McCalls 5827 Play Canopy

I made this play tent for my daughter, Violet’s, 2nd birthday, which was yesterday. I thought it would be a great present to make myself, because I have seen some tents that looked similar to this one, selling for $200-300. This is definitely something I would have liked to own as a child. 🙂

Fabric – This tent calls for a lot of fabric. I spent around $50 on all the supplies, but thinking back, you could probably make it very inexpensively using old bed sheets, etc. The roof of the tent calls for 3-5/8 yards, the tent about 10 yards, the door and windows 3 yards, and the mat on the bottom calls for 3-5/8 yards. I skipped the batting for the mat, and it also called for 3 yards of high-density foam. I actually bought the foam from Joann Fabrics, but even with my 50% off coupon, the foam cost $50. I just couldn’t bear the thought of spending so much on the supplies, so I returned the foam and bought a cheap bag of bean bag filling at Kmart.

Illustrations – The instructions to this McCalls pattern were very straight-forward and easy. The only thing that had me thinking was how to assemble the windows, but as soon as I visualized that, I was good to go.

Pattern Pieces – I hate tissue paper pattern pieces. I guess I am new school and just used to DIY patterns and printing patterns from Etsy. That said, some of these pieces were humongous. Some of the panels for the side of the tent were nearly 2 yards tall (2 pieces taped together). They were really tricky to trace and cut out, especially the doors and windows (which were made of organza fabric). Geez, that organza was a pain in the you-know-what because it was flimsy. But oh well.

My big grievance was using Velcro that was sticky on one side of the tape. That’s the only kind of that width that I could find at Joann’s, and I would NEVER USE IT AGAIN. It seemed great when I first stuck it all the way around the vinyl mat that goes on the bottom of the tent (the Velcro on the mat holds the bottom of the tent all the way around, so it sort of flows in an A-line). Wow, easy right? Well, when I was all finished sewing up the tent and went to get the mat out to stick it all together, the Velcro on the mat had puckered and become a horrible, sticky mess. I got sticky stuff in my hair, on my sewing machine foot, everywhere. Grrrrr.

The tent instructions also called for 3 pockets to be sewn onto the back of the tent on the inside. I skipped these because I could just imagine my kids fighting or putting toys into the pockets and ripping the tent out through the ceiling.

The picture that I took of our tent doesn’t even do it justice. I made the side panels of the tent each in a different color (blue, green, pink, purple, and orange). There are two side windows that hold open and closed with Velcro, and the flaps of the door also hold open with Velcro. And yes, the roof of the tent is sparkly! The ceiling of the kids’ play room is also a little low; the tent is held up with an s-hook screwed into the ceiling and tied in place, but the tent could have actually been held up another foot or so off the ground if the ceiling wasn’t so low. Because of this, the tent more so hangs straight down as opposed to the A-line shape that I was going for.

Despite all this, the kids love playing in it!

Conclusion – This does look like a huge project, but it’s pretty much all straight sewing. If you can be patient and work with large amounts of fabric, then you can do this!

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13 replies on “McCalls 5827 Play Canopy

  • Jessica

    Yes, sticky velcro is one of the cruelest inventions EVER. It doesn’t stay stuck to fabric, but you can’t sew through it, making it utterly WORTHLESS. With that said, I’m planning one of these for my kiddos for their birthday and I appreciate the candid review. It gives me some thoughts on how to better accomplish my goal of an outdoor friendly play space…

  • Tanya

    Thank you for writing about taking on this project. I have been wanting to make things for my babies for a while and really wanted to make this. But I am very new to sewing and wondered how difficult it could be. You really answered most of my questions about how much fabric would cost, the difficulty of instructions, what a pattern is even like (tissue- thanks for the heads up) and what would be a good option to fill the cushion. These might or might not be obvious to someone who has used tons of patterns before but I know I found them extremely valuable pieces of info. I’m happy to know it was worth it and your tent is really gorgeous, even better than the advertised picture! I’m hoping if I go for for a simpler one it will be even a fraction as good.

  • jorge

    this is the best review for a pattern i have ever read. I am about to start this project and you gave me some really helpful tips. I never thought about the pockets being filled to heavy and dropping the tent. I love yours it is so beautiful. I will definatly use the sheet idea but buy some fancy fabric for the roof. Again yours is so nice and im sure your kids adore it and will cherish the memories you made for them when they are older.-J.Gunn

  • Daniel Rodriguez

    Hello, I am having difficulty to understand the cutting pattern, How many pieces 1, 1A and 10,10A do I need?

  • marquis

    I’m sure you’ve been asked a million times before but would you could you replicate for a fee? I’d love to have this under our Christmas tree this year! 🙂


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