How to make a teepee

How to make a TeePee

How to make a Teepee

Me: Doctor, doctor, help me, I feel like a wigwam and a teepee.
Doctor: Ahhh, I see the problem, You’re too tense!
Get it too tense….two tents. There’s more where that came from believe me.

As you know, we love a crafty household, it’s not to say that we don’t buy the odd pre made toy or outfit, but it’s so much more fun and rewarding to make something yourself.

You only have to look at the cardboard castle that the kids and I made back at the start of spring and how much they used it to see that fact.

This time around it’s a teepee. I was at Empee the fabric wholesaler in London the other week when I spotted this waxed cloth for about £4 a meter and I just knew immediately what I was going to make. I’d been considering doing one of these for a while and now was the time.

So with a rather well wrapped roll of oily strong scented fabric in the boot we set off home. I popped via the hardware shops and got 6 lengths of sturdy wooden posts. Ideally I’d have preferred circular poles but a rectangle was all they had at the correct width and 8ft long.

Yep you read correctly, this bad boy is gonna be 8ft high.

Ok so how am I planning on making it then? Well there ain’t no patterns for this one, so it’s all about the tape measure, a piece of paper a pencil and a bit of a mental image.

I start by laying the poles down and getting them generally about the same length and then splaying tying them tighter at the top, in order to do this I drill a hole through them about 20cm from the ends, I thread some twine through here for now. I can then stand them up and get a feel for how big I’d like it to be by splaying the poles open until the desired footprint is reached along with the height.  With the assistance of 2 little helpers we also carried out the very important width test!

With this done I can measure a general size for each panel to be, 130cm wide at the base and 192cm high from centre base to tip of course I just do this for one side as I’ll make them all equal. Whilst I’m in a measuring kind of a mood, I measure the pole length below the previously drilled holes. This is so that I can make some channels for the poles to thread through.

Now for the cutting out, ok so I need 6 panels, all the same size, and 6 channels cutting out, there’s no easy way to do this, it just needs a big flat space. Once cut out I hem both ends of each of the channel sections, fold in half lengthways and join along the long raw edges. So I am basically left with 6 hemmed tubes. I also fold down the top 5cm of the top of each panel and topstitch. This allows a little room for the poles at the top.

Taking two of the panels at a time I sandwich a channel piece in between and stitch through all layers together. This leaves me with one third of a teepee. I do this a further two times so I’m now left with 3 co-joined sections and 3 channels.

Before I begin the next step I decide that I’d like a door on one of the co-joined sections and a window on each of the other two. I decide this is the best time to do it. To make the door I merely cut a slit into the panel and then a length of extra fabric for each side to allow me to strengthen the edge. I encase these raw edges inside this extra fabric and also make a little lip for just above to stop rain running in too easily. I’ll get around to doing some eyelets and string to fasten it soon I promise.

For the windows I cut a rectangle hole, then fold under the edges and top stitch to give them a little stability. The flaps are made a little bigger and then topstitched to the panel outer. I attached a little tie to hold these up.

Now for the bulky bit. I join the 3 sections together, sandwiching a channel in between each as I go to give me one big teepee.

And there we are, poles in, string through, stand it up and we’re good to go.

I may have to take cover though as Evie’s determined to make a bow and arrow to go with it!!!

Matt Chapple, winner of the Great British Sewing BeeMatt x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


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