DIY Card Table Playhouses: Cheap And Easy Ways To Create Homemade Tents

Folding table, or card table playhouse tents have become quite a popular alternative to a commercially made play tents for children. The fabric or felt playhouses are completely adorable and durable, but are also typically very expensive if purchased online from a local artisan.

There is no need to spend several hundred dollars to give your child a personalized card table playhouse tent – even if sewing isn’t your thing. There are multiple ways to cheaply make a folding table playhouse without lugging out the sewing machine or buying one. If spending the day sewing sounds like a lot of fun, go ahead and thread that need. Even folks with modest sewing skills can make the tent panels and decorations shown on most of the card table playhouses sold online and at craft fairs. Knowing how to sew may speed up the playhouse creation process and allow for even more personalizing of the tent and added creativity in the overall project.

Card table playhouse tents do not take up a lot of space. You can leave the tent out in a playroom or bedroom and use the top of the table for additional toy storage, or just quickly set it up in minutes to play with as needed. If you do not have a folding table, simply choose to make a tent which fits over your kitchen table, and slip the playhouse cover on during rainy or cold winter days to entertain the children or grandchildren.

Four Types of Card Table Playhouse Tent Covers

  1. For non-sewers, or folks who just don’t have a lot of time to spare, purchase a fitted card table tablecloth. These are readily available online and do not typically cost more than you would spend buying fabric to make the cover from scratch. Fitted card table covers to fit square folding tables, round tables, and rectangular tables from four to 11 feet long, can usually be purchased for less than $25 each. Choosing a cotton, linen, or blend of cotton and polyester tablecloth is recommended for both durability and for the easy application of card table playhouse tent embellishments.
  2. Felt playhouse tent covers are perhaps the least expensive way to make a cover for the project. Purchasing felt by the bolt, or by the yard from a brick-and-mortar or online store may cut the cost of card table playhouse tent cover by one-third. Felt does not tend to run or ravel like fabric, but making the playhouse cover out of this material adds at least an hour to the project for the measuring, cutting, and sewing together of the top and side panels.
  3. Thick fabric, such as the materials noted above, can also be purchased by the bolt or yard to make the folding table playhouse tent cover from scratch. Choosing this method for making the cover will not save the time, or perhaps even the money, but it may still have its advantages. Purchasing themed or printed fabric adds extra visual interest to the DIY playhouse tent and can save time during the decorating process. There is no need to make flowers, hearts, or scenes for cars if the material used has those items already printed on the fabric. The downside to using printed material is the pattern shows on both sides of the fabric. If having the pattern on the inside of the playhouse tent is not wanted, a second set of fabric panels will need to be measured, cut, and sewn as an interior backing – or sewn onto a purchased fitted tablecloth so the interior is one solid color.
  4. Flat sheets or full-size tablecloths can also be used as covers. These can be simply tossed over the folding table and allowed to dangle or flow naturally, or cut to fit the table being used and sewn to together on the sides to create a more fitted look. As shown on the Bright Ideas Blog, there are as many varieties and ways of making playhouse tents as there are delighted children who receive them as a surprise from someone they love.

Decorating a Folding Table Playhouse Tent

Before embarking on the most fun part of making a card table playhouse tent, choose a theme for the project. A plethora of inspiration images and instructions for making the embellishments are readily available on social media and DIY websites such as social media platforms like Pinterest.

Make sure to measure and cut in the windows and doors first when laying out the decorative scene design. Simple curtains for the windows can be made by sewing or gluing dish towels onto a piece of ribbon or elastic and then sewing or gluing them onto the interior top side of the window. Tulle is also an inexpensive and simple option for making playhouse tent curtains. A little piece of ribbon or string used as a tie back helps create a curtain shape and keeps the tulle firmly in place. To avoid frayed edges on the window frame, sew them like a hem, glue or sew on ribbon, or use duct tape to create a finished window frame.

To make a door, cut out the bottom and sides of the fabric in the desired door shape and size. If not sewing to create a finished edge, follow the same steps for covering the felt or fabric frayed edges on the windows. Place some Velcro on the underside of the door flap bottom and on the table top above the door flap. Even young children will be able to secure their door into place and “close” it as desired.

If making a drawbridge style door for a castle tent, reverse the cutting instructions and leave the bottom of the fabric attached to the rest of the playhouse cover panel and cut the top of the door opening instead. Ribbon can be sewn or glued onto each side of the castle door and similarly attached to the playhouse to give a chain style effect at the opening.

Felt is the primary material used in making folding table playhouse tent decorations and related interactive toys to go with the pretend world being created for the child. Felt squares cost far less than $1 each at most retailers and come in a whole host of colors and patterns. Felt food and tent play sets can be hand sewn, machine sewn, and hot glued together equally well and quickly. The Little Family Adventure website offers step-by-step free instructions on how to make an entire card table playhouse tent without ever touching a needle and thread.

To make the playhouse a more interactive experience for the children, create a garden row with pockets so they can “harvest” their felt food crops. A felt pond shape sewn or glued onto a side panel could have a fold-down flap sewn or glued on that attaches to the panel with Velcro. Draw some simple fish shapes onto the felt, stuff them if you would like, and add Velcro to them so they stick onto the side panel pond. When the attached flat is released onto the floor, the children can “go fishing” in their pond using the felt fish and a fishing pole make out of a stick, dowel rod, or stuffed piece of felt – with a toilet paper or paper towel roll placed inside for added stiffness. Sew or glue a piece of string or ribbon to the pole to serve as a line, attach some Velcro to the end to serve as a hook, and the pretend fishing pole is ready to snag the felt fish for hours of make believe fun.

A trip to the local dollar or big box store could yield some interesting and time-saving embellishments for the folding table playhouse tent as well. Instead of cutting all of the decorations out of felt, artificial flowers and already painted animals, boat, or other playful shapes made out of thin wood can easily be hot glued to the playhouse tent for added interest and texture.

Craftsy and Etsy, among many other online crafting websites, offer PDF patterns which can be instantly downloaded to offer simple and step-by-step instructions for making felt food, a felt kitchen to sew or hot glue to an interior playhouse tent wall, campfire and log play sets, and castle or car themed decorations – but charge a nominal fee per pattern ordered.

[Featured Image by By Elena Efimova/Shutterstock]

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