Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Child's Play Tent Tutorial...

As a child I remember building forts, tents and tee pees with sheets, blankets and pillows layered over chairs, sofas and beds. Something magical happens when a child's imagination is fired. This indoor/outdoor play tent is the perfect hideaway for any child, and it's an easy, fun project that shouldn't intimidate any adult. Let me repeat... This is probably one of the easiest projects you could make for a child. As an added bonus this tent folds flat for easy storage!

This tent was introduced on my blog last week as part of the "Waverize It" fabric challenge. Click here to learn how I added Waverly's "Button Blooms Confetti" fabric to a chevron print to give the effect of flowers climbing up the sides of the tent!

Materials for Tent Frame:

2 - 1" x 2" x 8' lengths of select pine, cut each in half to form four 4' lengths for tent poles
3 -  3/4" x 48" hardwood dowels
3/4 inch spade drill bit 

Note: I bought "select pine" (which is the highest grade on the market) for the tent poles at Home Depot. Select pine has a smooth, even finish with no splinters, however, there are less expensive grades available that you could use. Home Depot will cut these lengths in half at no additional charge. All the materials for the tent frame, including the drill bit, cost about $20.

Instructions for Tent Frame: 

1. Take one 4' length of 1" x 2" select pine and measure and mark 6 inches down from the top of the piece and 3 inches up from the bottom of the piece, centering the mark on your wood. Using the 3/4 inch spade bit, drill a hole through each mark. I used a drill press to drill accurate holes, but a hand-held drill will work well too.

2. Repeat with the three remaining lengths of pine.

3. Line up two lengths of pine (tent poles) and slip a dowel through the holes that are 6 inches from the top. The dowel should fit snuggly in the holes. On the other end of the same dowel slip the two remaining tent poles onto the dowel. That dowel will form the the ridge pole on the top of the tent.

4. Slip the other two dowels through the holes that are 3 inches from the bottom of the tent poles to form a brace on each side of the tent.

Optional: If  you have rambunctious kids and are afraid that it will collapse inward when bumped by your little ones, you can add an additional horizontal pole on the base at the back of the tent. Use another length of pine, drill 3/4 inch holes in the ends and slip the pine over the two bottom braces (dowels), like this:

When you go to store the tent, simply take off that bottom piece of pine and collapse the tent inward.

5. Your frame is complete. It couldn't have been easier!

Materials for Fabric Tent:

Note: Because people may want to finish off or hem the edges of their tent differently, I am going to give the finished measurements** for the fabric tent.  This finished measurement is the size of fabric you will need after you've hemmed the edges. One might choose to turn over and hem the raw edges around your tent, zig-zag the edges, or simply leave the edges "as is". That decision might depend on what type of fabric you choose. Duck, twill, upholstery fabric, faux leather, fleece or cotton (make sure it is at least 44" wide) can all work beautifully for this project. Buying a twin flat sheet at Walmart and cutting it down could be the least expensive way to go. Faux leather or fleece would be cute for a little boy's tent and you wouldn't have to finish off the edges! If you're a less experienced sewer, the thinner fabrics (a twin sheet or lightweight cotton) will be easier to manage.

8 yards of 1" ribbon or twine for ties, cut in 8 - 1 yard lengths
45 inch length of 2" wide grosgrain ribbon for casing
**Finished Size of Fabric for Tent: 43" x 86"

Instructions for Fabric Tent:

1. Finish the edges of your fabric to form a 43" x 86" rectangular piece for the tent.

Tip for the novice sewer: If you choose to hem your tent edges, make sure you add the size of your hem to your original fabric piece. For example if you stitch a 1 inch hem on each of the four sides of your tent, you should start with a piece of fabric that is 45" x 88", then turn over the edges 1 inch on all four sides and stitch around the outsides edge to form a piece that is 43" x 86".

2. Fold the tent in half lengthwise and iron along the center fold. This fold will help in the casing placement.

3. Center grosgrain ribbon over the center fold on the wrong side of the tent fabric and pin. Turn short ends of ribbon under to make a finished edge and stitch close to the outside edge along the length of the ribbon. This will form the casing for the ridge pole.

4. Mark 18" down from the center fold and pin one 1 yard length of the ribbon or twine to the wrong side of the tent fabric. Measure 18" down from the marking you just made and pin another length of ribbon or twine. Do this on all four sides of the tent fabric, like this:
5. Sew ribbon or twine in place with a straight or zig-zag stitch.

6. Slip ridge pole through the casing in the tent. Tie ribbons or twine around the tent poles to secure the fabric.

7. Enjoy watching the children in your life pretend, imagine, invent and relax in their own little world.

When the children are finished playing, simply fold the tent poles together for easy storage!


Linked to:
Show Me What You Got @ Not Just a Housewife