Make a Rainbow Canopy for Your Child's Room




About: Artist, craftswoman, reenactor, costumer, mom, geek, nerd, gamer, designer. Love building props and costumes and lots of other things for fun, have gotten to do it for money in the past. Grew up restoring ho...

One of my children has a fun bed with a starry canopy, that we got from Ikea. The other child kept trying to improvise a similar arrangement, but no such thing existed for his little converted-crib toddler bed. Being a creative parent, I thought it might be fun to make my own.

Requirements: It needed to be sturdy, flexible, removable, washable, and inexpensive. Also, he wanted curtains.

This is all of those, plus the requested curtains.

It has become a stage, a secret hiding place, a teaching tool (colors!), a toy in and of itself. Oh, and it's also a bed.

I think it might easily be modified into a playstand canopy above a couple of shelves, but I think some further engineering is required.

NOTICE: Do not use this for a crib-bed that is still in use as a crib. This design is much too low to be safe as an infant crib canopy. Also, if you want to make this for a non-crib toddler bed, you will have to create your own pattern and customize your frame.

Step 1: Ingredients


You need a sewing machine or handsewing needles and lots of time to sturdily hand sew all seams. I also used my serger to finish all raw edges on the canopy, but it's not a requirement.
A measuring tool of some kind - I used a yardstick and eyeballed anything that didn't need to be precise.


Canopy cover:

1 yard each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet cotton for a rainbow, or an equivalent amount of fabric for other patterns or a solid cover.
Thread - I used black and white on the canopy. It looks fine.
3 yards of twill tape or other sturdy, non-slippery flat narrow fabric (such as grosgrain ribbon or shoelace) for ties
3 yards of 1/2" elastic


4 2 foot lengths of 1/2" white PVC pipe
6 2 foot lengths of flexible black sprinkler pipe
4 1/2" unthreaded PVC T-joints
4 1/2" unthreaded PVC elbow joints
PVC adhesive
Duct or electrical tape

Curtains (optional):

1 twin flat sheet (I used the two dollar flat sheet from Ikea)
1.5 yards of blue gauzy fabric
Blue and white sewing thread
3 yards of twill tape

Mounting to crib frame (not shown):

Zip ties, heavy duty and long enough to go around the top bar of the crib.

Step 2: Assembling the Frame

Before you do anything with cloth, it's a good idea to prepare and check your support framework.

To get the best curvature on your canopy frame, it should be 1.5 times the length of the crib you are mounting it to. Most cribs are pretty standard. My frame is a little over 6 feet long, and a little over 2 feet wide.

Lay out your parts as shown in the diagram.

Use PVC adhesive to secure the elbows and T joints to the PVC pipe cross pieces. Follow the directions on the can.

Apply a layer or two of duct or electrical tape to the ends of the flexible sprinkler pipe, to make it fit snugly in the PVC joints. These are not meant to create permanent joins, but snugly fitted removable ones.

Fit your parts together and test the fit of the removable pipes and add or subtract tape as necessary.

When you are satisfied, set the frame aside, but keep it assembled. We'll need it for the next step.

Step 3: The Canopy: Piecing the Rainbow

Fabric preparation and assembly of the main part of the canopy.

Prewash your cloth, dry it on hot. That way you have it preshrunk should your little one smear something on it and laundering becomes necessary.

Cut two 9" wide strips from each color, along the length of the fabric cut (each strip is one yard by 9"). You only need two 9" wide strips. Set the remaining fabric aside.

Finish all raw edges with a serger if you have one.

Sew two of each strip together on the narrow end. If you did not serge the edges, make a flat felled seam. If you serged, simply fold the serged edges over together and topstitch.

Take these pieced strips and sew them together lengthwise in this order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet. Either flat-fell or topstitch these seams as above.

Step 4: The Canopy: Adding Casings for the Frame

Now it's time to add casings for the frame supports to the canopy.

Measure the length of the flexible pipe between the joints on the frame. Cut three casings from each of the red and violet scrap fabric pieces. Make them 4" wide and a matching length to your measurement.

Cut one of each of these in two. Hem all the short edges (I simply serged them, but I suggest a sturdier method like a rolled hem).

Fold in half to form tubes and sew these casings down along the lengthwise blue-violet seam and the lengthwise red-orange seam. Position the short casings about 1" to either side of the center seam, and the longer ones about 2" from the ends of the short ones.

Cut end casings from the blue or green fabric. These will go from the red-orange seam to the blue-violet seam, plus an inch or so, and they need to be about 7-8" wide. Hem the ends.

Mark three or four intervals along each casing where there will need to be pass-throughs for zip ties. Where these are depends on the structure of your crib. Make two buttonholes at each interval, about an inch and a half to either side of the center of the strip.

Finally, fold into tubes, and sew across the width from orange to blue. Topstitch or flatfell this seam as well, for strength.

Step 5: The Canopy: Finishing the Canopy

It's not quite finished - it needs to be hemmed, ties need to be sewn on to secure it to the crib, and elastic needs to be sewn on to give the front and back some shape.

Hem the edges of the red and violet strips.

Cut the length of twill tape into quarters, zigzag, knot or otherwise secure the ends from fraying, and sew to each loose corner of the red and violet strips. Sew a line of straight stitches, then secure with a row of dense zigzag stitches, backstitching over the ends of the zigzag.

The next illustration is the almost-finished canopy.

Finally, cut the 3 yards of elastic in half and apply it to the wrong side of the hemmed edges of the red and violet strips. To machine the elastic on using a three-step zigzag: first set the stitch width to the maximum and the length to zero, to tack one end right about where the tie is mounted. Pin the other end to where the other ties is mounted, making sure the elastic isn't twisted. Then set the stitch length to maximum and, stretching it gently to match the fabric length as you go, sew all the way to the other tie, removing the pin before you sew over it. Set the length to zero again to tack down the other end.

The canopy is done. Set it aside with the frame.

Step 6: Curtains: Cutting the Fabric

Take the blue cloth and fold it semi-diagonally as shown, about a 30 degree diagonal. What you are doing is creating a curtain that fits on a curved shape without too much actual fitting. It does not need to be precise, but one side does need to be longer than the other.

Smooth out the fabric and cut along you fold very carefully.

Fold your twin flat sheet in half, as shown. You want two short fat rectangles, not long skinny ones.

Smooth out the fabric and cut along the fold.

Lay a piece of the blue fabric under one of the rectangles along the cut edge, overlapping by several inches to a foot. Using the edge of the blue cloth as a guide, sketch out a few cloud humps between the cut edge of the white fabric and the edge of the blue fabric that do not go closer than 1" from the cut edges. Remove the blue cloth and lay down the other rectangle under the marked one, cut edges matched up, and cut your cloud edge shape through both layers.

(not illustrated) Hem the two short edges of the blue cloth pieces. You will not need to hem the straight edges of the white cloth, as they are already hemmed.

Step 7: Curtains: Sewing

Lay the white cloud shaped edge over the blue fabric as shown and pin carefully in place. (for the second curtain, reverse the image). You are sewing straight fabric to slightly biased fabric along a series of curves, so you will need a lot of pins to keep the fabric under control.
Sew a line of straight stitches about 1/2 inch in from the raw edge and remove the pins as you go to avoid sewing over them.

Finish the applique by sewing over the straight stitches and then the raw edge with a very dense, wide zigzag stitch in a light blue thread. Clip away excess blue fabric below the cloud stitches on the back of the curtains.

Sew a 1/2" long buttonhole halfway along the top edge of the curtain, about 1" in.

Fold over the edge and sew into a narrow casing, about 1" wide.

Set the finished curtains aside.

Step 8: Assembly

Next, you need to put your finished parts together with your converted-crib toddler bed.

Disassemble the frame. Set aside the ends, and two of the black pipes. Keep the crosspieces assembled into u-shapes with the black pipes.

Slide the end pieces into the casings at the ends, then slip one of the crosspiece assemblies into the casings going towards an end piece and plug the black pipes into the elbow joints. Do likewise with the other one.

Take the last two back pipes and slip them into the split casings in the middle. Plug them into the open ends of the t-joints to complete the frame. The canopy is still fairly slack when not installed, so it should not be too difficult to do this.

Step 9: Installation of the Canopy

To install on a converted-crib toddler bed, simply use heavy-duty zip ties to secure the frame of the canopy to the frame of the crib.

Thread three zip ties through the buttonholes on one end. Position the canopy over the bed, and loosely secure the ties (enough to allow some adjustment).

thread three more zip ties through the buttonholes on the opposite end. Curve the canopy into position, and again loosely secure to the bed frame.

Adjust the position of the canopy so that the canopy is resting outside the top rail of the crib on both ends, and tighten the zip ties as much as possible.

Trim the ends of the zip ties to a safe curve, do not just snip off to a hard corner or sharp edge.

Finally, pull each corner tie around each corner post of the crib bed and tie off below the top bar.

The canopy is installed.

Step 10: Installation of the Curtains

You can be done now, or if you chose to make the optional cloud curtains, you can now install those.

Thread the twill tape over the black pipe through the gap in the center casing. Using a bodkin or a safety pin, thread each end through the casing on the longer (inside) half of each curtain and out the buttonhole. Loop the tape around the t joint at each crossbar and back into the casing through the buttonhole, and out the other end. Secure to frame with any hitch knot.

The illustration is grayed out for clarity, and the path of the cord holding the curtains up is shown in red.



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    26 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, for the folks who have asked how to do something similar for a non-crib type bed!
    I found a link on pinterest to this blog which tells exactly how to do that, same basic concept and materials:


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love this I made it today in just a couple hours


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your instructable. I put "windows" with "shades" in my son's John Deere tent. Thank you for giving me a very detailed starting point and guidelines.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is the coolest thing I've ever seen for a bed. My daughter is 3 and we're having a hard time trying to keep her in her bed and staying in her room at night. I could never make anything close to this beautiful creation.... would you make me one if I paid you??

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Seriously !!!! This is the coolest thing I've ever seen for a bed.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the compliment! I'm afraid I don't do bespoke sewing these days, my kids take up too much of my time.

    All the sewing is pretty basic, straight lines (except for the applique work on the curtains). If you have friends or relatives who sew, they should be able to teach you or help you make your own.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

     About 3/4 of an inch. Total, so each side has a 3/8 seam allowance. It's all done by eye (so it's roughly 9"). Flat felled seams don't need to be wide to be sturdy.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    I wondered because the frame is only about 26 1/2 inches wide. Thanks for the quick response. You should patent this :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I really want to make one of these for my daughter who will be three in 2 weeks but I'm really confused about how you attach it to the frame & couldn't I just double stitch cause I don't have a serger (don't know what it is). I don't under stand raw edges. Couldn't I just hem all edges before I start then him them again for a clean edge? Also I'm not sure what a top stitch is. I'm good at sewing on a machine but don't know any terms. I'm pretty sure the casings are what hold it to the frame but that whole step confuses me. If you could point me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it. It's amazing that you made this one. I'm only going to be using 2 colors on hers as well if that helps.

    6 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Everything you are asking for is in the instructable :)

    The serger isn't strictly necessary, and is described so in the tools and materials list. Step three gives instructions for BOTH serged/sewn and flat felled seaming. If you do not have a serger, flat fell all the seams for strength. The orange link in step 3 leads to another instructable that goes into how to flat-fell a seam in detail. 

    Step 4: Look at the illustrations. This isn't a precise pattern because there are so many different styles and dimensions of top railings on cribs/beds/etc. All I can do is give you a general idea of how to make your own, and give diagrams to guide you.

    If step 4 confuses you, look at step 5, last illustration, with the finished canopy laid out flat, and step 8, where it shows the frame inserted into the canopy.

    Step 9 covers attaching it to the crib or bedframe. I suggest zip (cable) ties because they are sturdy, and can be temporary and non-damaging while offering a relatively childproof solution for attaching the canopy to the bed.

    Step 10, illustration 2, shows why the center casing is split. 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't know you could click on the little diagrams. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. her bed is set up just like yours in the picture. I'm so excited to start this. What kind of fabric did you use? I just went to Wal-Mart and got cotton for 1.97 a yard.  I'll post pics too, I'm thinking of putting lace on the front too :)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I found what I think is the same thing (the guys at Lowe's and Home Depot looked at me stupid LOL) it's called silo-flex. Thanks for the quick reply.

    my 9 lives

    9 years ago on Introduction

    My little guy (he's three) wants one for his room with dinosaurs! getting everything in the morning! will post pics when I'm done!