Teepee


We've added prunings from the apple tree to the original poles- the more poles in the frame, the better.

Last summer, the Girl got very stingy with the playhouse, wouldn’t let the Boy play in it, etc. He came to me and asked if we would build him his own playhouse, and I suggested a teepee, instead. He was satisfied with the idea, and made plans to camp out in it with his cousins and everything.

Then I started researching the construction of teepees. There are a lot of places online offering to sell teepees, but not very many with instructions for building. The most helpful was here : http://www.shelterpub.com/_shelter/www_teepee.html  and it appears to be a scan of an old book.

I figured out that the fabric covering is basically a half circle, with the round end on the ground, and the center of the straight side goes at the top of the cone.  The support for the cone is at least three, but preferably more, poles. The height of the cone is the radius of the half circle of fabric, and that is also roughly the diameter of the footprint of the teepee. I’ve blamed teachers before for my lack of understanding of stuff like this, but in this case, it is totally my fault for not paying attention- this all would have been easier to figure out if I’d paid attention in 9th grade math.

So, I did a lot of drawings, and estimates, and decided I would make my tripod out of 8′ long 2×2 dimensional lumber. I decided they would cross at the 6′ mark. That meant I needed to make a half circle with a 12 foot diameter.  At this point I went shopping for canvas. Ouch. If I were going to do this again, and I might someday, I would have gotten a canvas tarp, cut the corners and hemmed the cut edges. Or, contacted a friend in the awning business.

Instead, I got 7 yards of  white cotton muslin, cut it into a 4 yard section and a 3 yard section. (it suddenly strikes me that the internet is international, and if  ever get any readers who think in metric this will be the worst possible form of blog post, filled with 2×2’s, 3 yards, 4 yards, 6 feet. On the other hand, it feels awkward to put metric translations on each number…I guess if you live in Germany and want to make a teepee, build it to fit yourself, and pay attention to the ratios)

I sewed the two panels together, then laid it out on the lawn. I hammered a piece of bamboo into the ground and looped a 6 foot piece of twine on it with a marker tied to it, and drew a half circle. I cut and stitched along this line- doing a zigzag stitch along the edge to reinforce it. Then I learned how to use the buttonholer function on my sewing machine, and made a double row of holes along the diameter, about 4 feet up from the bottom. These holes overlap each other when you wrap it around the poles, and small sticks thread through the holes to hold the cover on the frame.

Anyway- love the teepee. Very sculptural. My friend in the awning business (yes, I really have one!) has suggested I let the kids paint designs on it, but honestly, I am way too much of a control freak for that- What if the designs came out horrible, then we’d have this ugly teepee in the backyard. As a white cone, it glows in the sun, and makes a cozy hangout for either kid. Actually, when the Girl saw how cool it was last summer, she insisted on playing in it as well. There hasn’t yet been a sleepover in it yet, but we’re hoping when the weather gets warm, they’ll roll out the sleeping bags.

On a lawn care note- I thought we would have to move it regularly in order to prevent the grass from going yellow, but the muslin is thin enough that it hasn’t been a problem.With heavier canvas, it might be an issue. When the kid from up the street mows, we collapse it like an umbrella and move it under the ash tree, then move it back on the grass when he’s finished.

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