Of course, when you offer a tent for under $20, everyone wants one, so IKEA in Stoughton was sold out. I went home and looked online to see if New Haven, CT had any… then looked IKEA to IKEA to see if I could have a friend of of state ship one to me. everyone was sold out. and I was bummed. I found it on eBay in UK, but international shipping would have meant I’d pay $65 for the $20 tent, so I stalked IKEAs product availability online for weeks waiting til they got the tent back in stock.
I went back to IKEA to look at how it was assembled and realized it was 2 round hoops – one for the bottom, and one for the top, with 4 supports that run up the sides in a ‘tube’ of material, secured into plastic pieces at the bottom (see assembly instructions). For an experienced sewer, it seemed easy enough!
First, I removed the hoop from the casing it was sewn into for the top of the tent structure. But, I decided to keep the grey tent bottom it came with, so I had to separate the bottom from the rest of the tent. so along the seam, I used scissors to separate the sides from the bottom.
Next I measured out the pieces. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, I decided to use the following measurements.
Constructing the tent sides:
- Front Doors were 13″ wide x 28″ tall so I cut 2 pieces 15″ x 30″ to allow for 1/2 in seams – knowing if it was slightly too big in width, it would just overlap more in the front.
- Tent Sides seemed to be approximately a 97.5″ circumference so I cut a piece 100″x 30″
- Sculpted flags – I pulled one off (with a seam ripper) and made a template to cut 16 flags (32 pieces).
- Pole Supports – I made these much wider then necessary because I wanted to use contrasting fabric. for the bottom, I think I cut 3″ wide strips and ironed the sides under.
- Pockets – I made 2 pockets with a 13×7″ finished side.
I sewed & ironed the 16 sculpted flags, and then ironed under the edges of the pole supports.
Next, I hemmed the door sides and bottom, then sewed the doors to the sides using a french seam (if you don’t know what this is, watch this video tutorial) for a finished edge.
Then I took the big piece of material and laid it out (on a very very big table!) so I could pin the pole supports and flags into place:
I stitched these into place. but ended the pole supports about 2″ from the top since I didn’t want them sewn into the seam with the roof since the poles needed to go through them!
I wanted to add 2 things that the CIRKUSTÄLT didn’t have: windows & pockets inside! So, once the flags & supports were stitched down, I laid the tent out to cut 2 windows in the sides, then laid out pockets to sew on the back wall, in case Sophie wanted to store toys or books in her little hideout.
To sew the shape, I used bias tape, snipping the corners to overlap them! Then I stitched the shape in place, leaving the corners “loose” to give it a little character!
I also used pink scraps from my “hoop support” to create tie-backs for my curtain – with velcro on the inside.
Final step for the tent walls was sewing the pockets in place to the back wall!
Constructing the Roof:
- Tent Roof - I decided to do it solid color, so I just used the seam ripper to disassemble a section of 4 triangle pieces – then cut 4 of that shape on my fabric.
- Top hoop support – on IKEAs tent, the top hoop is tunneled under the sculpted flags. I wanted to use it as a way to accent the design, so I cut 2″ wide strips of fabric for this.
- Pole Supports – For the roof supports, I ironed Wrights Quilt Binding open to tunnel the support through!
To sew the roof, first I sewed the 4 triangle pieces together for the top of the room. Instead of sewing with “right sides together” (the normal way you make a seam) I did it backwards with “wrong sides together, since the seams would be covered by the pole supports – this keeps the inside of the tent from having any seams!
Next, I ironed the hoop support in half. then opened it out, pinned it to the roof edge with rough sides lined up with the edge and stitched along the crease (1″ from the edge) I forgot to take a photo of this step (oops!) but in the photo below, the top of the pink hoop support that this step will form.
After the pink hoop support was in place, I pinned the pole supports into place for the roof and stitched them down starting just above my pink edge.
When the tent is done, this is how it will look from the outside:
When assembled, the poles will show at the corners because I couldn’t easily make a casing for the hoop and the poles without stitching over one of them.
Attaching the Roof to the Sides:
Next was the tricky part: putting in the hoop and attaching the sides to the roof! This required LOTS of pins & lots of patience!
It’s a bit tricky to explain since I forgot to photograph this step. but the pink hoop support that I sewed around the edge of the roof is where the metal hoop is going to sit. I loosely pinned it into place before getting the sides just so that the basic shape was formed.
Next I matched up the 4 pole supports on the sides and pinned them to the roof. Then pinned the rest of the sides into place. Because I didn’t want “rough edges on the inside of the quilt, I covered this seam with bias tape and sewed it into place over the bias tape!
Here is a diagram of how all my finished seams look from the inside of the tent:
At this point, the roof & sides are now attached!
Attaching the Top to the Bottom:
To attach the tent to the original grey bottom, I used packaged quilt binding again!
There are 4 plastic pieces that the tent poles go into for it to stand up. so I pinned them into place (on elastic, then pinned the ‘grey floor’ into place, and sewed around it twice (for reinforcement). It looks like this:
Then put the poles up inside the supports and your tent structure is done! Last thing you need to do is the flag!
Creating a Flag:
For the Flag Pole - I disassembled the existing flag to get the shape of the base they made to attach it to the roof. as you can see, it’s a bit of an odd shape!
I cut the round(ish) base out of the fabric I used on the roof and stitched around the inner circle, then stitched the inside and outside together with the binding inside (to attach the ‘flag pole’ to its base) & trimmed it with bias tape.
Next, I used scrap quilt binding as the flag pole, and cut a green circle to slip over the top! I stuffed the circle with fiberfill and stitched it to the top of the quilt binding.
To create a comfy floor inside, I got a 3 foot round rug that fit inside. The tent’s diameter is 39″ so 36″ is a great fit!
Here are a few more photos of the details:
I have no clue how many hours this took. Lots of plotting & I made it over the period of several days. Sophie & her friends LOVE her tent! And of course it matches great in her room – the fabric is Monaco by Monaluna – same material I used for her bedding and some of the room accessories!