How to Sew a Small Animal Tent

Updated on February 18, 2016
DIY tent for a rat, hamster, or other small animal
DIY tent for a rat, hamster, or other small animal

Make Your Pet a Cozy Tent

I have sewn many accessories for my pet rats, and these tents are one of my favorite. There are several reasons why I love this accessory (and why you should try sewing one). First, they are made with two layers of fleece, so they are nice and cozy. Second, they are really cute. Third, they are fun to make, and fourth, your pet will really enjoy them. Plus, the tent poles can easily be removed so that the tent can be machine washed. Although I have only made these for my pet rat, Koko, I'm sure small animals of all kinds would enjoy them.

Step 1

On the left, you can see the templates for the rounded triangle and square. On the right, you can see the templates for both tabs.
On the left, you can see the templates for the rounded triangle and square. On the right, you can see the templates for both tabs.
  1. Make a rounded triangular template for the sides of the tent. I made mine 10 inches across the bottom and 9 inches tall in the middle.
  2. Make a square template. Each side of the square should be as long as the bottom of the rounded triangular template. Mine measured 10 inches by 10 inches.
  3. Make templates for the tabs that will hold the tent poles in place. The bottom 4 tabs need to be wider than the top ones to allow them to be be folded over on the bottom so that the tent poles don't stick out. The two sizes I chose were 1 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches and 1 3/4 by 2 1/2 inches.

Step 2

Trace your templates onto your fabric.
Trace your templates onto your fabric.
  1. Trace the rounded triangular template on your fabric 8 times. Four of the pieces will be for the inside and 4 will be for the outside.
  2. Trace the square template on your fabric 2 times. One piece will be for the inside, and the other will be for the outside.
  3. Trace the the smaller tab template 5 times on the fabric and the larger one 4 times.

Step 3

Cut out all of your pieces.
Cut out all of your pieces.

Step 4

Prepare the tabs.
Prepare the tabs.
  1. Take the 4 larger tabs and fold each of them in half.
  2. Put a pin in each one.
  3. Sew along the edge of each one.
  4. Turn them inside out. Now two sides should be joined, forming a loop.

Step 5

Pin together the inside and outside of all of your pieces of fabric that are not tabs.
Pin together the inside and outside of all of your pieces of fabric that are not tabs.

Pin together the inside and outside pieces of fabric for each of the 4 sides and the bottom of the tent. Pin them with the right sides facing out.

You should now have 4 sides and a bottom that are double layered.

Step 6

Make a door.
Make a door.
  1. Trace a circle in the middle of your front piece. The hole will stretch a bit if you are using fleece, so don't make the circle too big.
  2. Put pins around the edge of the circle before you cut it out.
  3. Cut out the circle.
  4. Cut a strip of fabric to make a door trim. Cut the strip a few inches longer than the circumference of the door. The width of the strip depends on how thick you want the trim. I cut mine 1 3/4 inches wide.
  5. Fold the strip of fabric and pin it around the edge of the circle.
  6. Leave a small section unpinned at the end so that you have room to start sewing. You want the trim to overlap a bit on the ends so don't cut it too short.
  7. Sew along the outside edge of the trim. I prefer to hand sew this part, because it ends up much neater.

Step 7

Lay out the pieces.
Lay out the pieces.

Its a good idea to lay out the sides before you start sewing, especially if you are using different colored fabrics and want them to be in a certain order.

Step 8

Sew the sides to the bottom.
Sew the sides to the bottom.
  1. Pin the front piece and the bottom piece together with the right sides together. The whole tent will be sewn inside out so that the seams don't show.
  2. Sew along the edge about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in (whatever you prefer). When unfolded, it should look something like picture 2, above.
  3. Repeat substeps 1-2 for each of the other 3 sides.
  4. All the seams should be on the inside.
  5. What it should look like viewed from what will be the outside of the tent.
  6. What it should look like viewed from the inside of the tent.

Step 9

Sew up the sides.
Sew up the sides.
  1. Pin together the edges of the sides, with the tabs pinned in place. Place the 4 bigger tabs on the very bottom, 4 of the other tabs about halfway up, and the last tab right at the top.
  2. Once it's all pinned together, it should look something like picture 2, above. You may want to turn it right side out before sewing to double check that the tabs are in the right place. If you do this, remember to turn it back inside out before sewing.
  3. Sew along each edge, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in.
  4. Turn it right side out. Touch up anything by hand if needed.

Step 10

Construct the tent poles.
Construct the tent poles.
  1. I made the tent poles out of bent coat hanger wire, but you could also use some kind of flexible plastic.
  2. Put the poles through the loops and you're done!

The finished tents

Koko likes her tent

Do you like to sew toys for your pets?

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    • profile image

      Bee 

      4 months ago

      Your tent is SO cute! Thank you for the fantastic instructions! We can't wait to make (several) for our ratties to play in :) They'll love them.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      7 months ago

      Maybe some more detailed instructions, please?

    • profile image

      Paige and ivy 

      2 years ago

      Looks really cute but the idea sucks it's really hard instructions are kind of hard to understand upgrade your instructions please

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      3 years ago

      Hi! I used your post as a reference, and made one for my cat! i used to have guinea pigs, I think they would've loved it as well. Anyway, my cat is completely nuts about it! thanks!

    • profile image

      Angela 

      4 years ago

      Can you tell me roughly how much fabric to buy for this particular project?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Is this big enough for guinea pigs?? :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Your rats are adorable and mine loves his tent I made him using your idea! Thanks sooooo much for sharing this! I bet you could make some money selling these!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I really enjoy making things for my rats :D right now i only have two rats right now

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      What kind of wood do you use on your projects? I'm in the process of making a a wooden playhouse for my rats to share and all my dad has is pine, cedar, and walnut. And i've heard that those are bad for rats. Please help!!1

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I love all your ideas. And my four rats love them too. My only rat Remington (Remy) that I've had from the beginning, after his sister (whom I had thought was a male before she became pregnant) died of a tumor, loves to sleep in the tent. He won't even let Cooper (my other male) go in it. And my two females Bell and Coco share everything I give them. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      i have a small ? how did u learn to do all of these things that u post on sqido

    • centralplexus profile image

      centralplexus 

      5 years ago

      Your design and work is absolutely fabulous! I mostly sew toys for my cat, I also have a beagle but no toy is a match for her, she would destroy it in less than a second!...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I just wanted to pop by to say thanks for this design! My degus absolutely love their new house, although it is a little chewed (little monsters). The only thing I did differently was to stitch the opening and turn it inside out and quilted the two pieces of material together before stitching it up.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @JessyGene: This is fantastic! Im making it now for my three girlie rats 'Riku, Haru, and Kira'

      Only thing that gets me if the trim around the edge of the opening, i can never get it as neat as yours. Have you ever concidered selling some of your Hammocks and give the money to a rat rescue?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I made this project because my rats don't have anything dark to lay inside of except their neon, bright, green, plasctic igloo. I thought it would be tricky but as soon I started, it wasn't too bad. =)

    • JessyGene profile imageAUTHOR

      JessyGene 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: I use a machine, but you could hand sew as well (I used to before I got a machine)

    • chinchilla-cages profile image

      chinchilla-cages 

      6 years ago

      Fun project! Thanks for making this lens.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 

      6 years ago

      They do love new things. The exploration of a new toy will give them hours of fun. Thanks for the details you provide.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I love your creations. When you say sew, do you mean by hand or by a sewing machine.

    • profile image

      seemarahate 

      6 years ago

      Excellent post!

    • JessyGene profile imageAUTHOR

      JessyGene 

      6 years ago

      @squidoopets: Thanks:) No, I'm not on Etsy. I've thought about it but it seems like a lot of work, and I just like to sew for pleasure. I'm thinking sewing some stuff for rat rescues though.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I LOVE to make thing for my rats and my brothers' hamster and gerbil!

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      6 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      These are the cutest little animal tents ever. Are you on Etsy? I love your work :)

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