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Make your own Teepee ~ how to make your teepee or wigwam ~ made by Yours Truly with a free tutorial & instructions.

February 16, 2012

The window of a gorgeous local toy shop often stops me in my tracks as I gaze in awe at all the wonderful things they have on display to entertain The Little People of this world. A few months ago I spied a lovely teepee in the window, but it cost £80!!! Yet again I found myself thinking I could make one just as nice (if not nicer, for the personal touch) for a fraction of the price. Yes, my seams might be a bit wonky, and yes, the poles may not all be exactly the same height, but it does the job nicely.

Ever since then I’ve been meaning to make this and have been ‘designing’ it in my head for a couple of weeks. I put it off a few times when I couldn’t decide on a material to use (the one I really wanted to use was too expensive, and the ones I could afford weren’t quite right), but then I remembered I had an old, unlined plain white cotton curtain stored away for exactly this kind of project. I’d used the other half to cover my Little People’s wardrobe which I’ve painted with colourful spiders, bees, caterpillars, flowers and the like, so it wasn’t going to be used as a curtain again. It had, however, found its calling as a modern-day buffalo-hide Ersatz for my Little People’s teepee.

I struggled with the poles bit and ended up taking away two of the original six I’d made. The instructions below are for my original design, but I’ve included *[in italics] what I ended up using. They two don’t differ wildly though.

Materials needed for teepee/wigwam 

* My original fabric was 275cm x 140cm and was more than enough to make the entire teepee including straps and loops etc. From this I cut;

6 cloth fabric trapezoids (triangles with a flat top) – each of mine measured 56cm x 14cm (including seam), and 145cm height (this is measuring the straight height, not the sloped edges).

Extra fabric for loops – I used 24* loops – each measured 11cm x 6cm (*although in the end, I only used 18 of these).

Extra fabric for straps


Fabric or felt for decoration.

4* Dowels – I used four dowels of 12mm x 240cm, which I cut down to 160cm (and then used the remaining 4 x 80cm dowels to make a further 2 x 160cm rods so I had six. These two joined ones were too bendy and I realised I didn’t need all six and ended up using just four dowels).

Length of cord for tying the poles together. More than you’d think you’d need!

How to make your own teepee / wigwam

1) Measure each panel and mark seam lines.

2) Cut out six panels. On each panel, fold and press seams and pin in place. If you are hemming the bottom and top edges, then stitch these now (I was using an old curtain so these edges were already hemmed for me).

  • You could embellish now (which would be easier if you are stitching on any of your decorations) or once the teepee is complete (step 13) to give you a better idea of where everything goes. Remember, if you do decide to embellish it now, that one of the panels will be split to form the opening, so don’t add anything to this that goes across the entire panel.

3) Measure and cut out your loops. Fold long edges in on themselves to create seams and press. I didn’t bother stitching them as they would be out of sight and out of reach, but you could sew these closed if you prefer.

4) Lay two panels (wrong-side-up) side-by-side and fold the pressed seams up on themselves to form a double seam. Pin in place.

5) Take four loops and, with the raw length facing the seam of the panels, pin them in place at equal distances along the panel seam, with their edges overlapping the panel seam.

6) Stitch along the length of the panel. I did this twice for each panel seam – once right next to the fold of the two panels, and once right next to the edge of the seam.

7) Close off the bottom loop to create a pocket.

Repeat steps 4-7 for another four of the six** panels (leaving the front panel for later). [**I ended up not using the side loops on the seam between the two panels on each side, but did use the ones at the top for the cord] 

8) For the sixth panel (the front panel), cut a slit in the middle from the base up to about 100cm to create an opening.  Fold back the seams on either side, press and pin in place before stitching.

9) Cut out a small square or rectangle of material and fold seams in on themselves so there is  one ‘clean’ side. Stitch the seams down, then stitch the material over the top of the slit around the edges and in an X shape to strengthen the area.

10) Make four straps for tying up the front of the opening. I did this by folding one length of fabric in on itself twice, (so two raw edges met in the middle), then fold again (so the raw edges are tucked away inside). Press and stitch in place, and cut into four (stitching the eight ends to prevent fraying).

11) Sew the two sets of straps in place onto the inner edges of the opening (making sure they’re opposite each other and long enough to tie together).

12) Attach the final panel, with loops, in the same way as before and turn the whole teepee the right way round.

13) Decorate if desired. I used left over felt from the hobby horses I’d made to make a few designs ~ bison, moose and a plant. I used fabric glue for these. You can click on the gallery pictures below for a larger image.

14) Thread the dowels into each of the set of four loops, and splay out at the top, pushing the dowels out at the bottom.

15) Thread the cord through the six loops at the top of the teepee and pull tight. Wind the rope round and round the dowels, weaving in and out making sure it’s nice and secure. If you’re planning on leaving the teepee up permanently, you could also use a hot glue gun to secure this further.

You’re done! Made By Yours Truly. Sit back and let your Little People at it!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2012 09:46

    This is brilliant! What a great idea to make your own. I’ve been dying to have a go at something similar for Moon Munkie – this might give me the push I need.

    • February 16, 2012 10:43

      Thank you. It’s lovely and my kids are enjoying it too. Let me know how yours turns out 🙂

  2. February 16, 2012 10:47

    This is fab! I love it. I’m sure it will be well played with over the years

  3. February 17, 2012 08:15

    Great! My friend has a store bought tippie and this summer we had our 2,5 year olds play in it. Little children do not play all too long alone, but this tippie was magic. 1,5 hours in a comfy chair and a book for the moms… Does not happen too often:) than u for the great tutorial

    • February 17, 2012 13:18

      Thank you. Currently every stuffed toy in the world has been brought into the teepee for afternoon tea – looks very cosy in there 😀

  4. February 17, 2012 09:34

    What a lovely idea – well done it looks amazing! Not sure we have room for one in out small flat at the moment, but maybe one day when we can afford somewhere bigger. Kids will have so much fun in it 🙂

  5. February 17, 2012 19:36

    This is gorgeous. I’d love something like that for my DD, but afraid of sewing. Would it be east=y for someone who struggles even cutting a straight line, not to mind sew?

    • February 27, 2012 19:31

      Yes, I think you’d find it okay, although I’d start on something a bit easier if I were you.

  6. February 17, 2012 20:49

    what a fab make. I bet it has gone down a treat!

  7. listmakerkat permalink
    February 18, 2012 00:15

    Wow! this is amazing! The animal decorations are a nice touch. I hope you made it big enough so you can fit in too!

  8. February 21, 2012 19:25

    Ooh, I really want to make one of these for my nephews. So cute!! I always loved making little forts when I was little.

  9. Clair permalink
    January 30, 2013 21:03

    Fabulous… Thanks so much for the instructions. I really want to make one for my wee man but I’ve not got a sewing machine & my sewing skills are shocking… Do you think Fabric Glue would do the job? xoxo

    • January 30, 2013 21:40

      Ooh I’m not sure. Depends on the weight of the fabric I guess – I imagine a light cotton might work okay with fabric glue, although the finish might not be quite as, erm, ‘finished’ as with a machine. For what it’s worth, my kids’ teepee gets a bit of a battering when they clamber in and out, so your fabric glue would have to be top notch. Or possibly try it with a hot glue gun?
      You could always try fabric glue for the main, and then a few basic hand stitches over the top (simple straight running stitch) just to be doubly secure.

  10. pixieamesbury permalink
    July 4, 2013 09:30

    I am about to start making the teepee following your instructions…so far so good 🙂

  11. magda permalink
    January 10, 2014 14:04

    this is a marvellous pattern well done and thanks for sharing. i am going to make it for my granddaughters kiddies who is 2yrs and 4yrs little boys i am actually making them a cowboy outfit out of my head. will keep you informed what it looks like. so i think the tent will go down well with it. .i have not seen these in our toy shops yet.


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