Sweet Happy Life

Toddler Play Tent: DIY or Buy?

I’ve been wanting to setup a play tent for the munchkin for a while now and last week we finally did it. Isn’t it cute? Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t have to be when you’re a child and have a big imagination. One of my favorite sights these days is seeing my son retreat to his tent for a bit of downtime with his toys. On a sunny day, I can see his shadow through one side of the tent while he plays and sings and loses himself in his own little world.

All of which is to say, he loves his tent.

Watching a bird on the balcony.

Now the big question when figuring out this whole tent thing was: should we build it or buy it?

Being a do-it-yourself kind of gal who doesn’t like spending big bucks, my first instinct was to build it. But ultimately we decided to buy a handmade tent instead. Despite finding some awesome DIY tutorials online (see below for my favs) we don’t have a sewing machine, power drill or staple gun. So when we priced the cost of materials + tools, a potentially inexpensive DIY tent suddenly became very expensive.

Luckily, there’s Etsy, where talented folks with all the right tools make children’s tents. Many of these tents are also pricey so I was happy to find Holly from WillowTreeYarnery. Not only did she make the kind of tent I wanted for a reasonable price, but she asked me for color preferences and sent me photos of potential fabric patterns. When our tent arrived I knew what it would look like and had even been involved in its creation, which is half the pleasure of DIY if you ask me. :) (To be clear, this is not a sponsored post. I’m just pleased with our tent and wanted to tell you about it!)

Natural wood blocks for open-ended building.

I kept the munchkin’s tent setup fairly simple, covering the floor with blankets a friend made for him when he was born and lining the back with some of his favorite stuffed animals. I also put a little box filled with natural wood blocks in his tent. We were introduced to these open-ended toys at our Waldorf group and I’ve been amazed by how many things the munchkin can create with pieces of a tree. If it were up to me I’d be building a few variations of the same house. But him? He makes ramps for his cars, bridges for his trains and tall towers just for the pleasure of knocking them over. The world really is different through a child’s eyes.

My Favorite DIY Play Tent Tutorials

If you have more tools than we do and want to go the DIY route, below are my favorite tutorials. I especially like the one from Cakies. :)

DIY Fabric Tent from Casa Sugar

DIY Fabric Tent from Cakies

DIY Fabric Tent from Ana White

9 CommentsLeave a comment

    • Glad you found the links helpful! I know, so many of those tutorials are so complicated. My eyes would go crossed just trying to figure them out.

  • I love this! I stalk these tee pees all over Pinterest. My guy is 4 in six weeks and his room is being refine next week and I wanted to add a tee pee in the alcove area. Thanks for the info!

  • I love these tents! I really want to give a try making one myself, right now we just have a sheet attached to the book case and wall. I think this looks more fun!

  • Hi!  Holly is my younger sister.  I enjoyed reading your wonderful comments about the tent that she made for your son.  She’s definitely very talented and puts much time and care into her creations for Etsy. 

    • Holly is definitely very talented! Part of what makes the tent so special is that you can tell how much thought she put into it. It creates such a great space for the munchkin. We love it!

  • What an adorable tent! I also want to get a tent for LO but haven’t been able to find a tutorial that’s easy enough for me to do. I never thought to look at Etsy!