Can you believe, it’s November already! That means, only 7 more weeks until Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I love making hand made gifts for Christmas. That’s why, starting from today, I’ll be sharing a DIY gift idea with you each week, mostly for kids. The majority of them you can accomplish in a weekend, so I’ll post at the beginning of the week, giving you plenty of time to gather supplies by the coming weekend ;)
The teepee is actually a gift we made for the boy’s Christmas present last year, but it’s taken me almost a year to post about it here on the blog. Like all little boys (and girls) he really wanted a tent, but the nice ones to buy as so expensive we decided to challenge ourselves to making our own. It also made a nice change working on this together with the husband in the evenings instead of just vegging out in front of the telly. Anyway, the internet is abound with ideas and tutorials for teepees and play tents, so we browsed a few, made some notes, then adjusted the materials and measurements according to what was available and the floor space we had. So, this teepee version takes up a floor space of approx. 1.5 square metres.
What we used:
- six wooden poles, 2m long – we used 2cm x 4cm ones (I had originally wanted to go with round poles, but they were almost 3 times as expensive)
- a drill suitable for using with wood and a drill head to make 5mm big holes
- 1.5 metre of sturdy cord
- fabric (see measurements below to work out how much you need)
- 2.5m bias tape (optional)
- a sewing machine
- half a metre of elastic
- 6m of cotton tape
First of all, you need to drill a 5mm hole in to each pole, about 28 cm from one end. Then you thread your cord through the holes, joining them together, and wind it around several times, securing tightly with a triple knot at the end.
Next, fan out the poles in a circular fashion to create the basic structure for your teepee. We found this easier to do with two people. We also found, that the best way to do it was to first tie the cord loosely, then fan the poles until we had them roughly in the right position. Finally, with one person holding the poles in the place, the other then rewound the cord and tied it firmly in place. If you tie it too firmly to begin with, then you may have problems fanning out the poles.
Next, we had to sew the exterior of the teepee. For the five side panels, we made them 10cm along the top, 70cm along the bottom, and 155 cm high. Seam allowance was 5cm along the top and bottom, and 2.5cm along the sides.
The front panel was slightly different, as here you need to leave an opening so you can get in to the teepee!! It consists of three parts:
a) The top panel (the coloured panel in the photos) was 8cm along the top, 32cm along the bottom, and 44cm high, with a 5cm seam allowance at the top and 2.55cm along the other sides.
b) The two ‘door panels’ were each 18cm along the top, 47cm along the bottom and 108 cm high, with a 5cm seam allowance along the top and 2.5cm along the other sides.
Assembling the five side panels was very easy. After cutting them to size, we just had to align them, right sides together, and sew along the sides until you have a long strip of 5 side panels. Don’t hem the seams at the tops and bottoms of the side panels just yet!
For the front, I started with the two ‘door’ pieces, by hemming the sides that would be the edges of the door flaps with bias tape. If you don’t have bias tape, you can just hem the edges without (in which case you should double the seam allowance).
Next, you need to sew the three pieces together. The two door flaps need to overlap at the top so that together they are 32 cm wide, just like the bottom edge of the top panel (see sketch above). Sew the top panel and the overlapping bottom panels together, right sides together. You should end up with one big panel that has a door opening, which you can now join up with the five side panels you sewed together earlier. Then, you want to hem the top edge – the reason we’ve kept a generous 5cm seam allowance is because you want to sew a wide hem creating a tunnel, leaving a small opening that you can pull the elastic through.
The next step can be a bit fiddly. Fit your tent canvas inside out over your pole structure. Pull the elastic together so that the tent canvas sits roughly where you want it to be (below the cord – see pictures) and tie a couple of tight knots in it. Now pin the bottom hem of your canvas in to place so it sits just on the floor. Take the canvas off again (careful not to catch yourself on any pins!) and sew the bottom hem.
You’re almost done! The last thing left to do, is sew on some ties. I could have sewn these straight in to the seams as I was joining the panels together, but decided to do it by hand afterwards instead as I found that less fiddly. I sewed two sets of ties – each 50cm in length – along each of the seams joining the panels, one 15cm from the bottom, and one 30cm above that.
Once you’ve sewn on all the ties, your teepee is ready for its final assembly. Turn the canvas the right way out, pop it over your poles, then align the poles with the seams and tie them in place. I was initially also going to sew some ties to the door flaps to be able to close it, but since the boy is too young anyway for that I just left it – we tend to either leave the doors flaps just hanging down or, most of the time, they’re folded back leaving the doorway to the teepee open.
The boy absolutely loves his teepee! I’ve since sewn some bunting out of material matching the coloured panel at the front, and am thinking of ordering a small round carpet to fit inside.
If you have any questions about how we made out teepee, please feel free to get in touch. And don’t forget to check back next week for more DIY gift ideas!