DIY Dormer Window Fort

Unused window space turned cozy toddler fort!

We’ve lived in Scott Cottage for 5 years now. The upstairs space that the stairs led into I never thought much about. It was an empty space with frames and souvenirs on the shelves where it’s main purpose was a hallway to get to the master bedroom.

We renovated last year to add a bedroom upstairs and as the year has gone on the unused “loft” space has become a play area for Quinn!

It’s been a labor of love as I’ve continued to add to the space. My favorite project has been the dormer window fort up there.

Toddler + Fort = Pure Happiness

Once I knew I wanted to turn the space into a fort, my obsession turned to the fabric. I knew I still wanted the light to come into the room well, so I settled on a white patterned cotton print from JoAnn Fabrics. Then while at JoAnn Fabrics I purchased various fabric squares (Fabric Squares were on sale for $0.99 each!) as I knew I wanted to make a banner for the fort!

Step 1: Measure

I wanted the fort to be no-damage to the walls, so I assembled the fort with white tension rods (which was super easy!). Amazon had a great 5 pack in white which was the exact amount I needed in the measurements of 28″ to 48″. I used the tension rods to “mark up” where the fabric would be hung to measure. You’ll want to set up a tension rod as close to the top of the window as you can get and measure that space from wall to wall by the window and take note of the measurement, ours was 32 inches wide.

Then you’ll want to eye where you want the fort to come out to, place up a tension rod, and measure wall to wall to ensure the measurement matches the first one (it should, but just incase your space is uneven), again this was 32 inches wide.

Then you’ll want to measure the distance between those two tension rods, #1 and #2. These measurements will make up the fabric for the top portion of the fort. This distance was 35 inches long.

Then, where you’ve hung the second tension rod, you’ll measure the distance between that and the floor. This measurement will make up the front panels of the fort. This distance was 58 inches long.

Then you’ll take your measurements to decide how much fabric you’ll need for each portion. The top portion came to 32 inches wide by 35 inches long. I added 7 inches to the length so there would be fabric to become an overhang, bringing the top panel to 32 inches wide by 42 inches long.

For the front panel, this came to 32 inches wide by 58 inches long. I wanted to front panels to hang longer to drape a bit onto the floor so i added 5 inches to this measurement, bringing the front panel to 32 inches wide by 63 inches long. This panel would be cut directly in half, giving me two equal panels of 16 inches wide by 63 inches long.

All in all, I needed 4 yards total of fabric, which led to a little left over as well that I plan to do something with one day!

Step 2: Sewing!

So I cannot sew, it’s one of those things I absolutely wish I could do, and sure I took a sewing class in high school and made some PJ pants but no, I do not remember anything at all. I have a wonderful local friend Katelin with a toddler boy the same age. She graciously sewed the panels for me!

On the top panel, the one width edge would need to be sewed to have a tension rod space to go through, the other end would need to be pressed at where I wanted the overhang and I cut loops out of the fabric (picture below of the loops!) to be sewed along that line so the tension rob can go through and the remaining 5 inches of fabric would hang down in the front.

On the front panels the top width portion would need a tension rod space to go through on both of them. Using sharp fabric scissors I cut out the three panels (top and two front), leaving 1.5 inches extra fabric on each end to allow for the tension rod spaces and folding over to sew the edges. After all the pieces were cut, I remeasured and used an iron to press all the ends and marked off with pins where it needed to be sewed. I pinned sticky notes on each side to mark which to sew first, etc. The long ends needed to be sewed first, so you don’t sew closed the tension rod spaces. I found it really helpful to label everything since it all made sense in my head (hah!) and my friend was the one helping me sew it ! While our toddlers played and we caught up, she sewed all the panels and the loop holes onto the top panel

Step 3: Assemble

Time to put it all together. Starting with the top panel I threaded the tension rod through the one end and hung back at the window. Then i threaded the tension rod through the loop holes and hung back between the walls – looking so far so good!

Now, a third tension rod comes into play. On a third tension rod I threaded both front panels onto it and hung this tension rod directly beneath the outter tension rod with the loop holes, and just like that you have a fort with a top and front panels!

Step 4: Details!

This was the most fun part, adding all the details! I made a banner to hang across the front by tearing fabric bits from fabric squares I picked up at JoAnns and tying them onto a thick rope we had lying around the house. I absolutely love how it came out! By tearing the fabric pieces the ends were unfinished and looked more organic. I hung the banner across the front panel of the fort with command strips. Making the whole fort damage free to the walls!

I found some wall art at Hobby Lobby, one that says “Little Man Cave (No Girls Allowed)” and a cactus which matches some of the other decor in the room.

Comfy Fort = Cozy Toddler & Cats

The most important part of the fort is making it comfy. I found a backrest at Marshall’s – which is his absolute favorite thing and he drags it around the play area – we had two extra king size pillows that placed side by side length wise fit perfectly in the space, with white pottery barn pillow cases. While we were in Prague for the holidays we found a white sherpa rug at a christmas market that we had to have. All our Air BNBs had the softest rugs and pillows and Quinn was obsessed rubbing his face on them. It’s now a toss up who loves the rug more – the cats or Quinn. Then for final comfy touches we had an extra white textured pillow from TJ Maxx that got tossed in and a “wanderer” pillow from Crate & Barrel.

Naturally while laying in fort, you’re going to look up, which inspired me to add some twinkle stars. I found some warm ones on amazon that i strung between two more tension rods, it’s battery operated and has a remote so i don’t have to reach in to turn it on. Quinn now points up to them and says “Staaaa” at night so I can turn them on for him.

Important phone calls from the fort!

We love this addition to our playroom, especially being previously unused dormer window space. Living in a small home I love making use of every space available. Quinn loves to read there, we lay there together on rainy days and look up at the stars, and I often find the cats curled up in there sleeping.

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