Friday, May 29, 2009

Princess Pavillion Tent

Woke the kids from their naps today to come see this:

This tent has been in my head for months. I'd wanted to
finish it during the winter so the kids could play with it
during the boring cold weeks indoors. That never happened,
of course. I am relieved to be done with it in time for the
summer, though, for two reasons. First, our deck gets really
hot in the mornings when the girls want to be outside playing.
Now they can hide in the shade of this tent and read or eat
a mid-morning snack, or hold tea parties. Second, it's in
time for garage sale season. If anyone wants to make
this, hit the garage sales for used quilts/duvet covers or
sheets- they are the cheapest way to procure
large pieces of fabric!

But more on the making later.
Back to the kids' newest toy first:

In case you haven't guessed yet, this is a table tent, or a
cubby house, or glorified fitted tablecloth. Essentially, there's
a table underneath all that holding it up. I'd wanted to go the
usual way of table tents and dress up our rectangular dining
table. Unfortunately, it had a post leg right in the middle
of it. This card table languishing in our storage closet,
though, had the requisite four corner (if a round table can
have corners, I mean) legs, so it got picked instead.
No complaints - I love anything round.

I waited till I found the right kind of thrifted bedlinen at a
recent garage sale- a two-toned pink twill comforter for $2.
I ripped the seams apart, threw away the batting, and put
it through the hottest laundry cycle. I already had the dark
blue and pale yellow bedsheets from last year's garage sales,
waiting to be turned into this but they're thin, and
would only be good in supporting roles.

Here's the front of the tent, with a curtain opening, courtesy
of the yellow sheet and some scrap gingham.

The curtains tie back with little straps that fasten
to the inner wall with velcro.

To let in light, there are three domed windows

with more of the same yellow curtains and velcro tie-backs.

Ah, but you all probably want to know about that there roof.

Here's the mass of dowel spines holding it up, teepee-style

with a little pointy jellyfish cap thingy to cover that all up

and some polka-dotted wooden beads knotted on
ribbon tentacle-streamers to give it a little weight.

So yes, to answer your question, the roof is a dud.
The interior of the tent is only as high as the table top.
That seemed to me an awful waste of space just for aesthetics.

So I added a couple of zippers to open the front panel so
the girls could invite their dollies to a party in the attic.

Attics can get dark so I added three flap- down vinyl
windows. We close the windows when there are no dollies
visiting. But today, the dollies were happy to attend
and play peekaboo (silly dollies!)

But here I will show you my favorite part of the princess tent:

Two hanging baskets flanking the door, with hidden slots

for budding gardeners to plant felt flowers in.

No tutorial for this particular tent - too many little details -
but here is a printable instruction sheet for a basic pavillion-
style tent. You could do a roof for a square table, too,
but a round table allows for equal-length dowel spines.

Sorry if it looks like a Math worksheet.
There's Physics in there, too (yay)!

Some notes:
  1. I used 1/4" dowels from craft stores. They were about 60 cents a piece (regular price) and were a standard 36" long. I cut them down to 29" for this project.
  2. I used craft-weight fusible interfacing for the frames and cross-bars of the windows.
  3. Twill or drill is a good weight material to use. Typical bedsheets are too thin.
  4. Embellish before you sew the main pieces together. Otherwise there is a lot of fabric to handle around the sewing machine.
  5. This whole project cost about $20, I'm estimating.
  6. While measuring the table for this, I noticed that the tabletop was screwed on to the circular metal frame. That made me wonder if it might also be unscrewed and removed, leaving only the empty frame and legs. This might allow a person access to the space under the roof. But I decided against it because I suspect (but did not test out) that the circular piece of fabric holding the two halves together provides some useful supporting tension. There's a good chance that I'm wrong so if anyone successfully makes this sans tabletop, tell me, tell me!

Here are some great ideas for rectangular table tents made by some very talented folks:

Speaking of boys, here's a printable idea sheet for a
variation of this pavillion tent - a rocketship. I'd planned
to make this for the girls because too much Cinderella and
not enough NASA makes for a skewed childhood. But I also
want to make them a rectangular playhouse out of our
kitchen table for the winter, with all the fixings, so I'll pass
on the rocketship for now. Still, here on paper are the ideas
from my head for anyone who'd like to try them. If you do,
please let me know - I'd love to see how it turns out!

Thought of more variations on the round table shape.
For instance, Mushroom: make a padded puffy roof in
red fabric with white spots and have the kids dress
up as smurfs. Or Barn: use all-silver vinyl, omit doors
and windows and pretend it's full of grain.
Or Circus Tent: Make a gaudy paneled roof, add colorful
triangular bunting all round and paint the kids' noses
red. Or make a floor with a round hole, wedge it in a
sturdy tree, elect one child to be Moon-Face and
play Faraway Tree (sigh........) all day.
* Edited to add new insane idea: Dress tent up as a
birthday cake and use it as a birthday party prop!
Worse, make it out of flannel (cheaper than felt) and cut
giant felt fondant shapes and let the birthday guests
decorate their own oversize cake, then take pictures
beside it for thank-you notes!
Must stop now. Must stop now. Must stop now.
Must find chocolate. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Round tents = endless possibilities.
Round = happiness.

The kids rather liked their new princess tent. And I like
it because it is finished. But also because it can be folded
away into a small neat package when not in use (dowels
removed). After exploring it thoroughly and profusely
thanking me (she was extra-polite in her post-nap
disorientation) Emily asked, "where is the mailbox?" I let
her in on the secret that we'd be making a serious
playhouse for the winter for which we'd be sure to include
a mailbox-with-slot, along with interior embellishments.
Emily has been informed that she needs to contribute ideas
since it will be hers, Jenna's and Kate's, so she's very excited.

Yawn! Off to bed now. On to some quicker projects in the
coming days. No, no more bags for a while- there are so
many things more exciting than those to tackle! But I will
come back to the bags eventually, I promise!

*Edited AGAIN (sorry) to correct something in the Rocketship
printable instructions. A night or two after I'd posted this, my
brain said to me, "Hey you, I think you meant grommets."Now,
I seldom know what my brain is saying, so this was not
surprising. My brain continued, "You wrote "rivets". You meant
"grommets"." Now this I understood. Blast. I sat up in bed
(I was at that moment before I slipped into blissful
unconsciousness) and knew I had to change it.
My brain, though, has a wicked streak sometimes, and
that night it gleefully said, (Snigger) "You can't change it
now. You have to sleep now. Ha ha ha ha! It will have to
wait till the morning! And you'll be busy then too! It will
be months before it will get done! Ha ha ha!"
Vile thing.

Anyway it hasn't been months - but it's been a while. Those
of you familiar enough with those little metal things will
know a person can't thread a cord through rivets. I've
reuploaded the corrected instructions now, so all is well.
But apologies to those compliant fans who actually did
try to and had to drink heavily after.
It wasn't you - it was me.


  1. Man!!!! This is great! I LOVE IT! I WANT ONE FOR MYSELF TOO! :D

  2. That is an insanely cute tent and you are so clever!

  3. You.Are.Crazy.

    How do you find the time to do so many things? i only have 1 child and can barely finish cutting out a pattern in one day.

    That said, it'a a LOVELY tent. I want one.

    (today's word veri: tabblerr - kinda like what your tent is...more than just a table)

  4. Absolutely amazingly WOW!!!! Your girls are sooooo lucky! Lucy x

  5. . . . It's just possible that you are the Coolest Mom Ever.

  6. That's gorgeous L! Makes me want to play too....
    xx Rach

  7. that's FABULOUS -- perfect princess tent!

  8. This is amazing!!!! Your girls are lucky to have such a crafty mama. :)

  9. Your gals are so lucky ! The tent is fabulous !

  10. Fabulous. I turned out so so cute. The gingham curtains, that each tie back no less, the hanging basket for flowers, it's all so so lovely.

    And I LOVE that you added the peaked roof. Hadn't seen that before. And then that you made it a useable space -- an attic for dollies -- well, that's fantastic.

  11. Oh that is amazing work! My little guy is too small to appreciate but I will make him one. Great job, thanks for sharing!

  12. OMG-luckiest kids ever. That is so awesome. I'm an adult and I want it-haha.

  13. LIER! Oh. My. God. Oh. My God. I am speechless.

    Outstanding. I am stupefied. You have stupefied me.

  14. wow! i wished the boys could have seen & played in it... then again, maybe not. they would think if aunt L could do it, their mummy could too. hehhe. abby

  15. This is so cute! I love all the details you've worked into it. I keep thinking of making a table tent for my kids, but I doubt it'll be anything this elaborate. This is amazing!

  16. OMG this is one of the cutest things I have seen on a blog! Wow!

  17. Totally gorgeous - LOVE the high top storage, very clever :)) The little flower pots are darling too :))

  18. Holy Smokes!!!! I'm ready to go out and get pregnant for a girl (I have 3 boys) this thing is so DARN cute. You are amazing. I'd love to see someone make the rocket ship so I can steal it.

  19. you are AWESOME!! I totally want to make that now. We have the same problem with our yard. No shade! Pat yourself on the back for this one! :)

  20. I fell in love with this the moment I saw this on emilyflippinmaruna's page. This is the most brilliant idea for kids! It makes me want to be a little girl again...

  21. Your tent is fantastic! I have a boy, so this wouldn't work for us, but I am thinking about some original idea. Maybe a barn for a square table. I have so much on my table (no pun intended), I may have to settle for using the camping tent outside for my toddler.

    I adore your garden, too. I SO want to make that, too. You are awesome.

  22. Uff-da. That's all I can say.

  23. Hello all! Thank you for the lovely comments. Can someone try the rocketship one, pleeeeeaase? Just so I can see what it looks like? But seriously, these are not hard to make. It took me about 2 weeks of toddler-time (i.e. about 1.5 hours a day while smalls napped). A roofless one could be done in even less time, well within a week. Hunting for the cheap sheets took longer than the actual sewing! Thought of another round tent idea today - a birthday cake! Yikes! I'll have to go and edit the post and add that in. Then I must go sit down somewhere in the shade with a cool drink and breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And let the moment of insanity pass.

    1. its been awhile since this was posted so you may have already thought of using a hula hoop sewn in, as long as the dowels are also sewn in and rest at the hula hoop, and you could also use dowels sewn in as the legs...I think it would work! you should try it and let us know...hahaha. thanks for your site I love it!

  24. You are such a creative rockstar, I almost can't stand it. Just amazing. I'll be linking to this.

  25. lier, yet ANOTHER amazing creation! seriously, you are one exceptionally talented mama.

  26. That is FANTASTIC!

  27. W-O-W!!! I want one, toooooo!!!! Wow, I'd love one big enough to dance in. ;-)

    This is truly amazing. :-)One day your girls will look back and see how you spent your "free alone time" doing something so amazing for THEM. Good job!

  28. This is the coolest tent ever! I so wish I had one of these when I was a kid.

  29. So unbelievably cute! Lucky, lucky little girls! :)

  30. I'm actually TOTALLY choked up at the fantasticness of it all.. the detail.. the love... the thrifted material... the clever tricks and treats...

    Mostly, though, at the deep, gorgeous memories these girls will have of their childhood moments here in this tent... and any other gorgeous treasures you make (and have made) for them.

    Takes my breath away. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  31. That is amazing and I'm sure it will be kept for years and pulled out for their kids. You smarty pants!

  32. This is beautiful! (One of the cutest things I have ever seen!) Thank you for sharing it!

  33. This is the cutest thing ever! Great job! I want one, though I"m much too big for it. :)

  34. This is awesome! I am adding this to my list of things to make!

  35. wow! What an incredible tent!!! amazing job.

  36. When I saw your cute rocket ship sketch, I did consider how fun it would be to make one (esp. since I don't think I'll convince husband to let me build a Filth Wizard cardboard one). Then saw your recent comment above. I even have the material -- miles and miles of heather grey knit.

    Only problem - my card table is square... And who's ever seen a square rocket ship?!?

    Hmm, suddenly I'm seeing visions of PVC pipe, hula hoops... Good thing husband can't read my scheming thoughts...

    Oh, but first MUST whack some more projects off "the list"!

  37. absolutely darling!! i've never seen a round card table, but i am certainly jealous. this puts my very square card table tent to shame. saw the picture of yours and thought, "oh, cute!" and then i saw all your details. wow. astounding.

    thanks for visiting my blog. i don't know how you have the time for all your fabulous creations, but i do hope you find a minute or two to make some cute dolly clothes for your girls!

  38. Well, I did not have time to email yet as I said - sorry! Just kinda skipped through some blog posts and planned on doing proper reading and writing later - but when I saw this WOW!!!! This is
    INSANE!!! And I mean this in the nicest possible way! :-) I want to make one. For ME!!! Well, officially it will be for my daughter ... but maybe she will let me play with her if I'm nice! :-D I was thinking of buying - and after seeing the prices of the proper fabric ones - making a tent or tepee or something similar for a long time. But I couldn't figure out a good way how to get the whole thing to stand up without any complicated wooden structure. I saw a hanging tent in a book - loved it. But since we don't have any big enough trees in the garden to hang it ... well ... But this seems perfect! Will instantly be searching for old tables ... and sheets! (What a great idea! The price for the fabric was another reason that put me off ... but of course old sheets should be perfect! Did not even think of that!)
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!!! Just awesome ... I still can't believe you actually made this! I think I'm in love ...

  39. So so lovely! I'm really impressed!

    I do love the idea of making a rocket ship, especially as the monumental cardboard one we made bit the dust yesterday after over three months of constant abuse, but there are plans afoot for a wigwam/teepee currently, so it'll have to wait until the space exploration vibe strikes again.

    I love love love seeing the things you make!

  40. Ok! I am blown away!
    You are too awesome for words with this project! Not only did you make it but you included instructions. I wrote a post on my blog about this because I just think it's wonderful.
    Hope you don't mind.

  41. This is very, very cool. Ok, so you've heard that 41 times before now, but it's worth repeating. I have used your photo for my own blog (mostly) Handmade Holiday and given you full credit and links so that people can find the directions on your site. If you'd like anything added or changed to my post, please let me know!

  42. This is truly amazing! It is going on my must-do thinking my 3 boys would flip for the rocket ship! Thank you for sharing!

  43. Fabulous! Now, I need one just a wee bit taller for me to escape in!

  44. Oh my goodness, this is a work of art. How much love and thought must have gone into this, your children are so lucky to have such a talented mama!

  45. So cute. You really went all out, I love it, and the Rocketship idea is awesome for boys! You are amazing.

  46. Hello, i referred your creations on my blog. You can see them on Playhouse ovvero le casette gioco .
    I hope you like it.
    Hello, Linda

  47. That is the coolest thing I've ever seen!! Incredible job! :)

  48. That is AWESOME! I would've loved to have had one of those when I was a little girl. Great job!

  49. Oh my gosh, this is gorgeous! I must make it! But maybe after the 17-month-old twins grow up!

  50. I love this!!! So cute, you did an outstanding job!

  51. wow!! love it!! I hope you have a fabulous day!! hugs!! Britt :-)

  52. This is absolutely adorable! !:)


  53. I LOVE it! I don't think this particular design would work at my house though because I can see my girls joining their dollies in the "attic"...and knocking the whole thing down... But it is so cute and I would LOVE to make that!!!!

  54. Es increible, genial!!! me encanto tu sitio es alucinante la cantidad de cosas que creas realemente tienes un don; muchisimas gracias por compartir con nosotras tus creaciones, muchas bendiciones :)

  55. HOW AWESOME!!!! I bet the girls LOVE this all the way! have to see what i can do with the idea for my girls!!!!
    thanx for showing how...
    Love Miranda

  56. This is surely one of the sweetest things I have ever seen for a girl! Never mind the song I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing ~ it should be I'd Like To Make My Girls a Tent!!

  57. So. Un-believably. AMAZING.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  58. YOU ARE SERIOUSLY ONE TALENTED LADY. Please visit my Facebook page my page is Australian but showcases overseas work at home mums :)


  59. I think this is absolutely brilliant - I will post a link onto my blog fashiontent4kids

  60. This is the most amazing thing EVER! My littlest daughter Loves Loves Loves tents, but the store bought pop ups aren't what I ever really want. This however is exactly what I want!! Thank you so much for sharing. The husband will have to help with this one though. I also shared a link on my business page. And if ever I do complete this I will be sure to link back to you. Thanks ever so much

  61. wow a true inspiration, simply beautifull!!!!!!

  62. Holy Freaking Guacamole!!! I'm currently bowing to you.

    Great tent! On my list of "to-do's" but I don't know if I'll ever tackle it.

  63. I just posted my fiasco following the directions off of another site. But, I think I would attempt yours for a change of pace from rectangular to round! That looks fabulous!!!!!!! Great idea to give the dolls some "Attic Space" :) hehe. I bet your kids were THRILLED!!

    Here's how my story goes:

  64. this is awesome! your kids must be thrilled, you're such a great mum :)

  65. super mom!!!! i wanna be your daughter too!!! i'll want to forget i already have one for the time being :P

  66. This house is really lovely! The colour scheme is so fresh and I love all the little extra details :)

  67. This is fabulous and wonderful! I'm totally inspired to make one for us! Found you on Pinterest and am pinning again! Thank you!

  68. Just wanted to tell you how awesome and creative this is. I love the princess one and hope to one day create the rocketship for my boys. I also love all the other ideas you came up with (mushroom, cupcake etc). Fabulous and awesome! Thank you!

  69. WOW! This is awesome!!! I am so glad I found it - I thought there is no way I could make something like that, until I read that it is a"glorified tablecloth". Now, I'm totally excited to do it!! I have just the table - a card table that has been sitting in our storage area for months, maybe years. I can't wait to give it new purpose.
    Thank you!!

  70. how about hoola hoop bottom and top then add roof and hang from a tree by the point of the roof

  71. OMG. Do you sell this?? I would love to purchase one

  72. Wow, you have done an amazing job! Lucky girls.

  73. It's awesomeeeeeee! You're a wonderful mom. Thank you very much for your instructions. I'd love to make one for my girl's birthday. Wish me luck :)


  74. I will make this... I WILL make this... I can make this... I WILL make this
    nope not gonna happen :(

  75. YOU are very creative and brave, my dear! Totally enjoyed reading this post and although I will not be attempting a Princess tent, (as my daughter is all grown now!), I am using your pattern for the ballet slippers! I am making several very small pair for my Christmas tree this year. So THANK YOU! For being so creative and generous, sharing your patterns, but most of all? For being such a good Mommy. Your most wonderful creations will go forth in this world to make it a better place. Much like their Mother before them!

  76. This is great !!! I been looking at the tepees on Etsy and can't bring myself to spending so much ! Even though I know these ladies have put so much time into making them. This is perfect and I have plenty of these "card" tables setting around. I can't wait to get started. Thanks for sharing !!

  77. I commented a little while ago about the fabulous Table Princess Play house. I went and reread the entire post and had to laugh. It's so nice to know some one else's brain works exactly like mine does and also who's brain is so evil to know your always too busy to go back and correct every thing. After all it's not our fault that we use the incorrect wording because our brain knows exactly what we are meaning to say LOL. Love it !! So glad I came across your blog the laughs alone are wonderful !!


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