How to Make a Slide-On Wire-Hung Canopy
Add extra shade and style to your outdoor living space with a wire-hung canopy system. These billowing shades easily slide on the cables they hang from so you can have shade when you want it and retract them when you want a little more sun. A wire-hung canopy can be installed on any pergola or other freestanding structure. Our comprehensive video will show you step-by-step how to sew your own canopy panels and install them on a pergola.
To make planning your slide-on wire-hung canopy easier, we created a new Wire-Hung Canopy Fabric Calculator just for this project. By inputting the dimensions of your structure and the width of your fabric you’ll not only get a fabric rendering, but you’ll also get a breakdown of how to build your canopy and a complete, custom materials list based on your measurements.
When it comes to choosing a fabric for this project, we recommend using either Phifertex® Plus or Sunbrella® Marine Grade. Both provide good shade and durability out in the elements. If you choose to use Sunbrella Marine Grade, though, you will need to install drainage grommets in the center of each span (the loop that hangs down) so rainwater won’t gather on the panels. Since Phifertex Plus is a mesh, it will drain the water on its own, making the grommet unnecessary.
In addition to sewing the panels and installing them on your structure, this video also outlines how to add a rope pulley system for easily opening and closing the shades. This system allows you to control the movement of all three panels from a single rope pull on one of your pergola poles. The pulley system is optional, but is an addition that we highly recommend.
If you decide not to use the rope pulley system, a long webbing strap can be used to open and close the canopy. Sew webbing into a loop and insert it under the center strap eye at the back of each canopy. This can then be used to manually move the canopy.
Here's a PDF download with instructions and a photo tutorial of how to make the alternative webbing strap system.
- Measuring Pergola & Calculating Panel Dimensions - 0:34 min.
- Installing Eye Bolts - 4:34 min.
- Rigging Wires - 10:10 min.
- Cutting Fabric & Hemming Sides - 21:24 min.
- Creating First Sleeve - 35:22 min.
- Creating Intermediate Sleeves - 41:18 min.
- Creating Last Sleeve - 51:35 min.
- Installing Drainage Grommets - 55:49 min.
- Preparing Pipes for Sleeves - 59:08 min.
- Attaching Hardware to Panels - 1:06:46 min.
- Hanging Panels - 1:15:44 min.
- Installing Pulley & Rope System (Optional) - 1:17:01 min.
- Materials List - 1:36:58 min.
- Polyfab Pro Stainless Steel Eye Bolt With Nut & Washers 5/16" (8mm) #120270
- Polyfab Pro Stainless Steel Turnbuckle Eye & Eye With Nut 5/16" (8mm) #120267
- 1/2” EMT Conduit Pipe
- Nicopress Sleeves 1/8" #23103
- Wire Rope 7x7 Stainless Steel 1/8" #105433
- Phifertex Plus Vinyl Mesh 54" Fabric (we used Garden Green #3013966)
- Seamstick 1/4" Basting Tape for Canvas #104167
- Polyester V-69 or Sailrite® PTFE Lifetime Thread (we used clear #107128)
- Strap Eye Stamped Stainless Steel #120461
- Self-Drilling Screws Stainless Steel #8 x 1/2”
- Fixed Eye Snap Hook Stainless Steel 3/8" #105434
- Spur Grommet #2 #26316 (not required with Phifertex)
- 1” Polyester or Sunbrella Webbing #531600 (Not required if pulley rope system is used)
Materials List for Optional Rope Pulley System:
- Harken 092 Cheek Bullet Block #123092
- Pan Head Screws Stainless Steel #8 x 3/4”
- Harken 226 Micro Block Double #120387
- Harken 082 Bullet Block Single #123082
- Leechline Dacron 1/8" in Black (#212114) or White (#21209)
- Harken 471 Micro Carbo-Cam Cleat #423100
- Pan Head Screws Stainless Steel #8 x 1-1/4"
- Nicopress Installation Tool
- Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler #107040
- Sailrite® Edge Hotknife Package (110 Volt) #103800
- Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 PLUS Walking Foot Sewing Machine #300602
- Sailrite® Deluxe 5 1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide #103597
- Tube Cutting Tool #1358
- Premium Cutting Block 5" x 5" #103651
- Hole Cutter 1/8" (4mm) #102235
- Dies Set for Spur Grommet #2 #18203 (not required with Phifertex® fabric)
- Tape measure
- Metal file
- Dremel tool & cutting wheel
- Drill & drill bits (1/8" and 5/16")
- 1/4" Socket driver
- Needle nose pliers
Alternative System for Fewer Canopy Panels
If you would prefer fewer panels on your canopy, that is possible. Click the green button below to download a diagram showing an alternative way to install the eye bolts and turnbuckles. The diagram will show you how to route the wiring for this panel installation method. We recommend that your wire runs be placed no more than 44 inches apart. If you would like a quote for a custom wire-hung canopy kit made to your specifications, please send us an email at email@example.com.
Alternative Pulley System for Wide Canopies
If you would prefer fewer wider width panels on your canopy, that is possible. If your canopy is wider than 60 inches and you want to install the "Pulley Open/Close System" we recommend that you attach two or more separate lines to the retractable end of the canopy. Download the PDF below to learn how to install this alternative system. At this time, the Sailrite Fabric Calculator does not figure the correct amount of hardware for canopies that are 60 inches or wider. Pelase contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a custom quote.
Footnote: This blog was updated in April 2021 to include information and diagram regarding an alternative pulley system for wide canopies.