Sunday, February 5, 2012

an indoor play tent for finn...

I have wanted to make Finn a tent since the day I found out he was growing in my belly, but have always been a bit nervous that it might be a project beyond my skill set and that it wouldn't turn out like the incredible tent I pictured in my head. Last week, I came across a near PERFECT play tent tutorial - It is for a smaller tent (6 feet tall instead of the usual 8 feet- obviously important due to the (regularly talked about) lack of space we have). It was virtually a no sew project (always a bonus in my eyes), took very little time to make, and cost significantly less than the (beautiful) tents you see floating around etsy. I adapted the directions slightly and added a few little things to make it special for Finn, but below are simple instructions on how to make a perfect little tent.
- x6 - 6 foot long dowels* (I used 1" think dowels, but in hindsight, I would have gone with something slightly thiner like 3/4". You could also use bamboo garden stakes or 1"x2" wood pieces.)
- Canvas- 3 meters long by 60" wide.
- Leather rope or something similar to tie with- ribbon, jute or twine would all work - I used about 10 - 15 feet of it.
- x8 grommets- I used 3/4" round- you will also need the appropriate size grommet setting tool. I got both of these items at Michael's for around $10.00
- Scissors
- Pencil
- Hammer
- Needle and thread (I used thick embroidery floss with an appropriate sized needle)
- Things you want to dress up your tent with- beads, paint, feathers... whatever your imagination is envisioning.

Step 1: Hold all 6 poles in one hand and wrap a small section of rope around them fairly tightly (I left about a foot of exposed pole at the top). Spread the poles out evenly- about 18-20" apart, leaving a larger opening where you want the entrance of the tent to be.
Step 2: (See diagram below) Fold your fabric in half lengthways (it should be a square), then fold again on the diagonal in to a triangle. At the folded tip of the triangle draw a small half circle and cut away extra fabric. Draw the same shape on the bottom of the fabric and cut excess fabric away. Once unfolded, you should have a large half circle.

Step 3: Drape the fabric over the tent poles and secure temporarily with excess rope. On the inside of the canvas, mark with a pencil where the poles meet the canvas (approximately 6 inches from the ground.) Take the fabric down and using strong thread or embroidery floss, sew small pieces of rope to the pencil marks to act as ties. These will help hold the fabric in place when the teepee is standing and keep the poles from moving around too much.
* If you wanted a completely no-sew alternative, you could use adhesive backed Velcro tabs in lieu of ties.

Step 4: Measure out where your grommets will be- from the top of the canvas, measure down about an inch and mark with a pencil. From there, measure down about 2.5 inches and continue marking so you have space for 4 grommets on each side.
* I folded about an inch or two of fabric in on it self so the grommets would be going through two pieces of fabric like the package instructions suggested

Step 5: Drape the fabric over the tent poles again. Place the middle of your length of rope on the back of the tent and wrap several times around the top of the canvas tightly to secure it in place. From there, thread the remaining rope through your grommets and tie at the bottom. Readjust your poles if needed then tie your inside ties to the poles.
* I used two pieces of rope the same length for this part to give the threading a really full look. Also,  afterward I added several more feet of rope wrapped around the top of the tent to clean up some of the white canvas that was sticking out between the strands.
 I added blue glass beads to the ends of the ties hanging from the grommets and painted the very tops of the poles red just for a little bit of colour. We used an old sheepskin rug and lots of throw pillows inside the tent and filled it with tons of Finn's favourite books to make it a cozy little nook for him to cuddle up inside or hideout when he wants to. Finn immediately loved it and has pretty much spent every waking moment inside it since last night. Success!

Enjoy! xo


  1. This is the coolest thing ever!

  2. Oh my land - what an AWESOME teepee! You did a GREAT job! What a lucky little boy Finn is to have such loving parents. xo