Last winter I made this DIY play gym to engage my little one and keep him active. However, like all baby items, he quickly outgrew this play gym. Me being me, I wanted to purpose it into something that Little One can use now that he is walking and running around. I figured he needs areas in our home that are just for him. He loves creating little spaces for himself with pillows and blankets so I decided to turn the play gym into a play tent!
You can check out my post here on my DIY play gym for instructions on how to make its wooden structure. Hindsight being 20/20, I would now go back and make the legs longer to make the structure taller and wider. However, not wanting to basically remake the play gym I decided to work with what I have.
There are four elements to making this DIY play tent: the back, the two triangle sides, the front (which has an opening), and the floor. I will do my best to describe the process of making the tent, but I do not have exact measurements as I drafted the tent on the gym and pinned accordingly. Let’s get started!
If you are newer to sewing check out my guide to sewing terminology.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.
- Play Gym Structure
- Cotton material (I used this constellation fabric)
- Sewing machine
When I started to make the tent, I didn’t really know how to go about it because the two legs are slightly offset from each other, making it uneven. To solve this I laid out my fabric on the floor. I placed my play gym on the floor on top of the fabric. Next, I turned the gym over at the top edge to get an estimate of how much fabric I would need. I cut the fabric, leaving very large seam allowances so I could have room to draft the tent.
My next step was to cut out the triangle pieces for the sides. I placed the sides of the play gym on my laid out fabric and cut a large triangle, leaving large seam allowances.
Then I placed the fabric inside out over the play gym and used my pins to place the pieces together. I was able to move the fabric around and repin to get a nice tight fit (see the picture below). I left a gap at the top for the tops of the legs to peek through. I will finish those seams later.
Using the pins as guides, I stitched up the side seams, right sides together. I then flipped the tent right side out and placed it back on the play gym. You can see in the photo below that there is some extra fabric at the top. I trimmed the fabric back to leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Next, I folded the fabric over and created a hem by turning the fabric 1/4 inch then turning it 1/4 inch again, then stitching along the edge of the folded fabric. This will create a nice finished edge.
To create the tent flaps I found the center front of the tent. Then I cut a straight line from the bottom of the tent up towards the top about two-thirds of the way. I didn’t use an exact measurement; instead I just left enough space for Little One to get into the tent. Next I wanted to finish the edges of where I just cut so the fabric wouldn’t unravel.
To do this I cut a piece of fabric 3 inches wide and double the length of the flap that I just cut. Then I pressed the strip in half, as pictured below.
I pinned the strip along of the edge of the tent flap. Stitch along the edge leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I then finished the edge with the serger. Then press it flat with the iron.
I also finished the inside seams with the serger, but you could use a small zigzag stitch instead.
The final part of making this tent is creating the bottom. I thought a lot about how to finish up the bottom of the tent. At first I thought I would make some straps that would tie around the legs. However, in the end I decided that making a pad/floor for the entire bottom of the tent would be best. I also added batting to make it a bit softer. We do have hardwood floors so this step made the tent more cozy.
To make the bottom I cut two pieces of fabric roughly 27×24 inches. I also cut batting to the same measurements. I had scraps of batting that I layered, though it definitely would have been easier to use a solid piece of batting. Instead, I wanted to use what I had on hand.
Lay out the pieces of batting on one of the pieces of the bottom fabric, as pictured below. Do a basting stitch around the four edges. This will help keep the batting in place when attaching it to the tent.
Stitching the Bottom Piece
This next part can be a bit tricky. It’s best to work one side at a time. Hold the bottom piece with the batting closest to you and with the batting facing out. Place the side of the tent right side facing you, and finally place the other piece of the bottom with the right side facing you. This will create a bit of a sandwich effect like in the picture below. Stitch along the side leaving 1/4 inch seam allowance. Stop stitching 1/4 inch from the edge to allow for the turn. When you’re done with one side move on to the next, following the same technique. The front is different so save that side for last.
For the front, pin from each of the corners for about 5 inches to the tent flap and stitch in the same method as above. This should leave a gap in the center of the floor piece. Now it’s time to flip the tent right side out using this large gap. Place it on the play gym and adjust as needed This is the time to make any alterations because once you close up the gap they will not be able to be made. Once everything is as it should be, pin and stitch up the gap using a stop stitch. There should be some extra pieces of the tent flap hems that are not included in the tent bottom. You can do a little hem on these two pieces just like the hem for the top pieces where the legs peek through.
The final step is to enjoy and play! I finished this DIY play tent during one of Little One’s nap times and had it set out for him when he came downstairs. He immediately ran to it and climbed inside and has been playing with it frequently ever since! This was a bit for me to figure out how to make it but now that I have the process down it was fairly easy. Also, one of the nice things with this DIY play tent is that it can fold flat for easy storage.
What do you think of this play tent? Let me know in the comments below.