Play tent canopy

So I wanted to make my children a canopy. I’d seen girly ones & liked idea of a quiet corner so set about finding tutorials which there are plenty but they confused me so decided to think for myself with the help of existing tutorials.

I planned to make a rug for inside too.

The first task was  a design & working out how much fabric I needed.

I wanted this to be cheap as possible so I am using cheapest polycotton which is always 112-114 cm wide so that automatically decides the height but then you add the ‘roof’ so does end up taller.

When you make & hang your canopy it will sit on the outer edge of the hula hoop so be sure to measure from outer to outer edge not inside of it.

Hula hoop 26 inch (66 cm) diameter  x Pi (3.14) = 81.64 inch (207.36 cm) that’s your circumference of hula hoop & therefore tent.

I then decided I wanted a 22 cm overlap at entrance, plus 2 cm seam allowance (SA) per edge.

circumference (207) + overlap x 2 (22) + SA x 2 (4) = 255 cm.

That’s just over 2.5 metres of fabric at 112 cm width for outer.I cut it 256 cm because I’d rounded up a couple of measurements.

Now I had to work out the top section we need to make this with a number of triangles to create the tent effect. For the width (base of 1 triangle) I divided the circumference into 6. You could use 4 pieces for this I chose 6.

circumference (191.4) / 6 = 34.56 + 4 = 38.56  ( 1 triangle base)

The 4 represents my seam allowance 2 cm for every edge of which there’s 2.

For the height of the triangle I just divided the diameter of hula hoop into 2 & added SA.

Diameter (66) / 2 = 33 + 4 = 37

You can add extra height to your canopy by adding extra strips to your canopy to create stripe effect, I plan to do this through the form of a 20 cm strip. The height of the room is 245.5 cm & height of canopy with extra strip is approx 140-150 cm so longest hanging loop I need is approx 114. You can add extra height to your canopy by adding extra strips to your canopy to create stripe effect, I plan to do this.


To  create the curve of the triangle pieces place your hoop on paper & trace onto paper marking the centre of the line. From the centre mark measure up or down your height then add that point to edges of curved line that’s your pattern piece for top. Cut 6 from fabric.


You should be able to create your top section from 1 – 2 metre of fabric by laying pieces as shown depending  on height you chose.


You shouldn’t need to cut much off you side pieces however  I will so I can create the hanging loop & various ties.


For the inside of my tent I wanted to sew some animals to bottom edge but were it will go they won’t really be seen so I settled on a few mushrooms .


Last job is the ties I mentioned you will need at least 6 to hold hula hoops to canopy & 2 for the entrance. The length of all these is personal as long as they tie securely any length is good. We will tackle the entrance ties as we go.

 My hula hoops ties cut out were 6 x 52 cm I cut 6 of these.

Now before we start sewing our canopy/tent we will be using french seam. This is fab for delicate fabric & light fabrics to hide the seam. It can add bulk to a garment if use less light fabrics like cotton or fleece however this is a tent so it doesn’t matter but will hide the raw edges making this a super neat project with no raw seams at all.

I plan to use the green as its full length & width this means I only have to hem the short cut edges because the longer edges are the selvedge & therefore won’t fray.

I folded the short edges under 1 cm & then another 1 cm & sewed close to loose edge.


So we start with the roof. Start by placing wrong side of material from 1 piece to wrong side of another piece YES WRONG SIDES. Sew using 0.5 cm seam allowance (SA).


Turn the pieces to other side so you cover the raw edges & seam you’ve just done, like the picture & pin. You could also iron this in place. Sew using just over 0.5 cm SA.


You should now have an enclosed seam . Flatted this down either iron it or pin.


Sew along the edge opposite what just sewn. This sews your seam down so looks neat & tidy.


This is what the opposite side or the right side should look like:


No raw edges or messy overlocking in site.

Repeat till have 3 triangles sewn as a semi circle & repeat for other 3 to create 2 sides of the roof.


Place wrong sides of roof together encasing your roof tie between the layers & repeat the process to encase the seams.


Now I mentioned I’d added the roof tie above but not how to do the ties so here goes albeit out of order

Fold your tie in half right side to right side, place ribbon or cord at top…


Sew across the top encasing the ribbon or cord & continue down entire length till hit other end. Use 0.5 cm SA.


Don’t sew other short end. Once sewn you should tug the cord/ribbon that’s sticking out open end & your tie should start to scrunch up. You may need to poke other end in a little to encourage it to pull through.

If you cord is not long enough pull the cord slightly as you sew so the tie scrunches up behind the foot.


Just cut cord off when fully pulled through & neaten your corners.


Next you should hem your side pieces if not already done because we now attach roof to walls. Use same process as before wrong side to wrong side.

I decided to not topstitch the seam so left like this.


Now we need the ties that secure to hula hoop to the whole canopy. Position these evenly around your circle. I chose to do 8 but 4-6 will work also. The orange is my wall the yellow is my roof.


Sew a crossed box to safely secure. I made sure not to go onto roof just the seam of the wall…..


However after trying this out I realised I had to sew it onto roof or the hula hoop would drop down, like second picture.




Your almost done!!!

I decided I would like some mushrooms along bottom so I added this after so I could see where overlap sat & make sure they showed & weren’t hidden.


The last step I did was to add ties & velcro so Big Critter could have doors open or closed. To do this I measured 80 cm from side & 70 cm from bottom this was position for the tie.

Box stitch that on the inside with velcro in same position on outside. 

CIMG9812 CIMG9815

Make sure to add velcro to end of tie so it faces towards the canopy.


Here’s the finished canopy on my washing line at 9 pm because I’m too impatient to wait till the morning.


see below for cut out rug to place inside!

So a lot of you have probably heard about appliqué You sew a cut out shape onto fabric! This is my first cut out appliqué project. It’s basically the opposite of standard appliqué rather than cut the shape to go on the fabric you cut the shape from the main piece & layer a different colour behind!

You will need: fleece or other soft rug topping, cotton may crease easily

different coloured backing for appliqué- great for using scraps

rug backing- if using on carpet most material will do if using on wood floor may wish to use suede or slipper sole material to help prevent slips

scissors, pins & pen

First we make the rug. This rug will be for the canopy above and the hula hoop represents the sitting area within the canopy therefore the rug needs to be same size!

Using the same measurement you took above for hoop diameter you need to cut 2 circles plus about 2.5 cm seam allowance. The fabric I’m using isn’t wide enough to do a full circle so will cut 2 half circles & join to make a full circle. If you do two circles don’t forget to add extra to the straight edge for joining. I backed this with cotton but you can back with anything you wish.


Draw round hula hoop onto wrong side of fabric.


Cut out with 1-2cm extra, this will be your seam allowance. I cut both layers at same time.


Once I had both sides I overlaid them by about 1-2cm. I decided to do this over a normal seam because it creates less bulk. You could also make this a feature.


Pin & sew along front & back edge.


Now for the appliqué part. I decided on circle so i cut 3 sizes of circle out of paper & arranged them on the wrong side of my rug. I drew round with pen.


I then drew round the same number of circles in my backing colour.


Start cutting out the circle from rug. To do this easily fold inn half & do a small slit just so can enter scissors.


Cut them out leaving 1cm as shown.


Lay over the right sized circle & pin into place on wrong side.


Do same for all of them.


You can also back you circles with squares that cover the hole. I find circles less bulky but up to you.


Now sew the circles in place on wrong side removing pins as you go.

Once done you need to sort a back & inner.

There’s 2 ways to do this- lazy & lazier. Lazy way: lay the finished rug top on you backing & lay on wadding. Cut out, pin right side to right side of the rug top & backing then sew.

Lazier way: pin rug front to backing then wadding & sew together right side to right side, Trim excess material.

I used 2cm seam allowance to this & the lazy way. Remember to leave a gap for turning rug out. Once turned out you can top stitch whole rug to close gap & secure its shape. You may chose to go over your cut outs to create a semi quilt effect.

You can use same techniques to make a cute blanket or quilt for a new baby with matching rug.



3 thoughts on “Play tent canopy

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