As a child, I loved making forts with my brother — we would remove the cushions from our sofa and reconfigure things to make a fort with a roof, windows, and even a door (another cushion). This play fort kit is inspired by those memories, as I wanted to give my boys something that would inspire them to play creatively and use their imaginations.
What better way to do that than by playing fort? Sadly, we don’t have couches that are conducive to making cushion forts (yes, I’ve tried, amusingly). So this fort kit seemed like the next best option.
My toddler has enjoyed making blanket forts with me — but the downside of blankets is that they’re so heavy. It’s almost impractical to use a heavy blanket for spanning wider spaces — sheets would work much better.
So, when we had to retire our master bedroom sheet set, I decided to salvage some of the fabric and turn it into pieces of fabric for a fort kit.
There was no formula, no measuring. I cut the sheets up into random sized squares (well, rectangles, mostly). The fitted sheet too — I trimmed off the elastic so the fabric could lie flat.
Since woven fabrics tend to fray, I did finish the edges. You could use your sewing machine to sew a hem around each piece, or if you have a serger, just serge the edges. Pinking shears (the scissors that cut a zig zag pattern) would have also worked.
Anyways, once the pieces were finished, I looked at the pile of fort fabric and decided we needed a bag to keep everything together. So, I folded a long rectangle of fabric in half, and sewed it closed on three sides to make a bag. Then, I added a drawstring to the open end.
Being the overachiever that I am, I also decided to decorate the bag so no one would be confused as to what it was for. So I used permanent marker to write: “Fabric Play Fort” on the bag. If you decide to decorate with permanent marker (or paint…anything that will go through multiple layers of fabric), make sure to put a piece of cardboard behind the fabric so that your decoration doesn’t bleed through.
Finally, we had some PVC pipe frames that were at one point used as laundry hampers. They’ve been commandeered for use with the fort kit. Or for use as a bear cave, or boats, you name it. I love how easy it is to repurpose stuff when you’re focusing on imaginative play!
Here are some more pictures of the fort kit. Click on any image below to enter gallery view mode, or hover over an image to read the captions.
We’ve already gotten a lot of mileage out of this fabric play fort. And Toby has used it for more than just fort building too! One day, the fabric pieces became a cape and wings, another day they were strewn on the floor to make a nest inside a cave… the imagination knows no limits.
I love that this fort kit was so simple to create. You really don’t need the stow bag, and if you didn’t care about frayed ends, you could really skip the step of finishing the edges too. Hey, while we’re at it, you could just get a cheap sheet set and leave it fully intact for use as a fabric play fort kit, right? Stuff the sheets in the pillowcase for storage, and you’re done!
And, as a bonus? My non-napping toddler was more than enthusiastic about taking a nap in the fort tent we made. Naptime was easy, and as I was snuggled up under the fort, basking in the afternoon sun that streamed through the window, I was grateful for the new memories I get to make with my kids every day.
Do you have a favorite childhood memory that involved imaginative play? Did you ever make forts as a kid? Do you think your kids would like this fabric play fort idea? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.