Card Table Playhouse Tutorialette

Okay, I know that some of you have been requesting a card table playhouse tutorial. Since I basically figured it out as I went, I didn’t take pictures along the way, and since there’s lots of different ways to make the playhouse depending on what you want it to have, I thought we could compromise and I will do a “tutorial-ette”. If I were to do it over again I would also do some things differently, so here are my thoughts and tips for the whole thing.

First, here are some pictures of the inside and outside that I did not post earlier.
Back wall porthole.

Inside back wall (flap covers secret porthole).

Side wall with picture frame. (Every army tent should have pictures from home, right?)

Outside wall.

Side wall with pocket.

Some basic directions to get you going:

  • I used a full sized sheet set for the fabric. It was enough for everything other than the roof, for which I just used a brown broadcloth. I lined the entire playhouse, but my friend Jenn made one with a heavier fabric that was not lined and I think she said she used almost 4 yards of 60″ wide fabric. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Jenn!
  • Very important: know what size of card table you will be using before you sew the playhouse. I made this mistake (Google has never led me wrong before). Apparently the cheaper tables at Walmart and Target are closer to 34″ around the top instead of the 36″ that more expensive tables tend to be. Luckily I figured this out before I had the sides sewn to the roof so I just had to take them all in an inch.
  • Measure the top and side lengths and widths of the table and add one inch to each measurement. For example, my table was 34″x34″ on the roof and 34″x29″ on the sides. I cut (or should have cut, if I knew my correct dimensions before I started cutting and sewing) one 35″x35″ piece for the roof and 4 35″x30″ pieces for the walls. Remember you will need to also cut those pieces out of your lining fabric if you choose to line the playhouse. Adding the one inch will allow you 1/2″ seams.
  • After you cut your pieces out, complete each wall with any embellishments you wish before you sew the walls together. Cut out your windows and door, add your curtains and door panel, and any pockets. Otherwise you’ll later be working with a lot of fabric at once. The only exception to this rule that I used is that I did not finish the window openings with bias tape until the very end so that it would be a cleaner finish.
  • Once your walls are individually completed, you can sew the 4 walls together at the side seams. Note: if you are lining the playhouse, do not sew the lining walls together exactly the same as the outside. The two walls adjacent to the front wall need to be reversed. Otherwise when you sew the lining to the outside walls those two walls will be switched. I know that sounds confusing, just trust me, once again I learned that tip by my own error :). It will make more sense when you read about how to sew the lining to the outside.
  • Next sew the side seams to the roof. I rounded the corners on the roof slightly so they would sit nicer on the card table and not poke out. If you are not lining the project, you can hem the bottom of the playhouse and you should be done. Remember that without lining you will want to make sure your edges are finished nicely since they’ll be visible from the inside of the playhouse.
  • If lining the playhouse, after the roof and wall are sewn together, match the two pieces wrong sides together. Stitch around the entire bottom raw edge (I also stiched around the door opening that I had cut out), leaving a 8-12″ opening. Trim around any corners and pull the right sides through the opening, turning everything right side out. Press around the lower edge and topstitch around the entire bottom and door opening. If you decide to finish the windows with bias tape, you can do this now. If you have square windows, it is a lot easier to iron the corners into the bias tape before sewing it onto the playhouse rather than as you go.
  • Wow, that all sounded like it should have been a lot faster than it was when I actually made the playhouse.

Some other thoughts:

  • If I were to make another one, I would consider using a heavier twill or denim and skipping the lining. The nice thing about having it lined is any pockets or embellishments that you sew on the inside will not show stitch lines on the outside. I guess the ideal thing would be to use heavier fabric and line it as well, but it would definately cost a lot more to do.
  • My SIL made one that makes me hate the one I made. Although I can say I did give her some ideas, she really took them to the next level and made an adorable playhouse! You gotta look at hers if you want to make a cute one. And if you do please send me the link. Anyway, she had the thought to put clear vinyl in the windows. The reason for this is that if your children are pretty young still like Wyatt is, they prefer to use the windows as doors instead of the actual door. Plus, they can hang on the window and have more fun, so why would they use the door?! The vinyl would prevent this from happening but still let light in. Just an idea.

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  1. THANK YOU! Your playhouse is awesome! Actually, just today we made Cohen a “fort” with kitchen chairs and a blanket (which kind of sucked), and I was going to pester you again for a tutorial! :) I think I can handle most of it, except the bias tape stuff…I don’t profess to be a great sewer. I think I’ll order some fabric for it now and then have a sewing extravaganza next time I’m with my mom (lucky her!) Thanks again!

  2. It is sooo cute abby!! I wish I would have thought to make picture frames and pockets! It turned out awesome! And I love the camo for a boy!

  3. This is amazing!!! I am for sure going to do this for my boys! Abby, I had no idea you were so crafty & brilliant! Hope you guys are doing great… love to hear from you!

  4. Thank you so much for sending me that link for the shopping cart cover. I am so excited to make one. My mother in law and I plan to try one this weekend. I would love to get good enough at making them that I could give them for baby shower gifts. I love your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine and for your comment. You can be sure I’ll post pics of my cart cover when it is done!

  5. I just found your blog and I love it. Thank you for posting this i will have to make it (or attempt to) for my son!

  6. I made this the other night out of some old flannel evergreen sheets with moose on them! (Didn’t want to go out and buy some cutesy fabric, just to screw it up since I’m a beginner sewer!) Anyways, turned out great (not as cute as yours, ha!) But my daughter (and dog) love their new house!

  7. Thanks for sharing this tutorial, I’m making one for my 2 year old for Christmas and your ideas will help a lot. Thanks

  8. Congratulations! You have been featured on the What are little boys made of? Weekly Round-Up at seven thirty three – – – a creative blog. The mission of the weekly round-up is to bring a source for crafting with and for boys to the blogosphere.

    If you would like a nifty featured on button, email me at 733blog (at) gmail (dot) com.


  9. I found your blog through a friend’s and I can’t WAIT to try some of the things you have posted! Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. I am completely in love with the card table play houses, and my kids will definitely be getting one (or two!) for Christmas!! I’ve also included this on my website today. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  11. Just got a link to this playhouse from a friend the other day. I bought my gray felt fabric yesterday and will be attempting to create a castle themed hideaway for my little ones to runaway to far away lands in! I’m so excited! Hope it turns out half as great as yours!

  12. Hello :)
    This is fabulous! I want to make one for all the kiddos in my life! I have a ? about the lining. When you say the two adjacent walls need to be reversed, do you mean switch the two pieces, or do I sew the inside pieces upside down. Any advice would be appreciated :) Thanks for doing this tutorial!!

  13. i love love this idea!! my friend posted a link to your page on facebook and i love it :) i am going to attempt to make one for my daughter for her birthday in a few weeks. i am gathering ideas of what embellishments i want to do. do you have any pics of the one your sis did? i would love to see them :)

  14. I know I’m late to the party, but I just saw this and had to include it in my “Gifts for Boys” post! So darling!


  15. Thank you!! This is very helpful. I am in the planning stages of my first “card table playhouse”. It will be for a “princess” . I appreciate the info about what fabric to use–didn’t know if I needed to stabilize any of it. I love the camo playhouse and how you created the “roll-up” door .
    Thanks again!

  16. Thank you a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually realize what you’re talking about!

    Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =).
    We may have a link alternate arrangement between us

  17. I love your tutorial. It is very clear. I am confused about the two adjacent walls when lining. I was planning to sew the lining to each piece, do all the appliques, and then serge the four walls together, using seam binding to finish the seams on the outside. Is that not a good way to go?

    1. How did that work out Toby? I was thinking of lining the pieces before construction also.

      Another Question: How do people reinforce the windows? Is Bias tape enough? I fear the windows will rip when kids lean on it… Any thoughts?

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