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Topic: Needing help!! Sew vinyl, or tape it?  (Read 1167 times)
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« on: May 09, 2014 10:03:48 AM »

I'm brainstorming ways to build a cover for a geodesic dome type tent that I'm building!
If you aren't familiar with the shape, it's this... Mine will be a 16 or 20 foot diameter


I am thinking of using a clear plastic vinyl for "windows" in some of the triangles. Then I thought, why not use opaque vinyl for covering the other triangles? It's waterproof and tough.

If I were to use those materials, something on such a large scale as this with such a tough material would be near impossible to maneuver around a sewing machine.

My question is about tape. Can you tape together vinyl? Would this stay for a long time? I'm thinking of using sail patch tape (like this http://www.amazon.com/Incom-Manufacturing-Sail-Patch-Repair/dp/B001FQKO2W). Or do you have any other suggestions? Experience?

Is there a tough, waterproof fabric that would still look nice, but would be able to fold up smaller and run through a sewing machine? (I would still use a sealant of some kind in the seam to waterproof it. Can you waterproof ripstop nylon?

Any comments would be great!

« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2014 08:33:56 AM »

Just some thoughts...

There are two kinds of tents that come to my mind: The kind that fully enclose those inside -- like a camping tent, and those that are more like event shelters, where there is still grass underfoot and lots of headroom and air can get though flaps in the sides, like a circus tent, or a wedding reception tent.

It sounds like you're thinking along the lines of the wedding-reception-style white vinyl tents that sometimes have the clear PVC windows.

On a geodesic dome as small as the one in your picture though, all I can think is that whoever is inside is going to be hot a stuffy, especially in the summer on a hot day. Clear vinyl windows will magnify the heat. If the tent is made of vinyl and comes all the way to the ground or worse, also covers the floor, it's also a possible suffocation liability. If the geodesic structure is stationery, you'll likely lose your grass on the first hot day.

I'd build the tent of a decent ripstop nylon with more durable nylon canvas construction where the tent touches the stationary structure. I'd make it something I can snap on and off the structure so the grass beneath can recuperate between uses. Then I'd erect a tarp well above the tent to offer rain protection and shade for the dome, but still allow the dome to breathe. If you're building a tarp, you'll want some rainproof seam sealer. If the tarp is vinyl-impregnated canvas and you're using a regular sewing machine, you might want to use a walking foot.

There are vinyl sealants that can be used that don't require sewing because they chemically bond with the vinyl. A contact bond may not be as durable as a sewn seam though.

If you're building a tarp to put over an existing tent, I'd buy a ripstop nylon made for rain protection and seam-seal that. Again, I'd place it fairly far above the dome rather than try to make it hug the dome's exterior.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2014 08:37:01 AM by McDreamy » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2014 09:20:14 AM »

Tape is too unreliable, once the edges get dirty or wet, pieces will start to curl up and then die. Plus getting enough tape for a job that big is crazy expensive when you can get a whole tub of glue for vinyl at the hardware store at a fraction of the cost of several rolls of specialty tape that appears to be a temporary fix for sails, at best.

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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014 02:46:50 AM »

I'd use regular tent fabric. Much less expensive than vinyl and I agree about the heat. If it isn't going to be moved, have you considered foam panels from the hardware store? I've even seen one with recycled pallet wood.

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