Introduction: Super Cool Chair Tent

The chair tent is the cornerstone of every child's architectural knowledge base. The old fashion version usually consisted of 4 or more chairs with 1 or more blankets tossed over the backs of the chairs. This resulted in a saggy topped tent with open spaces everywhere that collapsed the third time someone entered.

This Instructable will show you a new version that allows you to create a structurally sound chair tent that you can set up and take down in seconds. It is constructed entirely out of fabric so it can be folded and stored away quite easily. (If you want to recycle -- an old queen size sheet set will accommodate the entire project.)

This is a beginning level sewing project, so let your kids help plan, cut, sew, decorate, etc. Or you could make it yourself and surprise them with a cool looking, easy to use, chair tent.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Gather your supplies.

You will need:

  • 8 yards of woven fabric or one set of queen sheets (pillow cases included)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread to match
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Tape measure
  • Various prints of scrap fabric for decoration
  • (Not necessary but super handy: a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat)

If you choose to decorate with appliques you will also need:

  • Fusable Web (Wonder-Under)
  • Paper or lightweight cardboard for making applique patterns
  • Iron
  • Various prints and sizes of fabric for decoration

New fabric can be used instead of the sheet set. Fabric usually comes in 42"-44" widths and is sold by the linear yard. You may choose to make each tent wall or top from different fabric. If so, refer to the "cutting the pieces" step to see how much of each type of fabric you should buy.

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

Measure the height of your chair back. This measurement will determine the height of your tent. My chairs were 40" high. I will use this measurement throughout the instructions (insert your own measurement accordingly).

Cut these rectangles from fabric.
  • top 54" x 30"
  • 2 sides 40" x 54"
  • 4 end flaps 40" x 24"
  • 4 pockets 20" x 15"

If using a queen sheet set:
  • cut the top (54" x 30") and two of the end flaps (40" x 24") out of the fitted sheet
  • cut sides and 2 end flaps from the flat sheet
fold sheet matching top and bottom edges to get these pieces, cutting through both
layers of the sheet at one time

The pockets will be made from the pillow cases:
The two pillow cases will give you 4 pockets if you cut this way:
  • Cut 15" up from the open end of each pillow case. This will give you two finished chair pocket pieces (already hemmed). Trim the remainder of the two pillow cases to 16". Use 1" the difference to create a hem. You now have four pockets -- set aside for a later step.

Step 3: Additional Cutting of End Flaps

Now that your pieces are cut we will need to cut a wedge from the upper corners of the end flaps.
Stack each set of end flaps right sides together. Measure down 14" from the top on left side. Mark.
On top of same side, measure over 3 1/2". Mark. Draw a line matching marks. Cut off
the wedge. See photos.

Step 4: Joining the Two End Flaps

Hem the straight edge (the side opposite of cut wedge) of all four end flap pieces pairing them up so the hems will be to the inside. The bottom will be hemmed in a later step. We will need to piece the two end flap pieces at this time to create our ends for entering and exiting our tent. Over lap the top edges
@ 11". The the top of the pieced end should now measure 30" across. Adjust if need. Baste. Don't worry about the gaping bottom.

Step 5: Preparing and Attaching the Pockets

If using new fabric, hem the bottom and one side edge of all pocket pieces. Make sure the 4 pockets include 2 with hemmed left side edges and 2 with hemmed right side edges. The unfinished edges will eventually be sewn into the seams upon completion of the tent.

If using pillow cases, all edges should already be finished.

It is now time to add pockets to the side pieces (using either the pillow case pockets or those you have prepared).

Pin each pocket to the top left and top right corners of each side piece making sure the hemmed edges are to the inside and bottom of side piece and the unfinished edges are along the sides and tops. Baste the sides and tops in place to keep from shifting during construction and stitch the inside hemmed edge 1/4" in making sure to reinforce the end of the pocket with a zig-zag stitch as it will get the most stress.

Step 6: Adding Decorations (Optional)

This is the fun step. Get the kids to help you decorate the sides and ends. It will be much easier to do at this point before assembling the tent. Let your imagination guide you. I have chosen appliques but you could use fabric markers and let the kids go.

My roof fabric had a floral design so I chose to go with flowers. To make the appliques you will need:
*paper or light weight cardboard to make a patterns
*Fusable web (Wonder-Under products sold at JoAnn's)
*Fabric scraps

Make patterns of your choice. Trace right side down on paper side of fusable web, this is especially important if you are making letter appliques. Follow manufacturer's directions for ironing on to the wrong side of your scrap fabric. Cut out your applique before peeling back paper to expose fusable adhesive. Position on tent sides or end flaps as desired. Iron in place again following manufacturer's directions. To make the design more durable especially in the washing machine, zig-zag around all appliques. See photos. You are now ready to put the tent together.

Step 7: Sides and Ends Together

Pin sides and prepared ends together. You will be using a half inch seam allowance in constructing your tent.

Make sure as you are pinning that you always have right sides together.
Pin then stitch a flapped end to a long side, continue pinning and stitching the
second flapped end and the final side. You will have a long strip. Now stitch together the last side/end edges together to form a continuous loop.

*For a more durable tent I always serge these seams after stitching.

Step 8: Hem the Bottom

We're almost done! You will be hemming the entire bottom at this time.

(It is easier to hem the bottom of the tent before the top is attached.)

To hem:
  • Turn up bottom of joined sides/ends 1/4" then 1/4" again pressing each time around
  • Hem

*If you have a serger, first serge around the entire bottom and then turn up 1/2" and hem.

Step 9: Let's Put on the Top!

In this step we will be sewing the top to the joined sides/ends.

The seams and corners will be matched up for this step.

Mark a point 1/2" down and over from each corner of top piece.(See photo)
This will give you a matching point.
To make corners sharper, clip into
the seam allowance @3/8" on one side of each seam and you
will be able to turn the corner much easier. Pin matching side seams
to marked corner point. Stitch around entire top.
*As always make sure that you have right sides together.

*Again, for durability, serge seams.

Step 10: Enjoy!!!!!!!

Slip the pockets over the chair back and invite the kids to have a ball!!!
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