A room with a sewing machine and a home made tipi on a table

Tipi for the kids

A couple of years ago I made a small tipi for my nieces and nephews to play with. Nothing human sized, but big enough for them to get some dolls and cars inside. I thought I’d outline how I put it together.

The first thing I did was make the poles. I found a stick of walnut in my parts bin and ran it through the table saw until I had six equal size, equal length pieces.

Six wooden poles forming a tipi shape

Next I worked out the measurements for the fabric and where the poles would sit.

Sketches showing measurements for the tipi fabric

These little sleeves prevented the poles from sliding around on hard surfaces and loosing their place.

Six wooden poles being sewn into the white tipi fabric

I added orange fabric to the outside to cover up the stitches from the sleeves.

The orange and white tipi fabric laid on a table

I also sewed in pole sleeves at the top of the tipi, and added in another orange strip to hide those stitches.

Dunstan wearing the orange and white tipi fabric like a cape

The tipi needed a door, so I outlined the hole in blue chalk before cutting it.

The orange and white tipi fabric laid on a table with a door chalked onto the fabric

After cutting the door I pinned the fabric together in preparation for sewing it closed. The top looks a little wonky here, but it would get tidier after sewing.

The assembled tipi on a table

While the front of the tipi would be sewn together, I wanted to give the appearance that it was being held closed by wooden pegs, as seems to be traditional. I cut each peg from a piece of walnut before shaping, sanding, and waxing them.

Wooden pegs lying on a table in their five stages of manufacture
Five wooden pegs held in the palm of a hand

And here they are in place.

The front of the tipi with wooden pegs in place

Next I took the poles I’d cut and used a spokeshave to round them off.

Wooden poles lying on a bed of wood shavings, with a woodworking tool sitting atop them

After a bit of sanding the poles were ready for a homemade walnut oil and bees wax finish.

Six rounded wooden poles lying on a table

They came out great. I used a strip of leather to tie them all together.

The top of the tipi with the waxed wooden poles in place

And here’s the finished tipi. The edges were a bit ragged, as was the sewing, but I don’t think the kids cared.

The completed tipi sitting on a table