Summer Camp Chair Tutorial (That you can make yourself!)

When I was little my siblings and I had these little camp stools–and we used them ALL the time.  I remember carting them around to parades, fireworks, campouts, bonfires, and every other summer activity that we did.  Ahh, those were the days….

So, in my summer nostalgia, I was telling Liz about how I wanted to make some stools like I had when I was little for our kids.  And so we started talking….and we came up with these summer camp stools for our kids.  AND.  THEY.  ARE. AMAZING.  They are light, portable…and the best part……YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK YOUR HUBBY TO MAKE THEM.  They are so easy!  Really.  And they can each be made for around $6 dollars a piece.  Even better.

OK.  Here is the deal.  Go to your local home improvement store…ask them to cut the pieces, and help you find the rest of the pieces.  You will have to drill 4 holes and that’s it.  Really.  We promise that you can do it!

Girl power!

OK, here’s what you need to do to make the seat covers.  One helpful tip–use a super heavy duty canvas.  It needs to be able to hold the child’s weight and not stretch out or rip.

Update:  Someone suggested ripstop nylon…which is brilliant!  I just googled it and found several internet resources and it runs around 10 dollars a yard but apparently holds a lot more weight than canvas.  I haven’t tried it but if you are looking for a heavier-weight to hold a bigger child…this might be your answer.

And here’s how you make the seats.  We did end up priming and painting our pvc pieces….because they have black labels and numbers on them.  Just so you know.  Update….Ann left us a comment that you can use acetone (fingernail polish remover) to take the black labels off.  Genuis.  Thanks Ann!
Ok….go.  Now.  To your local store.  I promise you will find someone to help you.  I always look for a grandpa type helper 🙂 and they always help me.  Your kids will thank you.  And you will be proud of your DIY self too!
PVC Pipe Chairs Collage
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  1. says

    LOVE! I cannot wait to make these! I have a side question.. The top that the girl is wearing while wispering in the boys ear, Did you make that? If you did, can you tell me the pattern? LOVE your blog!!

  2. says

    Martha, I did make is just a simple peasant dress pattern. There are quite a few different patterns out there. Mine is from The Handmade Dress.

  3. says

    Oooh, so fun! And I agree with everybody else . . . the photos are adorable. You guys sure make cute babies–good work! And when I saw a comment from a Martha, I of course had a very blonde moment thinking, “MARTHA reads this blog?! WOW!” before I realized Martha Stewart isn’t the only person on the planet named Martha. Although I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if THE Martha were one of your readers.

    Rachel @ Maybe Matilda

  4. says

    These are perfect! My daughter plays soccer and the team always sits on the ground because they don’t all have stools. These would be perfect!

  5. says

    I LOVE this idea! I just made (all by myself!!) a PVC sprinkler for my kids, so I’m on an “I Can Do Anything” high right now. My kids are making a little clubhouse in the woods behind our house and would love these chairs. Thanks so much for showing how simple it is.

    Laura @ Come Together Kids

  6. says

    We made similar chairs years ago. Thanks for the memories. We used acetone (fingernail polish remover) to take off the markings on the PVC.

    • Tamara says

      I made 4 of these for my classroom and they all broke the first week. The stitching ripped out even though I triple stitched them. Any suggestions? I used a durable canvas, so the problem wasn’t with the fabric, but rather the seam, I think

  7. says

    Ann…the acetone trick–I wish I would have known a week ago. I am going to add it into the tutorial! Thanks!

    Delina….our oldest child is 9 but I know that they make these sort of stools for adults. I have seen the adult ones made from ripstop nylon–which is strong –I think as long as the fabric can hold then they can hold bigger people too.

  8. says

    We used Ikea canvas….but the fabric turns out to be pretty cheap. You can make 4 stools out of a 1/2 yard of fabric. Our fabric was 6.99 a yard….so ours came out to be less than a dollar a piece.

    I think most outdoor canvas at Joann’s is around 10 dollars a yard (without coupons), but even that would be just over a dollar a piece.

  9. says

    Found you through be different act normal. This is genius! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial.

    You have such a classy blog.

  10. says

    Super Cute blog!! 🙂 I am your newest follower! I will definitely be keeping an eye on your blog to learn new things!! If you would like to take a look at my blog that would be wonderful and follow me back! Look out for some giveaways also like mineral make-up. I am new to this but excited to share ideas on yummy food!

  11. says

    That looks great! But do you think we could make some for adults? And if so, could you please give some advice regarding dimensions to a perfect beginner in any type of craft?
    Thanks a lot
    Have a lovely day!

  12. says

    Love this idea! I’ve been trying to figure out cheap, fun, and cute seating for my kindergarten classroom library. This is it!!! I can’t wait to make them.

    One question – did you glue the PVC pipe where it connected to the corner joints? I would imagine so, but just wanted to double check.


  13. says

    We just built a fire pit in our backyard, I think our next project should be these stools to sit on while roasting the marshmallows.

  14. says

    Love love love these!!! Question- in the pics you have the younger girl sitting in one lower to the ground…did you just make her fabric seat longer? Curious cause I want to make some for my 2 year olds and they might need some shorter ones like the little girls!

  15. says

    I just bought the supplies for this, and am wondering what type and diameter of bolts you bought. I’m on the DIY side of things so I made an educated guess and I got 1/4″ zinc plated carriage bolts and matching nuts but think other people might like some buying tips.

  16. says

    Kelley (and everyone else)….

    We would love to see pictures!!!!

    You can send them to simplesimonandco(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks everyone for your nice comments!

  17. says

    Frugal Mom:
    Ok, so I had to ask my husband about the bolts…I just knew they worked, I didn’t know about their size…anyways, they are 1/4 inch in diameter and 3 inches long.

    Also, my husband said that with the nuts there are a kind we could have gotten that have a rubber ring around the inside that prevent them from becoming loose. So if you are out shopping for parts you may want to give those a whirl.

  18. says

    This is totally something I would have made for my kids when they were younger. (heck, I may have?? lol.) Love this project so much that I will be featuring it on this weeks Amaze Me Monday 😀

  19. says

    Could you give the measurements for the fabric for the shorter chair? I have a 2 yr pld. And are the pvc cuts the same? These are awesome! Can’t wait to make them.

  20. says


    The chair parts are exactly the same. The seat is 15 inches wide with 2.5 inch casings on both ends. So the middle seat is now 10 inches instead of 7 inches and it makes it shorter.

    Good luck!

  21. says

    Fun project, great tutorial, priceless photos. Thanks for linking up to Motivated Monday at BeColorful and I hope you will stop by and visit again.

  22. says

    Nevermind about the pic. That first one looks great. But a question: did you use smaller PVC in the red and white chair in the top picture? Or is that just the angle of the photo? Thx!

  23. says

    I am pretty sure we did…although I couldn’t tell you the size, a lot of the pieces were scraps from sprinklers and other projects.

    I am pretty sure that Jon (Liz’s husband and the sprinker pvc expert) said the 1 inch would be stronger.

  24. says

    Sorry to keep bothering you. Did you just serge the edges or did you hem them first and then serge? We just made 6 of these with serged edges and two of them have torn through the fabric from the edge. Wondering if I should have reinforced them a little better or something.

  25. says

    I just serged the edges…one other person had a problem with the fabric tearing. I am thinking that the fabric isn’t holding the child? Ours have been taken to a couple of kid events so far..and are still good. I really think the key is super heavy thick canvas.

    Are you using a pretty heavy weight outdoor canvas?

    I would definately try serging and then hemming. Or someone earlier suggested a rip-stop nylon for the fabric…apparently that is what the fold up adult camping chairs are made of. Please let us know how it works out…

  26. says

    Just finished mine. After a very painful trial and error, I doubled the fabric, zigzagged the edges (no serger), then sewed a very tight, short double stitch. A little overboard probably but the chair held up all one hundred and (ehem) pounds of me! Makes a good foot rest too!

    Thanks or the tutorial!

    Tiffany lagrange

  27. says

    simply marvelous!!! i’m on the look-out for Christmas gifts and this is just about perfect!!!! We love pvc in our house (my dad is a plumber…so we know how cool it is!)
    i think i’ll be making a few of these cuties!!!

  28. says

    do you think denin from an old but still very good pair of jeans would do??? being thrifty here;) !!
    have piles of jeans which i am keeping to make a big floor cushion (one day) for the kids, but could spare a couple of legs!

  29. says

    Found you via Pinterest (don’t you just LOVE them). I made the camp chairs today with our cubscouts. We repurposed old jeans for the seats – just cut the leg, sewed the back pocket onto the side and just folded over the edges to make casings for the PVC. We ended up gluing the PVC pieces as some of the boys had no trouble making theirs fall apart. We didn’t have any luck getting the labels off with acetone – just left them as they were. Great project, even ‘my’ boys looked cute on them (don’t tell them that though :))Looking for more awesome projects, thanks!

  30. says

    I wonder if you could use burlap… you could even cover it if you had a design you wanted to use,you could just make a pillow case type thing and put the burlap inside it…..

  31. says

    Acetone didn’t take off the print on my PVC. I used Comet and a scrubber before I found that a drywall sanding block will do the trick. The pipe is left print-free with no scratches.

  32. says

    We’re making these for our Cub Scout Pack Meeting project this week – making something useful out of something other than wood. We had the pipe donated by a very generous plumbing company who cut it all for us also. Excellent! We asked for 1″ pvc pipe, bought blue and gold ripstop nylon and bolts – but realized when we made our prototype that we bought the bolts for 1″ outer diameter pipe and we have 1″ INNER diameter pipe – so back to the store for more bolts! The prototype, though, turned out EXCELLENT! Can’t wait for the boys to take these to scout camp next month!

  33. Jessica says

    I was wondering if you could tell me what size of PVC you recommend will be making for children 6-12 years old. Thank you.

  34. Anne Marie says

    These are brilliant! Found them on Pinterest (where else these days??). It’s been a while since I’ve found an idea I simply had to try immediately…but this is definitely one! I’ll be heading to the store tomorrow. Can’t wait! Thank you for sharing. 🙂


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