Play teepees aren’t the new kid on the block anymore but that doesn’t make them any less exciting! I made my first version for Sebastian when he was two by constructing a simple frame and throwing a quilt around it. Soon after I made a more complicated cover and gifted it to Elsie and Jeremy for Christmas. Recently Elsie asked if I could make another for their new home out of lace. It may be the first of two, though, because a certain little girl has become quite taken with the idea of having a teepee in the dining room.
This is an updated tutorial of my last version but isn’t too much more complicated. I added a strip of fabric at the bottom of the opening to add a little more stability to the shape which meant changing the opening a bit. The rest is basically the same except a little more fitted and a lot more see through. The lace creates the feeling of a secret hide-out without suffocating the room. It’s on the larger side as I wanted it to remain big enough for adults to enjoy and kids to sleep in but is easy to fold up and store under a bed or in a closet when not in use.
1. Supplies: Four yards of lace for the bottom fabric (smaller print), 3 yards of lace for the top fabric and flap (larger print). Six 1×2″x8′ poles (I suggest something stronger than pine as it will sag under the weight of your cover over time), drill and 3/8″ drill bit, 6-9 feet of 1/2″ woven rope, 1 yard of 1/2″ elastic (not shown), 2 yards of yarn or ribbon (not shown), scissors, ruler, pencil, sewing machine, thread, iron, ironing board.
2. Measure down 9″ from one end of your poles and center your mark. Drill through.
3. String your rope through all six poles and tie a loose knot. Set them up by standing them on their ends and twisting slightly before pushing the poles out nearer the bottom. Adjust your knot accordingly so your poles are held together tightly. You’ll wrap your rope around them all at the end.
4. Place your top fabric (3 yards) lengthwise in front of you and measure in 23″ from one end (this is the bottom of your triangle-shaped panel. Make a small cut. Find the center of your 23″ side and measure straight up. Then mark 1.5″ on each side to get a centered 3″ (this is the top of your triangle-shaped panel) and make a small cut. Using a yard stick, measure an angled but straight line from the top left cut to the bottom left cut and then another line from the top right cut to the bottom right corner. Once you’ve cut this out you’ll have one of your top panels. You need five more. Use your first cut as a template but flip it upside down to get your next panel. This will help you use up all of your fabric. When cutting your bottom fabric, place it so the 42″ edge is at your feet. Find the center and measure up 38″. Measure out 12″ on either side to get a top that is 24″ across. Use your yardstick to get straight edges. You’ll need five of these panels total.
5. To create one full panel, place the bottom of the top fabric piece on top of the top of the bottom fabric piece as shown above. Match them up so that they’re centered and pin. If you’re using lace you don’t need to worry so much about right sides of fabric but if you’re using cotton prints you need the right sides to face each other. Stitch across where you pinned about 1/4″ from the edge. Fold open and iron your seam down. Top-stitch if you prefer. I did since lace isn’t quite as sturdy as cotton. Repeat with all five panels.
6. Pin the long side of two panels together making sure your seams match up and pin.
7. Repeat with the rest of your panels and then carefully attach it to your teepee frame with thumb tacks to make sure it’s going to fit.
8. Cut a panel measuring about 42″ long and 6.5″ wide. This will be your bottom piece on the opening panel. Fold one long end in about 1/2″ and again about 1/2″ and press flat with an iron. Pin and stitch to create a hem. Pin it to the bottom of your open panel so that the ends overlap a bit. The hem should be on top. Also pin the last of your top panels to the teepee. If you don’t have a selvage edge for the bottom, create a 1/4″ fold, iron, pin, and sew. This will give you a finished edge.
9. Cut two pieces from your bottom fabric that measure about 6″ x 34″. Pin one on the front as shown in this photo so that the top and bottom short edges overlap. This is just to make sure they’re going to fit.
10. Fold one long edge in on each panel about 1/2″, and again 1/2″ and iron. Pin and stitch to create a hem. Repeat for the second panel. Set aside.
11. Cut a trapezoid for your front flap that measures 32″ across on bottom, 19″ across on top, and is about 35″ tall.
12. Fold the two angled sides in 1/2″ and again 1/2″, pin, iron, and stitch down. Repeat with the top edge. If the bottom edge isn’t a selvage edge, do that edge as well.
13. Place your top triangle panel on your work surface. Place one long side panel one each end of the bottom side with the right sides facing together and the hems on the inside and pin. It should look like the photo above. Stitch across and fold flat. Iron.
14. Center your flap so that the top of the flap slightly overlaps the top of your opening. Pin and stitch across the top seam.
15. Turn your panel over so that the wrong side is facing up and get your flap out of the way. Attach the bottom panel so the the short ends of the side panels overlap on top of the wrong side of the bottom panel hem. Pin. stitch across.
16. Once your front panel (opening panel) is finished, match it up with the edges of the rest of your teepee and stitch closed. You’re almost finished!
17. Fold the top edge of your teepee in 1/4″, iron, and carefully stitch a hem. Fold the bottom edge of your teepee in about 1/4″ and again 1/4″, iron, pin, and stitch. This will give it a finished look.
18. Cut six strips of elastic measuring 6″ long. Carefully create a circle that overlaps about 1″ and pin one to the bottom of your teepee on each seam. Stitch down. I used a zig-zag stitch. This will slip around the bottom of each pole to keep it in place.
19. Cut four strips of yarn or ribbon measuring about 18″ each. Place two strips on the front and two on the back by pinning one end to the top of the flap as shown above.
20. Stitch them down. Then you can roll up your flap and tie it in place once you put your cover back on your teepee. Once you’re set up, wrap the ends of your rope around the top of the teepee as shown, tie a knot, and add a feather or two to the ends for fun.
This is not a hard project but it is time consuming. Just take your time and get a friend to motivate you when you want to throw in the towel…er…lace! Synthetic lace isn’t the cheapest material to buy retail but you may get lucky at a thrift shop! Look for curtain panels or table cloths and mis-match prints in the same shade of white or cream. Otherwise sign up for the coupons at your local chain fabric store and wait until you can get it 50% off. Of course you can also skip the lace and use a drop cloth or try thrifted vintage sheets!