Make Your Own Play Teepee

DIY Teepee on A Beautiful MessPlay teepees aren't the new kid on the block anymore but that doesn't make them any less exciting! I made my first version for Sebastian when he was two by constructing a simple frame and throwing a quilt around it. Soon after I made a more complicated cover and gifted it to Elsie and Jeremy for Christmas. Recently Elsie asked if I could make another for their new home out of lace. It may be the first of two, though, because a certain little girl has become quite taken with the idea of having a teepee in the dining room.

This is an updated tutorial of my last version but isn't too much more complicated. I added a strip of fabric at the bottom of the opening to add a little more stability to the shape which meant changing the opening a bit. The rest is basically the same except a little more fitted and a lot more see through. The lace creates the feeling of a secret hide-out without suffocating the room. It's on the larger side as I wanted it to remain big enough for adults to enjoy and kids to sleep in but is easy to fold up and store under a bed or in a closet when not in use.

Steps 1-41. Supplies: Four yards of lace for the bottom fabric (smaller print), 3 yards of lace for the top fabric and flap (larger print). Six 1×2"x8' poles (I suggest something stronger than pine as it will sag under the weight of your cover over time), drill and 3/8" drill bit, 6-9 feet of 1/2" woven rope, 1 yard of 1/2" elastic (not shown), 2 yards of yarn or ribbon (not shown), scissors, ruler, pencil, sewing machine, thread, iron, ironing board. 2. Measure down 9" from one end of your poles and center your mark. Drill through. 3. String your rope through all six poles and tie a loose knot. Set them up by standing them on their ends and twisting slightly before pushing the poles out nearer the bottom. Adjust your knot accordingly so your poles are held together tightly. You'll wrap your rope around them all at the end. 4. Place your top fabric (3 yards) lengthwise in front of you and measure in 23" from one end (this is the bottom of your triangle-shaped panel. Make a small cut. Find the center of your 23" side and measure straight up. Then mark 1.5" on each side to get a centered 3" (this is the top of your triangle-shaped panel) and make a small cut. Using a yard stick, measure an angled but straight line from the top left cut to the bottom left cut and then another line from the top right cut to the bottom right corner. Once you've cut this out you'll have one of your top panels. You need five more. Use your first cut as a template but flip it upside down to get your next panel. This will help you use up all of your fabric. When cutting your bottom fabric, place it so the 42" edge is at your feet. Find the center and measure up 38". Measure out 12" on either side to get a top that is 24" across. Use your yardstick to get straight edges. You'll need five of these panels total.

Steps 5-85. To create one full panel, place the bottom of the top fabric piece on top of the top of the bottom fabric piece as shown above. Match them up so that they're centered and pin. If you're using lace you don't need to worry so much about right sides of fabric but if you're using cotton prints you need the right sides to face each other. Stitch across where you pinned about 1/4" from the edge. Fold open and iron your seam down. Top-stitch if you prefer. I did since lace isn't quite as sturdy as cotton. Repeat with all five panels. 6. Pin the long side of two panels together making sure your seams match up and pin. 7. Repeat with the rest of your panels and then carefully attach it to your teepee frame with thumb tacks to make sure it's going to fit. 8. Cut a panel measuring about 42" long and 6.5" wide. This will be your bottom piece on the opening panel. Fold one long end in about 1/2" and again about 1/2" and press flat with an iron. Pin and stitch to create a hem. Pin it to the bottom of your open panel so that the ends overlap a bit. The hem should be on top. Also pin the last of your top panels to the teepee. If you don't have a selvage edge for the bottom, create a 1/4" fold, iron, pin, and sew. This will give you a finished edge.

Steps 9-129. Cut two pieces from your bottom fabric that measure about 6" x 34".  Pin one on the front as shown in this photo so that the top and bottom short edges overlap. This is just to make sure they're going to fit. 10. Fold one long edge in on each panel about 1/2", and again 1/2" and iron. Pin and stitch to create a hem. Repeat for the second panel. Set aside. 11. Cut a trapezoid for your front flap that measures 32" across on bottom, 19" across on top, and is about 35" tall. 12. Fold the two angled sides in 1/2" and again 1/2", pin, iron, and stitch down. Repeat with the top edge. If the bottom edge isn't a selvage edge, do that edge as well.

Steps 13-1613. Place your top triangle panel on your work surface. Place one long side panel one each end of the bottom side with the right sides facing together and the hems on the inside and pin. It should look like the photo above. Stitch across and fold flat. Iron. 14. Center your flap so that the top of the flap slightly overlaps the top of your opening. Pin and stitch across the top seam. 15. Turn your panel over so that the wrong side is facing up and get your flap out of the way. Attach the bottom panel so the the short ends of the side panels overlap on top of the wrong side of the bottom panel hem. Pin. stitch across. 16. Once your front panel (opening panel) is finished, match it up with the edges of the rest of your teepee and stitch closed. You're almost finished!

Steps 17-2017. Fold the top edge of your teepee in 1/4", iron, and carefully stitch a hem. Fold the bottom edge of your teepee in about 1/4" and again 1/4", iron, pin, and stitch. This will give it a finished look. 18. Cut six strips of elastic measuring 6" long. Carefully create a circle that overlaps about 1" and pin one to the bottom of your teepee on each seam. Stitch down. I used a zig-zag stitch. This will slip around the bottom of each pole to keep it in place. 19. Cut four strips of yarn or ribbon measuring about 18" each. Place two strips on the front and two on the back by pinning one end to the top of the flap as shown above. 20. Stitch them down. Then you can roll up your flap and tie it in place once you put your cover back on your teepee. Once you're set up, wrap the ends of your rope around the top of the teepee as shown, tie a knot, and add a feather or two to the ends for fun.

DIY Teepee (A Beautiful Mess)DIY Teepee on A Beautiful Mess DIY Teepee on A Beautiful Mess This is not a hard project but it is time consuming. Just take your time and get a friend to motivate you when you want to throw in the towel…er…lace! Synthetic lace isn't the cheapest material to buy retail but you may get lucky at a thrift shop! Look for curtain panels or table cloths and mis-match prints in the same shade of white or cream. Otherwise sign up for the coupons at your local chain fabric store and wait until you can get it 50% off. Of course you can also skip the lace and use a drop cloth or try thrifted vintage sheets!

Enjoy your hide-out! –Rachel

  • What a creative fun idea! Perfect for your daughter or a birthday gift! I’ll be popping it up on my FB.

  • This is simply beautiful! -jb.

    http://madewithlovebyjackieb.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Oh me oh my! This is just too stinkin cute! Thank you for the tutorial, it really looks so fun to hang out in!

  • I wish my kids were still little because this is the most adorable fort I have ever seen. I would love for you to come and link this project up to my Fall into Fall party that opens Tuesday evenings at 8pm EST. Hope to see you there.

  • This looks like a lot of work but what child wouldn’t be super stoked to have a fort like this.

  • OMG I WANT TO MAKE THIS! Not that I have any kids of my own, but I’d want it for me. haha xD

  • I recently made one for my niece! The lace is a beautiful touch.

    Sarah x
    www.tellhershesdreaming.com

  • This is amazing!! I’m thinking of making a mini version for my cat… too much? 😉 Our apartment is pretty teeny, so I don’t now if the full size version would fit!

    http://www.pirateandlilac.com

  • That looks so cute/cozy! So fun!

    Xx

    http://kendra-genevieve-rose.blogspot.com

  • Such a sweet idea! I like it very much 🙂
    It would make me very happy, if you visit my blog too and give your opinion 🙂 www.aboutblackponies.com
    lovely regards Sophia

  • this is the most beautiful teepee i’ve ever seen, you are incredible! i need to get on this project asap!

    abigail
    www.farandwildjewelry.blogspot.com

  • Super cute – what a lovely friend making it as a new house gift, I would treasure a gift like that
    xx

  • Wow this is amazing!! You guys are so creative and also an inspiration for me!!
    Love from India
    http://unityinfashion.com

  • Oh, Rachel, this took my breath away! The lace really makes this beyond beautiful! I adore this aesthetic – if only I had room in my house! (and if only my cat and dog wouldn’t rip it to shreds…)

    http://whiskeybreakfast.blogspot.com

  • Cutest/prettiest thing ever! Must make this!!
    xo Heather
    http://ahopelessnotebook.blogspot.com/

  • Love this! What a great idea that I’m certain any kid would enjoy. Tweeting this ASAP. Thanks for the how-to.

  • When I one day have a kid, I want to put a teepee in the corner of his or her room. It’s the ultimate fort! Love the DIY!

  • This is brilliant! I don’t have any kids but am thinking this would be perfect for the back porch to lay under and read in the spring sun.

    Becky, K.

    http://pixiwishesforeheadkisses.wordpress.com/

  • This is genius Rachel! I wish I had the patience and the space to try this! Alas I don’t think a teepee would fit in my tiny dorm ;P

    xoxo Sarah
    theantiquepearl.blogspot.com

  • The teepee looks really cozy and romantic, especially because of the lace!
    I can’t wait to make one for my baby girl – maybe next year this time…

    http://higgledypiggledywonderland.wordpress.com/

  • I love this! Your DIY posts are my favorite. Now I can’t decide between this or the DIY tent you posted about. I’m not even sure who would like it more me or my son. Who doesn’t love forts/tents/teepees? I am enjoying reading and following your blog. It’s got such a unique vibe and you both have such great style. Since I am new to blogging, I love the blogging and photography tips you share on here. I’m pretty sure I now have like a million photo apps for my iphone.

    Theresa
    http://bomamma.blogspot.com

  • this is adorable! i would play in that, no need for kids 🙂

    http://www.seacreaturess.blogspot.com

  • Every time I see these I want to make one more and more. My son would love to have a teepee in his bedroom, he is a big fan of hide-outs! And how that I am not nursing anymore and have moved the big chair out of his room, there is a lot of empty space.

  • So cute! Defintely going to make this when I have a little one 😉
    www.creativityandchocolate.blogspot.com

  • This is so exciting! I have two friends that are expecting and I was totally sketching up designs to make them a play teepee with panels of lace and fabric. Totally going to have to make this one, thank you so much for all the tips and tricks! 😀
    www.bittysbitz.blogspot.com

  • This is so beautiful! I so look forward to having children so I can have an excuse to build tipis!

  • so beautiful! i can’t wait to try 🙂 i wasn’t seeing how long the poles are supposed to be, only that there are 6 and that they’re 1×2 inches..can you let me know how long they are supposed to be? thanks!!

  • LOVE IT!!

    I have a similar project in my mind for months already. I will sure make one for my little guy. 🙂

    This one is so pretty!

  • amazing!!!
    kisses

    http://www.elblogdebarbaracrespo.com/
    http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2955086/barbara-crespo

  • *Gasp* This is gorgeous, Rachel! What a wonderful friend you are. Another reason on my list to take the sewing course of yours.

  • omg i’m totally in love with this!! wish i would have the space to make at least one for myself 🙁

  • I love these gorgeous lace kid’s forts you ladies are making! I can’t help but think of how much I would have totally wanted this when I was a little girl. Very pretty and SO cool!
    Trish

    www.jellybonesblog.blogspot.com

  • I LOVE IT. I dont have a kid but I still want one!

    Val
    http://valentinaduracinsky.blogspot.com/

  • Oh my goodness, I love this! It’s so pretty and yet so much fun. Makes me want to get my craftiness out this weekend… 😉

    http://lifeatruestory4.blogspot.com/

  • This is a great idea! I’m gonna have to try this soon. 🙂

    teaandbubbly.blogspot.com

  • This is so sweet; I would have loved something like this when I was little!
    However I think it’s also really important to recognise the cultural importance of teepees (and feather headresses, which have also been featured on your blog this month) to Native Americans.
    There are several insightful blog posts about cultural appropriation which might be interesting for you? The comments here are great: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/baby-teepees-are-like-totally-in.html
    and the blog too, as well as the archives of http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/
    Although I don’t think you are intentionally being racist, there is always more we can do to learn about issues such as this.

  • this is so cute ! great DIY idea ! I love so much your blog !

    XX Luba
    Well Living Blog :: today autumn shades outfit
    http://very-well-living.blogspot.com

  • Libby,

    Thanks for touching on something that is good to keep in mind when we post about things that reflect elements of rich cultural heritages. As in all of our projects we are only trying to esteem beautiful things that we hope bring joy to other people. In no way are we trying to trivialize what a teepee or feathers signify to Native Americans but are trying to celebrate playfulness, imagination, and the excitement that comes from remembering our childhoods.

    I come from a Native American heritage with my great, great grandmother being full blooded Choctaw. I have always been intrigued with Native American culture, read books about different tribes and the struggles they’ve faced throughout history to my kids, and try to mimic the spirit of resourcefulness and respect for the planet where we can. I’ve lived in the heart of Cherokee Nation in Central Oklahoma and hope to learn more about the unique tribes that lived here on the East side of the Rockies in Colorado Springs.

    All of that is to share that we really aim to be respectful with all of our projects that stem from a unique cultural place. Elsie, Emma, and I also really appreciate your tone in sharing your concern and the resource you shared above, both for us and other readers. Heading over there right now because I agree, there is always more to learn.

    Respectfully,
    Rachel

  • This looks so amazing! Perhaps a fun idea to make with my nieces sometime! (:

    http://bravebrunette.blogspot.com

  • Is it bad that I want one and I have no kids lol so cute.
    http://www.bakingincouture.typepad.com

  • I LOVE this so much!!! I’m not sure I will get around to making one, but it’s beautiful.

  • My first glance was the same as Catherine and I knew it was Rachel, I love thi and it’s so pretty for a little girl’s room. I would love to make this, I may pin this and make it another time.

    Sam

    http://liveandlove,typepad.com

  • Looks so fun and relaxing!

    XOXO
    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:
    http://psbananas.com

  • First glance and I knew this was from Rachel. Those kids have it gooood!! Love this idea so much.
    http://catherinedenton.com
    Catherine Denton

  • when I saw the handmade tent the other day, I said wow that’s cool!
    BUT THIS! This is genius, we should make such tippis with wooden branches when we were little, fascinating! 🙂

    http://inwhirlofinspiration.blogspot.com

  • This is really gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to make a fort/hideout for my kids all summer, but never found the right one. This might be it! Your tutorial is wonderful. Thank you!
    Anna

  • I would tottaly love to make this for my friend who just gave birth! Maybe i’ll wait a few months until he can crawl! Nonetheless what a great tutorial and idea for kids play! Love it!

  • this is such a lovely place to play! wish I was a kid again!!!!
    Alice Barton ♥ The Mow Way

  • This is definitely fun to try out. The wooden frame makes it look pretty firm. Nice idea!

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