April, 1993 Tournaments Illuminated. Reprinted with the author's gracious permission. If you have questions about this design, please write her at Valerie Lilley 1114 N Institute Place Peoria Illinois 61606, or email me at tguptill@teleport.com

The author also mentioned that she would update this design to substitute steel for copper, as copper doesn't weld properly for this application.

By Valerie Lilley/Sofiya 'Sofi' Ruriknova Pisarevana Dominique

What a great way to have a cross breeze during those sticky camping events. The manuscript I used to make mine is the "Jousts at St. Inglevert," from a fifteenth-century copy of Froissart's Chronicles. A color picture of this can be found in the book, Arming and Warfare in the Middle Ages, The English Experience by Michael Prestwich, Yale University Press, 1996.

This is basically a round tent with a cone-shaped roof. Because of the extra weight the dormers and their hardware put on the tent, I don't recommend making a round tent with a false center pole, such as in the Known World Handbook, page 90. The directions below are for a tent with about an 11 foot diameter at the top of the walls. Because the walls flare out slightly, there is plenty of room for a double blow up mattress on the floor.

Materials: You will have plenty of scraps left over.


1. Cut long triangles out of your fabric such as illustrated. Sew the triangles together using an overlapping stitch such as in jeans. Round off the bottom so you have a circle instead of something like a pentagon.

Because good sources for reasonably-priced fabric don't always sell their bolts in 60 inch lengths, cut triangles until you have a 34 foot, 10 inch diameter at the bottom of the cone. A good way to do this is by cutting triangles and sewing them together until you reach the diameter. Make sure the lengths are seven feet from the point to the middle bottom.

2. Unless you have a super-duper sewing machine, you probably won't get the cone tip sewn all the way shut. Sew it as closely shut as possible. The top will be taken care of later on in the process.

3. Cut and sew together the short ends of 14 inch-wide strips until you have 34 feet, 12 inches. Sew the ends together so you have a circle and then sew it onto the roof. This is your rain shield and will keep the rain from seeping into your tent between the walls and the roof.

TIP:  Because you are working with so much fabric, it might be easier to sew on the 34-foot strip before comleting the strip into a circle.  Then when you get close to sewing the ends together as you sew the strip around the tent, sew the ends together for a circle.

4. Sew the nylon stripping along the roof seams to inreinforce the fabric.  The stripping will hold a lot of the weight of the tent, so your fabric won't rip.

5. Cut 9 foot, 9 inch strips about 5 inches wide.  These will be the sleeves for your PVC pipe. Sew them right above the seam that holds your rain shield to the roof. Space them six inches apart.  This space is where you will slip in the 34 feet, 10 inch of PVC pipe. The PVC is what will make your tent keep its roundness.

6. Space 8 grommets evenly around the bottom of the cone, but above the PVC pockets. Place the grommets on the nylon strip-backed seams--not on a plan [sic] of fabric. This will reinforce the grommet during high winds.

7. Top dormers--Cut the roof, which is a square, at 9 inches by 9 inches. The sides are triangles at 7 by 6 by 8 inches. I recommend cutting these and making them slightly longer as your cone's slope might turn out to be slightly different than the one I made. The front, or face, is a house shape. See Illustration. Make four of these.

These do not shut and are for cosmetic purposes only. You might want to paint black holes to look like windows.  Because they are 10 feets up in the tent roof, they would be really hard to open and shut. If you would like to make them functional, use the directions in number 8, but the same dimensions stated here.

8. Bottom dormers. For the face dimensions, see illustration. Before sewing onto the roof and sides, cut the window out. Finish the faw edges either by sewing bias tape around it or with a sturdy trim.  Sew in screening. Then sew Velcro around edge.  Cut a flap to cover the windows.  The flap should be an inch large than the window on all sides.  Sew the bottom of the flap onto the bottom of the window.

The flap is good to have in case it rains. I used Velcro because the roof is so high, it would be hard to tie the flaps shut without a ladder. With the Velcro, you can just jump up and slap shut your windows.

The rest of the dormer:

Roof dimensions are 20 by 30 inches. The sides are 13 by 10 by 16 inches on the slope.

9. To sew the dormers into the cone roof.  This is tricky by doable. First, set up just the roof.  To cut out holes for the dormers, you have to prop them up and draw with the charlk roughly what their shape is when they're sewn in. See illustration for what the shape will look like.

This might seem somewhat vague. But the slope of your tent and the side of your dorms will be different than mine if you are not a mathematician or engineer. TIP: Cut your holes smaller than what you think they will be. You can always cut away excess fabric when you fit your dormer.  It's awfully hard to add it back. Also, when you're trying to figure out where to put the holes, try your best to make sure they are exactly across from each other.

Baste the dormers into the holes. A basting stitch is a handsewn stitch taht's about 1 inch stitches, 1 inch apart. It might be useful to pin the dormers in before basting to get the right angle and fit. Take down the roof, and sew them in place. TIP: I recommend basting and sewing in the top dormers first. Then put your tent back up and do the same for the bottom dormers. It's easier when working with all that bulky fabric.

To reinfoce the dormer seams, sew a strip of nylon stripping on the inside or outside. Put one stitch on the dormer and the outside stitch on the roof.

10. Cut out a circle that is 36 inches in diameter. This will cover the top of your cone. While your tent is still up, fit the cone on top, pin, baste, and sew in place. You will have extra fabric that can either be cut away or worked into the cone for more reinforcement. You will eventually place a grommet at the tip for the centerpole's rod to poke through.

11. Dormer reinforcements. Cut 2 rod into half the length of your bottom dormer roofs. They should be around 14 inches each when cut. Drill a hole in the copper cap and solder in one length. Drill another hole and solder in the other rod. Measure your dormer roof's angle to see where the second rod will go.

12. Walls. The walls flare out. Cut seven-foot lengths of fabric along iwth seven-foot long triangles that have a 15 inch base. When sewing them together, alternate the rectangles with the triangles. How many of these you have depends on the width of your fabric. Just make sure you have enough so that your walls go all the way around your circumfence of 34 feet, 10 inches with at least an 18 inche to 3 foot overlap at the door.

I recommend using 6 inch length of the nylon strips sewn in loops instead of grommets around the base of the walls to keep them flared out and in shape. Sew at least eight of these at even length around the bottom. For best results sew the loops at each triangle.


Slip the PVC pipe through the sleeves. To connect each piece of pipe, slip the dow rods in. I used a rubber band wound around the middle of the dows to keep them from slipping all the way down the pipe.

Drill a hole in the top of the closet poles and tape in a 4 or 5 inch length of steel rod. Place the rods in the roof grommets so that the tent is half up. Also place the rod through the wall grommet. TIP:  If your closet poles come in longer lengths than 7 feet, you might not want to cut them right away. If you tailor them by slicing off the bottoms while putting the walls up, you will get a tighter fit.

Insert the centerpole in the roof. Before putting the centerpole all the way up, tie a loop in two length of rope around the top rod between the fabric and the nylon strips. Let about 6 feet dangle. One rope will be used to hold up the two aluminum poles for the bottom dormers and the other will be used to hold up the two PVC pipes (about 3 feet, 9 inches in length) for the top dormers. These pipes will support the dormers and help them stick out. At the ends of the poles. place the caps with the rods soldered into them. The cap pieces will help the dormer roofs hold their shape. TIP: Don't cut the poles or PVC to exact measurements. Chances are your tent will turn out slightly different in size.  Slice off the ends of the poles and PC as you put it up for optimal fit.

Raise the center pole all the way. If the pole is too long, slice off the end until you get a good, tight fit. Tie one rope around the top, PVC pipes until you get the right shape of the top dormers and so the rope will hold the pipes weight--not the tent. Do the same for the bottom dormers. This knot can be left in so you can skip this step next time you set up your tent.

Your tent should be up by this point.  All you have to do now is secure it. The manuscript doesn't show outside ropes, which is why I think the walls were sewn in. This tent in period would have probably been staked down at the walls. But, during those super hot days, it is really nice to be able to take down your walls for maximum ventilation.

Tie a rope to the top of a closet pole rod and use a penny nail to secure the other end in the ground.  Do this on all eight closet poles. During stormy, high wind weather, you might want to put four extra ropes at the top of the centerpole on the outside and secure them in the ground with penny nails.

Now waterproof it once you have it all the way up. There are several methods for waterproofing it. You can rent a paint sprayer, which is used for painting houses and put the waterproofing in it. Then just spray on the waterproofing. I have never done this and I don't know if the waterproofing will damage the sprayer because you can't wash it out.  I use a cheap paint brush and slap the stuff on.  It will probably take less than 8 gallons of water sealed to completely waterproof your tent. If there is any left over, I recommend using the rest on a second layer on the roof. You can never over-waterproof a tent.

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