How to Make a Portable Sun Shade

Today we are going to be making a portable sun shade. We were trying to keep this project as low cost as possible without sacrificing ease of use and stability so we decided to go with a PVC frame.

PVC is going to be readily available at hardware stores and all together cost me around $15.


Sun Shade Supplies



Step 1- Gather your PVC

I asked the people at the hardware store to cut these sections for me, but the guy said that you can pretty easily do so at home with a hack saw or even a really sharp serrated knife.

Hop in the car, head to the hardware store and pick up

  • Four Side Outlet 90-Degree Socket x Socket x Socket Elbow Fittings (Looks like this)
  • Six 5’ Sections of PVC Pipe
  • Two 2.5’ Sections of PVC Pipe

Step 2 – Sew the shade

Start with the top of the sun shade, which is going to be along the width of your fabric. Fold over the raw edge towards the underside of the fabric. I am using ¾” PVC pipe, so I am folding the fabric over 3” to give myself a little wiggle room. Fold the raw edge just under to give it a nice finished look and pin it in place.

Then sew along that edge and to reinforce the area and also to make it look really professional sew a second stitch alongside the first.

Now it’s time to work on the bottom edge of your shade which will be opposite the edge you just sewed. Fold the fabric over 2” towards the underside of the shade. Like before, fold that raw edge just under to hide it and pin it in place.

Sew this edge in place with the double stitch just like before.

Step 3 – Sew on the trim

If you do choose the option of not having trim, and if you want to hide those raw edges towards the bottom of the shade do so before you sew your channels.

This step it totally optional. I am using fringe trim, but you could also use a lip cord trim or if you don’t want any of that then skip it!


Starting just below the channel at the top of the shade, I am taking it slow and lining the trim up to the edge as I go and sewing all the way down to the very bottom.

Step 4 – Install the eyelets

Install 5 eyelets along the bottom edge of your sun shade.

If you’ve never installed eyelets or grommets before or you want a refresher on the steps, you can check out our Installing Eyelets Tutorial here.

There are a few ways to make this shade and I am going to put the tent stakes directly through the eyelets, but you can absolutely use twine or rope if that works better for the size of your shade or the kind of stakes you are using.

Step 5 – Make the carrying strap

I am making a yoga mat strap to carry this shade around so you don’t have to chase around a separate bag while at the beach.

This is a super easy project, you can find it here, but you want to put the webbing through the d ring, then bring the webbing back under the flat side and through the ring.  And sew a reinforced box with an X through it.

Step 6 – The set up & take down

The general idea of this shade is to create a frame that you are able to hammer into the ground for stability. The front facing PVC pipe goes through the channel on the front of the fabric and it drapes back over the back half of the frame.

So, to get into the nitty gritty, take the 2.5’ sections and put the 90-degree sockets on all four ends. You are making a frame, so the other socket should face inwards, and there is one that is going to face down. Now, connect the segments with a 5’ piece of PVC.

Slide another one of the 5’ sections of PVC pipe through the channel on the top of your shade and complete the frame by sliding this segment into the last two sockets. Make sure that your shade hangs up and over the opposite side of the frame.

Take your final four 5’ segments and pop them into the sockets that face the ground to make leg stands. For a little extra stability, use a mallet and hammer the legs into ground a little bit.

Finally, pull your shade out at a 45-degree angle to your stand and secure it in place with the stakes.

And to take it down simply follow those steps in reverse. Put all of the pvc pipe inside of the shade and roll it up. Then use the yoga strap to tote it around.

I know that was really wordy, so check out our video tutorial to see the full process.

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