I made this tee-pee for Zenie’s birthday, which was about 7 months ago now. I figured it was either now or never if I was going to get this posted, so here it goes.
When I was preparing to do this I read about 10 different tutorials on how to do this and of course I didn’t follow any of them exactly. I figured I’d show you what I did (though I put this together mostly at night in a dark attic loft space because I was hiding it to show Zenie for her birthday, so beware, these pictures are not near as darling as most of the other tutorials, if you want you can just skip to the bottom, I have links to some other sites there).
In my defense I did take this apart and rebuild it at least three times before finally finding a method that worked for me, so I do feel like I am a fairly experienced Tee-pee builder.
You will need:
5 poles. I used 1”x 2” x 8′ poles that I bought for 96 cents each at the Home Depot. You could also use bamboo poles or even sticks. I actually had my husband cut 12 inches off the length of mine (our house is small). If you want yours shorter and don’t have a saw you can ask the folks at Home Depot to do it for you.
Fabric. How much is a good question. I started over with new fabric so many times that I lost count of how much I was using. Probably about 6 yards, give or take. You can use scraps, which is how I started. But I ended up buying fabric to have a more cohesive look, this ended up costing me about 30 dollars. I love the fabric so I’m glad I spent the extra money.
You will use fabric cut into strips for this, about 4-6 inches wide at the top and 12-16 inches wide at the bottom.
Hot Glue and gun. I began this thinking I would sew it rather than glue it but honestly it is was not worth the time or effort. I ended up finishing up with glue and wished I would have done the whole thing that way. Keep in mind you will need a lot of glue so get stocked up.
Tacks or screws. I used a hand held power drill to screw the fabric to the wood in order to hold it secure (when you do this make sure you hold the fabric taut or it will spin with the screw) if you aren’t set up to do that you can just use some heavy duty thumb tacks, or more glue (though it is nice to have something a little sturdier to hold everything together).
Cordless drill (optional). Like I said I used this to screw the fabric to the poles as I went around. We also drilled one hole in the top to thread the twine through when getting started. This step also isn’t necessary but it does make it easier to get set up and keeps things held together in the long run. If you think you will move it around a lot I would do it. If it will stay in one place then it probably isn’t necessary.
First you need to figure out a way to attach your poles together. I drilled a hole about 1 foot down from the end, wide enough to thread some twine through. After threading the twine through the holes I stood them up and sort of leaned them all together, and then tied the twine into a loop (don’t make it too tight or you will break the twine when you go to move it) (also you can skip the drilling hole part if you want, you will just need someone to hold all the rods together for you when you first get it adjusted.
Once you have the rods held in one place take the twine and wrap it around several times. This helps to secure it and also gives it a tee-pee look.
Now I didn’t do this, but a great tip I read was that if you can, get your tee-pee poles positioned and secure them to the floor (basically hot glue them to a tile floor if you have that option). Otherwise you will be like me, constantly re-adjusting the legs to make sure things are staying in the same position.
My teepee has a gathered, bunched up look, on the top and then smoother wider strips of fabric on the bottom.
To do the top use thinner strips of fabric about 4-6 inches wide. Tie a knot to secure the first piece of fabric to one of the rods, then, go around each pole, actually wrapping around each pole to secure it in place. When you run out of fabric you can tie another strip to the end just making sure to tie at a length that will keep the knot on the inside of the tee pee. Make sure you wrap the fabric close enough together that you don’t have big gaps. Continue this way for a couple feet, or until you like the way it looks. Make sure to keep your tee-pee from shifting around while you work.
You will notice as you’ve down and the distance is wider between the poles it will get harder. At that point stop. Secure your end to the rod by making another knot. Then go back and close any gaps with either a stitch or hot glue (do this now, once the rest of your walls are finished it will be harder because you won’t be able to stand in between the poles.
Now go down to the bottom of your tee-pee. Cut fabric strips wider, about 12 inches. Decide where you want to have the door. Then wrap the fabric around the bottom of the tee-pee poles, secure it with hot glue (or sew it if you would like). These pieces are too wide to wrap so you will have to secure them either with glue alone, or with a tack or screw into the rod. If you get to the end of a fabric strip before you get all the way around you can glue or sew another one on (if you plan ahead and are buying fabric or are using sheets you can make sure that your length is enough that this won’t happen).
Repeat going up one level, make sure you overlap enough to cover the tack or screw from the piece below it. As you come around each pole you will need to fold a little pleat in the fabric and glue it in place.
Try to keep your fabric taut around your poles and make sure your poles aren’t shifting in position. You can also go around and glue or sew any big gaps between strips if you have them.
Continue this process until you reach the top of your tee-pee where you left off.
Add a few touches
I noticed that the strip that went across my door was crooked, so I cut a piece of fabric and glued it in place to make the fabric above the entryway look smooth and straight.
I also got some extra twine and hung some feathers on the front and on the inside of the tee-pee.
I never got around to doing a door but this would have certainly been a big hit.
Enjoy your Tee-pee
Some Other great Tee-pee tutorial links:
Good luck with yours and feel free to ask me any questions.