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DIY: No-Sew Teepee

There is no better place to grow a child’s imagination than tucked away inside a secret hideout. While blanket forts are still a trusty go-to, why not up the ante with a DIY no-sew teepee that can stay out year-round?

Store-bought play tents can cost upwards of a couple hundred dollars, but this smart design can be made for right around $60. It requires intermediate crafting skills and is collapsible for easy storage. Be warned, however, that after you complete this fun project, you may find yourself competing with the kids for teepee time!

DIY No-Sew Teepee

Materials: (6) 3/4″ x 10′ thick-walled PVC pipes, (6) 3/4″ PVC couplings, (6) 3/4″ PVC caps, 9′ x 12′ canvas drop cloth, woodgrain Con-Tact Paper, Super Heat’n Bond iron-on adhesive, (1) package (8 count) 5/8″ heavy duty snaps/tools, 1/4″ sisal rope, Duck Tape, saw, iron, hot glue, marker, paint, fabric scissors, hammer

Before you start, wash and dry the canvas drop cloth in a regular warm cycle with detergent and fabric softener. This will make the fabric less stiff and much easier to work with.

Use a miter saw or hand saw to cut each 10′ piece of PVC pipe down into two sections, one 32″ long and one 48″ long. Below is a close up of the caps and couplings for your reference. If you do not wish to make the teepee collapsible, you can just cut each pipe to 80″, and you will not need the couplings.

PVC Pipes, Caps and Couplings

To give the pipes and couplings the look of real wood, I covered them with some woodgrain Con-Tact Paper left over from my lampshade revamp. Be sure to leave about an inch of pipe uncovered on one end of each short pipe and both ends of the long pipes—this will allow them to fit snugly inside the couplings and caps.

PVC Pipes for DIY Teepee

PVC Pipes for DIY Teepee

Spread out the drop cloth on a flat surface with the 12′ edge at the top. Center the end of a measuring tape at the top and mark a dot 69″ out with a marker. Continue to mark 69″ out from the center until you’ve drawn a half-circle (a helper to hold the end of the measuring tape centered will make this step easier). Cut out the half-circle with fabric scissors.

Drop Cloth for DIY Teepee

In the next step, you’ll be hemming the edge of the drop cloth and creating pockets. Use a marker to draw 2″ wide x 2″ tall sections evenly spaced around the curved edge. See the diagram below for the correct measurements.

Drop Cloth for DIY Teepee

Preheat an iron to medium high. Use the Super Heat’n Bond iron-on adhesive to create a 1.5″ hem along the curved edge of the drop cloth. Do not place any iron-on adhesive where you’ve marked your 2″ pocket openings. Make sure to protect the floor you are working on from the hot iron.

Hem Tape for DIY Teepee

Hemming DIY Teepee

You should have six pockets and a 1.5″ hem along the curved edge of your drop cloth when you’re finished.

Pole Pockets for DIY Teepee

At the center of the top edge of the drop cloth, cut a half-circle with a 4″ diameter. Then cut 1″ flaps and use more iron-on adhesive to tack back the flaps for a smooth hem. The diameter of your finished half-circle should be 6″.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

If you wish to paint your teepee, do that now. Make sure to flip the canvas over so the pockets are on the inside! I used a foam roller, painter’s tape and latex house paint.

Painting DIY No-Sew Teepee

After your paint has dried, tuck one PVC cap smothered in hot glue into each of your six pockets. The trick to not burning yourself is to put two fingers into the cap whilst smothering.

DIY No-Sew Teepee Assembly

DIY No-Sew Teepee Assembly

You’re almost there! Starting at the small half-circle, attach seven heavy duty snaps along the straight edge spaced 1.5″ apart. You will be overlapping the two sides, so place the snap tops on the right edge and the snap bottoms on the left edge.

DIY No-Sew Teepee Snaps

DIY No-Sew Teepee Snaps

Cut a piece of 1/4″ sisal rope to be 16.5′ long. Wrap the ends in Duck Tape to prevent them from fraying (or gold Duck Tape if you’re feelin’ fancy).

Rope for DIY No-Sew Teepee

Since your teepee is all in pieces at the moment, I’m going to first show you how to pack it up for easy storage or transport to your set-up locale. Simply tuck the disassembled pipe pieces and rope into the folded canvas covering. Then roll together and secure with extra sisal rope or, in my case, a strip of excess drop cloth.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

To set up your teepee, first find a suitable cornfield with an adjacent freshly cut lawn—just kidding! Start by attaching one short pipe and one long pipe together with one coupling until you have six tall poles. Stand all the poles up together, and, holding the top, evenly space the legs out. About 10″ down from the top, lash them together with your pre-cut sisal rope. While this can be done alone, an extra set of hands is very useful for this part.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

Next, gently drape your canvas covering around the legs and secure the top with the snaps. Gently push each leg into its respective cap in the bottom hem of the canvas.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

At this point, you want to spread the legs out evenly to make the edges taut. This may require some jostling and pulling the legs to get a nice tight fit.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

DIY No-SewTeepee

Once set up, the teepee stands 6′ tall and 5′ wide. Adding a cute paper feather garland, a blanket and some pillows makes this teepee the place to be!

DIY No-Sew Teepee

DIY No-Sew Teepee

When summer sun gives way to falling leaves, bring the teepee inside for winter fun. Or pack it up and easily store it away for next year. Whether it lives on the lawn, in the playroom or filling the corner of your nursery, this DIY no-sew teepee is sure to spark that special kind of imaginative play that childhood is known for.

DIY No-Sew Teepee

DIY No-Sew Teepee



Friday 18th of November 2022

Is there a way to adjust the material sizes to make a more narrow and shorter version?


Sunday 20th of March 2022

A few notes on this! I LOVE the way it turned out and how much my daughter loves it. In 2022 it’s more than a $60 project though. Here’s a breakdown of costs with some other notes on adjustments I made. Just hoping this helps someone! $27 canvas drop cloth from Home Depot $29 6 connectors and 4 10’ PVC pipes that I cut into 3 40” pieces. When you connect 2 together, it still makes an 80” pole but it collapses to be smaller and you don’t have any extra PVC. And I cut it there at the store. They have PVC cutters and measuring tape right there for you to use. And if you’ve never used them before, don’t be intimidated cause they’re so easy to use! I didn’t use the end caps and just insert the poles directly into the pockets, but those would have been an extra $5. The reason I chose not to use them is because PVC is very hard to disconnect and even connect sometimes so I didn’t want the extra headache and I wanted to make it as easy as possible to assemble and disassemble. $11 wood grain contact paper from Amazon. The 15.7” x 118” roll I bought was exactly enough and I didn’t have any extra. $8 rope. I used jute instead of sisal, but I think the cost was about the same $11 snaps. Had to get a pack with the tools to install them. I did the 7 snaps at the top plus 4 more spaced out to the bottom so that the teepee can be closed completely. I sewed the hem because I wanted to make sure it holds up to everything, especially the pockets where the poles would be going. I’ve never used hem tape before and I don’t know if it holds up when you wash. The hem tape would have been an added $5. I already had paint, but it took nearly a quart of watered down paint to paint around the same amount as in the tutorial and I didn’t even get to do a second coat like I wanted. I used a combo of furniture paint and acrylic paint. If you need to buy paint, that’s an added cost that will vary based on amount of the canvas you want to paint and type of paint you use.

Total cost for me was about $86, but would be $100+ without the adjustments I made.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Thank you for all your thoughtful tips!

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