my fort “tutorial”

I posted this picture on Instagram last week and got a few requests for a tutorial.

The tutorial requests made me smile, because my forts are all wonky and crazy. Not the pinteresty tutorial kind. They look great on the inside, but just a big ole’ mess on the outside. I typically build forts in the playroom because there is a peg rail that goes all around the room. It makes for an easy place to tie ropes and light for hanging sheets. So, the first step in my fort building is to just tie a bunch of ropes or lights across the room. It is a small room, so this is pretty easy. In other rooms, I just tie to whatever is standing still. Here is an outside view of our fort:

The second step is to drape sheets, curtains, tableclothes, etc. over the ropes & lights. I use clothespins to hold it all together.

The view from laying down inside.

My mom built Lesley and I forts all over our house growing up. Our sheet forts had rooms and hallways. They were made from all the linens in the house and were just perfect. I hope my kids feel the same way. Well, at least the girls. The boys refused to get in this fort unless we put replaced the flower sheets with Star Wars sheets and the Barbies with Legos. FireCracker found my old Barbies at my parent’s house. My grandma made that frilly pink gown for Barbie!

FireCracker went to a craft fair with my mom and picked out a new hat.

This sequence of pictures makes me all kinds of happy.

Happy fort building!

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  • Kari Signe - Love building forts as a kid but mine were never as pretty looking as yours. That last picture totally made my morning! Just too precious for words.

  • Michelle G - I too love the sequence and little one’s smile just melts.


  • emmybrown - All your posts make me happy, really. This one especially! ๐Ÿ˜€ LOVE the awesomeness of your family!

  • Tammy C. - Oh those bottom three photos made my day. I never thought to string lights up, I have an extra strand leftover from christmas decor. My three year old will love it!

  • seriously sassy mama - We would use every chair in the house to build forts. If there would have been peg rails on the wall, the possibilities would have been endless. My husband loves to make forts for out three girls.

  • Becky @ Farmgirl Paints - I’m getting ready to redo my basement. It’s just a jumbled mess right now. On the girls play side I’m totally doing this. They WILL have a giant quilt fort and it’s gonna be magic. Thanks for all your inspiration girlie. I’m just loving getting to know you;)

  • nicole - Love it! And such cute pix of those little ladies! So funny the boys wouldnโ€™t go in there! Right now Iโ€™m working on the boy/girl balance for our little onesโ€™ bedroom since we put all three kids (two boys and one girl) into one room to sleep and made the other bedroom a playroom. Easier to do with patterns/dots/stripes, but working with the Star Wars sheets gets a little trickier!

  • Pamela - That last photo is priceless!!! Love it.

  • Katie - I have no children yet, but I have been thinking of building a fun fort for the husband and myself for some movie watching. I am swooning over all your pretty sheets and quilts!

  • meghan - Ashley,

    this comment is going to sound a bit crazy, but i wanted to share it with you. i am known for having dreams that foreshadow events.. they are crazy vivid, real and often involve other people. i have to trust that they are a work of the Lord. anyways, i had a dream about your family last night! little one in particular. you guys were at church, and were walking out as a family. santa clause (of course, not the real one) was in a yard across the street, seeing little kids (kind of link in a mall). you got really excited and took little one over to see him- since it is her first christmas with you all. she HATED it. she jumped out of your arms, RAN to your husband (who was still in front of the church) and yelled “daddy,daddy,daddy” the whole way.

    it may sound like a silly dream, but i just thought it was so beautiful. she needed him. and she knew him. HE was the man she knew was her father.. and not anyone else. she ran to him and called him by name. (which could be metaphorical for christ too).

    all my love to you guys today.

  • Cathy Shealy - Love, Love that last photo!

  • sarah k - Such happy pictures!

    And thanks for the tips on making forts–because I’ve never done it and I really wouldn’t have known how. I never had forts as a kid. I’m not sure I can handle my house being made that crazy or my kids begging to keep it like that forever. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I will try! ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe over Christmas break…

  • Catherine - One question… as a rule, do you have time limits for the life of a fort in your home? Although my children are a bit old for this now, I remeber having battles over the lifespan of a fort. I would be ready for it to come down, my kids had other plans, like how much lumber could be smuggled in from the garage to create a more permanent fixture. I have one little one, my 9 yo daughter who will still love a fort like this. She, however, would be the one to win the battle over the standing time of the fort.

  • barnicles - awesome! now i just need some sheets as nice at those! and a smaller house! hehe.

    the light inside is so pretty! love the last photo!


  • Sarah - The pictures of your girls just made my heart happy!

  • molly - she is just blossoming!! it is so fun to watch! thanks for sharing!! such a blessing.

  • Susan - I built an “Indian sweat lodge” this summer for the grandkids when they refused to come in out of the sun. Used basically the same supplies you used, draped over our swing and tied to a tree. They loved it!
    I also loved forts as a child and so did my kids. My son built a quite elaborate one out of cardboard boxes that stayed in my den for probably a month. He even slept in it a couple of times.
    Love to see all the memory making you do with your precious ones.

  • heather - this fort is all kinds of awesome, but little one’s smile in the last pic…well, it steals the show.

  • Jessica Butler - Little One in the hat kills me!

  • Ingrid - That last photo is beyond gorgeous!! Little One and Firecracker are so lucky to have each other ๐Ÿ™‚

  • jay - I think a better question than how did you make that fort, is what lens are you capturing these images with! I have a 50mm 1.4 but it’s to narrow (on my 1.6 crop camera) to get this. I’m sure you’re using a full frame, but these still look wider than 50mm, and better than a zoom lens….

    So, well done on the fort, but even better on the photos.

  • Mary@ Finding Healthy Hope - what a fun fun FUN space!!!!!!
    can i come over? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • amy cornwell - This is awesome! My hubby’s the fort builder in our house and our kids always feel special when he makes them one. Yours is so pretty with the girly blankets & sheets…I’d want to lay there are take a nap! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Alma - Be still by heart with that last picture!!
    I am a lover of forts and this will be doing on the next fort making day…just lovely!

  • Juli - Please tell me where Little One’s Owl dress came from? I would love that for my youngest girly, as well. I’ve seen her wearing it in 2 of your blog posts now and I just love it! Thank you.

  • AshleyAnn - Juli – it was passed down from a friend!

  • AshleyAnn - Jay – I used my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. It is pretty much the only lens I use inside…

  • AshleyAnn - Catherine – I usually let the kids keep them for a few days. We don’t do many forts during the summer months because we are outside so much. In the winter, we do a lot more and they linger for longer durations. Easy entertainment!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh that smile! And awesome job with sharing Firecracker! Woo hoo!

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - Everything about this post made me all kinds of happy. Thinking back to weeks of forts just like this in the summer and nights of getting to sleep under them and then the cute hat, the love and the final smile. Life is good!

  • Claudia - Oh my goodness…Little One’s smile on the last pic made my day. Such precious girls!!

  • nancy short - I just want to move in your house, soak up all of that love and nurture…and of course, hang in out the flowery forts all day with those two precious girls. What a wonderful life you have created for your family!!!

  • Tracy a - I love that sequence too! So great! And the vintage sheets….swoon!

    Any news about your Christmas whereabouts yet? Really hoping to see you guys! I’m in town on the 29th…

  • Shannon - Fort building is on my to-do list for my 3 year old. Little One’s face is priceless at the end. <3 it!

  • Rena Frey - Your grandma MADE that dress?! No wonder you’re so creative…you come from a long line of awesomeness. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stefanie - Oh wow, can I see why those pics make you smile… they make ME smile and I’m not even her mama ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Amanda - You always had the best Barbie clothes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember that pink dress. I found a picture this morning of us from May of ’82 and Firecracker looks just like you!

  • Julie - Your daughter is “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14. She is a beautiful gift from God and I’m sure you enjoy every moment. Prayers for her surgery!

  • amy jupin - love that last pic! she makes my heart smile. she really does!

  • elizabeth H - OHHHH how i LOVE these photos!! Forts are easiest of indoor entertainment, hands down.
    Your collection of sheets makes me all kinds of happy!

  • Advent - Laugh at the Days - […] of our activities: visiting Longwood Gardens, making a giant fort, having a picnic under the Christmas tree, making ornaments, making sugar cookies, sharing joy, […]

  • Our Ideal Client | First Choice Carpentry - […] image credit Ashley Ann Photography (click here for her fun blanket fort tutorial) […]

  • Stephanie - This is so sweet! Where do you find your beautiful sheets?

  • AshleyAnn - Stephanie – garage sales, flea markets, antique shops, my grandma’s closets!