How To Build a Teepee: A Teepee Tent for Camping

Follow These Instructions for Making a Teepee


Teepees are not just something you see on old movies or documentaries. They are a viable source of shelter you can construct. This moveable dwelling is simple to create as long as you have access to the materials and can carry the poles from campsite to campsite. If you want to make a teepee, then follow these steps.

200 square feet (approximately 22 square yards) of heavy muslin fabric
100 feet of clothesline, 3/16 inch
12 poles – 13 feet in length and 1 inch in diameter (aluminum tent poles will work)
12 short pegs – 12 inches long, 1 ½ inches thick

Now that you have the materials, here are the instructions. This is a basic pattern that can be used to construct teepee tents. 

  1. Sew the muslin fabric into a single piece. The piece should be 20 feet long by 10 feet wide.
  2. Lay the fabric flat with the long side facing up. Using the chalk, create a half circle in the fabric that starts at the top left corner, extends to the bottom edge and then ends at the top right corner. This is a half circle with a 10-foot radius.
  3. Create the center top hole. With the fabric still flat and the circle drawn, find the center of the top, long side. This location will eventually be the top of the teepee. Draw a large W approximately one foot in height so that the center top point of the W is at the center of this side. The two sides of the W will also make two triangles at the top of the fabric.
  4. Cut out all the pieces. Be sure to cut smoothly along the lines. You will need a good smooth line when assembling the teepee.
  5. Cut the clothesline into sections. You will need three 4-foot sections, two 10-foot sections, and twelve 15-inch sections. After making the cuts, use the rest of the clothesline to make a hem around the arc of the bottom of the cover that you cut out.
  6. Assemble the rest of the teepee cover by attaching ropes. Take one 4-foot section and fasten it to the center point where you made the W in step three. Then fasten the 10-foot ropes to each end of the top flat piece (the start and end point of your arc). Take the small 15-inch lengths of clothesline and attach them to the hem you created by spacing them along that arc.
  7. Make the frame. Start by using three poles to make a tripod. Use a 4-foot section of rope to tie the poles together, approximately one foot down from the top where the poles cross, before moving on to the next step. Once the tripod is secure set up six more poles, two between each of the original tripod poles. Try to keep the spacing even between the poles. Use the last 4-foot section of rope to tie these poles together securely.
  8. Add the cover. Using the next pole (number ten) tie the rope at the center of the cover (the center of the W) to the pole. Attach it ten feet up the pole. Tie the rope. Then set up the pole in position. Wrap the cover around the frame. Attach the remaining two poles to the open ends of the cover.
  9. Secure the ties on the cover to the poles. Now the teepee is ready to use. Set in a hole for a fire and a smoke cover if you want.

Creating your own teepee can be a fun project, whether you’re heading for a campsite or experimenting in your backyard. Once you have it set up you can use the teepee design to create a roaring campfire as well!


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