ll love it), tweet us a picture @FestiCamper. We want to see your beautiful campsites!

Happy Festi-Camping!

Please be Kind to your fellow campers. -KT

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