The brief was to create a small skydiving parachute to scale for instruction purposes indoors

For this, Paul from Skydive Wild Geese sent a retired canopy as a reference and a source of material.

The first thing to do was kite it up! Getting some reference photos and then measuring it all for proportions, taking note of the colour scheme.

Drawing up the template

I use Illustrator which is pretty handy for scaling stuff up and down.

Creating cardboard templates for hot cutting was the next stage. Nineteen ribs had to be cut so the template has to withstand a fair amount of hot cutting. I used mount board for picture framing. It’s easier to cut and is nice and stiff.


Sacrilege I know. Cutting the parachute up just felt so wrong. Most of the fabric is in a reasonable condition but there were still storage marks to avoid.



I removed single panels from the parent canopy and checked for storage and rust marks. It was an old parachute but there were still quite a few clean sections where the ripstop fabric was in good condition.


Hot cutting

The panels for the top and bottom surfaces where cut, along with the ribs. I used a soldering iron to do this as it seals the edges to prevent fraying but is smelly work with the fumes. If you try this, make sure you have good ventilation – you really don’t want to be breathing the smoke in.


Sort parts

All the parts of the parachute are finally cut.

I’ll start with adding the seams to the leading edge top and bottom panels and the visible edge of the ribs.



All the ribs now attached to the top panels.



Base section

Stitch base panels together, along with the line attachment points. A time consuming affair.

If you don’t have loads of attachment points for the lines you can sew the base panels to the ribs at the same time.

Fixing bridle or shroud lines after you have stitched this lot together can be a problem so plan it.




Attach the base to the ribs.
Start on the side that feels most natural, stitch ribs to bottom panel and work your way across. Be very careful starting out, this is where you can cock it up monstrously and only notice where you’re nearly done. Keep checking that the right rib is joining the right seam.

When you get to the end, the final seam is done by rolling the whole canopy up and pulling the loose rib and bottom panel around the roll.

This is to sew the seam on the outside. Pull the canopy out itself and the sleeve will be on the inside. Must do a video of this.




Tab details

Packing tabs are attached to top surface to mimic the full size parachute






Bottom view of parachute






Top view of the parachute