artsy fartsy,  Bug,  crazy stuff,  domesticity,  illos,  sewing catastrophes

Sewing Flop

the idea for a tent

So I had this crazy idea to make a tent that would fit over Baby Bug’s old crib. She doesn’t sleep in her crib (even though we took the side railing off it and she could if she wanted to). It just sits in her room taking up space and collecting stuffed animals. We don’t want to get rid of it yet or even disassemble it (if it would even make it through another disassemble and reassemble) because we keep hoping I’ll get pregnant and there will be another baby in the house.

However, the years tick by and the crib just gets in the way—especially now that our art-supply collection is taking over the other side of the room and giving me many organization nightmares. The crib is just an eyesore. But what can we do with it?

Baby Bug does like to play in it. In fact, it is her own personal trampoline. She is constantly scrambling up and down into it and play-acting out some tragedy with her stuffed animals taking nose-dives off the edge.

I thought maybe I could make a tent that would go over the top of it and it could be a little play house for her. This way it would look less crib-like and I wouldn’t have to resent it so much for taking up space and reminding me that I am still not pregnant.

So I pulled out the old fabric that I used to cover my couch before The Great Couch Cover and set to sewing. And that is where things sort of went down hill. I don’t know. I think my good luck with the couch cover was just beginner’s luck. Sewing is a pain in the you-know-where! It takes too long and it never turns out how you expect.

Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about. If you can see it in your head, can you create it? That is the question.

I once got to talking to a musician about music and how to play a song by ear. He said, “If you can hear the song in your head, then you can play it.” This may not be true for all people but it is somewhat true for me. I’m no talented musician by far but I can usually plunk out any tune I hear, one finger at a time on the piano. The guitar is a whole other story but a piano is pretty logical since the notes are all in a row. Anyway….the same thing sort of rings true for artwork. If I can visualize a drawing in my head, I usually can draw it.

I know you are not believing me on this but hear me out. Let’s pick the hardest example: a horse. I cannot draw a horse because I do not know what a horse looks like. I mean, I know a horse has a long mane and four legs and a tail etc but I don’t really know the anatomy of a horse. Their legs bend backwards at the knee or something weird and when my brain tries to fill what those lines would look like around the knee area, the picture in my head starts to get fuzzy. So that’s why if I drew a picture of a horse it would probably look like crap.

So my theory is this: if you have enough patience and you really pay attention to the picture you see in your head, then you should be able to draw it. A lot of pictures are too much trouble. Who wants to focus on drawing all the spokes in a bicycle tire for instance? But other things like a simple silly cartoon monster are pretty easy for someone like me. I think this could be true for a lot of people but it does involve turning off the left side of your brain which can be a bit tricky, especially if you like to know how to add and subtract numbers.

Anyway, back to my sewing story. I thought if I could draw my tent idea, then I could sew it. And maybe I still can. It’s just taking a lot more patience than I was willing to invest.

climbing in

I sewed it together and it looked like crap. I cut my slit for the door and the whole structural integrity of the entire tent sagged and collapsed on itself. This is actually because I didn’t have enough fabric for the back panel. The back panel is only six inches where it should be 24 or so. Once you cut a slit in the front panel, there is not enough tautness in the fabric to hold it in place. I’m not really explaining that very well but just imagine it falling in on itself like soft bubble gum and you’ll pretty much have the idea.

So I sewed my door slit back up and called it a day. Maybe I’ll make a trip to the fabric store another day and give it another try. Or maybe it will just go down in history as one of those projects that flopped. I figure I’m always bragging about the successful projects on this blog, I might as well share a flop or two too.

Maybe there is somebody out there who really can sew what they see. If so, you are more than welcome to steal my idea. My only request is that you share photos with me when you’re done.

BB in her "tent"

Anyway, all that really matters is whether Baby Bug likes it.

Baby Bug’s Tent from secretagentjo on Vimeo.

Which she does.


  • Calee

    Works for Baby Bug, works for me! I’m the complete opposite– I can visualize great. Implementation, not so much. I’m always impressed with your projects.

  • Jummy

    I think it looks great too! I shudder to think how my attempt would have turned out. And of course, most importantly, BB is pleased.

  • CC

    sew ribbons on the inside top, long enough to tie in a bow. get small wood dowels and run end to end length wise, secure with ribbon you sewed onto top. make sure dowels sit on top of the crib ends.

  • Julia

    What about turning it around (long side in back) and adding door panels in something that compliments the room? I know-easier said than done-but it’s an idea.

  • Jennifer

    Look how much BB loves it though. I know what you mean about the frustration of not being able to get the idea made, but sometimes mistakes lead to even better things. I love to knit and crochet but sewing is so beyond me. I’m impressed with what you did get done.

    If you ever want to vent about baby making feel free to email me. I lost my mind while trying to get pregnant with Audrey. It wasn’t a pretty time.

  • Kaili

    I can sew what I see. Usually. But we don’t have a crib. That would be a really fun project. I am envisioning fun pockets and clear plastic panels sewn on with cool pictures behind then. Fun buttons, cool threads, Funnnnnn! I would suggest getting a heavier fabric, like canvas.

  • Gingermog

    I agree with CC and Kaili and was going to suggest thin dowel or a bambook structure. Sometimes in Model shops you can get this thin plastic dowel stuff and corner thingies to snap together to make a frame… however the main thing is BB loves it and has her very own hideaway.

    Maybe you could sew/stick felt windows a door and a few flowers around it so it looks more like a wendy house?

    Your illustration is great by the way and I think the block you described between what you see inside your head and what actually gets created happens to every creative person. I had a freak out on Friday because I couldn’t create the background design I had in my head. Paniced so much for 3 hours every line I drew I had to delete, convinced myself the whole project was going to fail, I couldn’t draw, just awful, got myself in a really paddy. Nailed it on Saturday ;)

  • Kuky

    What a wonderful idea! Isabelle is constantly trying to play in her crib…the crib she’s never used. I’m thinking it’s time to change it into a toddler bed…that she’ll never use.

  • Lauren

    I was going to suggest what Julia said about turning it around.
    Whatever you decide on….good luck.
    And don’t forget to post pics if you change it.

  • BeachMama

    I think it looks great, and I totally get the if you can see it idea! Just an idea, could you turn it around so your 6″ panel is in the front, then sew two more smaller pieces on either side to make room for the door? Or just turn it around and there would be a smaller opening to climb in and out of, you know one where you can see BB?

  • Susie

    To expand on the brilliant CC’s idea…I would sew a long pocket for the dowel so it’s encapsulated in the structure of the tent and BB won’t try to pull on it. Easy and solid.

    You’re awesome! I love this idea. :-)

  • Susie

    Or…could you turn it around and add some cute fabric hanging from the 6″ panel for the front? You could just make two panels (I’m thinking something GREEN?) with ribbons (or velcro dots) in the corners so to open the “door” you just pin each panel up to the side. (I could draw this so much better than I could explain it.) This would require more fabric, but it might be easier, since all you’d have to do is make two fabric panels and sew them in place… Of course, you could do BOTH things, and then the tent would be spectacular!

  • Susie

    BTW, I think it looks like a whole lot of fun just the way it is! Okay, I’m officially done filling your comment box. Your software’s going to think I’m spam!

  • Oopsy Daisy

    You definately need a frame to support it. Like a canopy bed has. CC’s idea of the dowel rod was dead on. And yes, if you build it they will come.

    How to get pregnant: get rid of ALL your baby things and maternity clothes. You get pregnant so fast your head will spin. I know this to be true. Baby #2 came 3 years after baby #1 although no birth control was used. I gave away all my baby things 2 months before I got preggers with #2. I was more stubborn with baby #3 and waited 7 years before giving the crib away. I got preggers 6 months afterwards. Who is that Murphy and why does he/she get to make all the laws?

  • Annabanana

    Ha, ha that is so cute!
    I try to make things from the pictures in my brain too. They come out best as paintings though. When I try to sew them they have to be simple. This one time I tried to make slip covers for my old dining room chairs from drop cloths. In my head they were beautiful. In real life not how I had seen them at all.
    I think you did great and BB looks pleased as punch, fun fun!

  • Donna

    I agree with Oopsy Daisy….you know that the minute you disassemble the crib and put it away, you’ll get pregnant! It’s just fate or something…try it!!

  • bluejaye

    PVC pipe is light weight and cheap. I would get two pipes that are longer than the length of the crib. You could make a casing to slide them into or just drape the tent over.

  • Bethany S.

    When my daughter was 3 I gave away all her baby stuff. Within a month I found myself pregnant with my second daughter. When she outgrew her crib, I couldn’t wait to get rid of it to free up some space…. Nine months later, my son was born. Now my son is turning one next week and we are keeping EVERYTHING!!! lol

    Maybe what you need to do is dissassemble the crib, pack up all baby stuff. lug everything to the basement, and watch out! Life is funny like that. Good Luck!!!

  • Red Sonja

    The dowls are a great idea, but what about anchoring it from the ceiling and making it either circus tent shaped or like a teepee castle? You could hang the fabric from just a hook or get a round hoop and do it kindof like a mesquito net. That way she can’t mess with it and she can jump up and down without hitting her head. I think that would take the structural and tauntness issues out of it. And for fabric, old sheets are always an option. Pick up some RIT and dye them. Good excuse to eventually get new sheets!

    She obviously loves it – I think it’s a great idea!

  • Red Sonja

    One thing I left out – when I first saw the title of your entry and the illustration – I thought you had designed a cover for your sewing machine! Either that or a toaster!! Sewing IS HARD.

  • a madhouse wife

    well, i can’t sew (or do anything artistic for that matter) a lick, but you just gave me a really good idea for what to do with a 5-foot spiderman tent (store-bought) that’s taking up room in the basement. i think it will fit over my baby’s crib. i’ll have to wait until she’s done with it, but still.

  • Camels & Chocolate

    Um, I don’t even know how to use a sewing machine, so I’m still impressed! And she seems to be having fun regardless, which like you said, is all that matters. I think you’re too hard on yourself — it looks good!

  • Susan

    I agree with the dowel idea. I had a tent when I was Bug’s age and I wish I could draw it so you could see it in your head to..
    It was a light green color and had a window on one side…on the back was ABC and 123 in big bubbly shapes. The front flapped open. It could sit on top of my bed for me to crawl in and out without bumping my head. It was held together with wood that criss crossed at the top and when you folded it up for storage it was held together with ribbon. Also the flaps held back with velcro or to play I could tie it with the ribbons in 3 places.
    Cute idea!

  • OMSH

    Why oh why am I not at all surprised that CC had sage advice?

    I think you should try again – I can envision you painting all over it!

  • Bethiclaus

    Sew what I see? I can’t even draw what I see. While I agree with you in theory about drawing what you see, you clearly have a talent for making you brain talk to your hands in ways that those of us less art-inclined do not.

  • Amy

    It might work to just tighten the back fabric, i.e. overlap the fabric opposite where the door would be, like a pleat. Or fasten cross pieces of fabric from the centre of the back panel to either side at the bottom at the back. Kind of like those elastics you can get to hold fitted sheets on a mattress.

  • carrien

    The easiest solution, though by far not as cute as some of the options may be to sew a ribbon or length of elastic along the bottom seam on the front. and attach it where you envision the flaps opening up to. Then cut your flap again. The ribbon would hold the tension and run along the base of the tent at the height of the mattress and you would have a little tent flap door as well.

  • Beth

    my thought went to turning it around and adding some sort of front door panel….a 60’s kinda style hanging door panel….ribbons or beads….just what popped into my brain! lol
    all wonderful ideas…can’t wait to see it all done!

  • Janna from Honeyed Hashette

    Who cares what it looks like- you made a TENT! Sweet!
    When I was little I use to sneak all the clean sheets out of the linen closet to make tents on my bunk beds. Use to drive my mom bonkers, “Why do you have to use the clean sheets?” she would ask. “Because they have pretty creases.” I would respond.

    I love the video of her loving her tent talking with her pah in her mouth. So cute. I was addicted to by pacifier until I was 4. I called it a “fire”. My mom safety pinned it to the giant sock monkey I dragged around with me.

    Luck in getting preggo again!!! I hope you do too so I can read about your preggo adventure.

  • Kristin

    As long as Baby Bug likes it, then that’s all that matters. She doesn’t need all the “bells & whistles” to enjoy her “tent”.
    Great idea for that crib.
    {{{{hugs}}}} and prayers as you try to conceive #2. :)