Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Little Campers

As a kid, I was definitely serious about my fort building. I would build them in every room in my house, in other people's houses and every summer at the cabin. One of my forts still stands today (thanks to a little pressure treated wood!). 

I just loved getting into my fort and having a little spot all to myself. I was hidden from the world, it was my little secret, all mine. 

So I just loved the idea of tents as gifts for the little ones in my family. I didn't even look at buying one - I jumped directly into looking how to make one. Obviously, my stated reason was because it would be cheaper (including labour it's debatable), but really, I think I just wanted the joy of building a 'fort' again.

Porch and Architecture - Art - Design has great posts for many different tent options, but I ended up going with a simpler version of Make-It-Love-It's Collapsible Fabric Tent and close to My Cakies tent - it was perfect for my very novice skill (straight lines, square shape). I definitely 'free-formed' a bit. (Here's another one that is very similar to mine)

The first attempt at the tent (a little over a year ago), took me a full day. I measured everything 3-4 times and had to think about things quite a bit, but I was a little taken aback by the amount of time it took.  I just finished my second attempt and I can say it was quite a bit quicker, probably a total of 5-6 hours. I spread it over three days and it really didn't feel that bad at all. 

I find that sewing is a lot like painting, its all in the prep work. I managed to measure and pin in large chunks allowing me to just sew up a storm. Doing large chunks of measuring and pinning I think really improved my efficiency.

Here is my how to (I would definitely go to Make-It-Love-It for a full step by step description and tips). 

Materials
  • 4 - 48 inch (4 feet) long 1 x 2 inch wooden boards (mine were oak, and I had them cut at the hardware store)
  • 3 - 48 inch 5/8 or larger wooden dowels (the first time I used 1 inch wooden dowels, and opted for the thinner ones the second time around, but because I use thicker fabric and make it really tight they bowed a bit, so you may want to go for 3/4 inch wooden dowels, it's a cost versus aesthetics choice)
  • 2.5 - 2.75m of IKEA fabric  (I go for the heavier canvas ones (this is the one I picked this time) just because I like the idea of it being cozier in the tent, Make-It-Love-It went for a Queen sheet which is brilliant and totally cost friendly. With the IKEA fabric, there is leftover so you can make a fun bag for the tent - if you get 2.5m, the bag is almost too short, but if you get 2.75m, you'll have extra room at the top to tie it)
  • Drill with drill bit the size of your dowels
  • Sewing machine and sewing supplies (I'm going to outline them since I didn't know what 'basic supplies' were - Good scissors or fabric cutter, fabric measuring tape, I like a ruler as well, iron if you would like,  pencil or some other marking tool, thread the colour you would like)
  • Sand paper and wood stain (optional) 

Steps
  1. Purchase materials - I like to have all the materials purchased prior to starting this project because I like to measure as I go and I need the tent frame before I sew the fabric!
  2. Drill holes in the wood boards - Drill the holes 2 inches in from the end and centered, on both ends of the boards. I learned the hard way that it is best to drill into the wood until the pointy part of the drill bit pops through the other side and then flip it over and drill in from the other side - it avoids splitting the wood at the edge of the hole when the drill bit exits on the other side. Also, I found it efficient to mark all of the boards first, and then drill all of the holes
  3. Put the tent together how you like it - then measure the distance between the wood boards along the dowel - in order to decide how wide your fabric should be. For me it was 42.5 inches 


    Definitely need a lot of floor space to measure out 8 feet of fabric.
  4. Keeping the pins outside the foot I have learned helps sewing go faster!

  5. Measure and pin the fabric -I wanted tent fabric to be 42.5 inches wide and 8+ feet long, so I measured a bit more than that ~1.5 inches per side so I could create a hem. I measured, pinned then sewed the long sides and then measured pinned and sewed the short sides, so I had a 42.5 x 96+ (mine was 12 inches longer than 8 feet) inch hemmed rectangle
    1. Measure the length of the fabric on the tent - drape the fabric over the tent to measure the length the fabric should be, I like to fold under the extra fabric to make internal pockets for the kids. I pinned one edge of the fabric on both sides of the tent so that it's tight going over the top cross dowel. I measure how much needs to be folded over and then pin it across the width of the fabric
      See the interior pockets? They just need to be helped up with some iron seam tape.
      1. Sew pocket for bottom dowel - measure how much room is required for the dowel to go through - the circumference is ~2 inches for a 5/8 inch dowel, so the pocket should be about 1.25 inches wide. Just make sure not to sew it too short
      2. Sew from the top of the dowel pocket to the top of the folded over fabric that you pinned in Step 5 
      3. Use iron seam tape to sew little pockets on the inside of the tent using the folded over portion of the fabric
      4. Take extra fabric and make a bag, fold width wise and then sew the long edges together - if the fabric is 2.5 m long, then it will be barely long enough.
      5. You're done! 
      6. Optional - can be done after you drill the holes in the wood, or after you make the tent: sand down the wood boards, around the drilled holes and along the edges, I just think about all the kid hands that could be on them and want to make sure that they don't get slivers. The wood can also be stained, but I skipped that
        Final product - A tent I want to stay in! 
       

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