We Made a Tipi

I get inspired by a lot of things. A building, flooring, paint color, the grain in a piece of lumber I am picking out, nothing specific and never planned. What inspired me a few weeks ago was an article in the new issue of Magnolia Journal. Now, I love me some Joanna Gaines. She’s talented, kind and she’s inspiring so many people, BUT I often think that some of her ideas are out of reach. While they are excellent ideas, they often leave us normal folk feeling less than by not being able to make some of her ideas come to fruition in our own homes or daily lives. Now, before you throw me to the wolves, the woman suggested investing in a tipi for your kids to play in in your backyard that has a beginning price (for the bare basic package) of $1600!!!!! I mean COME ON. Am I alone in that thinking? Would I still be thinking that was an outrageous price if I didn’t know how to make one? Am I just a cheapskate? I’m sure it is beautifully sewn, and it will last for years to come. I also love that she is giving light to a small business, but it inspired me to make our own and put our own spin on it and make some memories in our backyard this summer.


  • 4 – 2” x 4” x 12” ripped in half with your table saw   OR   8 – 2” x 2” x 12’
  • Wood stain color of your choice
  • 2 –  Canvas Drop Cloths 9’ x 12’
  • 550 Cord or paracord or laundry line
  • Fabric Adhesive (because….I can’t sew!)
  • Paint or Markers or anything else YOU can come up with to add some flair


  • (Table Saw – IF you get the boards as 2”x4”s)
  • Sander with 120 grit sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Ladder
  • Drill with ½ inch bit
  • Staple gun

Time: Six hours, not including time to pick up the materials. Because there was a Costco trip included! Ha!


*Your tipi doesn’t have to be as big as this one, being married to a Marine I tend to go big or go home on projects. You could get shorter boards, at 10’ long your tipi would still be 8’ in diameter.*


The selection at my local hardware stores was pretty slim for the picking for straight pieces. I needed 8 and most had such a bow that it just wouldn’t work. I called my husband in a panic and he said just get 2x4s….duh Danielle. I tend to overthink things when I get stressed and ignore the simple solution right in front of me! When I went to the aisle they had it closed off! Don’t you love it when they close the aisle you need or multiple ones in the middle of the day? You don’t? Me either! 20 minutes later I had 4 straight 2x4s and went to load them in the truck. A guy said “Hey lady! Looks like you need a long bed truck!” I told him that was what the slider window was for, rolled my eyes and carried on. Took a picture and sent it to my husband. I’m just making due with what I’ve got! When I got in the truck and turned my head I laughed as I nearly smacked my face. Maybe that guy might have been right….if you are reading this sir I do need a long bed. Please tell Santa I’ve been a good girl. ANYWAYS.


Once I got home I ripped the boards in two. I sanded the wood just to knock off the rough edges and splinters. I gave it one coat of natural colored stain. And let them dry for an hour.

Once dry, about an hour later. I needed to drill a hole into the center of the boards for the 550 cord to go through. I measured two feet down on each piece and using a half inch bit I went straight through. I lined the boards up on the grass with 4 on the bottom row and 4 on the top. I made the sure holes were all in the same direction. I took a piece of the 550 cord and made a loop through the boards and tied a knot as tight as I could securing them. The less wiggle room the boards have the better.

I stood up my stack and just moved the boards in different directions until they started easily spreading. Once I got them opened completely I realized that my diameter was ten feet! Plenty of room for my youngest two and friends or cousins to camp out without any complaints of someone touching them.

Next we layed out the canvas and tried to figure out how we would make these two rectangles turn into a cone. I’ll save you the head scratching. Find center on the longer side. Measure out 15 inches to the left and right.

Then fold your sides from your 15” measurement to the corner.

Then cut. Do this for both canvases and you will have yourself 6 pieces. One small piece will turn into scrap. Flip them around and line them up like the picture below and using either fabric adhesive or sewing secure them together.

I “cheated” and used fabric adhesive instead of sewing. Sewing has always been a source of frustration for me so to spend the extra $15 and save myself a few hours was well worth it! The adhesive dried almost instantly, and it has withstood a few rain storms! Take the short cuts you might need to to make any project fun and doable. The adhesive was easy for the kids to use and they teased me about my lack of sewing skills. Less stress and more laughs.

At the would be top part of your canvas make holes every four to six inches and weave through 550 cord. This is where you will need a second hand and the ladder. Drape the canvas up and around and secure the cord at the desired height. Because of the uneven cuts at the base of the canvas we let there be an overhang for drapage off of the bottom. We also wanted there to be a hole at the top to allow some air circulation, because Texas is hot in the summer even at night. We stapled the fabric around the two boards that make the opening of the door with a staple gun.

For the top of the opening we also used the cord and stitched the top of the opening together.

The kids found branches that they cleaned up to help support the door. This way it stays open and closed securely.

I had a plan for how I wanted the kids to decorate with symbols that we had found & been studying. I had it done in my head! I ran to the grocery store for dinner ingredients and when I came back the tipi had been decorated. It looked nothing like I had envisioned and I parked the truck and just looked at the trio in the yard armed with spray paint and Sharpies. But my husband in his humorous way reminded me that I shouldn’t control their creativity and that this Tipi was for them after all! Ha. Noted, and agreed! Thick sharpies and spray painted hands were all they needed.  A few of the neighborhood kids added their own symbols, their smiles were way better than my controlled design would have been.


I went and found some things to add to our camp out. I found these magical flames magical flames on Amazon, the kids made the s’mores first so we didn’t have to worry about chemicals in the marshmallows. They said it was their favorite bon-fire to date.

The grand total for this project was $97! The kids have had several camp outs and picnics in the tipi. So thank you to the Chevron Queen for once again being an inspiration! If you have any questions on how to make your own tipi or any other project doable, leave them in the comments!


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