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IMG_2339Well kids, it’s that time of year again when I begin to stress about what to get other people’s kids. My friends and I all have the same problem, we have houses full of toys our kids don’t play with. You know what kids do like to play with? Blanket forts. But I really suck at making them. I can never get the right combination of chair height, pillow weight and blanket size. So when I came across a fort building kit involving sheets (uniform size and less heavy than a blanket) I thought it was pretty genius.

I’m not going to lie. You can google “Fort Building Kit” and get about a million premade results, many of which are on Etsy. But I thought they were a little pricey. That’s right friends whose kids i made this kit for, I totally cheaped out on your gift. The entire thing cost me about $20 to make. Here’s the deal: you sew strips of fabric onto the sheets, which can be tied around chairs, door handles, drawer handles, table legs, banisters,etc or pinned up with the clothes pins. Add some flashlights from the dollar store and I’d say you have at least 30 minutes of fun on your hands. This is very, very basic sewing so if you can turn on your sewing machine and thread the bobbin, you can do this. I promise.

To Put Together a Fort Building Kit, You will need:

  • 2 twin size sheets (get them from the bargain bin at the Goodwill, OR if you know people unwilling to have used items in their home, you can buy them for $4.47 a piece at Wal-Mart)
  • 6 yards of bias tape OR gross grain ribbon (buy 8 yards if you intend to sew tape/ribbon onto the long sides of the sheets in addition to the corners)
  • 3 yards of 1/4 inch wide ribbon
  • enough card stock to make 6 or more triangles for a banner
  • flashlights
  • utility rope
  • Something to store the whole thing in: reusable grocery bags, photo boxes, scrapbook boxes, canvas bags, pillow case, plastic bag, etc.
  • Sewing machine
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1. Wash and dry your sheets according to package directions before you begin anything!!

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2. Cut your bias tape or ribbon into 27 inch lengths. Fold in half and sew on each inside corner of your sheet. Use a zig-zag stitch or similar and make sure you reinforce by sewing back over itself, these strips will get lots of use. It’s optional to also sew lengths on the long sides of the sheets.

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3. Get your supplies for your banner. I bought this precut card stock at Michaels. It was $5.99, but I had a coupon. You can buy all sorts of loose card stock at craft stores and then just cut your own triangles for the banner. Lots of craft stores sell 1/4 inch spools of ribbon for a dollar or less. Look for those. Gross grain will be easier to sew on than satin or transparent.

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4. Take your 3 yards of ribbon off the spool. Decide if you are going to sew your triangles right next to each other or leave space in between, make sure you have enough ribbon for spacing. LEAVE AT LEAST 12 INCHES of ribbon at each end of the banner, for tying. Using a straight stitch, sew the cardstock onto the ribbon. That’s right, you are sewing paper! Make sure you lock down both ends of stitching.

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5. Gather your other supplies. I suggest at least 12 clothes pins, flashlights (because kids love flashlights in general) and some of this lightweight utility rope I found in the automotive/tool aisle at the dollar store (in fact, that’s where I got the flashlights and clothespins as well). The rope can be used down the middle of a sheet to keep it from sagging. You could also include glow in the dark stars or walkie talkies.

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6. Package up your kit. If you buy your sheets from Wal-Mart, they come in these little fabric bags, which I reused to store the flashlights, etc. I would suggest you at least put them in a gallon zip lock bag to hopefully encourage the kids to keep everything together when they are done playing. But lets be serious, that probably won’t happen.

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7. Put everything together in some sort of storage device. I originally bought photo boxes but I couldn’t quite fit the sheets in (how come the store can fold them so tiny and I can’t?) So I just got these reusable tote bags. You can get fancy and make monogrammed canvas bags, or use a pillow case. Mail it off and hope the kids like it!

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