Collapsible Fabric Play Tent…for kids!

I can’t say enough “thank you’s” for all the sweet comments on my post last week about our newest baby, little Oliver!  Oh, how we adore him!  And we’re all adjusting really well…..so thanks for all the well wishes. This week, I have several things that I’ve been saving up to share with you (as well as some posts from some contributors), while I, ahem, snuggle little Oliver to pieces! :)
 
And first up……..this great Play Tent tutorial by Stitched by Crystal.  She noticed that many of you wanted to see it and voted on it a month or so ago, but it didn’t win the final vote.  So……she went ahead and tackled her own version.  And I LOVE IT!!!!  It’s absolutely perfect for inside play, outside play, a reading nook, tea-party time, anything…….and it stores away beautifully!  
 
-Ashley
. . . . .
 
Hello again Make It & Love It readers — it’s Crystal again from Stitched by Crystal!  I am so excited to be here today to share my tutorial for a DIY play tent with you!  
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It
 
 
What kid doesn’t love playing with forts?
 
This little tent is a step up from the sheet thrown over the dining room table and it makes a perfect spot to read, nap, or pretend.  
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It
 
 
It can be assembled in minutes and it will provide hours of fun for the kiddos!  When the kids are done playing, it will fold flat and can be set aside or the whole tent breaks down quickly and it can be easily stored away. 
 
Traveling somewhere?  Once broken down, this tent takes up very little space — so take it along with you!  I am planning to take this one on our beach vacation next month.  It will make a perfect shady spot on the beach for my kids.
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It
 
 
The tent is a simple A-frame, made from some wooden 1” x 2” boards and wooden dowels.  Not handy with power tools? Don’t worry! You can have the folks at the hardware store cut your wood and the only power tool needed for this project is a drill.
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It
 
 
Set the tent up inside on rainy days or it could be a fun spot for backyard adventures on sunny summer days.  (The tent probably won’t weather too well so make sure you bring it indoors when the kids are done.
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It

 

 

Do your kids need a play tent too? Let’s make one!  

 

To make this tent you will need:
  • 5 yards of fabric.  (I picked up a Queen sheet set for $1 at a thrift store and had more than enough fabric for my tent.
  • Four 1″ x 2″ boards that are 4 feet long (They sell these in 8 foot boards at the hardware store so you can buy 2 of them and have them cut in half at the store.)
  • 14 yards of ribbon (or bias tape) cut into 16 pieces, that are 30 inches long each.
  • Three 4 foot long wooden dowels that are 1/2″ in diameter.
  • A drill with a 1/2″ drill bit.
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
 
The construction of this tent is pretty simple but you are working with a LOT of fabric, which can get frustrating.  This isn’t a project you can do in one nap time.  I sew pretty fast and it took me a little over 3 hours of uninterrupted sewing time to get this tent done. This tutorial has some diagrams to help illustrate the steps.  In all the diagrams, the pink color is the right side of the fabric, the grey is the wrong side of the fabric and the blue color is for the ties.
 
 

 
 
Start by preparing your A frame.  On all of your 1″ x 2″ boards, mark 2 inches from the ends in the center of the board and drill a 1/2″ hole in both ends of all four boards.  (I found wood stain in my garage and put a coat of stain and two coats of varnish on my wood boards and dowels, but that is not necessary.)
 

 
 
From your fabric, cut one large rectangle that is 96 inches long and 45 inches wide. (If you buy fabric that is only 44 inches wide, it will work fine; just use all of the fabric from selvage to selvage, you won’t miss that inch in your finished tent.) My sheet wasn’t quite long enough to cut 96” from, so instead, I cut 2 pieces that were 48.5 inches long and 45 inches wide and sewed them together with a ½ inch seam allowance.  

 
Also cut 2 rectangles that are 29″ wide and 38″ long.  On one of the rectangles, measure 3 inches over from the top left corner and 3 inches over from the lower right hand corner and cut a diagonal line between those points.  Do the exact opposite with the other rectangle, so that you end up with two sets of mirror image triangles.  You should now have 4 pieces with an angled side, which will be the front and back of the tent.  (Even though they aren’t truly triangles, I will refer to these pieces as the “triangle pieces” throughout this tutorial.)

 

play tent

 
Hem the top and bottom of all of your 4 triangle pieces by folding the raw edge ½ inch towards the wrong side of the fabric, then folding another ½ inch towards the wrong side and then top-stitching along the folded edge.
 

 
If you are using bias tape for your ties, sew the bias tape along the open side.  Tie knots in both ends of all of your ribbon or bias tape pieces to prevent fraying. 
 

 
 
Find the center of the large rectangle piece of fabric, then mark 9 inches from the center, 23 inches from the center, and 36 inches from the center on all sides. Fold your ties in half and baste them to the right side of your rectangle at those marks.

 
Pin your triangle pieces to the edge of your rectangle with angled edge along the edge of the rectangle.  Place the short side of the triangle piece 1.5 inches from your center mark.  Your ties should be sandwiched between rectangle and triangle pieces and the pieces should be right sides together.  Sew the triangles in place with a 1 inch seam allowance.
 

 
Press the seam allowance towards the rectangle piece; also press the end of the rectangle piece and the small section between the triangles over 1 inch towards the wrong side of the rectangle.  Then you are going to create a flat felled seam to give a durable and clean looking finish to the tent.  To do this, fold 1/2 inch of the seam allowance in, tucking the raw edge under the seam allowance.  Press the seam and top-stitch along the folded edge.

 
 
The last 4 ties go on the inside of the tent to create tiebacks for your kids to tie the door open.  Place the center of the tie on top of the seam where the rectangle and triangles meet on the inside of the tent, position it about 2 inches below where the middle tie is attached on the outside.  Top-stitch the tie in place.  To use the tiebacks on the finished tent, you will simply push the tent door to the side and tie the tieback around the side of the tent frame.  
 

 
 
Create a casing at both ends of the rectangle.  Fold the raw edge 1/2 inch towards the wrong side of the fabric and press, then fold another 2.5 inches towards the wrong side of the fabric and top-stitch along the folded edge.
 

 
Fold the tent in half along the center of the rectangle.  Line up the raw angled edges of the triangles and sew from the top of the short end down 9 inches with a 1″ seam allowance.  Back stitch at the 9 inch mark.
 

 
Press the seam open and continue to press the raw edge below the seam, 1 inch towards the wrong side of the fabric.  Finish the edge by tucking the raw edge under 1/2 inch and top-stitching along the folded edge.
 

 
The stitching at top of the tent doors will get a lot of tugging from little ones going in and out.  We are going to reinforce that spot with a little strip of fabric to keep the seam from ripping open.
Cut a rectangle that is 6 inches by 3 inches.  Fold the 6 inch sides in towards the wrong side of the fabric so they meet in the middle of the rectangle.  Then fold the raw edges on the ends in 1/2 inch.
 

 
 
Center the strip over the seam and pin it just above the opening.
 
 
 
Top-stitch all the way around the strip.
 

 
 
The tent is done!
 
Check out the photos below for instructions on assembling your tent!
 
 
 
 
I just know your kids will squeal with delight when they see what you have made!  Now set up your tent and start making fun summer memories with your kids!
 
 
DIY Collapsible Fabric Play Tent for kids! --- Make It and Love It
 
 
 
Thanks for reading! Swing by my blog sometime and check out some of my other fun tutorials!
 
-Crystal
 
 
blog-contributor
 
Check out Crystal’s blog here.  Her darling shop here.  And her Pinterest page here.
 

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Filed under Children, Gift Ideas, Sewing

Comments

29 Responses to “Collapsible Fabric Play Tent…for kids!”
  1. 1
    Sharlyn says:

    So cute! My kids are tween to teens, so I will be saving this idea for future grand children * gasp! * ;-)

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    Love this! I’ve been wanting to make something like this for a while now but haven’t been able to find clear instructions anywhere. This is great. Thanks so much.

  3. 3
    Cherish says:

    I have a photography prop Etsy shop. Can I make these and add them to my shop??

  4. 4
    Patricia says:

    This is so cute. My grandson is only 10 months and will love it. Going to make it soon!
    Thank you for the instructions!

  5. 5
    Linda T says:

    This is a great tent! The directions are amazingly easy to follow. Thank you so much. My 2 yr class will love it.

  6. 6
    Paula says:

    Thanks for the great idea and instructions! It seems quite affordable to make, and easy to manage and store I’m thinking it would be a little more weather resistant if made with nylon fabric or lighter weight tarp material.

    • 6.1
      Crystal says:

      It is really affordable, especially if you go the thrifted sheet set route. All my supplies cost under $15! The nylon is a great idea too!

  7. 7
    Anne says:

    Awesome!! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post that links to your tutorial here:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-collapsible-play-tent/2014/07/15/
    –Anne

  8. 8
  9. 9
    LauraRose says:

    I’m not a super sew-er but I think I could even follow these awesome directions. Does the fabric itself stop the whole thing from collapsing flat down on the heads of the kids? I don’t see anything to the wood construction that would stop the bottoms spreading out if they got pushed from the inside.

    • 9.1
      Crystal says:

      Thanks LauraRose! Yes, the fabric keeps the tent from collapsing, since it is sewn above the door, it can’t open any wider. You could add 2 more 1 X 2′s across the bottom in the front and back if you wanted it to be a bit sturdier, but this way holds up well with my 2 kiddos!

  10. 10
    Jackie says:

    I love it! I have been eyeing these play tents but hadn’t had time to search for a tutorial. I love this one. Thank you so much for doing this.

  11. 11
    Cindi says:

    Awesome! I have a card table tent for the grandsons (I have them 12 hrs a day lol) in the house. But I bet they would like something like this outside! Of course..no “girly” material allowed rofl..

  12. 12
    May says:

    Hello, I made one but the wood keeps coming apart from the dowel?? It was hard to get the dowel through the holes… But once I have it up it moves away from the dowel… And then came off while I’m trying to screw the two bottom dowel…?

  13. 13
    Adrienne says:

    I’m in the process of making this, but I can’t get the doors right. One side shows the right side of the fabric and the other side shows the wrong side. In looking at the cutting directions, all 4 triangles are exactly the same instead of having mirror images. It seems that the instructions don’t work for fabric with a pattern on it. :(. Any suggestions?

    • 13.1
      Jamie says:

      I am having the same problem!! I’m stumped, will be trying to fix it this afternoon. I’ll post back if I have any suggestions.

      • 13.1.1
        Adrienne says:

        I figured it out. You need to cut the second set of triangles in the opposite direction. Then they will be mirror images. It would be helpful if this were explained in the directions. Unfortunately I have no more fabric, so I can’t cut a new one. :(

    • 13.2
      Crystal says:

      I am so sorry about that! The rectangles need to be cut opposite for the mirror image triangles. I am going to update the instructions, so so sorry!!

Notes and Comments