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How To Make A Child’s Teepee Wigwam

I know it’s bad form to utter the ‘C’ word while it’s still the school Summer holidays, but my August make for the Minerva Craft Blogger Network is this beautiful Teepee, which is indeed a Christmas present for a little girl in the family.

wigwam teepee tipi play tent

I have to admit that this is not the first Christmas present I’ve made this year as I tend to make them all year round, as and when an idea springs to mind, but it’s definitely my favourite so far.

Isn’t it sweet?

teepee wigwam play tent tipi

There are LOTS of tutorials out there showing many ways to make your own wigwam, but none of them were quite what I wanted, so this is my version which is suitable for a toddler – adjust the measurements upwards to make a larger tent for older children.

It is an amalgamation of several basic designs that I’ve come across which I have then personalised to suit the recipient using various appliquéd motifs and letters.

This lovely fabric bundle arrived from Minerva: –

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The white base fabric for the teepee is a thick cotton drill which makes a nice, strong tent. I also chose two contrasting fabrics which are lighter weight cottons; a gorgeous ‘Cath Kidston’ inspired floral cotton poplin and a dusky pink polycotton.

You will need: –

  • 2 1/2m of cotton drill
  • 1m floral fabric
  • 1m plain fabric
  • selection of scraps from your stash
  • 4 x plastic overflow pipe, each measuring 2.00m x 22mm (99p each from Wickes)
  • A leather shoelace or similar

Using the large diagram as a guide, fold your 2 1/2m of white fabric in half lengthwise and cut out as shown.

Cutting layout diagram

You should now have three equally sized triangles and two half-triangles. Stitch the two half-triangles together along the long straight edge with a narrow seam to make a single triangle. (I cut mine wrong, hence the off-centre seam!)

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The bottom edges can be hemmed if you wish, although I left mine as the selvedge forms the bottom.

Cut rectangles of fabric out of the contrast floral fabric as per the two smaller diagrams, then make about 4m of bias binding using your plain fabric.

(See my tutorial here on how to make bias binding).

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Apply bias binding to one side and lower edge of the two large pieces of floral fabric – these will form your front curtains.

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To shape the sides of the curtains to match the slope of the wigwam, place a large white triangle over the curtain, bottom edges matching and raw edges up the side. Your floral fabric will poke out beyond the edge of the triangle as seen below.

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Cut off the excess floral fabric.

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Take a curtain and pin the top edge to the bottom edge of your small white triangle, wrong sides together.

Take your other curtain and pin over the top of the first curtain.

It should now look like this.

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Sew together using a flat fell seam. (This previous post shows how to make a flat fell seam.)

You can leave it plain as this type of seam leaves a nice neat finish, but I chose to decorate mine with a strip of bias binding and a row of pom pom trim from my stash.

Similar pompom trim can be bought here.

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Make the curtain tiebacks as follows.

Fold the small floral rectangles in half lengthwise and stitch a small seam along one short and the long side.

Turn and press.

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With raw edges matching, pin and baste about halfway down the unfinished sloping edge of each curtain.

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Take a large white triangle and cut a 25 x25cm square for the window the base of which should be about 58cm up from the bottom edge.

Snip diagonally into each corner by 1cm and fold in a 1cm double hem. Pin in place.

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Stitch, sewing across corners as shown.

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Cut two little curtains, each one 15 x 27cm.

Hem all four edges and trim the opening edges with more pom pom trim.

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Make two tiny curtain tiebacks: –

Fold a 10cm length of bias binding in half lengthways and stitch close to the edge.

Stitch a 1cm square piece of velcro to one end.

Pin curtain to window at top and side.

Insert tieback under curtain about 10cm up from the lower edge, velcro side uppermost as shown.

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Stitch curtain in place, catching tieback in seam as you go.

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Sew the other piece of velcro to the inside of the window.

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You can continue to decorate your teepee or just sew the sides together at this point – just scroll down to the relevant section.

I personalised this one with a name which I first printed out on card using Cooper std font in size 240pt. Separating the letters makes them easier to cut out. For best results use a craft knife.

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Fuse a piece of interfacing onto the wrong side of your contrast fabric and trace around each of the letters making sure you reverse them first.

(I have plenty in my stash, but you can buy interfacing here at Minerva.)

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Cut around each letter carefully using embroidery scissors for accuracy.

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Pin the letters in place and sew above the window using a satin stitch on your machine.

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I decorated the sides of the teepee with a mixture of appliquéd flowers and butterflies – just click the links below to download the PDF for these.

Butterflies

Flowers

Each motif was interfaced before being cut out and sewn on with satin stitch as before.

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They look quite nice on the wrong side as well!

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Now for putting the whole teepee together.

Start by sewing each of the four sections together at the side seams, wrong sides together, in a 1cm seam.

Turn so that right sides are now facing each other and sew a 4cm seam (effectively just a huge French seam) which will create the tubes through which your pipes will pass.

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Sew a small square of velcro onto the front door curtains in the same way as before, and a matching piece inside the curtain close to the seam.

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Cut the pipes to 1800mm in length and thread through the casings.

(You may have to trim an inch or two from the top of the teepee to make room for all the poles like I had to).

Tie a leather shoelace or other cording around the top of the tent to keep the poles in place.

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And that’s it!

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I had to get a photo with the chickens!

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Hopefully I haven’t ruined the surprise as I’m pretty certain this little girl’s mother doesn’t read my blog!

As this teepee only takes up about one square metre of floor space, it is ideal for indoor use and, I suspect, this one will live permanently in her bedroom as a quiet reading nook.

Teepees aren’t only for girls though – what little boy wouldn’t love his own pirate version using this pirate fabric from Minerva?

Or how about a unisex wigwam to suit a brother and sister with this gorgeous Kite print?

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Wouldn’t it look lovely draped with fairy lights and bunting?

In fact I might just go and make some bunting now……


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How To Make A Play Tent From Old Shirts – A Tutorial

Last week it was our school’s Summer Fête and, as well as many edible goodies, I made a play tent for the PTFA to raffle off for their funds.

All week I had been making jam, marmalade, fudge….

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….Elderflower Cordial….

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…….and scones.

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The day before the fair, Mr H-L had a delivery of some new shirts for work and decided to have a wardrobe clear out resulting in the eviction of nine of his ‘old’ ones.

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Some of the shirts had never actually been worn and even those that had were still in great condition so, when he asked me to take them to the charity shop, and idea sprung to mind.

Why not upcycle them and make a patchwork play tent to raffle off for the school funds?

This ended up making far more money than they would have achieved in a charity shop, and the money was still going to a good cause, so off to my studio I went to formulate a plan.

I made a similar tent for The Boys last year which I never got around to blogging about, so I based it on that.

Photoshopped

YOU WILL NEED: –

Nine men’s cotton shirts

1 x dowelling (2000mm x 25mm)

4 x planed timber (1800mm x 44mm x 18mm)

4 x eyelets

2m elastic cord

Drill a hole 15cm in from one end of each of the bits of planed timber using a spade bit the same size as your dowelling.

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You now need to create one single piece of fabric that measures 1.60m x 3.20m.

The first job was to cut up the shirts into as many usable sections as possible using my rotary cutter for speed.

I started by removing the button flaps, cuffs and collars.

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Look at all the buttons I rescued!

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I wasn’t at all precise in my cutting as I intended to fit each piece as I went – very liberating and totally the opposite of normal patchwork!

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I laid all the bits out on the floor and arranged them in a pleasing order, being sure to space out evenly the more brightly coloured yellow and pink.

This would not have quite the same impact with the more conservative blue or white work shirts, but you could always appliqué onto the patches for added interest.

I didn’t need to – Mr H-L likes a shirt that stands out:)

As you can see from the picture below, I sewed the pieces of fabric VERY roughly together into strips. The edges were then trimmed into a neat line before stitching the strips of patchwork together along their long sides.

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As both sides of the tent were going to be visible, I used Flat Fell seams throughout.

This type of seam leaves a smart finish and adds strength to the seam.

Here’s a line drawing to show the construction: –

Flat fell seam

Image courtesy of Google images

In photographs, here’s what I did: –

Stitch a staggered seam where the lower fabric (pink) sticks out 1cm more than the top fabric.

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Open the two fabrics flat with the raw edges of the seam uppermost.

Fold the seam to the left and tuck the (pink) overhang over the raw edge of the other (striped) fabric, enclosing all raw edges in the process.

Stitch close to the folded edge.

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As I said, a very neat finish which I used as the outside of the tent.

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Keep going until you have one piece of fabric measuring 1.60m x 3.20m.

Hem all around the outer edges.

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In each of the four corners of the tent, fix an eyelet through which you need to attach a 50cm length of elastic cording as shown below.

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Tie the ends of the cord in a knot to form a loop through which the tent poles will pass.

Align the holes in the tent poles….

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….and insert the length of dowelling.

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Lay the tent over the central dowel and pass the poles through the elastic cords at the bottom edge.

I also added a tie half way up each side of the tent – but, in my haste, forgot to document it. Basically, four 50cm long ties were made using scarps of leftover shirt fabric and sewn to the seam. These hold the tent more tautly to the frame.

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We also decided to saw a shallow groove on the outer edge of the pole where the elastic cord sits – this helps stop the cord from riding up the pole.

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With the addition of some bunting, a blanket and some cushions, it makes a lovely spot for young children to play.

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Or the perfect place for No.1 Son to shade his cider from the afternoon sun!

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We sold raffle tickets for the tent and raised almost seventy pounds for the school funds!

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The lucky winner was thrilled to bits to win it for her little girls and, as it was such a success, I think I’m going to be asked to make one for next year’s fête.

Watch out Mr. H-L, I’ve got my eye on your shirts…..