DIY: Tablecloth Play Tent

By Kate Riley January 21, 2013

My children have the day off from public school today (Happy Martin Luther King, Jr day!) and one of their favorite things to do is to make forts – what kid doesn’t?

Knowing how much they love them, I made them a play tent in our dining room in the shape of a white tablecloth, complete with delightfully sweet curtained windows and a door for access too.

kids at play tablecloth tent


Who says dining rooms are just for eating?  Not so at our house!

tablecloth play tent centsational girl


I cannot take credit for this creative plan… my kids have been making tents out of tabletops for years (yours too?).  But then I saw a made to order custom playhouse tablecloth from a shop in South Africa and I thought now that is a totally brilliant idea!

tablecloth tent cool spaces for kids


I came up with a DIY version and gave it my own twist.  I loved the curtains on the “windows” but I wanted a more discreet opening on the side and colors that would complement our home.  I made the tablecloth and door with white fabric and the window panels from kitchen towels found at Target and it turned out sooo  very cute!


girl in tent


To recreate it, all you need is enough fabric to cover the tabletop and the surround, and accent fabric for windows (or doors) plus a sewing machine and thread.  And a few hours of time!

tablecloth supplies


I’ve made tailored tablecloths before and I prefer not to buy the more expensive linen/cotton cloth, instead I use drapery liner because it’s thick, affordable, and is 54” wide.  Drapery liner is rather heavy and you can buy it for $4-5 a yard if you find it on sale – I bought mine from Joann’s with a coupon.

drapery liner coupon


You need enough to cover the table and wrap around and every table’s measurements are different.  If you’re lucky and your tabletop is no more than 26” tall, you can cut the drapery liner in half to save a lot of dough, but mine is 29” tall so I had to buy yardage to wrap all the way around – a total of 8 ½ yards.  yardage


The construction is pretty basic… first cut the top piece and then hem the additional fabric to the edges of the top, turning it at the corners – I use pins to mark them.

mark corners


When it was all stitched together, I pinned the bottom and hemmed that next.

hem bottom


I saved a scrap for the door, cutting open a doorway with scissors, hemming the edges of the scrap, then stitching a flap to the finished tablecloth tent.

tent door flap


To make the window panels, I cut each towel in half and pleated the upper portion of the curtain with the sewing machine, tucking the edges on both sides as I sewed.

pleated panels


Once they faux panels were pleated I cut out a hole for the windows.

cut holes


Then I sewed the panels to the tops of the cutout windows – imperfectly sewn to the tablecloth, but oh well! tea towel curtains


It turned out so darn cute, there won’t be any rush to take it down . . .

tablecloth play tent by centsational girl

… and it will be perfect for those many rainy winter days when we’re all stuck indoors!




  1. soo cute! when I was a kid we used to take the dining room chairs and line them up in front of the couch (3 of each side, backs either facing in or out). then we would throw sheets over the couch and chairs and crawl in!

  2. I need those Threshold napkins NOW. I use them for cafe curtains in my kitchen and that print is fantastic! I am thinking they must be brand new to the store because I check regularly and haven’t seen those. LOVE! Super cute idea – I bet your daughter has a blast in her tent! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Another awesome idea! Must get on this… only glitch is where do I put the dining room chairs when The Fort is in play? :)
    Anyway…. love the dining room rug! Is that another Overstocks find? This would work great in my entry hall. Thanks!

  4. Oh how fun! Brings back memories of when I was young building forts with my sister. Not as pretty as this one though! Love those curtains. Your daughter is adorable. She looks like a mini you Kate.

  5. SO sweet!! Much more efficient than the forts I used to make when I was young (that required moving EVERY piece of furniture in the living room)!

  6. So fun! We made a fort today too, but ours was just blankets thrown over chairs and attached to the couch. Yours is MUCH cuter! It was good enough that our 6-year-old wanted to sleep in it tonight though! I bet your kids are loving this!

  7. That is the best idea for kids that I have seen in a long time! I wish I had seen it when my kids were little. They loved forts! and I always had a multitude of sheets and blankets pinned, tacked, and tucked all over my house. I will have to wait for grandkids to use this idea, or maybe a great birthday gift for a niece or nephew! THANKS!

  8. Very fun idea…and it won’t collapse in the middle!! Can I ask…where is the dining room rug from? Thank you thank you!

  9. You are a marvel. What child would not love that! Your children are so lucky to have a Mom like you.

  10. Oh this is absolutely genius. I don’t sew, but with that iron on stuff, I made 10 feet lines draperies and and all the window treatments in my home. No one can tell. I’m thinking I just might be able to pull it off without a sewing machine or very little sewing. If I do, I’ll let you know. I knew two little twin 5 year old boys who will adore this.

  11. As usual Kate – you’ve done it again. Simply Brilliant. I’ll use this in my daycare and especially outdoors in the summer as a “cool” retreat!! Thank you again for an inspiring post.

  12. I did it!!!! It wasn’t too bad…I am still a beginner sewer, but I figured it out!

    I didn’t hem, just used the finished end of the cloth around the bottom. Also I had fabric left offer from another project that I used for curtains.

    Can’t wait til the kids wake up tomorrow!

    • Wonderful Kelly, I love to read others did it too! Your kids will love it. :)

  13. Hi Kate, your table tent is adorable, made even more so by its “whimsiness”. I don’t sew and am trying to find a way to make a no-sew tablecloth very similar to your tent, but with shorter sides. Do you think that’s doable? And if so, do you think glue or the iron-on adhesive tape might work better? Thanks for your thoughts…

    • Hi Lisa, I love your word “whimsiness” !! I don’t know how strong iron on tape will be for the seams along the edges of the table, especially if kids are tugging at it…. I think the easiest way to do a no sew version is to buy two long 54″ wide pieces of fabric and perhaps use the iron on down the middle, then stabilize it with a few stacks of books? Just a thought!

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