3:15 PM


Lately my son (18 mo. old) has loved playing in forts. But I got tired of repositioning the blankets when they'd fall off the chairs I'd set up, or just sitting under a blanket with him. When I was a kid, my mom made a tepee so I thought I'd throw one together too.

This tepee is really roomy, I can play in there with him and we have quite a bit of room, and I'm kind of a large frame chick. So you little petite moms could have room to spare I'm sure.
The sewing is really easy, just measuring and sewing straight lines so I'd say anyone could do this. The biggest challenge is working with such big pieces of fabric, especially this upholstery--it was heavy. It's also easy to take down, just scoop it up and lay it on it's side or prop in the closet or something. To set up, just sit it upright and pull out the legs until fabric is tight on all the sides.


  • My poles are 7 1/2 feet long, and there are 6 of them. I used electrical conduit piping that's 1 inch in diameter. They have two different hardness of pipe, I got the harder. The piping cost $15.00
  • The fabric I used was from THIS raid, so it was all free. The tan striped stuff was outdoor upholstery that is kind of waxy for the waterproof, the other two panels were just cotton blends. I'd guess you'd need between 10-12 yards give or take. Obviously fabric 60" wide you'd need less yardage.
So the tepee has 6 panels. Finished, it measures about 6 feet across inside, and has 5 1/2 feet tall in the center. So it's kind of big, if you wanted it smaller, you could scale it down.
1. So I cut out 6 panels with the above measurements. You can see that some panels were pieced together with other fabrics even.

****I decided to have 3 panels be cowboy themed, and the other 3 Native American themed. Mainly because I had this cowboy denim print and loved it, but never knew how I could use such a large print. So I cut out the steer heads and cowboys and just stitched them on.

2. Assemble panels together. I just serged 3 panels together, then the other three. So I had to halves then serged those together to complete the circle.

3. Serge or hem top and bottom. This is a play fort, so I just serged around the top, and then around the bottom.

4. Sew pole casings. I used poles with 1" diameter. Measuring around the pole, it was 4.25" that is why I cut the 2 3/4" seam allowance on each side. So for 1" poles, I measured 2 1/4" from the serged edge the whole way down. Then I straight stitched it to make the casings on the inside of the tepee.
You can see in the photo on the left, the serged seam on the right, and then the straight stitch on the left of the pole.

If you are fancy and authentic and use actual wood poles, I would think you might want to make even larger casings to allow for bowing or kinks in the wood, where these slid right in and are obviously all uniform.
5. Turn tepee right side out, slide poles in and set it up. I am currently using a bungee to hold the top together, but I have hopes to some day drill holes in the poles and lace them together with twine or something. But for now, greasy bungee from the garage is working great.

I left the Native American panels blank, and plan to decorate them with drawings, or wait and let him draw or paint on it later. I did draw our little family above the door. I planned to paint things, but decided this whole tepee is a little ghetto anyway, so just use the Sharpie and call it good. I was surprised how much he loves the little people drawings. He'll point to each of us and say "papa" "mama" and "RJ", then run inside. Didn't expect the little sketch to be that big of a hit.

If you have the means and resources, a more authentic, wood pole, canvas tepee would be AWESOME!

My door stinks. I just hacked out a slit and serged each side. It pulls funny and can't close. If I did it again, I'd probably cut a vertical slit in the middle, so you could easily go through, but it would hang pretty much closed. I don't know what I was thinking when I hacked it an an angle. It was kind of late I guess.

Well this was a thrown together project, so kind of sloppy, and my photos stink, but I guess my goal is to give ideas if you'd like to make one too. I'd love to have a nice camera, Photoshop, and time to make my images impressive and dreamy, but what you see is what you get....maybe someday.

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  1. Looks pretty awesome for a "thrown together project". Thanks fro the pattern

  2. Oh my goodness this is so cute! My son is 18 months and we would spend a ton of time playing in one of these. I'm going to have to keep my eye open for some clearance fabrics!


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