DIY Doll Tent

Let me preface this post with this; going into most DIY projects I think “This shouldn’t be too hard” and then it ends up being a beast that I can not conquer and it sits 90% finished in our office/craft room closet for years. With this DIY Doll House Tent I went into the project not expecting great results but promising myself that I would finish it because it was July 26th and Elise’s birthday was July 28th and I refused to pay $85 on an American Girl Doll Tent that had previously been listed at $35. I was surprised how quickly it all went together.


So yes, this one time I would say that this DIY project is easier to make than it looks. So go for it!

Supplies needed:

  • Fabric for base. 20″x20″(I used duck cloth. It is cheap and sturdy and cleanable)
  • fabric for tent pole loops: I used the same as the base so I just bought extra of the base fabric. 1 yard is enough for the base and the loops.
  • Tent fabric: 2.5 yards There will be extra but you will need this much if you have a patterned fabric and want the pattern to go all the same direction. I had a solid fabric so I used a little less yardage. I also used duck cloth for the tent walls for the same reasons as above.
  • contrasting fabric for window curtains: 1/4 yard
  • ribbon: I spool of gross grain ribbon was enough
  • tent poles: 3/8 pex tubing found in plumbing department
  • tulle for window screens: 1/4 yard of sturdiest tulle you can find
  • tacky glue
  • sport/coat zipper 14 inch
  • thread
  • sewing machine


First I cut the base. I wanted it big enough for two dolls and for any future AG dolls. Right now Elise has a set of the BItty Twins which are 15 inches tall but the bigger dolls are 18 inches tall so the base of the tent is cut to a 20 inch square. That gave me a 1/2 inch all the way around for seam allowance and room for error. I figured a 20 inch tent would be big enough for the taller dolls and their sleeping bags.

I designed this tent so that there were two windows on opposite sides, the door had a 14 inch zipper and the wall opposite of the door was solid. I felt like one wall needed to be solid in order to keep the tent more sturdy.

It wasn’t until the entire tent was sewn together that Tim pointed out that the zipper was in upside down. Because of that I will skip any photo pics of how I put it together because I did it wrong, you don’t want to mimic me doing it wrong!

Back to the tutorial. Your tent poles need to go somewhere and even though it would have been easiest to just sew a long hem along the inside of the tent to snake the poles through (think curtain rod but on inside of tent) I opted for tent pole tabs so it looked more like a real pop up tent and to give the tent poles a little more room to flex.

And this is where my photo taking stopped. I know. I suck. I was running out of time and everything was going easier than planned and I just got excited and forgot to take photos of every step. I will do my best to describe what I did to finish off the tent with a few photos I have.

I made 4 more tabs but this time I sewed them so they would be the “pocket” that the end of the tent poles would sit in.

Next is sewing the four walls together. Pin your pole tabs evenly spaced along the edges of the tent walls. Pin you bottom pole pocket in place. Sew together. This will be used as the top tie support. Do this for every wall taking care to piece the walls together in the correct order so you don’t have two windows walls bordering each other. Ripping seams out is my least favorite thing. It completely derails all momentum and makes me want to quit and abandon my projects.



Note: on one of the seams you need to pin a piece of ribbon folded in half to the peak of the tent. This will be used as the top tie support. (finished tie on top)

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When all four walls are sewn together you can then sew the base to the walls.

Start about 6 to 7 inches from the zipper and work your way around all three walls and then finish by only sewing 3 to 4 inches on the other side of the zipper. You need room for the zipper door flaps to open but you also need to secure the wall in place.

*note: If i were to do this again I would have hemmed the front of the base piece of the tent so there wasn’t a raw edge at the zipper opening. I will have to sneak the tent away from Elise now and do something to stop the fraying.


As recommended by another DIY doll tent maker I bought this for the poles.

I did not have good luck. It stood but didn’t hold it shape well at all. It barely stood up to the cat so I knew it wouldn’t hold up to our 4-year-old camping with her dolls.

I went back to Menards, this time with Tim and we picked up two 5′ Pex tubing. We used the 3/8 inch and it works great!

Feed the tent poles through the tabs and trim to the correct length.

I wrapped my tent poles in a fun duct tape to cover up the terracotta color. It took 2 roles of that duct tape to wrap the poles.

Tim feeding the new taped up poles through the pole tabs.

Tie the top ribbon in place and you have a tent!

With any luck, you’ll have a tent and a very happy kiddo. The boys love the tent just as much as Elise!

Sleeping bag tutorial coming soon.

More photos of the process here. 


She is Four!

This what I love about four-year-olds…

When I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday while we waited for hours and hours and hours for Dad to come home from work so she could open presents and eat cake, she said without any hesitation, “GO TO A NEW PARK and then gooooooooooo SWIMMING!”

So that is what we did.

My little girl isn’t so little anymore and it is getting easier and easier for her to keep up with her big brothers. This is bittersweet for me. It is so much fun to see her brothers beginning to play with her as an equal, but also so sad that my last baby isn’t a baby any more.

Patrick is drawn to water. Even if it is just a cup of water he needs to have it. He needs to experiment with it. He needs to make a giant puddley wet mess.

Michael playing a new game he made up called “Nature Ball”

After the park we had lunch, Auntie Buffy came over and gave Elise her birthday present of decorating Elise’s hand me down boy’s bike with some pink princess accessories. Then the kids went swimming while Beth watched all their tricks, and I baked the cake.

Elise had her favorite Noodles N Company mac n cheese for dinner and then we finally let her open presents.

She got a tent, sleeping bags and a lantern for her dolls.


And then after a ridiculous amount of searching I found some matching Dolly and Me Pajamas. If you are ever looking for matching girl and doll pajamas go to Kohl’s. I found many options and they were on clearance for $9 a set.


She loved the pajamas, and I love them too because Elise can dress herself and the dolls all by herself. I originally was looking for flannel button up pajamas, but I am so glad I couldn’t find any. These pull on shifts are perfect and she can change them as much as she want without my help! Being able to do that makes her feel like a big girl and she gets to practice some independence AND she isn’t always bugging me for help with tiny buttons. Win Win.


The cake, you saw photos of two days ago. I love a good theme and we kinda took the camping theme and ran with it.


The Graham crackers covered in pink icing were her favorite part.

My favorite photos from the day were this sweet moment after cake.

9 Years

Today, I’ve been married to this woman for 9 years.  A woman who takes a thousand pictures, and isn’t in any of them, so we can have a record of our kids growing up before it all flies by.

A woman who, just yesterday, gave our daughter a set of hand made doll sleeping bags, complete with hand made doll tent, because she couldn’t find one after searching for months for the perfect gift.  If I can’t find the gift I’m looking for, I give up and buy a gift card.  Meg?  She makes it from scratch!

This is a woman who keeps us all in line (mostly me), and makes sure we eat all of our vegetables (mostly me), and makes sure we are nice to others (mostly me).

She has huge, grand ideas for things, and dives into them head first without any trepidation.  And no matter how many times I explain to her how hard it is, or that she didn’t plan everything through, or how it’s straight-up impossible, she always makes it work anyway.  And in doing so she shows me that the things I thought impossible, and the things I thought I couldn’t do, are possible, and that I can do them.  And she does the same thing for our kids.

For that, I can’t thank her enough, and she the perfect mother, and wife.
Happy Anniversary.


P.S. I really tried hard to find a picture with just Meg in it, but I don’t think one exists.  I should probably get behind the camera more.



This is the cake I made Meg for her birthday:

And this is the cake she made for Elise: