In November 2015, I built a DIY Tipi hot tent. It is awesome and I love it dearly, but unfortunately, the tipi is not made for the backcountry. I took it on a few small trips last year and very quickly realized it weighs a tonne. I hadn’t realized how much until I had made a statistics sheet about it for winter in the wild and was amazed to see that it weighed about 65 lbs and with the stove, just over 100lbs! That was just too heavy for lil ol me to take into the backcountry. Sad, but true.
Here is Part 3 of How to Make a Hot Tent Camper Christina Style!
At the end of Part 2, I was in despair. My sewing machine wasn’t working, my stove was lost and I was questioning this entire project. I headed to bed and got a good rest and woke up with new determination. I was going to get this done, I had to and I had to figure out how. Sometimes, I post things on social media to keep people apprised of what I’m up to, but that also holds me accountable. Even if I wanted to quit, which I often did, I felt like I couldn’t. The show must go on!
I was hopeful the stove would arrive on Monday, which would still give me 5 evenings to work on the tent, burning toxins off the stove, measuring for the stove jack, setting it up properly outside, etc etc. The weather was supposed to turn though and we were going to get hit with a lot of rain Monday and Tuesday nights, then snow the rest of the week. (yay). There was nothing I could do about the stove, but keep calling and asking and waiting. Dave from Lure of the North had been awesome. He put in a service ticket with Canada Post and continuously checked for updates advised me on the status. At 8:30 am Monday, I called Canada Post. They told me the stove was out for delivery. The scans did not say that at my end but I dared to believe. I called my local post office at 9:15. Veronica informed me she looked for the package first thing (we’d been in touch since Friday and were well acquainted at this point) and it wasn’t in. OH NOO!!!! Sigh, nothing I could do. I still had a few projects to complete so I would just do those first and cross my fingers the stove would arrive.
Then there was the issue of the sewing machine. I hadn’t been able to sew more than 10 stitches without the thread breaking. I didn’t know why or what was wrong with it and after an hour on the phone with Glen Burgess, thinking it was the thread, replacing it, the issue was still present. Not only that, but it was also doing a new thing, tying knots at the needle and making huge tangled messes.
I had borrowed a sewing machine last year from a friend at work to renovate the tipi as mine had been in storage. I still had it somewhere in the house so I checked for it and located it. I set it up and remembered it as not working very well last I left it but suddenly it was working like a dream! THANK GOODNESS!!!
I had completed the stove jack and it looked great but it also needed a flap to go over it to close up the hole when the stove was not in use. That would not be often as this is the reason for having a hot tent, but I still needed to make a flap. I pulled out a leftover piece of canvas that didn’t have any flaws on it and laid it down underneath the stove jack.
I made sure to be generous with the material so it would easily cover the entire stove jack and then some. The canvas piece I was using already had 2 hems on 2 of the sides so I just needed to add 2 more. I cut the material to size and then folded the edges over twice so the material could not fray and it looked very clean, then I pinned it. First I did the right side, pinned it and sewed it, and then I did the bottom edge the same way.
My plan was to affix the top of the flap to the tent by sewing it and then put velcro down the sides to keep it attached to the tent when closed. I carefully sewed in the velcro and stayed away from the rough bristly area of it as much as possible and the machine didn’t seem to have issues with that. Thank goodness!
Once, I completed sewing the velcro onto the one side, I sewed it to the other side. Then I rolled it up as it would sit above the stove jack when the stove pipe was sticking out and put a small piece of velcro on the top centre to ensure it stayed up. It seemed to be strong enough to do so with the side velcro but just to be safe. If this randomly rolled down and landed on the stove pipe while it was hot, maybe while I was sleeping, it could cause a fire so better to be safe than sorry.
I was pretty happy with the stove jack flap I’d made and I think it would work well. I was anxious to get it onto the tent as well as the stove jack. Hopefully the stove would arrive tomorrow so I could get to work!
The next morning I got a call from my friend Veronica at Canada Post. She had my stove!!!! YAY!!!!!!! Finally. I was so happy I went there at lunchtime to get it. I have been to the post office twice since moving here to arrive to a note on the door saying they had to leave early, emergency, power outage, etc and I didn’t want to take any chances at all. As soon as I finished work I ran outside, literally, as we were supposed to get rain at that exact time and set up the tent, then opened the box with the stove in it to check it out!
The stove that ended up being sent was one that had already been burned. Dave said I could have this one right away or wait until their next shipment came in to get a brand new one and getting one already burned was actually beneficial to me so I could save time. Plus getting a brand new one would basically mean I wouldn’t be able to finish the tent until the week before Christmas and would most likely not be able to take it out until after Christmas. That was too long for me to wait! HAHAHA.
It looked great and I was very happy with the coloring that came from the first burn. I was also very happy to receive a Lure of the North buff in the box. I immediately put it on. Once I took a look at the stove and pulled out all the pipes and saw how they fit together, etc, I turned my attention back to the tent.
As soon as I’d set it up, I noticed there was something very wrong with it. I had noticed it inside but just assumed that when I set it up properly, staked into the ground outside, the issue would resolve itself, but I was wrong. Now I was in a jam. The weather was about to turn and I had no idea if I had minutes or hours to work outside, but I could not measure for the stove jack installation until I fixed this problem.
I found it somewhat hard to photograph this but did my best. Basically the problem was that the 4 sides that were the main seams on the tent were all sagging. They were tight at the top and the bottom and kept the pole in and up but they sank inside themselves and were extremely loose. I was beside myself and did not have the time to fix this, but I had to. I couldn’t continue on with the tent looking like this. It just wasn’t right.
I quickly went inside the tent and got my pins out and took in all 4 of the main side seams, gathering the slack and pinning them so the sag was removed. It looked 100 times better, just pinning them. Now I would have to take the tent down, go inside and resew all 4 seams again, taking some of them in a few inches in the mid sections. It took about an hour to sew up the seams. I sewed very quickly and only needed to sew each seam once as they were already sewed and zig zagged previously so it wasn’t too bad. It was dark by the time I was done, but thankfully, the rain had not started. I grabbed my flashlight and went back outside and set the tent back up again.
It looked pretty good by flashlight, lol. Not perfect by any means, but it was a huge improvement from how it was just over an hour ago. I was satisfied enough to proceed with the setting up of the stove and measuring for the jack, finally. This was the moment I had been wanting and dreading at the same time. I could only do my best, so I went about doing that.
Earlier I had taken a large piece of paper and made it the same size as the stove jack. I marked the centre on it and would use it as my pattern to help me. This was another great suggestion I received from Glen Burgess and it worked awesome! Thanks Glen! You have helped me so much with this project and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
I set the stove up inside the tent and placed it in the best location. I didn’t want to have the stove jack on the front panel of the tent, but it seemed like a small corner of it would cross the boundary and there wasn’t much I could do about that. I already had the stove out really far from the sides and didn’t want to loose any more space. After moving the elbow around and adjusting things here and there, I finally settled on where the stove jack would go and got out my pins and affixed the paper patter to the tent. I probably spent an entire hour outside messing around with it, one, because I wanted it right and two because I didn’t want to get out of the tent. hahaha. I was already making myself at home. Plus it was super windy outside now and the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees and it was actually warm inside.
Once the paper pattern was affixed with the pins and exactly where I wanted the stove jack to be, I took a sharpie and drew around the pipe so I had the exact measurement of the hole that would need to be cut out. Then I took down the tent and brought it inside carefully so as not to loose any of the pins and got ready for the scary part of the project. I would get started on that the next day with a clear mind and a fresh bank of time.
As soon as I finished work the next day, I got back to the tent to get started. By the end of the night, I had hoped this part of the tent would be done. Fingers crossed. I laid out the tent on the dining room table, focusing on the stove jack area and the paper pattern. The first thing I needed to do was to outline the paper pattern so I knew where the stove jack would go. I did this using masking tape and put it on the canvase making an outline around the pattern.
Once that was done I unpinned the pattern from the canvas and replaced the paper pattern with the real stove jack that would be used.
Then I put the paper pattern overtop and lightly traced the circle onto the stove jack where the pipe hole would be cut out. Once this was done, I used a zig zag stitch and went all around the circle three times. I would need to cut the hole out and as this material frays a ridiculous amount, this should help that from happening.
Sewing the tent at this point was extremely difficult. The entire fabric had to be squished under the small space under the presser foot until the area I was working on was in place. It was definitely a struggle.
Once the circle was zig zagged sufficiently, I got out the gasket sealant I had picked up at Princess Auto with the welding blanket. I carefully beaded the sealant all along the circle where I’d just sewn and covered it and either side of the stitches so the thread wouldn’t be exposed and burn.
Once this was done, I let it sit for about an hour, then flipped the stove jack over and did the same on the other side. I then let it sit overnight to cure.
After work the next day, I cut the hole out. I was very nervous and took my time carefully cutting and did the best I could. I am not the best cutter. LOL, but it turned out okay. When the hole was cut, the stove jack was finally complete and ready to install into the tent. More deep breaths. LOL
I laid the completed stove jack onto the tent inside the masking tape border I’d made earlier and it fit perfectly. I pinned the stove jack to the tent using a lot of pins. I knew it would be a struggle putting all this material through the machine to get to this area and didn’t want it to move at all. When it was secure, I removed the tape and took the tent to the sewing machine to run a straight stitch all the way around the stove jack, attaching it permanently to the tent.
Once the stove jack was sewn to the tent I put it back on the table flipping the tent over so the outside of the tent was face up. I took a ruler and put lines all around the edges both 1 and 2 inches from where the stitching was. Then I cut the canvas out of the middle using the line that was 2″ out from the seam.
Once the square was cut out, I went into each corner and put a diagonal slit in with the scissors. Then I took each side and folded them under twice to make a nice frame around the stove jack. I thought the border/frame was a bit big so I unfolded it, took an inch off all the way around and then folded it back under again making it only a half an inch wide instead of an inch. This exposed more of the stove jack providing more coverage and I was much happier with it.
Once it was all nicely folded under, I pinned it and sewed a straight stitch all the way around to make it look nice.
The stove jack was now basically done and I couldn’t be happier!!!! It was a huge relief and I just hoped it lined up nicely with the stove pipe once it was set up. For now, I still had another thing to do. I needed to install the stove jack flap over the stove jack to provide coverage to the hole when the stove wasn’t in use. I was happy at this point that it was already completed and I just needed to do a few things to get it onto the tent.
I laid out the stove jack flap on top of the stove jack and rolled it up as it would normally sit on the tent when the stove was in use. The stove jack flap did end up having the top left corner over onto the front flap. I would’ve lost too much room inside the tent putting it over any farther so it had to be done like this. This also meant I would have to put the stove jack on a bit over to the right so it would lay on the proper side of the tent and cover the stove jack. I placed it where it would do the best job and pinned the top of it to the tent, then sewed it onto the tent permanently.
Once the flap was sewn on, I once again laid the tent out on the table and attached the opposite piece of velcro to the tent with pins, lining them up with the velcro on the flap. This took some adjusting but I finally got it where I thought it would work best and then carefully sewed the velcro to the tent. I had purposely put the bristly side of the velcro onto the flap so the soft part would be on the tent. This was easier to sew and would be the most exposed part of the velcro when the tent was set up so I wanted it to be soft there and not catch on things while setting up the tent etc. The sewing machine didn’t get too mad at me and sewed the velcro nicely in place.
I put the tent back on the table and rolled and unrolled the stove jack flap and it seemed to work perfectly. There was only one way to tell for sure, set it up. I had two more things that I would do before that though, putting on my logo, and installing a vent into the tent.
I had ordered some cinch bags from Vista Print last year and the quality was terrible. They were not very well stitched and the material was practically see through. I had saved the bags in case I needed a logo for something and this was just the thing! I cut the logo out of the cinch bag and pinned it to the lower let corner of the right front door. I had tried it in a few places and this was the spot I’d liked best. I sewed it on, and it was done. Easy peasy!
Even though I do not have any type of vent on the tipi, I had heard a lot of concern from people regarding carbon monoxide poisoning in winter tents. I honestly had no fear of this as the canvas I am using is thinner than most winter tents at only 8 ounces. I can literally put it to my face and breath through it, it is that thin. Regardless, I thought it would be neat to have a little vent in the tent to let any smoke or bad air out and get a bit of fresh air in, above and beyond what came through the walls and I had a design all planned out in my head. I began working on it and then my sewing machine decided it was on strike and would not work properly again no matter how hard I tried. It was Thursday night and I was taking the tent out to Algonquin Park to test it out on Saturday morning. I still needed to do quite a few things to get ready and I just didn’t have the time to sew one seam for an hour because the sewing machine would only put out 5 stitches before jamming so I declared the tent done and moved on. I would put a vent in next week when I had more time but for now, I was officially finished!!!!
I took the tent outside in the snow and set it up. It looked pretty good. The stove jack was in a good place. It was a bit crooked but that would probably change each time I set up the tent as it would never set up exactly the same as the last time. I found 2 aluminum poles I had to use to hammer into the ground and support the stove pipe with a wire between them used as a cradle and that seemed to work just fine. So far so good.
I took a few photos, then tore down and brought the tent inside to dry it out and pack it for my test run with it at Mew Lake in Algonquin! I didn’t have a scale but guess the weight to be approximately 10lbs. The entire 12′ x 15′ canvas was 11lbs and I cut away 4 feet of it, although 1 foot of that was replaced with plastic coated canvas. The tent folded up quickly was measured at 17″ x 17″ x 9″.
Curious about the costs of this project? Here is a stat sheet of all the items purchased so far and their costs.
Will all my hard work pay off? Will the tent stay up and not crash down on my head? I guess we will see? Stay tuned to find out more next week !
Thanks so much for your interest in my hot tent. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a comment. For more details, please check out my videos on How To Make a Hot Tent Camper Christina Style on my YouTube channel. Part 3 will be up Thursday.
If you would like to see the new tent in person, please visit me at the Winter In the Wild Festival over Family Day Weekend at Mew Lake Campground in Algonquin Park! I will have both my DIY Tipi and Hot Tent on display. Hope to see you there!
Happy Tent Making!