Tips and Tricks for Popular Teepee Pattern

One of our “big” gifts to the boys for their first birthday was their eyeball teepee. It was entirely DIY, from creating the fabric to cutting the poles to sewing it all together. For the teepee itself, I used this popular teepee sewing pattern and while it feels silly to write a tutorial on something I followed a pattern for, I do have some words of wisdom should you attempt it on your own.

This was my first time working with a pattern on a sewing project so while I’m a complete newbs, it was an overall great and dare I say enjoyable experience!

I followed the instructions of the Sew Baby Terrific Teepees pattern nearly to the T, with the exception of a few things below.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Tip #1 - Reduce length of each PVC pipe by 6″

I actually didn’t have enough length to cut (5) 66″ pieces as the pattern suggests, so I stumbled into this tip accidentally. I only had (5) 60″ poles on hand and the length was perfect. An extra 6″ inches on each pole would have been so strange visually, so I’m glad this happened! I bought (3) 120″ lengths of 2/3″ PVC pipe at Home Depot and cut them in half at home using my miter box and saw. To remove the stamps and writing on my PVC pipes, I sanded with a rougher grit sheet of sandpaper (80), followed by extra fine grit (200) for a smooth finish.

Tip #2 – Use a shoestring to tie poles together

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

The instructions called for a clothesline-type nylon rope to thread between each pole, which is great in theory, but did not make any sense in real life. The nylon rope they suggested was very thick and unruly which made threading it through each hole difficult. My mom had the genius idea to use a shoelace, which worked like a charm. Its most beneficial attribute is its stiff end, which gave me an enormous amount of threading power.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Pro Tip: Buy shoelaces for this. Don’t be like me and steal them off the only pair of tennis shoes you own. *smacks forehead*

I didn’t particularly like the shoestring-only look (even though they were a fun color), so I dug into our party decor box and found this strand of brightly colored woven globes. Me likey.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Tip #3 - Sew a double seam hem on all sides of the panels

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

The pattern suggested a single fold hem (meaning the folded-under edge would be left raw) instead of a double fold hem. This was a big mistake, because now I’ve got lots of unraveling. Newbie mistake. I’d recommend a small 3/8″ hem before moving onto the 1/2″ hem. It shouldn’t change the pattern in a big way, plus it’ll just look more finished. For mine, I need to add some Fray Check (raw edge sealant) to combat all the fraying.

Tip #4 – Add 1″ non-skid rubber feet to the poles

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

This teepee is light! I imagine it’s only a matter of time before my boys can pick it up and Hulk smash it across the room. Kidding… sort of. But it does scoot around on our hardwood floors a lot. I picked up (5) 1″ rubber feet and added them to the ends of the PVC pipes. Tada! These also keep up the fabric so it doesn’t slouch around the bottom.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

This was such a fun project. Challenging for a newbie? Yes. But doable? Yes. Did I want to throw it out the window at times? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably.

There you have it. Any teepee makers out there? How did you bring yours to life?


Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Libby Boyle says:

    Love the stamped eye fabric. It looks sooo good. I love making tee pees. I really want to make one for myself, but haven’t managed yet. I’ve made three and, like you, learnt a few tricks along the way. If you search my blog for tee pee, you could have a little look at the tee pees I made for my grand nieces, grand nephew and my neighbour’s daughter.

  • This is so cool! I wish I’d had one for my kids when they were little

  • Peggee Beckham says:

    I have made so many of these as gift for friends children. May try the shorter poles. Wanted to tell you that we painted the poles brown with non toxic paint. Found you as I have lost the directions.

Leave a Reply