Saturday, October 5, 2013

Going to the Dark Side...

Has anyone actually tried to block-out ALL the light in a kids room – without actually painting the windows black?
I have. 
Talk about 'going to the dark side" I have one of those children who needs almost total black to get a wink of sleep.

So I tried block-out curtains and light came in over the top of the rod.
I bought numerous block-out blinds and light came in down the sides.
I tried both together – better but I still needed bits of Velcro/ blue tack/ whatever to stop random little sunspots from ferreting under over and around.

So following my next venture into custom manufacturing - the perfect block-out roman blind – a truly complex and horrible job I might add, which failed due to an uneven window frame, I had a brain wave.
Put the block-out fabric around the kids head - it's the ONLY way.

Ok so before you report me to the Department of Children’s Services for suffocating my child take a look at this bed tent:

This looks harder than it is to make and besides that, I have instructions here for two versions, the one pictured above and another no-sewing-required cheats way: (scroll way down to the end for that one)

So are you ready?


A large strong ceiling hook attached to the bearers in the roof – best to get a handyman to do this for you.

I used a set of tab-top IKEA children’s curtains; VITAMINER VIMPEL to be exact. ($34.99) A couple of meters of block-out curtain lining which I sewed to only one panel (the one facing the window).

One small sized Hula-hoop ideally 181cm circumference (57cm diameter). Try to find one that is held together with a plug as shown (rather than as staple). 

This will save you having to remove the staple and carve your own plug from a wine cork.  This hula hoop is from Toys R Us, and with it’s pull apart plug it’s like a circular curtain rod which is just what we need.

 Last but not least you’ll need some extra IKEA fabric to make the top. I used a piece from IKEA’s Vitaminer Rand  range:


So for keen Sewers, your first job is to line one panel with block-out fabric – lay your block-out fabric  panel on the floor and lay your outer fabric panel over the top. Leave around 4cms allowance for hems all round, and cut it to size.  I sewed the side hems first then sewed the hemmed block-out panel to the inside top of the curtain just under the tabs. !!! Be sure that the wrong side of the block-out faces the wrong side of the curtain panel. 

To get best results, hang this curtain up on one of your window curtain rods and tack by hand at 35cm intervals down the curtain length. 

This avoids a common problem of curtain linings, pulling and/or twisting the curtains out of shape.



Making the Big-Top is like making a drawstring bag with no bottom. Whatever size hula-hoop you use cut the fabric 2cms wider than the circumference of the hoop this allows a 1cm seam. My big top is 40cms long finished so you need to add 5cms at the top for the drawstring casing and about 4cms at the bottom to attach the  bunting/flags and turn up to hem.  Fig a.

Before sewing the side seam, top and bottom, finish your raw edges by running a fine zigzag or over-lock stich along all raw edges.

When sewing the side seam, leave the inside top of your side seam open.  Snip or buttonhole another opening directly opposite to leave two places to bring the ends of the drawstring through for hanging -so that your tent wont hand lopsided.



To fit my 181cm hoop I used 13 flags - 15cm wide by 17cms long. Fig b

 You will also need 13 loops of cotton tape 3cms wide and 10cms long. (You can buy this at any fabric or haberdashery store.) These will be folded in half and sewn under the centre of each flag on the very inside bottom hem of you tent top, ready to thread through the hoop. When you’ve attached your bunting and tabs to the raw bottom edge fold up press and topstitch (see Fig’s a & c).



Open your hoop and thread the curtain tabs and top tabs alternately until they’re all in place. fig c.

Thread some thick ribbon for your drawstring through the casing at the top, pulling out a loop at both openings and loop your large rubber band  through both loops, you’re ready to get up that ladder and hang!

You man need to adjust the length of your drawstring to suit the tent length/ ceiling hight.


Now the Easy way out:

Ok  if you’re not up for sewing there’s a cheats way out  - Lincraft & Spotlight sell block-out tab & ring top kids curtains in a variety of fun prints on both pink and blue backgrounds, and you can make a festive tent top from just a bunch of multi coloured wide ribbons looped over the Hula hoop and tied together at the top.  With a lot of colourful ribbon, you don’t need to go to the trouble of making bunting (little triangles) around the top it can look quite festive without.

I got our handyman in to install a strong hook and took his advice to tie the tent top to a thick elastic band. That way if ‘someone’ tries to swing on it the tent will come down rather than the ceiling.

Other nice touches I used here where IKEA's VITAMINER VIMPEL Matching quilt cover and pillow case for $17.99

And just look at this gorgeous hexagon cushion courtesy of SewPaintIt. And yes, the reverse-side fabric is from IKEA as well.


Good luck and sweet dreams. :0) 


or try a little more bedtime reading...

sweet dreams





  1. Oh you sweetie! Thanks for the shout out?
    How are you? Back yet?
    I have 2 more sleeps before coming back. Xxxx

    1. U r entirely welcome! We got back yesterday so enjoying my first Nespresso coffee in a week- bliss :0)