This is an old (1911) magazine article, apparently later incorporated into Boy Scout handbooks. It's got plans for making various kinds of tents out of one piece of canvas twice as long as it is wide. My miner's tent (square pyramid) is #6.
Now, I think I am not displeased to have bought my fine Panther Pavilion. It has features like "door flaps that overlap" and "a floor" and "no gap at the roof for leaks." But looking at these sketches, if I had to bet money on how those square pyramids in the Utrecht Psalter were made, I'd probably vote for this. It's hella fabric efficient and dead simple. Also, very simple to pack.
I sort of want to try to "make" one, but whether I buy 60" duck or a pre-made 10' x 20' canvas tarp, the cost would be around $100. That's a lot for a quick experiment.
...you know, on my way to Pennsic, there's a weird little overstock shop near Altoona, PA. Okay, "on my way" is overstating it - it's probably an hour from the PA Turnpike. But they often have enormous bolts of 60" wide fabric for cheap. If I wanted to make it as a day shade/family shelter instead of a real weatherproof tent, it could be made out of anything thick enough to block the sun. (Muslin would not be useful, for example.)
I could also get a hideous plastic tarp for maybe $20 bucks and try it with that, but... then I'd have a huge hideous plastic tarp. But it would satisfy my curiosity.
And then I thought to myself, "Maybe Tyvek?" and lo, the backpacking community is way ahead of me. I could get 18' of 9'-wide Tyvek here for $40. Still kinda pricey for a lark, and I'm unlikely to do better than around $2/yard for material. Well, the overstock place does have $1/yard stuff. But it's a time cost of 2 hrs of driving, unless I wait until the next time I visit my family in the area (which is how I even know it exists).
If I can find someone who could use a huge plastic tarp after I'm done with it, I might go that route. I just hate to buy something like that, do one thing with it, and turn around and throw it out. It's wasteful.