Children love to play inside their own magical little world. That makes a folding playhouse tent a perfect multi-age surprise your little loved ones will never want to outgrow! If you get a store bought, plastic and nylon playhouse tent, there are so many disadvantages. The playhouses offered in stores are going to cost upwards of $100. Plus, they take forever to assemble/disassemble and take up a lot of space. Instead of all that fuss, harken back to your younger years and go creatively old school with this inexpensive space saver! Not only will your kids have fun, but the tent doubles as attractive toy storage too.
How To Make And Decorate A Playhouse Tent
There are several different types of folding table or card table playhouse tents. However, all versions of the folding table tents are made of either fabric or felt – or both. Your level of sewing, amount of free time, and materials on hand will dictate which type of tent you decide to make.
Since I’m a novice sewer, I enjoy the adorning and creative aspect of the projects I embark upon most. Because of that, I went with the “work smarter not harder” tent versions. I purchased a table top to floor fitted tablecloth to speed up the project and get right to the fun part. I carefully measured the window and door openings twice before cutting them out. Such tablecloths typically cost between $15-$25, making them a budget-friendly option that matches the cost of fabric or bolts of felts used to make the necessary tent panels.
You can also use a tablecloth that fits your kitchen or dining room table for the playhouse tent. However, keep in mind that going this route eliminates using both the inside and top of the tent for toy storage.
Four Types of Folding Table Playhouse Tents
1. Fitted Tablecloth
I highly recommend going this route to make the playhouse tent unless you already have plenty of stiff fabric, like linen or felt, on hand to make the top and side panels. Cotton and linen fitted tablecloths are the easiest to manipulate when adorning the tent. If you don’t have these materials and also want something cheaper, a polyester and cotton blend tablecloth tent also works well and might save you money. The fitted tablecloth will need to be manipulated through the sewing machine. Because of this, take care not to sew the panels together when sewing on decorations. One way around this is to hand sew or hot glue the decorations onto the playhouse tent later.
2. Fabric Tent
Using a thick fabric to make the tent will require careful measurement of the top, back and sides. Then you can sew them together either before or after cutting out the doors, windows, and decorating the panels. Unless you’re adding heavy adornments with hot glue, decorating the panels before sewing them together is advised. One definite upside to using fabric panels is the ready-made “decorations” presented by using material which already has a motif. For example, you can choose fabrics with patterns (flower garden, forest, sea life, etc.) that already match your vision. Remember, the printed pattern on the fabric will show through on the inside of the tent unless you make solid color panels as a backing.
3. Felt Tent
Buying felt by the bolt, as you would material, is one of the most popular ways to make playhouse tents by crafters who do not purchase a fitted tablecloth. Felt is rather inexpensive to purchase, is sturdy, and tends not to ravel easily.
4. Sheet Tent
Unfitted, flat sheets offer another inexpensive way to make a folding table playhouse tent with a solid color interior. Using old sheets you already have, or picking up some gently used ones at a yard sale, helps keep the cost of making the playhouse tent low. The bottom of a sheet tent will be free-flowing unless you add a hemline and sew the corners to fit them. You can also add a Velcro tie on the interior of the tent to pull them tightly around the legs.
Decorating a Playhouse Tent
This is the fun part! Folding table playhouse tents are so inexpensive to make and decorate you can personalize one for each child or grandchild in the family. For context, I made three playhouse tents in nine days for about $35 each. And this was while working full-time!
I decorated both the inside and outside of each tent and made some felt food for the pretend garden and kitchen. This added interactive felt play areas to each tent. I decided on a castle theme for two tents I made for a grandson. They featured freestanding felt fire, logs, and a pond with stuffed felt fish and a detachable felt (stuffed with pipe cleaners and paper towel roll) fishing pole. The decorating possibilities are nearly endless and both cheap and fun to make. Well…maybe not the logs! They were a bit tedious until I got the hang of sewing on the ends.
Folding Table Playhouse Tent Decorating Tips
- Make curtains for the windows out of matching dish towel or tulle. Sew the towels or glue the tulle onto a piece of ribbon. Then sew them onto the inside of the window opening. Tie the curtains back with a matching piece of ribbon and voila!
- Make a window box out of a single felt square and sew or glue into onto the front bottom of the window. You can either make flowers out of felt or go to your local dollar store and pick up a package of artificial ones. Then you can glue them to the top of the window box, so they decorate the bottom of the window opening.
- Frame the window with a piece of ribbon to give it a finished look. This also helps to avoid messy and frayed edges if the window opening is not folded over and sewn onto the inside of the tent.
- For a more boyish looking window, use colored or patterned duct tape to frame out the window and to make a crisscross pattern throughout the opening. Don’t forget to back the tape with another piece of tape after creating your window opening design. That way, little fingers – or worse yet, little hairs – don’t stick to the tape once the happy children are playing inside the tent.
- The door opening can be cut completely out and the edges finished with a sewn seam, ribbon or tape. For added interest, decorate the door with a stuffed felt or fabric knob, a welcome wreath, or similar embellishment, and only cut out the sides of the opening. The door can be rolled up, with a ribbon sewn across the bottom of the door. Attach it to a piece of Velcro on the top of the table to hold it open. Remember, a drawbridge door is made in reverse. You should sew ribbon or felt strips to the inside top of the door and the tent. Otherwise, it won’t open in true drawbridge fashion!
- Cut grass shaped strips out of green felt or fabric and sew along the bottom edges of the tent. Felt flowers, bees, birds, and a bird house can be added to the panels to complete the look. I made pockets for one strip of the grass, so fabric carrots and lettuce could be placed inside and “harvested” by the little gardener. Make stuffed apples out of felt and sew a piece of Velcro on the back so they can be “picked” from a tent panel tree.
Charmed by Ashley shows us a sewing tutorial on her vlog on fabric teepee progress:
Do an online search for coloring pages of the designs you want to make. Then, you can either make them out of felt or fabric or draw them on with fabric paint. Tens of thousands of free coloring pages exist online. This selection should allow you to find the desired adornments to match the tent theme without costing a single dime! Unfinished or painted shapes made out of a thin wood are also often available at craft stores or dollar stores. You can glue these onto the playhouse tent for added visual interest and texture.
Do you have other ideas on how to build playhouses? Share them with us in the comments below!
Want more sewing ideas? Check out this 35 best sewing hacks that will make your life a breeze!!