Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{ Miss Party Mom's } How-To PVC Canopy Tutorial

    photo credit: Moments Captured Photography

I know I promised this a while ago- so I'm sorry it took me a little longer than I was planning for it to. You see tutorials are so not what MPM is good at- they're totally for left brained people I've learned. I don't even possess the ability to hold a pen with my left hand- that's how un-left brained I am. Because of that I enlisted the help of my handy-man husband Shawn. He is ambidextrous brained, I'm sure of it. He's handier than Wilson from Home Improvement... and that's sayin' something... I guess I'm grateful after all for being poor that first year of marriage which caused Shawn to go get a job in construction so we could make ends meet... it's really paying off for the business now!

I was also going back and forth about whether or not Pinterest deserved to meet me for the first time sans makeup. But when I thought about redoing the "canopy photo shoot" (as in my husband holding a point and shoot camera) I decided that was straight crazy talk... that would 1) require me to actually put on makeup and 2) set up the flippin' canopy again. Neither of which I can be bothered with during party season.

One thing I am sure of is that not only do you benefit from this tutorial, I- the creator of it am going to majorly benefit. I swear to you I'm printing this damn thing out and laminating it because this canopy is actually very easy to put together when you have the directions for it and aren't just relying on your "memory" every time. I'm so glad I finally got around to doing this- major time saver for future MPM canopy set ups! You're welcome Hannah!

I came up with the idea for a canopy after seeing a ton of amazing canopies placed over dessert tables on Pinterest. They were all gorgeous and very well made. I wanted one to keep the sun off of a lot of my melt-able desserts in our non shaded backyard for my daughter's 1st birthday and also because- hello! they're cute. So I set out to beg my husband in to making me one the week of my 3rd ever party (an Ice Cream Shop I put together for a clients child's End-of-the-Year Party last June). "Baaa-aaaabe" I called to him, "I neeeeed some he-llllllp" (said in the most pathetic voice ever, trying hard to play the helpless wife- something I do NOT do often). I showed him photo after photo on Pinterest (by the way- husbands hate Pinterest- I'm pretty sure they all curse the day it was made). We decided that although the Pinterest canopies were gorgeous- most of them were built out of wood and not "collapsible" which I REALLY needed (have I mentioned the Party Cave is a tad bit small- and our garage, has um... cars in it?)

So Shawn came up with the idea for a take-apart PVC canopy which was the perfect solution. PVC is so durable and since I take these everywhere and bang them up pretty good- durable is what I needed. I can actually just take the entire thing apart and leave the pieces outside and wipe them down when I need them.

Shawn quoted me under $50 for the structure part of it which gave me another reason to be sold. He went to Home Depot and got all of the PVC piping, connector pieces and the cement mix. I went to the grocery store and got the cheapest possible cans of food I could find- in my case it was Hominy corn from Smart & Final at $2.23 each can. Large coffee cans would work too.

I'll try and answer any questions I can in the comments section- I'll even enlist the husband's help...

So let's see... Here's our list of needs...

1 handy man 

1 & 1/4" PVC piping 

1 bag of the cheapest cement mix you can find

4 large cans of corn, beans, ketchup, coffee- (whatever you can get for the cheapest)

Saw (and said handy man to help you saw?)

Measuring Tape


White Spray Paint

Velcro Sticky Back Squares

1 Queen Size Sheet for the canopy (we'll get to that later...)

6 Yards of Fabric (3 in each color)

From left: PVC pieces cut to the following sizes: 2- 2", 2- 24", 2- 48", 4- 59" & 2- 78" NOT PICTURED: 4- 11" pieces (photo of them placed inside cans is below)
Connector pieces: (left to right) 4: T-fittings, 4: 90 degree elbow fittings, 4: couplers. If you're picking this stuff up yourself (as in you're not making your husband do it), just print this pic and take it in to Home Depot and show a worker... (please ignore the fact that one piece is gold... I got desperate one day and needed that for a dessert table set up...)
Mix your cement mix and place an 11" piece in the middle of each of the four cans and push it all the way down to bottom. Tip: Wrap the cans in a matching wrapping paper to your party theme, they'll just blend in that way- instead of have people ask you what you made with the Hominy corn all day...
Place the 4 corners...
Insert the couplers...
Place the four 59" PVC pieces inside of all 4 couplers...
After all four 59" PVC pieces have been placed inside the couplers it should look like this. Please ignore our flamingos... this is what happens to your lawn when your husband is a youth pastor...
Place the two T-fittings up and down like this...
Place the two 48" PVC pieces inside the T-fittings on both the front and back.... please ignore my son picking his nose...
Should look like this when looking at it from the front...
Place two 2" PVC pieces on top of the two T-fittings in the front...
Place the elbow onto the two 2" pieces (again on the front)...
Place a 78" PVC across the front between the two elbows...
Place the two 24" pieces at the top of the T-fitting in the back...
And then an elbow at the top of that...

Put the 78" across the top of that...
Wow, we're getting somewhere!
All you need is an hour or two, a couple tools and a little determination!

Tip #1: When you get the entire thing together take your white spray paint and cover up the small black letters on the PVC with it.
Tip #2:  With a pencil add a small label to each of the pieces (ie: "front horizontal") so that the next time you go to put it together you will have a cheat sheet on top of the printed and laminated directions... other wise you might look something like this every time you attempt putting it together...

                                     "We've done this before- we can figure it out?"- Hannah


I used 3 yards each in the 2 colors of fabric- so 6 yards total. (I pieced fabric together on half of the stripes to create the right length in order to save on $ on yardage- if you don't want to have a seam in the middle or an extra step added to the project then you'll need 6 yards of each fabric, however the seam is up so high you cannot even see it so I wouldn't worry too much)
This isn't exactly hard to make but it is crazy tedious and time consuming and might make you wish you never stumbled upon this tutorial... NOT TRUE- you love a good challenge, right?! The canopy is made of: 16-  6" wide x 86" long strips sewn together (at a 1/2" seam allowance all around) and then backed with a queen sized sheet (backed: as in sewn right sides together- leaving about a 10" opening so you can turn it inside out) Once you've turned it- it's time to sew the 10" opening closed and PRESS IT AGAIN. You will regret hanging it unpressed, I even have a photo to prove it!

"NO SEW" (no stripes) VERSION: 
If you *DO NOT SEW*, a fun printed quality queen size sheet would also do the trick. If you sew well enough to sew 2 sheets together (as in on top of each other) to create a little more sturdiness so it won't sag in the middle- even better. It might be a little bigger than you need but nothing that a few more Velcro squares can't hold down. You can also try looking for a large striped heavy weight fabric and just hemming the edges. The largest stripe I have found is a 3" wide black and white striped Ikea fabric (scroll down to see photo). These stripes below are 5" wide- so it's really just a matter of preference. BUT please hem it up nicely if you go the striped fabric route... Hem tape even?!

This is what it should look like before the sheet is added: seams sewn in straight lines 1/2" from edge and pressed completely- pressing takes a lot of time- but it's an important step to make sure the sheet goes on smoothly. Tip: Pin the entire sheet to the stripes right sides together and then sew. Don't skip the pinning! This is a huge piece to sew and you should have a pin every couple of inches if possible! The sheet will be a few inches bigger than the canopy- just trim it off before turning it.

Once the sheet is sewn on completely- the canopy is done! This is a photo taken right after I have just pressed it, no crazy wrinkles ruining my photos!


The canopy should be attached to the PVC piping with Velcro squares which can be purchased just about anywhere (Walmart?) for about $5.00 a package. Apply a square to the upper back 78" PVC piece every few inches and then with someone's help holding the canopy up (so you can just focus on holding the edge) go along with the edge of the canopy and attach a square to it to match up with the squares placed on the PVC. Now pull the canopy to the front lower PVC and do the same at both of the front corners and on the corner of the canopy so you can again attach it- and a few along the front (78" PVC) but not too many- as you don't want it tuckering. Tip: I have also used packaging tape on the back part as well as fishing line and a needle to attach it to the front corners. While both of these work- I still find the Velcro squares are the easiest route.

DIY Canopy
The lower back bar is the perfect place to attach your fabric backdrop... since we all know how I feel about a good backdrop! If you don't, you missed this post...

If you look closely you'll notice the Velcro squares on the front corners... Pull the canopy just the right amount of tight from corner to corner- if it's too tight it will create pulls in the front.

Dessert Table Canopy
This canopy turned out a little short (I actually sewed it the morning of this party- not recommended!) so I attached it to the corners with fishing line threaded through a needle... This turquoise backdrop is also a queen size sheet (solid colored sheets sold at Walmart for $10) You can easily attach this with packaging tape to the back.

Dessert Table Canopy  This is what an un-ironed canopy that wasn't pulled tight enough looks like... I'm not proud. It was a hectic party week but it still kills me to do this day! For this one I used a plastic table cloth for the backdrop and hung sheer curtains over it (to disguise the plastic!)

Though time consuming to make, once you have a canopy they also make the perfect 6 foot dessert table tablecloth!

Easter Dessert Table with Canopy
For this "fake scallop" I used doilies double stick taped to the inside of the canopy!

Puppy Party Dessert Table with Canopy
This is the Ikea fabric!

xo Party or Die xo

Reader Photos!

Have you made a canopy from this tutorial? If so- I ask that when featuring it on your own blog, or when submitting it to other blogs you give Miss Party Mom and this post credit, a simple link would be great- thank you in advance!

Please send any photos you'd like featured in this ever growing post to and I'll add them in to continue to inspire others!

Reader Amanda Uriarte with her Carnival Booth

Reader Sarah Washington's Concessions Stand 

Fellow Party Planner TableTop Treats even used the canopy tutorial for her son's train themed 1st bday!

Reader Lisa Camerato- lovely Under the Sea party!

Are you ready for...
Reader submission from Ami Sutaria
Ice Cream Party Dessert Table with Canopy

Scalloped Canopy DIY
Thank you Ami Sutaria of Swell Cupcake for submitting this awesome tutorial for a Scalloped Canopy! How adorable is this canopy AND this party?

"We followed Miss Party Mom's instructions for the PVC pipe canopy, switching out empty paint cans (Ace Hardware sells them for $4.49 a piece) instead of the food cans for the cement. All of the rest of the steps are identical. 

For the fabric I bought 6 yards of mint colored broadcloth from Hobby Lobby. I already had TWO white queen size bed sheets which was perfect, because you will need TWO for this "easy" version.

First, I cut seven stripes of mint fabric to 6" wide and 110" long. Then I placed them 6" apart on the first white sheet securing them with pins. Once I liked how the stripes looked, I adhered them to the sheet using fabric glue.... That's right- I did not sew them, I glued them. (If you sew, you can also sew them on!)

Next, I lined the BOTTOM white sheet up and sewed it together to the top STRIPED SHEET on three sides: right, left, and top. I left the bottom edge un-sewn (which will later become the front scallop of the canopy).  The bottom was flattened out as nicely as possible and held together with pins. 

After that I took a 6" bowl and drew a scallop edge on the bottom using a pencil. The bowl created a half moon shape on each stripe. I then sewed on top of that pencil line that I drew using the bowl. I did not flip to the inside and sew, I did it on the outside to save time and energy... 

At first it was hard to sew a curve but the slower I went and more I did, the better the scallop looked. When I was done sewing the scallops, I placed Fray Check about 1/8" under the entire scalloped edge to prevent the soon-to-be raw edges from fraying. Once it was dry (iron it to speed the process) I used sharp fabric shears to cut away the remaining fabric as carefully and as in-line with the scallops as possible.

We assembled the PVC pipes as instructed in the original tutorial above from Miss Party Mom. Then I took the fabric and hung it on top of the pipes and secured it with velcro squares. As an FYI- this took about 20-30 minutes to accomplish.

Time to decorate! I took yellow streamers and wrapped it around the pipes from top to bottom and also around the paint cans securing with tape. I had some mint doilies from Michael's that I placed on top of the paint cans to hide the cement. 

I had extra fabric leftover so I sewed the two together and hung it as a backdrop, it was hung with velcro squares. That's it! I think it turned out pretty cute and everyone had a blast at our ice cream birthday party!

I have also posted the party photos and other details on my blog:

Thank you!
Ami Suteria
Swell Cupcake


  1. Oh My Holy, I have waited for this for a looooonng time. Thank you thank you thank you. Can you say summer project? (insert giddy giggles!)

  2. LOVE this tutorial. Just wish I knew how to sew. :)

    1. Because of this comment I've modified the "Making The Canopy" section- please see the part about the queen size sheet(s)!

    2. Wow. This is just one of the reasons you are awesome! Thank you for taking the extra time! I am soooo going to follow your tutorial. And I am pretty sure my husband will also not be thanking you for this. :)

    3. Hehe... Just remind him that at least it's collapsible and you won't be taking up garage space! :)

  3. UM... forget the tutorial.. are those PLASTIC PINK FLAMINGOS IN YOUR YARD!? So envious right now.. My home owners association would have my head :) I'm lucky they haven't confiscated my garden gnome! lol
    But LOVE the tutorial, and I agree,, the tutorials are more time consumiing to put together than the projects most of the time! So thanks big time :D Now.. I'm sure my Handy Man wont be thanking you but that is a whole different topic!

    1. Have your hand man take it up with my hand man... ;)

  4. LOVE THIS! I'll be printing it out and handing it to my handy man tomorrow ;-) I've been hounding him about helping me with a backdrop and he keeps telling me to "draw it up".... this will be much better! Thanks for the great tutorial... and NO I can't ignore the pink flamingos or your son picking his nose (favorite part). Just another reason why I love you MPM -- always keepin' it real.

    P.S. Canopy turned tablecloth. Genius.

    1. I said to myself after looking at the photos, "Well, I'm not in make up- bad choice... there's pink flamingos in the background (and a cereal bowl to boot), Cormac's got his finger in nose... all and all I'd say it went pretty darn well..."

  5. My husband and I made the frame last night and that went off without a hitch... but I guess I should've looked closer at the canopy instructions before I began because man am I lost right now... what are the measurements of the fabric supposed to be for the canopy top? and are you saying if we want to use queen size sheets we would need to sew two of them together? would a full size sheet be big enough? and what is a good size for the backdrop sheet? I guess if I had the full measurements of what the fabric should be I wouldn't be as lost right now...I cannot sew to save my life. even the thought of sewing two sheets together is making me cringe right now. any help? thanks!! and thanks so much for this tutorial!!

    1. Hmmm... Ok, so you are doing the one where you don't sew? The only reason I suggest sewing two sheets together (front to back- not side by side) is for sturdiness but I don't necessarily think you NEED to- you can try to just Velcro a single Queen sheet on- I am not sure if it will sag or not due to being too thin. I recommend Queen sheets because they're the correct size, all of my sewn striped awnings that you see are backed with Queen sheets. The back drop sheet is also a queen- yes.

    2. Thanks for your response :) Also, I thought I'd add a note to those that may not have a handy man or a saw to do said handy work...our lowe's home improvement store cut all of our pvc pipes down to our needed measurements and didn't even charge us for the cuts. There was a sign at the wood cutting station though that said the first two cuts were free and then each additional was $.25 cents but that sure beats doing the work yourself or buying a saw. And you might get lucky enough to get a man that was as nice as ours to not charge you anything. I just pulled up this tutorial on my phone, jotted down the measurements on a sheet of paper and let the guy do his thing. Sure, my hubby could've done it. But I'm sure he was thankful that he didn't have to and we got to get right to work with building it once we got home instead of sawing pvc :) I still haven't dealt with that canopy yet...I think I'm going to head to Anna's linens on lunch today and check out the queen sheet clearance selection. Procrastination at it's best... anyways, thanks again for this awesome tutorial. I have a gender reveal party and my soon to be 8 daughter's carnival party two weeks apart and I can't wait to use this at both!

  6. Thanks for the great idea and detailed instructions. I'm making this to provide shade for a luau-theme buffet table. I'm a visual person so appreciated the pictures. I bought the pvc at Home Depot and they didn't charge to cut which was great since I don't have access to a handyman or a saw! Also looked for an alternative to painting over the lettering because I always make a mess with spray painting. My "handyman" at Home Depot suggested lightly sanding over the lettering and finish the job with Brillo pads. Worked like a charm and took all of 1/2 hour for all the pieces.

    1. Great info! I love that Brillo pad idea!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this!! I'll definitely use it when the time comes.

  8. Very nice! But as much as I like your colorful striped canopies, I certainly don't have the time or patience for that (although I do know how to sew). And with all the awesome home dec and outdoor utility fabrics out there, in my mind, it would be MUCH simpler to just buy enough yardage of a striped fabric to get the same effect.

  9. If you read through it- that is definitely a suggestion in the No-Sew technique! Thanks for highlighting it!

  10. I absolutely love the idea of this canopy!! Do you think you could actually stretch it to make it a 10x10 - or what modifications do you think I should make to try to accomplish this? Thank you for such a wonderful tutorial!

    1. I have no clue,math is not my friend! But if you figure it out let us know!

  11. GREAT Tutorial!! I can't wait to give hubby the list of things to buy and instructions on how to make it happen. hehehe! :o)

  12. Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!

  13. Awesome tutorial, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Also love your down to earth writing, made me giggle.

    1. Oh I'm glad I could make you laugh, that always makes me happy :)

  14. Love the entire project... Will definitely be making these for craft booths.
    Just an FYI... Hominy is not a bean... it's corn... (no disrespect intended, just wanted to clear that up..).....Thank you again for the wonderful Tutorial. Was presented with a very well, easily understood and clear explanation. Kudos!

    1. Good to know! Thank you! Changing that now and no disrespect taken. When it comes to food or cooking, I can use all of the help I can get ;)
      Glad you liked the tutorial!

  15. Thank you thank you thank you..... My husband and I have spent many of hours in the hardware store arguing about how to make a canopy for a carnival themed graduation party. Like most projects he tries to mastermind it with a over the top construction that needs a masters in engineering to understand. Your way is much more easy and efficient....thanks you for saving my marriage....or at least my husband!

    1. Hehe, love this comment! I'm glad you're finding it useful! If you get a pic of it- send it in and I'll add it to the post to encourage more users that it's really a pretty simple project! Best of luck and congrats for having a graduate!

  16. We're doing something similar last-minute for a craft fair that REALLY snuck up on us. We have a corner made of pallets and are making a base/pole to hold the other end of our tarp...BUT I stupidly forgot to put it together until..well, about an hour ago. Question for ya- how long does it take for the cement to set up? I don't care if it's 100% cured as long as it will hold up our pole okay. We only poured it about 3" deep in a bucket that's about a foot wide, with the idea that we can add weight with rocks if needed as long as the pole is stuck in place. Any idea whether it will be ready by (gulp) tomorrow?

    1. Sorry- def didn't see this in time. Not sure about cement setting- great question for Google! I hope you were able to figure something out!

  17. I'm really a dunce at math...would you help me?
    The strip lengths to make the stripes is 86". that's about 7' but the front to the back is only about 4'. If we need about 5' from the back pole to the front pole, that leaves about 2' of extra canopy? did I miss something? won't that hang over the front too much? It looks like there should be only about 12" in the front. Thanks for any help. We want to do this!

    1. Sorry, I'm a dunce at math too... I'd say just adjust it to fit, it doesn't matter if there is too much in the back, it'll hang longer and you can't see it.

  18. This is really cute and you did a great job at documenting the steps. Thank you!

  19. Just had my grandson's party and made this great canopy for a candy buffet. It was pretty easy with the help of my husband. I am pretty crafty but not the best sewer so I attached two 90 inch overlays which can be purchased at CV linens. I also got the cans from the school cafeteria. They always use big cans and then throw them in the recycling bin. I will send pictures.

    1. Excellent! Happy to hear it! I love satisfied tutorial readers!

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  21. Awesome project. I've purchased the PVC pipes today for a project this weekend! Wish me luck! Hope it turns out as nicely as yours!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  23. First of all thank you for sharing this wonderful tutorial. I would really like to make a white and red tripe canopy for my nephew's first birthday, carnival/circus theme, but I don't have sewing experience and the sturdy outdoor material is very pricy. I am going to try and have my mother help me with the sewing but she only speaks Spanish so I have to translate the instructions to her and I have some questions. I do apologize in advance if I sound not so smart with my questions, can I use 6 yards of one color and attach the queen size sheet under? I wasn't sure what the second color was for and I don't see it in the pictures above. To get a picture of what I am trying to accomplish am I sewing the sheet and material so that I am crating something like a pillow cover/Duvet and then turning it inside out and closing the opening (10") to create a seamless canopy?

    1. If you are planning to use only one color of fabric- just use two queen size sheets and sew them together (even a non-sewer can do this). Don't bother with purchasing 6 yards of fabric... A sheet will be pre-hemmed and probably cheaper in the end. You don't even necessarily HAVE to double layer them, but in my opinion it will look nicer and not as see-through as one sheet might be. As for your last question: YES, exactly! Best of luck to you!

  24. I am so excited about this project. I am a Girl Scout Leader and our mix troop of Brownies & Daisies want to have a carnival themed cookie booth. We are hoping to earn the Bling My Booth patch! I am passing this tutorial on to my husband and his friend (both whom have offered to create our booth this year)...

  25. Well, as a former Girl Scout I'd like to say, "On my honor I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times and to live by the Girl Scout law... AND try and win as many patches as possible for my cute green vest in the process!" Best of luck- send a pic to me and I'll put it on the blog!

  26. To save money on pvc here are the best way to make the most of your cuts. The pipes come in ten feet lenths ( 120 inches ). If you cut them this way you only need to buy 5 ten foot pipes
    120 = 59/59/2
    120 = 59/59/2
    120 = 78/24/11
    120 = 78/24/11
    120 = 48/48/11/11

  27. Hi! I think I may attempt the canopy! How did u cut such long pieces of fabric into nice even strips?

  28. Awesome idea and wonderful pics . I am so happy after see this and really impressed . Thank you so much for sharing this wonder post with us.

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  29. Thanks meant for sharing this type of satisfying opinion, written piece is fastidious, that’s why I’ve read it completely. birthdays

  30. You mentioned that you could attach a backdrop to the lower back bar. I don't think I understand where that is. Could you show/explain that for me? Just set up my pvc and can't wait to see what it looks like with a canopy. Thanks for the tutorial!!

  31. Oh wow this is a great work you have done. And your canopy tutorial is very useful for me for making a canopy. Thanks a lot to you

  32. Amazing! Thank you for this tutorial. I've got a craft fair coming up and this is exactly what I needed.