How To Make a Kid's Hammock Swing and Mini Circus Tent

Come one, come all to the backyard event of the year. Kids will have a blast with their own, personal mini circus.

Black and White Tent and Hammock Swing with Little Girl.

DIY Kids Hammock Swing and Mini Circus Tent Cover 1

This is a fun project to make for the kids this summer.

Photo by: Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Hammock Swing Materials Needed:

  • 1 1/4 x 3" hardwood dowel
  • 3/8"x16' polypropylene
  • 2 yards of upholstery fabric or canvas* (to fit a small child)
  • 80mm stainless steel spring snap link (enough to support 220 pounds)
  • 3/16" stainless steel quick link (enough to support 220 pounds)
  • drill with 3/8" drill bit
  • sewing machine
  • cotton blend thread
  • iron and ironing board
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • lighter
Rope, Wood Dowel, Fabric, Ruler and Hardware

DIY Kids Hammock Swing Supplies

Only a few supplies are needed to make a fun hammock swing for kids.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Hammock Swing Steps

Cut the Fabric

*Any type of upholstery grade fabric will work in this project. The fabric needs to be thick/heavy in order to sustain wear with repeated seating. In this project, a printed duck tablecloth was used for the hammock seat. Thick tableclothes are a great option to use for their versatile patterns and colors. They are also budget friendly. 

Fold the full piece of fabric in half and lay it flat. Fold the canvas in half. Orient the folded edge to your left. If you cut the fabric on the long edge, you will have a deeper chair. Cutting the fabric on the short edge will give you a wider chair. Mark a point about 7 inches to the left of the top right corner (Image 1). Draw a light diagonal line toward the bottom right corner (Image 2). Cut along the diagonal line—this will make a trapezoid shape (Image 3).

Hem the Fabric

Starting with the straight sides on the top and bottom of the trapezoid, fold over the edge an inch and iron it down to keep it in place (Image 1). Fold in the edges again one inch and press down with an iron, then pin them in place (Image 2). Stitch the fold twice in two parallel lines (top and bottom of folds) to reinforce it (Image 3).

Hem the Sides

Fold in the corners of the long (diagonal) sides at a 90 degree angle (Image 1). Fold in two inches and press all the way down the sides. Then, fold in again two inches, press, and stitch the fold twice in two parallel lines (top and bottom of folds) to reinforce it (Image 2). 

Make the Swing

Mark two holes at each end of the dowel, at 2” and 4”(Image 1). Drill through the holes using the 3/8" bit. Sand to remove any little burrs and/or splinters.  Paint the dowel (optional) and let it dry before the next step (Image 2).

Assemble the Hammock Swing

Tie a large knot at one end of the 16’ rope, leaving about 3” of a tail. Melt the end of the rope slightly to prevent fraying (Image 1). Thread the unknotted end through one of the holes on the end of the dowel. The knot should rest on top of the dowel (Image 2). Lay the fabric with the right side (printed) down and the narrow edge at the top. Guide the rope up from the widest corner of one side of the canvas seat to the narrow corner at the top. This will cause the fabric to flip, but don’t panic—this is normal (Image 3). Measure approximately 3 feet from your first knot, and tie another knot. Thread the rope up through the inner hole of the dowel. The knot will rest against the bottom of the dowel (opposite side as the first knot) (Image 4).

Thread the rope down through the other (inside) hole on the other end of the dowel. Measure 3 feet from the loose end and tie a loose knot. This knot will rest against the bottom of the dowel. Thread the loose end of the rope down through the pocket, starting at the narrow end and emerging from the wider end. Measure 3” from the loose end and tie a knot, leaving a 3” tail. The knot will rest on the outside of the dowel.

Little Boy in a Hammock Swing

DIY Kids Hammock Swing Chair and Mini Circus Tent Cover 3

A hammock swing is perfect of kids to relax outdoors.

Photo by: Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

How to Hang

Find the center of the rope above the dowel and tie a knot with 8” to 10” of rope above it. Attach the spring link, and then the quick link to the loop above the knot. Screw the hanging hook into a ceiling beam or loop a thick rope around a large tree branch that can support at least 220 lbs. Hang the link from it and let your little ones enjoy it.

Little Boy and Girl with Hammock Swing and Tent

DIY Kids Hammock Swing Chair and Mini Circus Tent Cover 2

Kids of all ages will love to play in their own mini circus.

Photo by: Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Mini Circus Tent Materials Needed:

  • 2 shower curtains*
  • extra large binder ring
  • hula hoop (any size will do)
  • 40 ft. x 1/8 inch braided nylon rope
  • S hook (large enough to hold at least 50 lbs)
  • scissors
Hula Hoop, Shower Curtains, Rope, Scissors and Binder Clip

Supplies for Mini Circus Tent

All the supplies needed to make a mini circus tent can be found at your local big box retailer.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Mini Circus Tent Steps

*Shower curtains will give you the best bang for your buck. They are long and wide, already hemmed and have the holes needed to make a tent. Plus, shower curtains come is a myriad of colors, styles and textures—there’s sure to be a set out there that will strike your fancy.

Make the Frame

Cut four equal pieces of nylon rope. The length will vary depending on where you are planning to hang it (Image 1). Fold one length of rope in half and lay it across one section of the hula hoop (Image 2). Bring the tails under the hula hoop and under the folded end of the rope (Image 3). Pull the tails of the rope up through the loop of the rope and pull to tighten (Image 4). Tie an overhand knot to secure the loop in place. Repeat the last three rope steps three more times. Then, slide the ropes so they are opposite of each other and spaced evenly, one in each quadrant of the circle (Image 5).

Put the Tent Together

Using the large binder clip, start threading it through the holes at the top of the shower curtains (Image 1). Close the binder clip to secure both shower curtains in the ring (Image 2).


Gather the ends of the rope and pull through the top ring in the center of the gathered shower curtains (Image 1). Tie an overhand knot at the base of the gathered shower curtain. Spread the curtain around the hula hoop frame to create the tent (Image 2).

How to Hang

Depending on where the tent will hang will determine the type of hook needed. If hanging indoors, you will need an eye hook that can support at least 50 lbs and it needs to be screwed into a ceiling beam. Alternatively, you can loop a length of rope on a thick tree branch and attach the tent with a large S hook rated to hold 50 lbs.

Add bunting, colorful fringes or lights to the tent and hammock swing. Get creative with accessories such as pillows. Your kids can entertain themselves for hours in their mini circus.

Hammock Swing Chair and Mini Circus Tent

DIY Kids Hammock Swing Chair and Mini Circus Tent Cover 4

A fun hammock chair and mini circus tent is all you need to keep the kids entertained this summer.

Photo by: Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

Hilary Van Brunt/Fearless Photography

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