When it comes to portable private spaces, tents may be fun and practical, but canopies are magical. Hooked on a branch in the yard or suspended in a corner of a child's room, these airy shelters provide a sweet spot for relaxing with a good book or sharing secrets with a pal.
You can order a pricey version from a catalog -- or make your own for less than $25, customized with your little dreamer's favorite colors and creative touches. All it takes is a hula hoop, fabric, ribbon ... and a bit of imagination. Here's how!
The Frame: Cut six 66-inch lengths of ribbon.
Fold each length of ribbon in half, wrap the central fold around the hoop, and loop the ribbon's ends through it as shown.
Arrange the ribbons so that they are evenly spread around the hoop. Gather the ends in the middle of the hoop, fold them over, then knot them, leaving a loop for hanging the canopy. Trim the excess ribbon.
The Covering: Mark a dot at the center point of one length of muslin or tulle. Affix a 2-inch square of duct tape over the dot, turn the fabric over, and affix a second 2-inch square aligned with the first.
Cut a 3/4-inch hole through the taped spot. Repeat on the second length of fabric.
Lay the two lengths of fabric so they form an X, with the holes aligned as shown. Place the hoop under the fabric and thread the ribbon loop through the holes. Once the canopy is hung, trim the fabric's bottom edge with pinking shears if desired.
The Leafy Topper: Lay the frame atop the felt. With chalk, draw a circle 6 inches outside the hoop. Cut along the line, then trim the edge into a leafy fringe. Cut a center hole, place the topper over the frame, and thread the loop through the hole.
Clip On Some Critters! To adorn our tulle canopy and hold back the fabric for an entranceway, we made floaty butterflies. For each, fold two 9-inch squares of tulle accordion-style, stack them, and twist a pipe cleaner around the center point. Use strong adhesive (such as Crafter's Pick The Ultimate glue) to affix each butterfly -- or each plastic bug for your safari canopy -- to a wooden clothespin.