Our yard needed a tipi. For a brief moment I even considered purchasing one for almost $200. Thank goodness they did not ship to Alaska because the one we made is wonderful and was made entirely from things we had. It was so easy too. We have so many trees in our yard, including many saplings that were too close to one another or to the house. Still, I used mostly branches that had already been cut. Finding the branches that were the right size and hauling them over the hill to our designated tipi spot was quite the adventure. It was a lovely way to spend a sunny morning. I used seven sturdy branches, each is about eight feet tall. If you do not live in the woods, you can purchase bamboo poles at a a hardware store for about $2.00 each.
I dug a 6" hole for each pole, stuck them in and then tied the tops together. I dug a trench around the outside because I thought we might plant beans, but decided to go with fabric instead so that we could enjoy the play space right away. I wanted to use some sort of water repellent yet breathable fabric, but ended up using curtain liner instead simply because I had about 6 yards of very basic liner that would never be used for curtains (I need blackout liner for our curtains). I very roughly measured the height and the circumference of the bottom. I stitched together about 4 panels of equal length and then hemmed the top. The important thing is to make the bottom wide enough to stretch the entire way around the widest part of the tipi. I threaded a piece of rope through the top and gathered it. There are better ways to custom fit your fabric, but this was easy and will allow us to reuse the fabric next year if the structure needs to be remade.
Watered down acrylic paint in a spray bottle took care of most of the decorating. We did experiment with hand and leaf stencils which and loved the results. Simply hold a leaf or your hand up to the fabric and spray over it. We did some beautiful shirts using this technique--more info in a future post! Hollin also used a brush with some undiluted acrylics. She so enjoyed painting her tipi and said over and over again how much fun it was. We hung a string of beads from the top on the inside and put down a blanket.
Our campfire is just outside so the kids can cook and sleep tell stories and more.