our everyday life

How to Make a Circus Tent for a Kid's Birthday

by Daisy Peasblossom Fernchild, studioD

You can make a circus tent awning using muslin or cotton fabric. The tent will not be waterproof. To create a reusable circus tent, use light canvas or a naturally waterproof fabric, such as rip-stop nylon instead of the lighter fabrics. Most fabrics can be treated with a waterproofing solution to make them water-resistant. The fabric might then keep the rain off long enough for protection from sudden showers.

Mark the circumference of the area where you wish to make the circus tent. This might be on your lawn, or it could even be in a gym or large room. Measure from the center of the area to the edge. This is the radius for your circular top. Add 2 feet to the total measurement to allow for an upward slope from the edge to the top of the tent. Multiply the radius times pi, then square the result to get the circumference measurement.

Subtract 4 inches from the width of your fabric. Divide the circumference by the result to get the number of pieces you will need to make the tent. Square the end of the fabric, and place it on a smooth surface. Measure from the cut end of the fabric the length of the radius, plus 2 feet, and mark the edges. Mark the center of the cut edge. Use a snap line to create chalk lines from the center point to the spots marked on the sides of the fabric. Cut out the cone shape, and use it as a pattern to cut the rest of the fabric. Use your original piece as the pattern to maintain size consistency.

French-seam the pieces of the tent together, using alternating colors, but leave the last 3 inches of the tips of the cone unstitched. Fold the points over the grommet, and sew them in place, using heavy thread. Hem the outer edge of the tent top. You can add fringe, other decorations or even sew a strip of Velcro on it so you can add sides or panels of mosquito netting. Sew grommets to the outer edge of the tent top.

Drive a double-headed nail into the top of the 4-by-4-inch by 8-foot board. Use a post hole digger to create a 12-inch deep hole or use a prepared base made from 2-by-4-inch boards to hold the center pole upright. Place the central grommet over the double-headed nail, and lift the pole into position. Weight the base with concrete blocks or sand bags to help it remain upright. Place tent pegs at a 45-degree angle, pointing out, about 2 feet beyond the perimeter of the tent. Tie heavy jute twine to the edge grommets on the tent top, then tie them to the tent pegs.

Items you will need
  •  red fabric
  •  white fabric
  •  waterproofing solution
  •  tape measure
  •  dressmaker's chalk
  •  snap line
  •  4-by-4-inch by 8 foot board
  •  2-by-4 inch boards
  •  double-headed nail
  •  regular nails
  •  grommets
  •  scissors
  •  sewing machine
  •  jute cord
  •  post hole digger
  •  concrete blocks
  •  sand bags
  •  tent pegs


  • Have at least two adults on hand to put up the tent.

About the Author

Daisy Peasblossom Fernchild has been writing for over 50 years. Her first online publication was a poem entitled "Safe," published in 2008. Her articles specialize in animals, handcrafts and sustainable living. Fernchild has a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Arts in library science.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images