DIY project: Build your own children's play tent

Create a delightful retreat for little ones to enjoy.

You will need: 

  • 10m of 24mm x 24mm dressed pine 
  • 3.5m of 50mm x 25mm dressed pine
  • Drop saw
  • Gutter bolts – 4 x M5 50mm & 2 x M5 60mm, plus washers and M5 wing nuts
  • Drill and 6mm drill bit
  • Sandpaper
  • Chisel 
  • Clamp
  • Tape measure and pencil
  • Resene undercoat, paint and brushes
  • 5.5m fabric 160cm wide  
  • 1.5m net 160cm wide
  • 4m ribbon

Cutting list:

  • From the 24mm x 24mm dressed pine: 4 x 1915mm for uprights & 1 x 2150mm for centre strut
  • From the 50mm x 25mm pine: 2 x 1635mm for side braces
Create a delightful retreat for little ones to enjoy.
Create a delightful retreat for little ones to enjoy. Photo: Rose Hughes

Cost: $340, excluding paint


1. Drill a hole in the uprights 250mm from the top. Cut a 30˚ angle in each base.

2. Lay two uprights on a flat surface, with the inside face upwards, mark 20mm up from the bottom. Clamp the brace and drill a hole through the brace and upright. Repeat for the other side.

3. Assemble the tent frame; the base of the uprights should be about 1500mm apart. Lay the centre strut in the 'V' of the uprights. Mark a cut-out where it crosses each outside upright. Using a hand saw and chisel create the cut-out at each end.

4. Sand, undercoat and paint the pieces. I used Resene Quick Dry Primer and Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Daredevil. 

5. Cut one piece of fabric 3560mm long; fold in half. Create a pocket across the width by sewing a seam 50mm from the top. At the bottom fold under 20mm and fold again to create a 60mm pocket; stitch.


6. For the back, lay the uprights over the fabric, mark the shape, add a seam allowance and cut out. Attach to the sides as far as the stitch line for the bottom pocket. Hem and turn in the lower side. Repeat for the front using two pieces of net fabric attached to the triangular fabric top as shown.    

7. Cut ribbon into 4 x 60cm and 4 x 40cm. Stitch the centre of the 60cm lengths along the seam lines front and back 90cm down from the top. Add the ribbons to tie the front flaps.

8. Assemble by feeding the centre strut through the top pocket and the side braces though the lower pockets. Put the frame together using the 60mm gutter bolts at the top of the uprights. Place the centre strut between the Vs with the cut-outs sitting over the outer uprights. Pull the side braces out to the width of the fabric using the 50mm gutter bolts and attach at each end. Tie the ribbons over the frame to secure. 

- NZ Gardener

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