Friday 31 August 2012

Big Tutorial + Giveaway - Play Tent!

~by Emi

So today, campers, we're going to make a totally rockin' play tent! And not only that, Crafty by Nurture will be giving away the tent made in this tutorial!

This tent is a simplified version of the one I will be offering in my MamaPixie Etsy store over the next few weeks, and is perfect for a simple game of hide and seek with my 11 month old, Pixie, or hiding away and reading with my 3 year old, Ru.

Before we start, I am going to barrel ahead and assume that you have some basic knowledge of how to use a sewing machine. There are many wonderful tutorials out there to teach you how to use your sewing machine, and do simple hems etc. This is not one of them. We'll be using sewing in a straight line and a basic hem.

I am also going to be using an overlocker in this tutorial, but don't worry, you can do this if you only have a sewing machine.

First off, we're going to need our tent fabric. This is a great way to use up old bedding that needs a new lease of life. However, if you want to start from new, sheet material from Boyes is perfect for this project. You're going to need their sheet material, as it needs to be WIDE! It's a washable poly-cotton blend, they sell it for around £4 a meter, and it's 2m wide. You will need 2m of this fabric.

We're also going to need a quick visit to a well-known DIY chain store to get four 15mm wooden rods. B and Q sell ones that measure 1.8m, (the four rods will cost you about £19) and you'll need to cut them down to 1.5m. With a saw, not scissors obviously. You could also use bamboo, as long as it was thick and was 1.5m long!

Pour yourself a glass of wine. Wait until the kids have gone to bed because you need to clear your workspace floor, and not have children and/or cats running across your fabric!

So here we are...

Step 1. Lay Out Your Fabric

Well, that was easy. Reward yourself with more wine.

Step 2. Tent Panels

We're going to draw a horizontal line at the bottom of our sheet that is 95cm long. Mark the middle of it at 47.5cm. This is your Base Line.

At the middle mark, draw a line 112.5cm long, perpendicular to the Base Line. This is now your Middle Line.

At the top of the middle line, you then need to draw a line 11cm long, parallel with the Base Line, with the top of the Middle Line joining the middle of the Top Line.

Join the left-hand edge of the Top Line to the left-hand edge of the Base Line, and repeat for the right-hand edges. Cut round this shape. This your basic Tent Panel.

Now, do it all twice more, so that you end up with 3 of these Tent Panels.

And if that step doesn't make sense, copy the diagram below.

Then drink some more wine. Or gin.

Step 3. Door Top

Using the same method as in Step 2, we're going to make a smaller version with different measurements for the Door Top. You will need 2 of these.

Remember, Base Line first, Middle Line perpendicular to the Base Line, Top Line parallel to the Base Line.

(Now, I know mine looks a little misshapen, but I'm taking the photo on an angle, trying not to stand on the curious cats.)

Step 4. Door Flaps

Use the same method for Step 2, with a Base Line of 95cm, Middle Line of 70cm and a Top Line of 42cm.

Then cut straight down the Middle Line, et voila! 2 Door Flaps.

Step 5. Pole Casings

Cut out four long rectangles, measuring 122cm x 10cm. These are your Pole Casings.

Step 6. Hem the Door Flaps

I want you to do a simple hem on the Base Line and the Middle Line of the Door Flaps. I used ribbon on mine, because I'm fancy-schmancy like that.

Step 7. Assembling The Door

Right, lay one of your Door Top pieces upside-down (ie. the longer Base Line at the top).

Place a Door Flap on it, right side up, matching the middle of the Door Top Base Line with the edge of the hemmed edge of the Door Flap.

Sound confusing?

Here's a picture.

Then place the second Door Flap.

Now put the remaining Door Top over the top (again upside-down), making a 'sandwich'. Pin it all together, and then sew in a straight line along that pinned edge.

Remove pins, flip over the Door Top pieces so that the whole thing is the same shape as your Tent Panels. Sew along the Door Top/Door Flaps edge again for extra strength.

Hem the top of the Door Top piece.

Step 8. More Hemming

Hem the top of your 3 Tent Panels. Again, I used ribbon, but a simple hem will do.

Step 9. Assemble Pole Casings

Hem the top and bottom of all four Pole Casings.

Take one of the Pole Casings and fold it in half lengthways. Pin and sew along this edge. Remove pins, and repeat for the rest of the Pole Casings to make four long tubes.

Step 10. Main Tent Assembly

Take your Door and lay it flat on the floor, with the side you want on the *outside* of the tent facing upwards.

Line up one of the Pole Casings with the top of the Tent Panel. Starting from the top, pin the Pole Casing to the edge of the Tent Panel.

The Pole Casing may not reach to the bottom of the tent, depending on your hemming. This is fine. You haven't done anything wrong. It's just one of those things.

Below, is a photo of the top of the Door with the Pole Casing placed correctly on top of it.

Now, place a Tent Panel on top of it, with the side you want on the outside facing *down*. Pin the entire thing along where you already pinned, pinning together (from bottom to top) Door, Pole Casing, Tent Panel.

Sew along this entire line. I then used my overlocker on this seam. If you're not lucky enough to own such a machine, I'd do this with your standard straight stitch and then either a couple more times, or use a zigzag stitch to make sure that there's no chance of the seam coming apart.

When you've finished, you will realise that you already have HALF your tent assembled! Half!

Check you out.

I now want you to continue piecing the tent together this way, fabric on the bottom facing upwards, Pole Casing, and then the next Tent Panel on top facing downwards.

until you end up with something resembling... This...

Check my mad Paint skillz, yo.

We're now going to do the final seam, exactly the same way as the others, but this time, joining the edge of the last Tent Panel with the side of the Door (the red lines in my *amazing* diagram above).

When you've done that, your tent is pretty much done! Simply hem along the bottom edge, starting from the inside hemmed edge of one of the Door Flaps, all the way round, over the three Tent Panels, round to the inside hemmed edge of the other Door Flap.

Step 11. Erection

When you've stopped tittering at the word 'erection', slide one of the wooden rods into each casing.

Stand the tent up, arrange the pole tops and then tie round them to hold them sturdily. In the picture below, I've just used some left-over fabric, but you can use ribbon or string or whatever you fancy.

Ta daa!

Then, obviously, get inside and take a picture. And feel REALLY proud of yourself.

Thoroughly well done if you made it to the end of the tutorial, and completed your own play tent!

We'd love to see your own Tents, so please feel free to leave us links to your bloggy-tenty exploits in the comments, or share them with us on our Facebook page.

And now, just because Kendal and I love you all so very much, we're actually going to be giving away the play tent I made in the tutorial! Woooo!

Now, before you get too excited, the cost of posting the tent *with* poles is pretty darn high, so the giveaway is for the tent WITHOUT the poles!

Without The Poles!

So, to win the tent, simply comment at the bottom, and tell us what you think your kids would do with the tent if you won it!

The winner will be picked at random using a random number generator at 7pm on Sunday 2nd September 2012. The lucky person will be announced both on here, and on the Crafty by Nurture Facebook page. We'll then need to sort out address details, so the Tent can be sent out, and will head off on the journey to its new home!

And so concludes our first Crafty by Nurture 'Big Tutorial'!


Play Tent.


And here's another one that was made for a friend!


  1. Wow, tent is amazing. I'm not sure I would have the ability to make it, drink the wine gin defenatley though.

    We have actually been looking for something exactly like this to use as a quiet place for my eldest to go to. She can get so wound up and frustrated and we really want somewhere nice and special she can go to calm down with some cushions ect and this fits the bill exactly.

    If I'm not lucky enough to win I will defenatley have to come to your Etsy store

  2. Oh that tent has oscars name all over it, we would lunch in it, fly to the moon in it, read and draw, dream in it, there's not a lot we wouldn't do in it
    Mama4 on gp

  3. My kids would so love this-I have been watching them on various places like GLTC etc but just can't justify the £80 or so pounds they want!

    We are have just decided to do the American west as our HE topic this year-so of course this would have to be aIndian TeePee

  4. Right now, Nom, like Pixie, will probably mostly play peek-a-boo with it. But it would make a great rainy day adventure tent when she gats older. We can be explorers, natives, pirates, whatever we can think of!

  5. Wow very nifty! Thanks.

    I'm almost certain my girls would steal their baby sister, wrap her up in a rabbit skin and play Native Americans with it....they have form, last week I found them building a Viking house complete with Viking baby!

  6. Peek-a-boo definitely, but as Edmund is always surprising me these days who knows what else?! I love the last picture from the inside out :-)

  7. I think Martha would bounce in this lovely play tent. That's all she like to do these days - bounce and blow raspberries!

    1. Katie! You won the playtent!

      Please contact us at to organise delivery!

      Emi and Kendal, x

  8. Wow, thats fantastic, how do you come up with these ideas your house must be beautiful with all these lovely homemade things for Lo's.
    We like manic mummy have a very angry nearly 5yr old DD at the moment and she needs somewhere she can go and be by herself and look at books which she loves to do without her little sis driving her crazy. She's just developed a fear of entering other rooms by herself so just going to her room is not an option for her as she needs to be with someone to feel comfortable at the moment.It's her birthday in a few weeks and this would be lovely for her.
    I've just bought myself a sewing machine but have never sewn anything ever before so if we don't win maybe it could be my first project...gulp...maybe i'll start with a tea-towel

  9. ooh this is fab, I wish I were as talented as you! I have no reason for wanting to win this tent, apart from the fact it is AMAZING!!

  10. WELL. I would put fairy lights around the outside of the tent. THEN it would become Ivy and Billy's Midnight Feast tent. I can imagine, when they are say...5 and 6 Ivy waking Billy, grabbing a secret stash of goodies that she has hidden under her bed, switching on her fairy lights and getting cosy with her brother at 12:15am munching away and telling each other little stories.
    Until then I imagine that she would simply use the tent to make up all sorts of imaginary games....although I would still put fairy lights around the outside so that when we turn the lights off she can look at the colours shining through, she would probs take all her teds and dolls in and maybe demand me to bring Billy in so she can show him the lights while he lies kicking his little legs. that's all xxx

  11. Amazing, I've become a little bit obsessed with tents lately and would love to make my own, sadly I don't have a sewing machine.
    My little boy would love this we would use it for chill out mummy and son time to sit in and read, look at books he's just turned one and loves books, it's the only time he will sit still. As he gets older we can use the tent for so many different things, tea party's, imaginary play, play with torches and so much more. X

  12. At the moment I would use it as a reading tent for Freddie & I, but he is quite an energetic wee boy so will no doubt chase me/be chased round & round it once he can walk! As he gets older it could be used for lots of imaginative games, & more reading - always more reading.