How to make a kids' tipi playhouse
Here's how to make a colorful backyard playhouse (no sewing necessary)
The ripstop nylon red shell, cut from 60-inch-wide fabric, is decorated with yellow cotton-fabric forms attached with iron-on adhesive.
Shoelaces threaded through grommets secure the tepee to bamboo poles.
Click ahead for the step-by-step photos and instructions.
- 3 1⁄3 yards 60-inch-wide ripstop nylon
- 1⁄2 yard 45-inch-wide yellow cotton
- 1 yard iron-on adhesive
- Twelve 1⁄4-inch grommets (kits include grommet tool)
- Nine 27-inch-long black shoelaces
- Six 8-foot-long, 1-inch-diameter bamboo poles
- Six 1-foot-long, 1⁄4-inch steel rods (cut to size if necessary)
- One roll 30-inch-wide heavy paper and masking tape (optional)
- One 54-inch-long bootlace
- Six tent pegs
- Pencil, fabric measuring tape, iron
- Drawing compass, string, pushpins
- Scissors, hole punch
- Hacksaw (to cut steel rods), hammer
- Electric drill with 13⁄64- or 1⁄4-inch bit
To make a 60-inch-radius halfcircle for the tepee shell, mark a quarter- circle on the folded fabric using a pencil and measuring tape: Lay the measuring tape down between two diagonal corners and draw a 60-inch-long line measured from the folded corner (this is the radius).
Then, starting from the adjacent folded corner, draw a quarter-circle, arcing around the end of the line and ending at the opposite corner.
It may help to mark the curve of the quarter-circle with string secured by pushpins. Cut out the quarter-circle and unfold the fabric.
Cut a half-circle (with a 5-inch radius) at the center of the straight edge of the fabric, where the radii meet. If desired, zigzag or hand-stitch (with a blanket stitch) the curved edges of the tepee.
Cut out the shapes, saving the triangles (shaded on the pattern) to line the tepee’s top edge. Remove the paper backing from the zigzags.
Place a zigzag along the top of each opening edge of the tepee as shown in the photo on page 126 and bond with an iron. Next, bond the small triangles (saved from zigzags) along the tepee’s top edge:
For the first row, lay seven triangles point to point and bond. Apply the second row of triangles (six) in alternate spaces over the first row’s touching points (see figure F).
Bond the 1½-inch circles onto opposite sides of the tepee opening, 22 inches up from the bottom and 11 inches in from the opening edges (on radius marks). Bond the 8-inch circles 10½ inches (on center) away from the little circles as shown.
Cut out twelve 3-inch-tall yellow triangles (see figure D). Cut one triangle in half lengthwise and apply the halves to the two opening edges at the bottom of the tepee; bond. Apply the 11 remaining triangles to the bottom edge of the tepee at the six radius marks and halfway between each pair of marks.
Weave one full-length black shoelace through the holes to tie the tent to the poles.
Cut 6 black shoelaces in half (to secure the tepee to poles and tent pegs); knot cut ends. Thread a shoelace end through each of the 11 sets of holes (so ends are inside the tepee).
Place a grommet in the center of each small yellow circle. Thread a black shoelace through each circle to use as ties for the “door.”
Mark the edge of the circle into 6 even arcs.
Align poles so the thick ends are down. Trim poles to equal lengths. Drill a hole in each pole 62 inches from the bottom. (You'll use these holes when tying the top of the tipi together.)
Hammer a steel rod into inside the base of each pole, leaving about 4 inches protruding from the bottom of the pole. These will act as tent stakes.
Wrap the tipi shell around the poles and secure ties around the tops and bottoms of the poles.
Insert tent pegs into the ground at the triangles between poles. Tie laces to tent pegs. Tie openings around poles so kids can run in and out.