DIY IKEA Hack: CIRKUSTÄLT children’s tent makeover

When I went to IKEA last fall to get the LÄTT children’s table & chairs and APA toybox for Sophie, I saw this awesome little CIRKUSTÄLT children’s tent  on display for just $19.99!!!

of course for that price I wanted to buy it, even if I disliked the colors but loved the shape/style and the size of the tent!

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.


But all the weeks of waiting gave me plenty of time to plot exactly what I did want to do with my tent!
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!
So when the tent was finally back in stock, I called my husband at work and told him, “we need to go to IKEA tonight!” I wasn’t going to take chances of it selling out again!  So, I brought home the tent and sat on the couch watching movies while I dissected it piece-by-piece with a seam ripper to see how it was assembled and to make a template for a new tent!

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. :)

I contemplated forever trying to come up with a window shape… when I saw the bathroom trash can and had my “ah-ha! moment” so I used it to make a template!

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.

I didn’t love the triangle shape flag IKEA used and decided to make my own shape. Then I cut an “S” (for Sophie) which I put on with heat ‘n bond, then stitched in place.
To keep its shape, I used interfacing in between the layers, sewed it, then flipped it right side out, top stitched along the edge & put it in the quilt binding – where I sewed along the edge. the bottom was still open, so put a piece of wire inside (for a little support) then firmly packed it with fiberfill.
The CIRKUSTÄLT tent’s flag velcro on to the roof. I decided just to stitch mine down by hand, so I tacked it on in 4 spots!

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:

The Doorway:


The Pockets
The Window:

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!

 I think at this point, I can totally add “fabric engineer” to my resume. ;)

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  1. says

    it's still about the same size as the original IKEA CIRKUSTÄLT tent:
    Diameter: 40″
    Height: 48″

    essentially, I just made a new slip cover and kept IKEAs tent frame for the size/shape. :)

  2. says

    it's still about the same size as the original IKEA CIRKUSTÄLT tent:
    Diameter: 40″
    Height: 48″

    essentially, I just made a new slip cover and kept IKEAs tent frame for the size/shape. :)

  3. says

    About how much fabric total is used? I just bought this tent and I’m going to transform it as you did! I’m doing it because the tent is treated with flame retardants, which we found out after we purchased it. So I’m glad I found your tutorial!

  4. tali clinton says

    How much would you charge to make the same peices for the same tent? Im a horrible sewer but would love this for my baby girl mackenzie

  5. Nathalie says

    Hello, I’m french mum living in Kuala lumpur. I just love your ikea hack.
    Same question as Tali, how much you charge to make the same tent?
    Thank you for your fabulous website!

  6. Ree Cru says

    I absolutely LOVE THIS! Would you ever consider making these to sell? I have this tent for my daughter but cannot sew a stitch!

  7. Lissette says

    Oh my goodness this is so cute. I wish I could replicate this but I cannot sew. Would you be willing to make one to sell? If so what would you charge?