DIY play tent (with lights)

It’s been extra dreary weather this past week, and with Pk gone, Lucy and I didn’t get out much. I thought it would be fun to make her a little retreat in her room for the dark fall afternoons.

It’s been a big hit.

It was fun to make, but this is the second version. The first one was so cattywampus  that I redid it. Here’s how


1 6 foot length of 1/2 PEX tubing (you could also use a hula hoop if you have one lying around)

1 1/2 inch PEX coupling

1 6 foot rope light kit

White electrical tape

An old pair of sheer curtains ( I had leftover sheer panels from the living room that we decided not to use after we repainted)

A length of ribbon or string (at least two feet so you can trim off excess)

A hook to attach it to the ceiling

Instructions – Tape the rope light along the length of flexible PEX with the white electrical tape (it doesn’t have to be white, but this way it doesn’t show through the sheer fabric)

Cut about 14″ off the bottom of you curtains and sew it back on to the top making sure to leave the rod pocket open. Hem the (new)bottom. My curtains had an existing pocket at the bottom too, but you may have to open the ends of yours if the hem was sewn shut. Run your ribbon or string through what is now the top. Run the taped together light/pex through the what is now the middle rod pocket and close the PEX into a loop with the coupling. Tie your ribbon tight to gather it at the top and hang it from a sturdy cieling hook. Voila! A lit play tent. I added a cozy faux fur throw and a pillow for comfort. 

I managed the wire that was running down the wall with some stick on velcro. I also added safety pins to keep the panels together around the hoop.

We also had a conveniently located outlet that I added a safety cover to.

I chose not to sew the panels together to give it flexibility, in case we hang it somewhere else or want to have a front and back exit.

A view from inside looking up and a glimpse of my atrocious sewing.

Lucy’s ceiling is angled so I just tucked the leftover fabric under the cushions on the floor. If you are hanging this in a room with tall ceilings I would suggest using longer curtains, or maybe sewing an extra panel on the bottom to give it the height you need. The great thing about this projects is how customizable it is. If you are handy with sewing (I’m not!) you could add all sorts of embellishments to it. The materials cost less than $20, not including the curtain panels. Much cheaper than this one from the Land of Nod.

Just a safety note, we don’t leave it on all the time and always supervise Lucy while she’s playing in it. I would recommend hanging it from a stud if you can; I wasn’t able to find one so I used a super sturdy drywall anchor to hang my hook. If she did pull it down, it’s quite lightweight and wouldn’t hurt her. I think I’ll add a few more cushions so it’s extra cozy for both of us.

Have a fantastic weekend!


12 responses

  1. Love this!! I am soooo making one of these for my girls! I might make it a little bigger so we can all sit in there for a little story time with mama. I just dug out a rope light from my stash and I’m going to snag some sheer curtains from ikea tomorrow. Thanks so much for posting this!!! What a great idea!!!

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  4. How did you tape the lights to the tubing? I was thinking if you put strips of tape vertically around the lights and tubing would it leave stripes where the light won’t show through?

  5. How did you tape the lights to the tubing? I was thinking if you put vertical strips of tape around the lights and tubing would there be stripes where the light wont show through?

    • Hi – yes, opaque tape would block the light. I think I used zip ties instead – they are available at any hardware store in lots of sizes. I just trimmed off any excess length.

  6. What a beautiful work! I’m going to try to make a tent for my kids now for Christmas. I just do not understand how you made the top of the tent. Sewed with any curtain rest or is the bar undone?

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