As I was working on cleaning up one of the closets where I keep craft and sewing materials I came across a stack of interesting tent like fabric already sewn into long strips of shades of green and white. In total there was about 15 yards of this ripstop type material. I think it was given to me when I was dreaming of making some fantastic kites… I knew immediately what I would use it for. It cried out to be a tent for a special little boy who just happened to be having a birthday in a week or so…
So I searched on-line for a tent pattern of which I found many, but I finally decide to go with a commercial pattern. I chose Butterick 4251. I decided I’d rather not have to draft the pattern pieces and just go with a pattern ready-to-go. The pattern piece have to be joined because they are so big, but that was easy to do by following the markings on the pattern. The pattern takes between 9 and 14 yards of fabric depending on the width of your fabric, 6 poles of 1″ pvc pipe 84 inches long, twelve 22mm wooden beads, and 3 yards 5/8″ ribbon for the front ties and top gathering and twin or rope to connect the poles with the beads as spacers.
The pattern, in my opinion, was not the best with which I have worked. The diagram for cutting out the panels was quite confusing. In fact, because of the confusing diagram, if you look closely Owen’s Tent has only five poles. That is because I didn’t cut out enough panels… but it still worked.
Sewing the panels with the pockets that the poles sit in was a bit of the task. Those pole pockets have to be very exactly made, so careful marking is important. It is an awkward way to make them… it does work… but be sure to read the instructions all the way through before beginning. This isn’t one of those projects you can go step-by-step. Very little of it is as intuitive as you think it would be. You have to know where you are heading to get it right.
Another challenge is the sheer volume of fabric you are dealing with when constructing this tent. When sewing the last panel and joining them all together you have a pretty big pile of slippery fabric to deal with at the machine. Hemming it was a bit of a challenge and took awhile, it is a long way around. It does require plenty of space around the machine or you will be knocking stuff off of the counter with evey turn you make … ask me how I know this. lol.
While I am an experienced sewist, having sewn wedding dresses, pageant gowns, costumes, heirloom dresses, Christening gowns, my own bras and so much more over the last 50 years.. this is one of the harder things I have ever made. It has also been one of the more rewarding projects I have ever made. Just look at the faces of Owen and his sister … it melts your heart to see how thrilled Owen is with his 5th Birthday present. The other day he told me over the phone that he had slept all night in his tent. I think it will provide years of fun for those two special friends of mine!