We have here a cool outdoor game DIY project, but with a twist. It has quite a lot of twists, in fact.
It’s a copper and macrame badminton net, bringing together the unlikely pairing of sports and crafting. And it’s pretty awesome.
Rayan Turner from The Design Confidential came up with this clever idea for our Outdoor Games Style Challenge. Some of our favorite design bloggers are inventing clever ways to DIY outdoor games for summer fun.
Rayan not only gave us the macrame badminton net, but she also came up with a fun tent fort for her little boys and a lounging area for the grownups. It’s a great spot for playing or snacking and just generally hanging out in the backyard with the family. This is a real inspiration to anyone who’s looking for ways to get more out of his or her backyard.
As a child, playing outdoor games was something we did as family in the evenings and on weekends. We lived in the countryside with no cable TV and not much in the way of entertainment aside from exploring and outdoor activities we could play with just one or two other people at a time. We played horseshoes with one of our two nearest neighbors on weekends and tether ball after school before we started homework. But by far my favorite pastime was playing badminton with my family, so when I was presented with the challenge of creating a fun outdoor game to play with my own little family, there was no question which direction I would take.
Of course there were just a few obstacles I would have to overcome to make this happen, the most obvious being that my own little family is quite young. So young in fact that the littlest isn’t truly able to actually play badminton, at least not with any kind of purpose aside from running off with the rackets and leading the bug squashing death squad. I would need some additional activities to keep the non-playing members of my family entertained while the players play.
The other major problem is the extreme heat. Here in Northern California we frequently reach summertime temperatures over 100 degrees, and with a relatively immature landscape in our backyard, shade is something we are sincerely lacking. It actually keeps us from spending much time outside when we could be making memories my kids will have for years to come.
The Tent Fort and Outdoor Lounging Area
There happens to be an area of my yard with a small cluster of trees that is entirely underused, yet has the potential to be something special. Creating this new area to enjoy, in a space that would otherwise be neglected, became something of my inspiration.
The fact that the trees provided just a bit of shade for most of the day and a nice amount of shade late in the day, made the task of creating a spot that would be shielded from the sun that much easier. Making a tented little fort under the tree line for the boys to lounge and play gives them something to do that is exciting enough to entice them outside to spend time with the family, even when they aren’t able to sword fight on the badminton court. The hammock adds a bit of that global wanderer feel to this space and is low enough to the ground that injury isn’t much of a concern so the littles can actually enjoy it too.
Refreshments are a must when you are working up a sweat during some serious badminton competition. It’s the perfect excuse for chilled fruit and sparkling blueberry lemonade.
Braiding the Macrame Badminton Net
Of course the real star of this show isn’t the fact that I was able to get my kids to eat fruit without a fight, by setting up our snacks picnic style, though that was indeed a bit of a triumph for me.
No, the star of this show is definitely the copper and macrame badminton net. It’s solid enough for many years of use. It’s also stylish enough that I don’t have to take it down when I need my backyard to look good or I happen to be entertaining people who don’t have to love me no matter what. In fact I’m fairly certain it brings that bit of pretty all on it’s own and was easy enough to make that anyone can do this in no time at all. You can be playing a game of badminton with your own gorgeous macrame net by the end of the day.
What You’ll Need for This Outdoor Game DIY:
- Two 1-inch copper pipes at 5 feet in length
- One 1-inch copper pipe between 8 and 10 feet in length (depending on the size of your space)
- Two 90-degree copper elbow pieces with 1-inch openings on either side
- About 800 feet of rope, which is most easily purchased in 200-foot bundles of clothesline rope (you will need four such bundles)
Cut your rope into 100 inch strands and fold each of them in half. You will secure the looped end to your long copper pipe using the larks head knot. You can see the steps for this in the image below.
Leave yourself a couple of these lengths of cord for use later when we tie off the ends of our project with a wrap knot.
Once all of your rope is secured with your larks head knots, you will pair them off in sets of two.
Now you will tie three left half-square knots using the four strands created by grouping your rope into pairs.
When you make a chain of half square-knots all in the same direction, your rope will start to form a twist. Don’t worry this is what you want, it looks amazing!
Now leave an inch and a half of your rope straight, then begin tying alternating square knots. You will tie five rows of these.
A square knot is similar to our half knot in the previous step, in that it begins in precisely the same way. Once you tie a left half square knot just as you did above, you will then follow it up with a right half square knot to complete one whole square knot.
The steps for a right square knot are shown below.
To begin you will first tie a left square knot using the steps above and then a right square knot using the steps below.
Once you complete the square knots for your entire row, you will alternate your cords and repeat the previous steps with a left and then right half square knot, to form your next row of square knots.
I show the alternating cord progression below for two rows, you will be making five rows total, but it continues in the same manner.
Our next move is going to be to swap our middle strands for the outside strands in each group of four cords, so that we don’t end up with two short pieces and two long pieces for each set.
Simply place the outside cords to the inside by wrapping them up and over the top of the inside cords, and then we will continue on with the remaining steps. You can see this at the top of the chain (called a sennit) in the image below.
With our newly swapped cords, we are going to create a short sennit (chain) by tying two square knots. Refer to the steps for tying a square knot above, and instead of alternating after the first square knot, simply tie another right after the first using the same four cords.
After braiding your sennit, you will continue with the alternating square knots once again. This time you will begin on the alternating row or as if your second square knot from the previous step is actually your first row. You will create two rows this time.
Finish your project by tying a wrap knot at the end of each group.
This is where those extra cords come into play. You will want to use them to form the separate pieces that will wrap each group.
Starting with one end of one of your extra cord, form the beginning fold you see in the image below. Lay it out under your group and horizontal just as you see below. We are going to keep your pieces short for this portion, since having extra length dangling off isn’t helpful. The end of your cord, or the secure end should sit just under the area where you will begin your wrap, and the size of your fold doesn’t particularly matter.
The remaining rope length you have on the right will be your working end. You will wrap your working end up and over your group, then bring it down the backside of your group right at the place where your wrap will begin.
Our wrap will work from left to right, so this should be right up against your bottom square knot. Once you bring it down the back you will begin to wrap your cord.
Wrap a total of three times, again we are working toward our fold, which will now look more like a loop.
Once you finish your wrap, take your working end and run it through your loop, which was previously your fold.
Now you simply need to pull the secured end and it will suck your loop up inside of your wrap and hide it away.
Once you have pulled your line in, you can cut the remainder of your extra cord fairly close to the wrap and tuck in the end or secure with a bit of glue if you prefer, or both.
Now you will use the newly cut end of your extra cord and begin on the next group in precisely the same manner.
You can now leave your ends a bit frayed like I did to create the fringe effect, or you can dip each strand in melted wax to keep it from fraying or coming apart.
Putting the Copper Frame in the Ground
To put this in the ground you can use a rubber mallet to gently hammer your 5-foot pipes into the grass. As your pipe sinks lower into the grass, the dirt will fill the inside of the pipe and create a stable balance of pressure which will help keep your net upright. Then add the elbow pieces to your long pipe and secure those to your freestanding pipes that you placed in the ground.
That is it. It might look more complicated than it actually is. Once you get started it’s fun to tie the knots, and this project will go fast. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of making something like this with your own two hands!
Rayan Turner is the founding editor of The Design Confidential, and she’s a maker at heart. She’s a wife and the mommy of two little boys by day, and a DIY daredevil by night. Rayan is constantly pushing the DIY boundaries to find the limits of what can actually be done ‘yourself’.
For more outdoor game ideas, see other Outdoor Games Style Challenge articles here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. Browse our Outdoor Recreation Department for everything you need for fun in the outdoors.