How to make a tee pee ... finally.

15 November 2013

Yes, at last, I've done as promised: I've made the tee pee for my Great-nieces.  The tee pee that started the bedroom make over not so long ago.  But, not only did I make one for them, I also made one for Marigold's family's youngest, my Great-nephew.  My house is, at the moment, under attack by small cone-shaped abodes.

Why tee pees?  Well, I saw one on Pinterest and I thought, if I was a small person, I would love one of those!  It looked like it would be fantabulous to play in.  And, it looked like it would be even more fantabulous to make.

So, I did my research, as usual.  LOTS of research ... probably more than was necessary ... the Virgo thing again.  And, ultimately, I decided that the best source of tee pee intel was a tutorial by My Poppet (found here), a wonderful Australian blogger named Cintia.  I read the intel very carefully before I dared to begin.  This is a great tutorial and I've added a few tips which I learnt in the tee pee making process which I hope help make the process easier.

"Use a double bed sheet" ... I don't want to do that.  I want all sorts of different fabrics and colour and ... but, then, at Spotlight, I came to realise how much my grand-dream tee pees would cost.  Maybe Cintia knew more about tee pees than I did.

So, I went to the bin of the sad, no-longer-popular quilt cover sets.  I could buy a single quilt cover set for $15!  Cheap as.  I'd only get one metre of my grand-dream tee pee fabric for that and I'd need many one metres of fabric ... many, many one metres.  The single quilt cover sets would easily equal one double sheet.  They won hands down!  And, now that I'd pulled tight the budget, they were just right   More than just right, in fact.  They were fantabulous!

I had some fabric left over from the bedroom make over and I found some AMAZING skull fabric that would warm the heart of any young, testosterone-infused chap.  Both would do nicely for trim.  I was set.  My tee pee campaign was about to begin.  But ... I thought I needed a little more.  Maybe a bigger skull.  But where to find one?  The Salvos or Lifeline was bound to have abandoned T-shirt carrying a skull.  Instead I found vintage motorcycle insignia on very small T-shirts.  Perfect.  Daddy Marigold rides a motorbike and baby Marigold idolises daddy Marigold.  Perfect!

My supplies.

Time for the campaign to begin.

My very rough concept pattern.

The poles were easy; the most expensive part, but easy.  My trusty drill (Every girl needs a drill.  I was gifted my first one by my long time school friend.  She knows what a girl REALLY wants!)  My current drill, a second generation, is new and ready for work.  (Sadly, my old drill has gone to tool heaven; overworked, but much loved.)  

But, having made the holes for my rope, where was my sandpaper?  I didn't want splinters in small fingers.  No sandpaper ... mmmm?  But, I did have an emery board, a large emery board ... why would it not suffice??  And it did.  Very well, in fact.  Smooth, splinter-free poles were ready for my cone-shaped abodes.  Every chippie in Australia should carry an emery board in their tool belt, I think!

Tip No 1 for tee pee making.

Use sticky tape to form the end of your rope into a pencil sharp point and it will slide effortlessly through your emery-board-smooth holes.

I created a template from my spotty pink quilt lining and then scissored away until I had my five ...  then later six sides. I didn't crawl around on the floor as in the tutorial; I set up on my dining room table and used my template.

Then sewing, lots of sewing.  If you don't have an over locker, this could take for EVER.

Tip No 2.

Set aside plenty of time to make your tee pee. This is not a one afternoon project.

I decided to decorate the sides of my tee pees with the trees and Babushka dolls and, in the case of the male version, the skulls and motorcycle insignia.  Just so my tee pees are a little different; personalised for their soon-to-be inhabitants.  My trusty Bernina has a wonderful stitch which looks granny blanket stitch, makes it look like I've spent hours hand stitching ... which I haven't!

I like how it frays a little around the edges. 

Tip No 3.

Set up on a large table to sew. There's lots, LOTS, of fabric to deal with.

Slowly, however, cone-shapes began to form before my sewing machine needle's eye ... well, needles' eyes ... I broke a couple.  Oops.

Tip No 4.

A five pole tee pee will only be big enough for one small person.  Six poles is better; room enough for two to play.

I made my first one with five poles, decided it was too small, took one seam apart ... well, chopped off the over locked seam ... and added another side.  Fun!  But better if you don't have to do it!  (A single quilt cover set gives you enough fabric to make six sides.)

Tip No 5.

Quilt covers with stripes will make your campaign more taxing.  You don't have enough fabric to match stripes, so you need to alternate between horizontal and vertical stripes on your tee pee sides.

I had one quilt cover with stripes. I alternated, but found I had to do some random joining, which looked okay.  But, if you're an ultra-perfectionist-Virgo-type and need to have PERFECT stripes, you'll need a double quilt cover.

Ultimately, my fabric transformed into fantabulous tee pees.

But, I look at the pole bits protruding at the top and I think ... they need a flag.  So, four flags are made and my cone-shaped abodes are complete. I lined the flags with a little iron-on stiffening so they wouldn't be droopy.  No one wants droopy flags!

Tip No 6.

When you ultimately set up your tee pee, loosen the ropes around the poles until the tee pee sits nicely, then retie the rope.

But, I also had pillow cases; one from each quilt cover set.  These I cut in half, added a pillow case style pocket and ... two cushions emerged.  My tee pees will have very comfort!

My campaign is over.

Promise fulfilled.

Now, I'm thinking I wouldn't mind one for me ... to place in a corner of the garden ... to read, sip wine, nap, hide ... mmm??  Maybe for the new house next year???

If you're a beginner at sewing or, like me, experienced, but eager to pick up any new tips and tricks, then Do You Sew will be of great interest to you.

This post, Sewing for Beginners -Ultimate Sewing Machine Instructions , is a good spot to start, but don't stop there. A wander around the site will have you finding all sorts of amazing tips and ticks for sewing. 

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