The little fella is not so little anymore. He turned three this month. How time flies.
We celebrated his birthday with a trip to Australia Zoo as we were fortunate enough to have free tickets and one day of fine weather bookended by many days of rain, rain, rain.
For his birthday, I made the little fella this teepee. It’s been on the project list for some time, but with a little sister who is now crawling and starting to furniture surf, it is high time the little fella had a hidey-hole of his own.
The teepee I made was adapted from a free pattern by a Robert Kaufman, which unfortunately is no longer available on their website. Google however, still has a direct link to the PDF here if you would like to download it – I don’t know how long that link will stay valid.
Once you buy all the fabric required as per the pattern (regardless of whether or not you use Robert Kaufman prints or not), this can add up to be an expensive project. Teepees are not cheap to buy either, coming in at around $200 on Amazon.com.
And so I spent a long time trying to work out how I was going to do this project on the cheap. The penny dropped when I came across an amazing teepee on King Billy’s Facebook page that had been patchworked. It was a forehead slapping moment because I’m a quilter and I should have thought of that.
The cost of this teepee came in at under $20. I did buy a little broadcloth brand new for the pole coverings, but otherwise the fabrics were leftovers from other projects or were picked up at second-hand stores. The plain blue fabric and the red fabric were $2 Salvos finds. You can’t see it in the picture, but the red fabric has a cute Raggedy-Anne print on it. I have plenty left over for other projects. Some of the check fabrics I’ve had in my stash for over 10 years – leftovers from a quilt that I still use on my bed. It was good to use up some of those old fabrics.
Because the teepee is patchwork, I didn’t need great swathes of fabric as per the pattern and therefore it was much cheaper and easier to use up odds and ends, although a lot more work and many late nights before the big day.
The pattern also requires 1 inch dowel for the rods. When we priced the dowel we found that the dowel alone would cost more than $60! So we used cheap garden stakes that we had on hand instead. Quite literally, I sent DH out into the rain at night to pull a few stakes out of the garden so I could finish the teepee and go to bed. They were a perfect fit and free, although we will have to replace them eventually. Even then, it will only be a couple of dollars.
Rather than tying the top with rope, I made a tie with a scrap of leftover material, which was DH’s idea and looks better than what rope would anyway.
I wanted to share this project because I think it highlights the idea that frugality doesn’t mean going without. A bit of thrifting, sewing and ingenuity has resulted in a birthday surprise that can rival any store bought version for much, much less. A birthday present to please without breaking the budget.
On top of that, the little fella knows we made it for him and I think that as he grows older he too will learn that frugality, rather than being inhibitive, is (with a little bit of creativity) a cornucopia of possibility.
At least, that’s what I hope.