frugal friday: easy peasy beautiful blanket fort

Since last year, I’ve been meaning to get some sort of teepee / playhouse / den extravaganza together for the kiddos, but as usual I’ve been foiled by both lack of money and motivation – the teepees available to buy are gorgeous but ludicrously expensive, and the ones to make mean I have to sit in front of the sewing machine for ages and, well, box-sets and biscuits won that battle. So armed with a basket of pegs, a few choice selections from my fabric stash and two laundry airers, I got started on the construction of the most epic blanket fort I’ve ever made. So for this weeks frugal friday post, here’s the easiest kiddo house tutorial you’ll ever come across – no wood, no glue, no pesky measuring or cutting or sewing, just good, old-fashioned cobbling together.

You Will Need:
Two (or more, if you want a really big den for large groups of children) laundry airers like this one
Large sections of fabric – sheets, quilt covers and end-of-roll scraps are perfect
Plenty of pegs – plastic are fine, but wooden seem to hold the fabric in place more effectively
Bulldog clips
Pliers (or a good, strong grip)
Blankets, cushions and whatever else you want to use to decorate and furnish the house (I would totally have put bunting around the top if I’d had any ready)

1. Turn your laundry airers upside down, and using the pliers, remove the little plastic feet that keep it from toppling over.
2. Head outside onto the grass, and position the airers where you want them to stand – don’t forget to leave a gap for the door.
3. Push firmly on the top, so the legs dig into the ground and the whole structure stays in one place (this actually works better than I thought it would – the wind picked up in the evening, and it didn’t move!).
4. Using the bulldog clips, join each laundry airer to the next one so they’re firmly attached.
5. Peg the fabric to the top and sides of the airers – I found the best way to do it was with the long edge of the fabric going across the top of the airers, overlapping each piece as I went. When I got to the space that I’d left for the door, I pegged it across, then swept it up and pegged it in place – done!
6. Attach the roof by laying it over the top, and then pegging that in place as well – if it’s a windy day, you might need an extra pair of hands to stop it blowing away (or a lot more patience than I was blessed with…). If you’ve got a round tablecloth, you’ll find it’s perfect to use as a roof, but pretty much any fabric will do the job as long as it’s big enough.
7. Add blankets, cushions, bunting, garlands and whatever else you want to use to make it cheery and inviting.
8. Sit back and watch your children leap inside in excitement. Done!

Top Tips
1. Make sure your pegs are big enough, and you’re not trying to secure too much fabric – otherwise you’ll end up dancing around in a rage, surrounded by pegs pinging off and flying through the air.
2. I know most people have laundry airers, but if you haven’t, I’ve seen this style on eBay and Gumtree for literally a few pounds, and even occasionally on Freecycle.
3. Don’t worry about getting fabric muddy or covered in grass – I’ve discovered this year that there’s not a lot Vanish won’t get rid of. That said, obviously don’t use your best Egyptian cotton bed linen if you’re going to fret about it the whole time!

Admittedly, it’s not as pretty as a teepee, but it’s big enough for two (three at a push….), and as you can tell, the kiddos loved it. The light filtering through the thin fabrics and shadows dancing on the roof and walls were so relaxing and hypnotic, I could have stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, the kiddos had other ideas, and the day actually ended with a water-fight extravaganza – God Bless summer!


  1. Michelle - edenfound
    July 25, 2014 / 2:17 pm

    I remember doing this with my mother's laundry airers when I was little! It just goes to show that you don't need a lot of money to make great memories for your children – all you need is a bit of imagination and a lot of love… and it looks like your little ones have got that in spades!!Great post x Michelle x

  2. KatGotTheCream
    July 25, 2014 / 5:28 pm

    What Michelle said. Also, I love all the laundry and the lovely prints (not surprisingly) and the fact that Ben and Daisy have exactly the same smile 🙂

  3. Hannah Taylor
    July 25, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    I love this. I remember doing this as a child. Looking at my bank balance just now means I really need to take inspiration from frugal Friday.Hannah

  4. Jess @ Along Came Cherry
    July 26, 2014 / 5:44 am

    Ahh I love this! Love the sheets too, great idea x

  5. fritha strickland
    July 27, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    I love everything about this post. Also I'm jealous of your amazing sheets and the kiddos look to retro too! Is Daisy's top from Little Bird? x

  6. Elinor Hill
    July 27, 2014 / 1:53 pm

    Lovely, such a great idea. When my teenagers were little ones, we bought a third hand tp climbing frame mega stucture which we used to clothe in sheets and duvet covers and we had the best of summers in that thing. Elinor, Beach Hut Cook x

  7. Lori Taylor Arnold
    July 27, 2014 / 10:36 pm

    I love this! My nan used to make me these type of debs in her back garden when I was little and I have fond memories of lying back and watching the light free through between the sheets. X

  8. LandGirl1980
    July 28, 2014 / 1:03 pm

    Not a pretty teepee? are you MAD? I want to climb in there right now 🙂

  9. Laura Side Street
    July 29, 2014 / 1:27 pm

    I love love love this idea for a fun and frugal day – as a child I would spend hours in dens – such simple fun, there is nothing better reallyLaura x

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