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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tutorial: Kit for Building Imaginary Caves and Forts


This was maybe the best Christmas gift the kids opened.  It was also the cheapest.023

What kid wouldn’t love a bag full of sheets to build their dream forts with?

Now, I don’t take credit for the main idea of a “fort kit.”  I was seeing a sundry of homemade versions all over the internet in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Who knows who did it first.  Some manufacturer even has a mass produced variety, I think.  Go ahead, do an internet search for lots of possibilities.

But it’s an old idea, anyway. 

What kid hasn’t pulled his bedsheet over his head, grabbed a flashlight and pretended he was caving for hidden treasures?

Or dragged his bedspread down the stairs and thrown it over the couch to make a bad guy hideout?

But who hasn’t tried to get that blanket to stay just so, only to have 2-year-old sis yank it off, or the precariously balanced toys used as weights simply slip over the edge?

Our blankets were forever being dragged around.  I have limited blankets and well, sometimes you need them to keep warm. ;0)

So, I came up with my own version of the cave/fort kit, using primarily materials I already had.  The store bought extras are optional.  A tutorial follows.

The main innovation for the kit is adding ties to the edges of your sheets (or blankets, or cloth) so they can be joined together or tied to other things.  Most of the instructions I saw called for using bias tape or ribbon or some other straight trim, whatever is cheap or on hand.

I used…velcro!  Because I had it already and because half of my kids don’t know how to tie.  Or at least, not without irrevocably knotting the string whatever they are tying.  I have to say that I think the velcro is a definite improvement.  These were cheap 1 yard generic hanks that cost $1-$2 each.  You need 1 yard for each sheet.  They were just sitting around not getting used in my house.


Most of the kit instructions recommend using old or new flat bed sheets.  Twin is fine.

I used…fabric!  Because I had it already (it was meant for a home project at our old house but we found out we were moving before said project was completed), and what kid wouldn’t like to to hide under trees or butterflies or a starry night sky?


Now, you can often find super cheap fabrics on Walmart’s bargain table (for as little as $1/yd), or at other fabric stores, so even if you don’t already have the fabric, if you are thinking about buying new product to make this, fabric is definitely a viable option.

Most of the kit instructions recommend making a bag to keep it all in out of a pillow case or matching sheet.  I thought about my kiddos trying to fold everything just so and stuff it into a pillow case…uh, not going to happen.

I used…a nice roomy reusable bag that I got for free.  I have a few promotional totes sitting around, this one just has a dedicated use, now.  It has the added advantage of being easy to spot.


And there’s plenty of room in their for the bag of “skirt clips” ($2.50 at Walmart---these are actually designed for clipping onto a bottom of a plastic hanger to change it into a skirt hanger, but they are much sturdier than cheap clothespins and work great for this), and 3 small flashlights (got a 3 pack in the seasonal aisle for $5).


Ok, so here’s what you need to do to make your fort kit.  It took me a little over an hour to make this one. 


  • 2-4 twin sheets or 2-1/2 yard lengths of fabric (I used 45” wide, but 60” would be closer to sheet size)
  • 1 yard of velcro per sheet or length of fabric, cut into 6 6” lengths
  • matching (or non-matching) thread
  • a sewing machine or adequate hand-sewing skills


  • a bag of some kind to keep it in
  • flashlights or a lantern, headlamps would be cool
  • clips or clamps to increase their attachment options
  1. Prewash your sheets or fabric.  If you are using fabric, you may want to zigzag the ends to cut down on fraying.  Important:  I cannot stress this enough, always prewash washable fabric, sheets, etc.  In addition to not having later troubles due to shrinkage, fabric manufacturers treat their product with all kinds of nasty chemicals (including formaldehyde) to keep bugs from eating it.  Did you know bugs will eat any natural fiber fabric, not just wool?   Those chemicals are not good for you or your kids, but they wash out, so wash them!
  2. If you are using sheets, go to step 3.  If you are using fabric, make a narrow hem at each end of your length of fabric.  Just fold it over 2x and sew.  I used a zigzag   Doesn’t need to be perfect and this is one instance where I give you permission to skip pressing it.  You can hem the selvedges if you want, but it’s not really necessary.
  3. Now You are going to sew your velcro on.  Take a 6” strip with both sides (the loopy side and the scratchy side) lined up and stuck together.  Unstick them at one end and sandwich the corner of your sheet between them at that end.  011Stitch a straight stitch over the sandwich back and forth, several times.  It’ll look like this:  When you want to use the velcro, you unstick from itself and stick it to a corresponding piece or wrap it around something (like a chair or banister) and stick it to itself.  012When not in use, the velcro sticks to itself so it doesn’t get stuck to other things.  Plus, you can throw it in the wash without having a mess on your hands.
  4. Sew another strip to each of the other 3 corners the same way.  Then find the midway point along both long sides and sew 1 strip on each of those sides.009
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for as many sheets or lengths of fabric as you have and you are done.

Now enjoy!

You might also like:

Funky, Furry Scarf Tutorial

Collector Box Tutorial

Cloak Tutorial


  1. I absolutely LOVE this idea! We've just started the phase of pulling all the pillows and blankets to create forts with my 2 and 3 year olds. This might help save some of our blankets and sheets from an early demise! Thanks!

  2. You are welcome, you can get a lot of mileage out of sheets and even empty boxes. Their imagination is the limit. ;0)


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