Rainy Day Indoor Camping

September 2014

If rainy days aren’t your cup of tea, use them as an opportunity to develop your kids’ handy side and expand their imagination with an exciting DIY project. With just a few random items that are lying around the house, you can build an indoor tent that will turn your living room into an adventure destination.

DIY queen and expert craftswoman Elizabeth Simard, author of the blog Ruban Cassette, has everything you need for your homemade “construction” project. This avid crafter has whipped up an easy-to-follow tutorial to help you and your kids build an adorable living room refuge. Read on and get ready for your kids to spend hours of fun in their new hiding place!

Living Room Camping

Easy to make, attractive and very affordable, this tent will entertain your toddler, offering him a little secret hideaway in the middle of your living room. Your child will be delighted to thumb through his favourite books, enjoying his milk.

What you will need

  • Fabric* of your choice, preferably cotton, about 9 feet  by  12 feet in size
  • Thread to match fabric
  • 4 bamboo poles**, 6 feet in length and an inch or ¾ inch in diameter
  • Two fabric strips (tape or scraps) of about 2"  x 18"
  • Elastic band, like the ones for broccoli
  • Jute rope
  • Cord (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

Find the detailed measurements for cutting the fabric here.

  1. Step 1

    Cut the bamboo poles to a length of 6 feet (or ask the hardware store to do it for you).

  2. Step 2

    Gather the bamboo poles together. Using the elastic band, securely attach the poles together 12 inches from one end.

  3. Step 3

    Spread out the bamboo poles to create the structure of the tent and give it its shape. At ground level, there will be about a metre of space between each leg of the tent.***

  4. Step 4 (Optional)

    To make the tent a little more stable, especially if it's for a very excited toddler, tie the bamboo sticks to each other with cord close to the ground. Make sure the cord is taut between each leg.

  5. Step 5

    Once you create the structure, reinforce the point where the four bamboo poles meet with jute rope. Also, hide the elastic band and make sure everything is very solid.

  6. Step 6

    Measure the fabric. Then, draw and cut three panels (A) to the size shown. Set aside the rest of the fabric (see pattern). ****

  7. Step 7

    Pin the three panels to each other and sew them together, side by side, lengthwise, forming a half-circle. At this stage, you can also finish the fabric edges, if desired, on the top and bottom of the panels. This will make the tent more durable.

  8. Step 8

    To make a door, cut out Shape B once and Shape C twice from the fabric (see pattern). Once assembled, these pieces will have a shape similar to the other three panels of the tent. Once again, you can finish these panels to make the tent more durable.

  9. Step 9

    Before sewing the door to the rest of the tent, pin the two strips of fabric (D) between the side of the door and the side of the tent, making sure that one end extends outside and inside the tent. Repeat for each side of the door. This will attach the sides of the door, so it remains open for the game! Sew the door to the rest of the tent.

  10. Step 10

    Carefully thread the fabric on the tent structure. Make sure everything is in place.

  11. Step 11

    Decorate with pillows, blankets, books and lanterns. Your toddler is now ready to have fun in his new hiding place!

* I chose to recycle the fabric from a large duvet cover instead of buying new fabric. A large cotton sheet or fabric scraps are also suitable.

** Bamboo is a renewable and inexpensive resource that is readily available at any good hardware store. The hardware store may even cut the bamboo on site.

*** At this stage, the "legs" of the tent can slide. It may therefore be difficult to have a stable structure. To prevent the legs from slipping, get some help from a second pair of hands or settle on a carpet.

**** To save fabric, cut a shape right side up (pointing upwards), a shape upside down (pointing down) and so on.

Indoor activities for the whole family

Turn your next rainy day into a fun-filled family journey with our 10 kid-friendly indoor activites.

*Learn how to make your own play dough here.