Wednesday 21 September 2011

DIY Teepee

(Goblin is 23 months)
I am so excited. I just finished making a teepee for Goblin. 
I am not a natural craft type and this is by no means the best teepee in the world - But I made it and Goblin can play in it, so I am very excited. 

Here is how I made it - along with some tips on how not to make the same mistakes I did. 
I used 3 old double bed sheets that I had lying around (we upgraded to a super king sized bed and I still have the old bed linen but it no longer fits). They were navy blue which is a bit boring so I bleach tie dyed them. 

If you have never done this before, tie dying is very easy and can produce some great results. There is a handy PDF explaining how to do different types of tie dying here
lesson learned: I used plastic string this time but I have got much better results when I have used fabric string which absorbs the liquid and swells. 
I wanted to remove colour rather than add it so I popped the sheets into the bath with a bottle of thin bleach over night. 
Now being an exceptionally lazy person I didn't iron the sheets before I started to cut out the pattern. 
lesson learned: Iron the sheets before you cut so the creases don't impact the straight lines. 
I folded the sheets in half and cut triangles that were 44 inches across the bottom and 5 foot high. I know they are bizarre measurements but that was what fit once the sheets were folded in two. In terms of the finished article I think it works quite well. 
This is probably stating the obvious but these are isosceles triangles so you measure 22 inches in and then measure the five foot height from that middle point. This will give you two triangles, one on the bottom of the folded sheet and one on the top. If like me you are using 3 double sheets you also need to use the folded side of the sheet to get another triangle. As the middle of your triangle is 22 inches in from the edge you simply cut a straight line across to your fold, unfold the bit you have just cut off and you should have another 44 inch by 5 foot triangle. Do this on two of your three sheets and you will create the two triangles that will make the fourth wall of your teepee. 
I felt the sheets needed a bit more pizzaz so I appliqued some stars onto the triangles that would form the top layers. This was not as tricky as it sounds. I used a star from one of Goblin's puzzles as a template and some odd bits of cloth. I cut out about 5 stars per wall and used the zigzag function on the sewing machine to sew round the edges. The bright red thread helped. (The photo above was taken out of sequence, I'm just using it to show the stars)

Next I cut some rectangular strips about 8 inches high and the length of the sheet (or what was left of it). I folded these over so they were 4 inches high and sewed up the edge so they were long tubes. I turned them inside out so the stitching wasn't showing. I cut the tubes into 4 inch wide sections and folded the sections over so they were two inches deep. These form the tabs that the bean poles will go through. If you are doing this you will need 40 tabs.
It's a bad photo above but what I am doing is placing the tabs in between the two triangles. The fold of the tab should face inwards (towards the middle of the triangle) and the two edges of the tab should be lined up with the edges of the top and bottom triangles to form a sandwich with the tab as the filling. 
You need about 5 tabs per triangle edge. There is probably a very professional way of working out where to put your tabs, but I did it my "unique" way. On the first triangle I placed the tabs about 7 inches apart along the left hand side. Then I laid the second panel of two triangles next to the first and added tabs to the right hand side of panel 2, etc. I lined up the tabs so they were in between the ones on the first panel. So if panel 1 had a tab right at the top, panel 2 would have one about 5 inches down from the top, and then panel 1 would have one, and then panel 2. 
Then I placed tabs on the left side of panel 2, about 7 inches apart, and repeated the exercise with panel 3. etc etc. As you can see from the photo I marked the panels with chalk so I could tell which ones were which. 
When you get back to the right hand side of panel one, leave the three tabs closest to the bottom unfolded. That is to say the whole 4 inch strip to be sandwiched between the two triangles. This will create the door flap. You can put stick-on velcro on these tabs so that they can be wrapped round the pole and done up, or left hanging when the door is open.
Then you simply sew the panels together making sure you don't sew too far in from the edge - because that will make your tabs less deep and your poles may not fit through. Sew all the way round but leave about half a foot at the bottom of each panel. Turn the whole thing right side out (so the tabs are now visible on the edges) and then sew up the last foot. Mark the corner of each panel so you know which one lines up with the tabs on the next panel. 
Place panel 1 and 2 next to each other and thread the bean poles through the tabs. 
When all four beanpoles are through. Stand the teepee up. Tie a ribbon around the top to hold the poles together and spread the legs at the bottom. 
And there you have your DIY teepee and here it is with the door shut for some privacy. 

Can't wait for Goblin to wake up and discover it tomorrow. 


  1. Brilliant! Excited to hear what Dex's reaction is, hopefully not the same indifference to learning the colour green.

  2. fantastic!!!

    Thanks for linking up to Serenity Saturday link party
    Hope to see you there again this week



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