What can be better than surprising your tot with a homemade teepee? In this instructable, I'll show you how I made a whimsical teepee using some fabric, 4 dowels, and creativity. Did I mention there is zero sewing involved?
Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials
For this project I used:
2.5 yards of white and gold polka dot cotton fabric
1 yard of polka dot mesh fabric (I used this so that when cut, it would not fray. Did I mention this is a no-sew project??)
4 dowels (I opted for 6 foot long dowels found in the molding department of lowes, rather than the typical 4 foot dowels so that the entire teepee would have more square footage inside)
6 yards of white 3/4 inch ribbon
2.5 yards of 1/2 inch sisal rope
zip tie (totally optional)
staple gun (with plenty of light duty staples)
hot glue gun (with about 4 long sticks of glue)
**I also made a tassel banner that went around the teepee, but I didn't take any pictures of that process.
Step 2: Initial Framing
Stand all of your dowels up and using a zip tie, or loosely fitted rope, tie them all together about 1 foot from the top. Gently begin to twist all four dowels in the same direction around the axis (aka zip tie.) Do this until the bottom portion begins to fan out allowing the entire structure to free stand.
I used a loose zip tie here because I wanted the dowels to still be able to shift slightly as I made final adjustments, more on this next.
Step 3: Establish Equal Spacing
We'll want to get the framing of the teepee as equal as possible, and to do that, I simply measured the distances around each of the dowel "legs". I decided that I was happy with a 34 inch spacing, allowing the structure to stand comfortably on its own, without fear of tipping over or collapsing in on itself.
Step 4: Roping the Axis
With the last step confidently done, I began to weave my length of rope around and between the four dowels. I did this on top of my zip tie, as it wouldn't be visible over all the rope. We want to make sure that we've tightly gone over all dowels, and because we're not weaving through drilled holes in the dowel, the more rope, the better!
Step 5: Stapling Fabric
Because this is a no-sew project, you'll want to pay attention to this step. I utilized both ends of the width (54 inches) of the cotton fabric so that the bottom and top part of the teepee would not need to be hemmed, and ran the length of the fabric around the teepee frame.
I worked one/dowel side at a time, making sure the bottom edge of the fabric could easily wrap around the bottom end of the dowel corner. Next, using a staple gun, I began to staple the fabric to the dowel. If you have ever upholstered anything or stretched a canvas, think along those lines. For the first dowel you staple you obviously won't have to worry about stretching anything tight, but for the corresponding dowel that will help to create one side of the teepee, you will want to lightly stretch the fabric, but not so much that the dowels move from their carefully-measured spots. Staple to the second dowel as well.
I distanced the staples about 3 inches from one another, but this part doesn't have to be precise, just well done, as the staples will all be covered in a few steps.
Step 6: Trimming Excess
After you have finished stapling the fabric to the two dowels that make one side of the teepee, trim off excess fabric with a scissor. You may want to leave a 1 inch margin beyond the staple line- just in case of tears.
Step 7: Turning & Stapling
After you've trimmed your excess fabric, grab the rest of your fabric and fold over 1 inch from the place you just cut from. Now, begin stapling the fabric to the dowel to create your second side of teepee, just like you did the first time, but now you'll have a clean folded line to staple over the jagged cut fabric from the first side you've stapled. The reason we're folding over this time is so that you have clean corners, albeit with staples showing, but those will disappear in the next step.
For the last side, I used a polka dot mesh fabric that does not fray once cut. The reason I did this was because this will be where I cut the entry way from. More on this later. Because this fabric was a bit stretchy, it was somewhat annoying and required some finesse to stretch tightly over the side of the teepee without moving any of the dowels from their carefully measured spots. But otherwise, it was business as usual with this final side.
Step 8: Entrance/ Exit Strategy
This mesh fabric was an awesome find as it totally resembled the white and gold polka dot fabric, but did not fray at the ends, also it would provide a peek-a-boo element to the teepee for added fun. Although I'm an experienced sewer, I really wanted to keep this project no-sew so it could be easily recreated by the masses (aka you) and had I used the same cotton fabric for the entry side of the teepee, the entry slit would require the fabric to be hemmed so it wouldn't fray.
I simply eyeballed the center of the mesh side of the teepee, and using a scissor cut up about 20 inches from the bottom. There's our simple but awesome entrance/exit strategy
Step 9: Finalizing Edges
Remember I told you those staples you put in on the dowels wouldn't show? Here's how we make them disappear: hot gluing a 3/4 inch white ribbon up the side of the dowel (but you'll want to match the ribbon to the color fabric you're using so its nearly camouflaged.) I simply ran the length of the ribbon up over the line of staples, starting from the bottom going up. I used my intermediate knowledge of upholstery on this one. Ta da! The edges of your teepee now look clean and the fabric secured. This also allows for easy storage, as the teepee can be folded up without messing up how the fabric sits on the dowel structure.
Step 10: Enjoy!
Outdoors or in, your kids will have a blast and you'll have a new set of skills!