Does anyone recognize that sweet little baldy above? It's Ruby! This modular fort is a DIY I did for a class called Small Craft that Elsie and I taught together about two years ago. It's since been shelved but I've gone back and picked out my favorite projects to share here in order to have them all in one space.
This one was fun for the kids to play in and was easy to take apart when the weather turned bad. It is relatively inexpensive for a play structure and almost anyone could probably put this together.
Supplies: 4 five foot 1/2" PVC pipes, 3 ten foot 3/4" PVC pipes, 2 1/2" tee fittings,10 1/2" male adapters, 8 side outlet elbows , a 9' x 12' canvas drop cloth, 3/4 yard cotton fabric, hand saw, sewing machine (or substitute embroidery thread and needle), a yard stick, scissors, acrylic craft paint and paintbrush (optional),straight pins or safety pins, gorilla glue for fortitude (optional). Mind the pun. ;)
One: Cut your 10' poles into eight 3' poles and one 2' 10" pole with your handsaw. Mark your PVC pipe with a yardstick and sharpie and then with safety goggles on, hack away. You'll have some extra but save it for later. Once you've cut your pipe, attach four of your 3' poles with the elbow joints to make a square. Attach four more to make another square. Next attach your 1/2 male adapters to the eight elbow joints. Then connect the two squares with two of your 5' poles.
Before adding your last two 5' poles, attach a tee fitting to each one. Then attach a 1/2" male adapter to each of those. Then attach your 2' 10" pole to the male adapters and finish by putting the last two 5' poles in place. You should end up with something similar to the photo above. The tee fitting should fit loosely in order for you to figure out where you'd like it on your fort.
Two: Spread out your canvas drop cloth on a clean surface and measure out 40" wide and 12' long and cut. I suggest using colored chalk or straight pins to mark straight lines. This will be your largest piece that will provide two small walls and the roof for your modular dwelling. Iron your long sides down 1/4" and again 1/2" each. Three: Stitch along your hem as shown below.
Four: Fold one short end of your canvas down 1/4" and iron. Fold in again 2" and pin. Stitch along the ironed edge to create your casing. Five: Unhook and slide one of your bottom side poles through this casing and then arrange your fabric over the structure so that the other narrow end is tucked under and pinned under the opposite bottom side pole. Pin (or mark with a pen) where your other casing should fold up and be stitched down. Carefully remove it from your structure, take it back to your machine, and stitch the casing.
Six: Your back panel should measure about 46" x 74". Depending on how you cut your canvas drop cloth, you may or may not have the original seam down the center. Repeat with hemming the short sides if necessary and then creating a casing for the top and bottom pipes by pinning and then sewing across. Seven: For your wider of the two front panels you'll need to decide how far over you want your sliding bar. I thought about it being used as a screen door but it would be hard to slide it properly without having to lift the whole frame up so I just used it as a support beam that divided up some space. Measure the width and length of your front panel and add 2" to the width for the seams and about 6" to the height for the casings. Stitch your hems and casings as before and then put it on your frame. Move your support beam to it's appropriate space.
Eight: Lastly, I have my door space. You could forgo a door and leave it open but I think a pop of color with a vintage print sheet is just what my, I mean my kids', modular fort needed. Measure out your door space and add 2" for the width and about 6" for the height. Make your hems on the long sides first and then create a casing at the top that fits over the pipe and has a little extra space to fit over the connector joints if you'd like. Nine: Place it with an unfinished bottom edge on your frame. Cut a piece of scrap PVC pipe to fit the bottom casing so that it won't stick out the ends and pin it in your casing at the bottom to see how far down it should hang. Take the pipe out and stitch your casing and you're done with construction! You can also stitch the ends of the casing closed so that the PVC pipe won't slide out and whack someone in the head.
This is a pretty basic sewing project and would look so pretty in vintage sheets, synthetic lace, or painted on by your little ones. It's easy to disassemble and might even come in handy as a shade screen at the beach or park!