Friday, February 5, 2021

A Bed Tent for Bunk Beds DIY

A bed tent for bunk beds? Grandson Alex sleeps on the bottom bunk and wanted a bed tent, so this Mamaw rose to the challenge! Included are step-by-step directions with photos for all 4 sides (each is different), and tips to adapt this DIY to your own bunk beds. Sweet dreams! 

It all started with sister Mia's new birthday gift that her mom and I bought - a bed tent for her day bed.  

Mia's bed tent

Two weeks later, it's Mia's brother Alex's birthday. Of course, now Alex wanted a bed tent for the bottom bunk of his bunk beds! I looked online, but I couldn't find what I liked. Some bed tents were included with bunk beds (very expensive), and we already had the beds. The closest one to what we needed didn't have good ratings, and comments said it was too small and connected poorly to the bed. So, I decided to make one myself!

Planning took a lot of time for this rather ambitious project, so if you are considering making your own, please learn from my mistakes and benefit from my directions!

I let Alex choose his fabric colors, and together we came up with the design. He wanted three walls to be blue, an orange "roll-up door", and the back wall to look like wood. We live in a log home, and the 2 inside walls of his room are blue, his favorite color is orange, and his walls that border the outside walls are actual logs. Are you seeing a connection?

Alex's other requests included 2 windows with roll-up flaps like a real tent - one would have see-through plastic to look like a real window; the other would be a window opening to put his head through.

Ms. Nancy's Notes: 
  • Prewash and dry all fabrics before you begin this project!
  • Measure your bunkbeds! I did not include all of my measurements because all bunkbeds are not created equally. Please adapt these directions for your own bunkbeds!
  • You may cut paper patterns first, or measure and cut the fabric as you go (as I did).
  • The length of the cut pieces for each side before hems was 45", but yours may be different. Measure, measure, measure!!!
  • Fabric: 2 yards 44/45" fabric for the door, window flaps, and tabs; 5 yards 44/45" fabric for the remaining front wall and end walls; 2-1/2 yards 44/45" fabric for the back
  • Thread to match your fabric 
  • Bias Tape (wide, single fold), 1 package white; and 1 package to coordinate with fabric
  • 3/8" dowel
  • 1/2 yard Heavy Duty Plastic (in the fabric section)
  • White Washi tape (optional)
  • Velcro (6-7 yards)

Part 1 - The Front

The Door

I started with the most important part - the door! 

I used bright orange flannel for the door and cut a piece 20" wide. I pressed and sewed 5/8" narrow hems on each side. To determine the length, I allowed for enough fabric to extend past the top of the bottom mattress about 2" and sewed a casing for a 3/8"dowel to fit through on the bottom. I also allowed for enough fabric to fold over the guard rail to velcro on the top. My total length for the orange door strip was 46-1/2", but yours may be different. 

I cut and sewed 4 tabs from the orange fabric. Velcro was attached to one end of each tab, and the other end was sewn to the door, 2 on the front side, and 2 on the back side. 

Sewing the Tabs

Back side of door

Front side of door

When the dowel is inserted in the bottom of the door, this allows for the "door" to be rolled up, and the velcro tabs keep it in place.

Tip: Hand-sew or add velcro to keep the opening closed after the dowel in inserted.

The Front Wall

For the main wall of the tent, I used chambray fabric that I already had. I did not have enough of 1 color, so I sewed a 9" strip to the top of each panel, for a total length of 45 inches. When completed, this seam was hidden since it folded to the back over the wood frame of the bunkbed. I sewed a 3/8" seam and finished with a zigzag stitch.

Note: If you have enough fabric, you can eliminate the above step and cut the length in one piece.

Top Extension

I then sewed 2 chambray panels together, creating a middle seam. I finished the seam with a French seam since the seam would be visible on both sides. I sewed a narrow hem (5/8") down both sides and on the bottom.

The Ladder and Metal Slats

The next part was a little tricky - cutting around the ladder and 3 metal slats. The 3 metal slats go across and hold the mattress. This part required measuring, tucking, measuring again, and cautious cutting!

And how did I accomplish all of this measuring? Kid Power! Alex and Mia "weight-lifted" the mattress up with their feet so I could tuck and measure. Super job, grandkids!

I cut around the ladder, allowing about 1/2" for a narrow hem.

I sewed a narrow 1/2" hem along the edge.

Finished opening to go
around the ladder

To prevent the fabric from raveling, I applied "Fray No More" to the edges.

I used the same technique to cut around the 3 metal slats.

I turned the fabric under 1/4" and zigzag stitched around the opening.

I then sewed velcro to the top edge of the panels. I folded the panels over the guardrail to get the exact placement for the matching velcro and sewed it in place.

The Window

I cut a 12" x 12" piece of scrapbook paper to be a template for the front window opening. I pinned it on the front section of the bed tent to determine proper placement. I drew around the template and used a ruler to make another line 3/4" inside the 12" square.

I reinforced the corners on the 12" drawn square by stay-stitching (straight machine stitching 2" on each side of the corners). I then cut the inner square out. At the corners, I cut a diagonal line to, but not through, the stitching at the corners.

I cut a square of clear plastic 13" x 13". I used Washi Tape to make a "+" creating "Faux" window panes on the plastic. 

I pressed the 3/4" of the window opening to the outside along the drawn line.

I then pinned the plastic to the outside of the window opening.

Finally, I laid 1" single fold bias tape on top of the plastic. I sewed a straight stitch on the  inside edge through the bias tape, plastic, and the window opening, pleating the corners as I sewed and turning the bias tape raw edge edge under at the end of the seam. I sewed a second row of stitching along the outside edge of the bias tape.

The window is finished!
Big sigh of relief!

Next, I cut and sewed 2 orange tabs like I did for the door. This time, I sewed velcro to both ends of the tabs. On the inside of the tent, I sewed the tabs to the tent between the velcro and above the window opening.

For this window flap, I cut a rectangle of orange flannel 16" x 13". I narrow hemmed both sides and the bottom. I then sewed 2 orange tabs like in Part 2 and attached the tabs and flap.

The flap was then sewed in place above the window and below the velcro, stitching across both tabs.

When rolled up, the velcro easily holds the flap in place.

Part 2 - The End of the Bed Wall 

First, I cut a rectangle of blue chambray fabric and hemmed the sides and bottom.

I then added velcro to the top like I did in Part 1.

The Window

I traced around the template for the window and traced again 3/4" inside the previous line.

I cut the opening along the inside traced line. Again I stay-stitched (straight stitched 2 inches on both sides of each corner). At the corners, I cut a diagonal line to, but not through, the stitching. The 3/4" remaining fabric was pressed to the inside along the traced line.

1" Wide Single-fold Bias Tape was sewn around the outside edge of the opening. The inside edge of the Bias Tape was then stitched in place, with corners pleated and stitched.

For this window flap, I cut a rectangle of orange flannel 2 inches wider and 3 inches longer than the opening. I narrow hemmed both sides and the bottom. 

I then cut and sewed 2 orange tabs like in Part 2 and attached the tabs and flap.

End Wall - done!

Part 3 - The Back Wall

For this wall, I used flannel woodgrain fabric (Alex's choice). I cut 2-45" lengths of the fabric and sewed it together with a 3/4" seam in the middle down about 3 inches beyond the measurement for the 2nd velcro strip. I adjusted the width as needed.

I made the necessary cuts and hemmed the edges to allow for the 3 metal slats.

I hemmed both center edges. I added a 1-1/2" piece of coordinating Bias Tape to keep the seam intact. (See photo below).

I then hemmed the sides and bottoms and attached 2 velcro strips to the top.

The kids and I "played with" the tent to see where the tabs would need to be located. 

I sewed 4 tabs and attached 2 on the inside and 2 on the outside. These tabs were longer because they would be holding back extra fabric. I attached the tabs on a "slant" to allow the tent flaps to hang properly.

This fabric is brighter on the front side, so Alex wanted that side to face the outside. When the tabs are unhooked, the tent flaps hang straight.

This wall is done!

Part 4 - The Head of the Bed Wall
I saved the easiest wall for last! It was just a matter of cutting a rectangle of the blue chambray fabric, hemming the sides and bottom, apply the velcro to the top, and the last tent wall was done!

Head of the Bed Wall - from the inside

And now the Tent for the Bunk Beds is finished! 

I asked Alex what he likes about his bed tent:

Alex: "It's easier to sleep because it's darker. And there's a window."

Me: "What is good about that?"

Alex: "It's see-through. Also, there's a door, and you can roll it up and stuff. You can close it." 

When Alex closes the windows and door, he says he is on "Lock Down"!

Question to myself: Would I do this project again? 

My Answer: Of course! It was so worth it seeing how excited Alex was as each part was completed. Besides, now I know how to do this!

I hope this inspires you to "Build your own" Bed Tent, or some other big project.  Your only limit is your imagination!

Ready for a nap?

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