T is for... Teepee

T is for Teepee...DIY Kids Teepee, With a Little Help From Pythagoras.

T is for Teepee!
Kids teepees have been around for a long time, but it is never too late to make your own! However, just a heads-up, there are sooo many versions and styles and sizes of kids teepees, when you do a basic search, you may be overwhelmed in an instant. I can't say the purpose of this post is to give a perfect step-by-step tutorial, but hopefully something I learned along the way will help you get un-stuck if you're stuck, and hopefully you will feel inspired to carry out your own teepee project vision...or some other creative project you have been putting off.

I put this one off for a long time! But actually, before knowing what I would do with it all, I made a less-than-$10 purchase at a second hand store for a ton of this mint-chip green canvas material along with a huge bag of random trims, including a ginormous roll of curtain tape, and lots of lace trim. Ultimately the inspiration-motivation combo came from my sister-in-law's mother who made teepees one year for her grandchildren.

I followed her advice and just went for it:

  • Use the Pythagorean Theorem to figure out your triangle dimensions.  a2 + bc [The fabric I used for this teepee was 60" wide. I measured 5 feet of fabric and cut a straight line from the raw edge/selvage corner to the point on the fold, 5 feet up from the raw edge. I cut out 6 triangle panels. I cut a slit up the middle of the one that became the doorway, and finished the edges with homemade bias tape from the scraps.]
  • When cutting out the triangles, keep the fabric folded (just like it comes off the bolt--selvages together); trim off the point of the triangle--measure down how ever much you decide. [Note: the more you cut down from the tip, the bigger the hole at the top will be. You really don't need to cut off that much, because when you multiple the width you get by the number of panels you have, it adds up. I only cut off whatever amount that left each triangle "top" about 5" wide--which included seam allowance, by the way.]
  • Decide what kind of poles you will use and know how tall they are or will be. [PVC pipe & caps--many places will cut it for you, tall garden stakes--wooden or plastic coated metal, or dowels, or even bamboo--although I wonder about bugs with bamboo--seem to be most common. Some teepee tutorials suggest drilling a hole in your PVC or poles where you can thread paracord, or something similar, to keep the poles altogether and prevent them from slipping. I did not do that, but the knobby parts on the garden stakes I used seem to help the cording stay in place, once I initially slide it into place while setting it up. I used six 8 foot plastic coated metal garden stakes because 6 foot garden stakes would not have been tall enough, and those were my options at the time. Eight feet is a little tall, but it's all good.]
  • Sew casings for the poles(this was where my thrift store curtain tape came in) between each of the triangle panels as you sew them together. Note that a proper casing is 1/4" wider than what goes through (e.g. drawstring, cording, in this case, pole), but also remember to factor in seam allowance when determining the width of your casing material.]
As a side note: I sewed the lace trim and decorative details onto individual panels before sewing it all together. I measured & marked to be sure they would match once I did sew them together.

Teepees are great play places for children, and depending on the size, can be suitable indoors or outdoors. We store ours indoors, but use it outdoors because the poles are too tall to set up entirely with the ceilings we have.

Lastly, I kind of wish I had sewn a window...I guess I still can, but just haven't yet. If I sewed a window I would probably finish the cut-out with bias tape, and I would also consider constructing some kind of flap so you could have the window open or close. [I think I thought the decorative ruffle flower things would be like camouflage for little peep holes that I never actually cut out. haha!]

This was a really fun project; one that I had to just really dive-in and go for it. Thankfully it all worked out and we have enjoyed many backyard teepee adventures and look forward to more adventures to come!

If you have 9 1/3 yards of 60" wide material sitting around in your stash, might I suggest you make a teepee?!

T is for Teepee!

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