DIY Indoor Play Tent

A lot of you asked for a tutorial for the play tents my dad and I made the kids, so we put one together for you, reenactment style. Some back story: I really wanted to give the kids play tents for Christmas, because tents are awesome. After looking at a zillion different play tents for sale on Etsy, I figured there had to be a way to make them ourselves. My dad and I looked at a bunch of different tutorials and picked the sturdiest elements, plus we added a few of our own ideas. This might look a bit intimidating, but it’s actually easy to put together. You just need access to some tools and a sewing machine (or the ability to hand-sew in a straight line).

DIY Indoor Play Tent

~Handsaw
~Drill
~1/4-inch drill bit
~3/4-inch spade bit
~100 grit sand paper
~Two 8-foot long, 1-inch by 2-inch wood strips (Select Pine or clear strips without any knot holes) cut into 4-foot lengths (usually done for free at most home improvement stores)
~Three 3/4-inch 4-foot long wooden dowels (also known as “rounds”).
~Fabric of your choice, 88-inches long by 46-inches wide
~One-inch ribbon
~Fabric tape measure
~Fabric scissors
~Heavy-duty thread, sewing machine/needle
~Anti-skid fabric (optional)

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Start by drilling holes for the dowels. With your 3/4 spade bit, drill a hole 4.5-inches from the end of a wood strip. On the other end, drill a hole 2-inches from the end. Repeat on all the wood stripes. A helpful hint from my dad: When drilling the dowel holes, drill slowly through the wood until the point of the drill shows through on the other side. Then turn the wood over and drill it from the other side. This reduces the splintering of the hole.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Mark a spot 5-inches down from this hole, then drill a hole with the 1/4-inch drill bit. Repeat on all of the wood strips.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

On the end of the wood where the hole is only 2-inches away, trim your wood at an angle. This helps the legs of the tent sit better on the ground. Make sure all of your wood strips have the same angle!

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Our house is mostly hardwood, which meant these tents were slipping around a lot. I hot glued anti-skid fabric (like the stuff on the bottom of slippers or footie pajamas) to the bottom of the angled ends of the wood strips, and it made a huge difference!

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Sand any rough bits around the edges and holes.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

To make the fabric part of the tent, make a 1-inch seam on the long sides of your fabric. On the shorter sides, make a 2-inch seam, leaving both ends open to form a sleeve for the dowels. As far as fabric goes, you can really use anything. I chose duck cloth (like canvas) in solid colors because I wanted something that was durable, but not in a pattern they’d quickly outgrow.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Cut four 32-inch long pieces of ribbon, then fold them in half. Sew a ribbon onto all four corners of the fabric, just above the opening of the dowel sleeve.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Slide your dowels into the sleeves.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

You are ready to assemble!

DIY Indoor Play Tent

Put the frame of the tent together, slipping the dowels through the holes. Tie the ribbons onto the wood strips – this holds the fabric in place!

DIY Indoor Play Tent

My dad and I realized that even with the anti-skid fabric, the tents could collapse on the kid inside.  If you tie a ribbon through the 1/4-inch holes, the tent legs won’t be able to open and the tents will be safer.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

If you’d like to, you can dress up the tents. I used fabric bunting I’d previously made for the kids.

DIY Indoor Play Tent

My kids loooove theirs! James especially loves Annabel’s tent when she’s in it.

Any questions, let me know! Have fun!