The Ultimate Guide to Creating A Whimsical Play Tent for Kids

Posted by Seija Boyle on

Kids birthday parties do not have to cost a fortune...So long as you're willing to do some of the projects yourself. A couple of years ago, I decided to do a BoHo themed Camping Party for my daughter. It was going to be her first sleep over party and the first time we didn't include all of her male cousins so we were prepared to make it extra sweet and girly.

I knew immediately that I wanted to have tents of some sort because they were going to be "camping" in our living room. We live in New England and in May the weather is pretty unpredictable, plus it can be kind of cool at night.  We do have some wildlife around (bears) and I didn't want to have to worry about the girls. being outdoors so we re-arranged the living room to accommodate.

I searched the internet and everything that I was finding was adorable, but was also very pricey. Making seven tents could run me a pretty penny and I figured there was a way that I could do it much cheaper and not upset my husband!

I finally came upon a really simple A-frame tent, and was able to find all of the materials I needed at the hardware store. The fabric, on the other hand was a little bit more difficult. If you've been to a fabric store lately, you know that fabric can run relatively expensive, especially if you're looking for larger quantities. I wanted something cute, girly, lightweight, and of course it needed to fold up easily.

I wasn't finding what I was looking for and canvas or paint drop-cloths would have been expensive. And then it suddenly dawned on me! I quickly made it a point to stop in at a local antique store. There is always a bin in the corner filled to the brim with old tablecloths, many of them stained, or yellowed with age. It seemed that they never moved from that corner, and so I purchased several old table cloths. I am all for recycling and reusing so it was a perfect fit!  The tents were absolutely adorable when I finally put them together!

A Frame Tent

Simply having a tent wasn't going to be enough and I knew I would have to have some sort of padding underneath each girls tent as the floor would be uncomfortable. I found some inexpensive pool floats. The floats that look like a long mat with a bit of a pillow. We blew those up and put one in each of the girls tents. We needed some soft pillows, so I headed to the store and found some adorable pillows. The girls were thrilled to camp in the living room! I used the tents, the pillows, and the mats as favors and sent them home with each guest.

Now you're probably wondering how these tents are put together. They're so easy! You just need a little bit of time and patience!

The items needed for this project are easily accessible at your local hardware store.


4- 1 x 2 inch boards (1 x 2 x 48 inches)

3- wooden dowels (3/4" x 48")

3 yards fabric

I used an electric sander. You could also Sand them by hand with a bit of sandpaper but I was making multiples and that would have taken me forever!


Sander or Sand Paper 

Measuring Tape

Drill with a 3/4" Bit

Saw (If you don't have them cut to length at the store)



The very first thing that you will need to do is cut the boards to length. You can likely have your local hardware store employees cut the 1 x 2 inch boards for you if you do not have a saw at home.

Once they are cut to length you will measure an equal distance down from each end of the boards. I did 3 inches.. Mark it with a pencil, then drill where you marked, ensure that you make the hole large enough to fit your wooden dowel through.


Once you've finished, sand all sides and edges around the holes that you've just drilled to ensure that there are no opportunities for splinters! If the dowel is a little bit of a tight fit you can use a bit of sand paper to shave off a bit more until it fits comfortably.  If you would like you could also paint your wood and the dowels, I chose to leave my natural.


Set up the frame to resemble the letter A, slipping the dowels into the holes, then repeat on the opposite side. Measure from the top dowel to the bottom dowel. Multiply that number x 2 and that is the number of inches you will need for your fabric. There are several ways that you could finish off the fabric depending on the finished product you're looking for.

If you're in a rush, you could simply staple or glue the fabric to the dowels at the bottom of the frame. (Of course it won't fold up quite as nicely this way!) If you're feeling a little more ambitious you could sew a pocket to each end of the fabric to slip the dowel through. Please note if you are using this method you'll want to leave an extra inch or two of fabric on either side to accommodate the pocket. If you are concerned about scratching floors, you could add felt to the bottom of each leg. Or if you're worried about the legs sliding open you could use a dab of hot glue or find some rubber to fly to the bottom of each leg. Fill with fluffy pillows, a soft blanket or plush sheepskin rug, and prepare to enjoy!!

A frame tent


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