March 20, 2011

fort building kit tutorial

I was browsing one of my favourite sites Saltwater Kids, the other day, and found a tutorial for making a fort building kit. How cool is that idea?!! I found myself just itching for the next kid's birthday to come along, and this week it did. Mr T's kindergarten friend was turning six, and I thought "perfect!" I mean, who doesn't like to lay inside a fort and make believe. 

This project is truly SO simple...and thrifty. In all the gift's cost came in well under $20, with a little imagination and handmade love thrown in too.

Interested? Follow along with me.

First you'll need: 
thrifted sheets: I used 3 double size flat sheets
ball of acrylic yarn
fabric dye(s)
a couple of large bowls
a jug from your recycling bin for each colour you intend to use

Get your kids involved! Mr.T and Ms.E gladly helped me with the tie dying part of the project. 
(Also, if tie dye isn't your thing you can skip this step.)

 Cover your workspace, in my case, my basement floor, in plastic sheeting. For this, I cut open 2 large garbage bags and taped them down to the floor. Mix your fabric dye as per manufacturer's instructions in your large plastic jugs: 1 colour per jug. 

Tie thick bands of acrylic yarn around your sheets. If you want some ideas of patterns you can achieve and how to tie them, follow this Link

Our prepared sheets from left to right above: 

1: place the centre of your sheet over a large bowl. Grab the centre and twist, twist, twist the sheet in one direction. This will give you a random dyed effect.
2: Fold your sheet in a consertina fashion (that's cat's stairs for north american folk). Tie at regular intervals. This will result in a striped effect. (below left)
3: Starting in the centre of your sheet, pinch your sheet up into a point and tie at regular intervals to the sheet's perimeter. This will result in a concentric circle effect.  (below right)

Place your sheets, one by one, in a large bowl and pour in enough your fabric dye from your jugs to colour the fabric but not cover it, unless you want the colours to mix. Allow to sit for 10-15 mins, checking the dye is reaching into the inner folds of your tied sheets. Rinse in cold water and dry in a hot dryer.

Sew ties to the corners of each sheet and regularly in between. For this project I cut, then stretched strips of t-shirt, as I did earlier in this tutorial from a XL mens' thrifted tee and cut into 16" lengths.

Fold over both ends of the short sides of your sheets, about 2" and sew 3", as shown below, every 12-16". This creates a channel, through which the rope included in your kit, can be thread.

Now it's time to put together your kit.

I included:
3 tie dyed sheets
about 25 pegs
6 suction cups
50ft soft rope
LED flashlight

You can let your imagination run here. I'd love to hear any other ideas of things to include.

I thought it would be sweet to package the kit in a personalised bag for Mr.T's little friend, using thrifted fabric from my stash. You could use backpack, a wouldn't that make a great bag...maybe next time. I also made a smaller bag for the accessories, so they don't end up balled up into the sheets...who's kidding who, no kid is going to fold those sheets!

Super easy and fun to make. Great imaginative play for the kids.
What could be better?!


P.S. now I want a fort making kit! Maybe if I could collect enough afghans...


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