How To Build A Portable Changing Room
My Portable Changing Room
A Portable Changing Room
A portable changing room is an amazing asset to any fashion vendor who attends and participates in expos or fairs. As a Vault Denim Fashion Consultant, I have found that having a way for my customers to try on the jeans is essential to my success at any show! I made a portable changing room with a PVC pipe frame that is easy to set up and just as easy to break down! It was the perfect solution! With a few personal touches it makes an eyecatching advertisement for every show!
While it may look complicated and even "sound" complicated, it really is very simple. I was able to purchase the materials, make necessary adjustments, put it all together and even sew the drapes within a few short hours one afternoon! That was all done from a vision I had in my head! Hopefully with the instructions listed here, you will be able to make your own changing room in a much easier manner! Good luck!
Begin With A Plan
The first step is to begin with a plan. What do you need your portable changing room for? Is it for a business expo for your business or is it for camping? Make it fit your need. I needed one suitable for trying on jeans. That meant it needed to be big enough to have a chair, big enough to tug up a pair of jeans, big enough for a little one to go in with Momma, yet small enough that I could put it up anywhere and small enough to collapse and carry with me to anywhere.
I decided that my changing room would be about 3 feet square and about 6 feet tall. It needed to be tall enough that most people could not look down into it, but most women are under 6 feet tall, so it would feel private enough. The next step was to break it down and figure out the frame. I wanted the fabric drapes to be made of denim (just made sense selling jeans!) so the frame would need to be solid enough to support the weight of the fabric.
Several sketches later I had a plan for a frame and I headed to the local lumberyard!
I went to the Joplin Home Depot and began gathering fittings and PVC pipe. They were amazing and even cut the pipe to fit for me! I made a couple of adjustments later at home and trimmed up the pieces with a hacksaw in mere minutes.
I used 1 inch diameter PVC pipe. It was a bit stronger and only pennies more, definitely worth the money! The fittings were a bit more expensive, but again the stability of the changing room was worth the added investment.
- 8 corner pieces
- 8 T shaped fittings
- 6 pieces of 10 foot long 1 inch PVC pipe - these were each cut into 3 - 3 foot pieces and 1 - 1 foot piece * you will use a total of 16 - 3 foot pieces, 4 - 2 foot pieces and 4 - 11 inch pieces
- 9 yards of fabric
- decorative ribbon as desired
- sandpaper or metal file
Fitting It All Together
Begin by trimming off about 1 inch off of each of 4 of the 12 inch pieces. This will give you 4 - 11 inch pieces. This allows for the extra inch added by the added fitting in the back panel. It is important to keep the height of all four sides equal.
You will also trim 4 pieces down to 2 feet each. These will be placed with the 11 inch pieces in the back frame. It really does all go together correctly! The added bars in the back lends added strength to the frame. Hang in there!
Once that is done, use either sandpaper or a metal file to smooth the edges on the pipe. This is essential for the smooth piecing together and taking apart of the pieces. Test each end into a fitting until it goes in and comes out smoothly. When setting up at a show, you will be glad you took the time for this vital step!
Begin by piecing together the back panel and then the front panel. Next lay the back panel on the floor and work from the ground up and place the side posts into the frame. Place the front panel on and snap into place. Go around the entire frame tightening the pieces into the fittings to ensure a secure frame.
I am adding a picture graph of the pieces and the sizes and how they fit together. I also have the sewing on the drapes on it, but we will go into that in the next segment.
Picture Graph Pictures
Picture Graph Instructions
For those visual learners who can do anything if they only can "see" it! Here are instructions with a color coded picture to go with it!
Back Panel is made from
- 4 – 3 foot pieces for cross bars (a)
- 4 – 2 foot pieces for corner posts (b)
- 4 – 11 inch pieces for center posts (c)
Front Panel is made from
6 – 3 foot pieces (shown in green)
Front and Back Panels are connected with
6 – 3 foot pieces (shown in red)
Corner Fittings are used at joints with a star.
T Fittings are used at joints marked with a circle.
Best way to put it together is by putting together the back panel first. Begin by making 2 posts with a 2 foot piece, T fitting, 11 inch piece, T fitting, 11 inch piece, T fitting, 2 foot piece. Connect the Tops and bottoms with corner fittings and 3 foot pieces. Follow with putting together the front panel by making 2 posts of a 3 foot piece, T fitting, and another 3 foot piece. Connect the tops and bottoms of these posts with corner fittings and 3 foot pieces. Connect the front panel and the back panel with the side bars by placing 3 foot pieces into the T fittings. You may have to turn the T fittings to get the right angle. Make sure your front is an open doorway!
The frame is light weight and easy to “flip” to put together.
What will you use your changing room for?
Sewing Panels Picture Graph
Sewing The Drape Panels
I purchased 9 yards of fabric which I cut into four panels each measuring 6 foot and 6 inches long. I chose denim to provide my customers with the most privacy possible. In addition to providing privacy, the weight of it will help to keep it from blowing around in a breeze. Some have used regular curtains and even shower curtains for changing rooms, but I would be leary of changing in one of theirs!
Anyway, begin by folding down the top three inches of each panel and sewing a pocket for the rod to pass through. Next with right sides together, imagining the panels to be labeled A,B,C, and D, sew them together leaving the top 3 inches below the rod pocket unsewn. When the panels are all sewn, then attach panels A and D at the top for only about 9 inches. This keeps the drapes a single unit, but leaves the opening for the doorway. The bottom edge can be hemmed if you choose, but with the denim, the raw edge was perfect!
Slide the top rods into the pockets making sure to keep the doorway at the right spot! Once the fabric is on all four rods, snap them tightly back into place with the fabric on the outside of the frame. You can add ribbon and decorations as you please. One advantage to making the changing room yourself is that you can customize it to fit your business designs. I added zebra ribbon and turquoise netting with rhinestones glued to them to make the changing room pop!
The doorway can be kept closed by using a large clam shell type hair clip on the inside to clamp it together. The clip can also be used on the outside to pull the doorway back and show that it is open for use.
Final Touches Finish It
The Final Touches
A few final touches can make the changing room a classy addition to any booth. In addition to the zebra ribbon, blue netting and the glued on rhinestones, I bought a zebra folding lawn chair to place inside to make changing easier for my customers. I also got a rug to fit the floor area. I have a mirror that I purchased from the local department store which hangs from hooks. It is easy to hook over the back wall inside thus providing customers a way to check out their "look" in private. I have GOT to get a battery operated light, though! These personal touches make the changing room really feel like a changing room and less like a tent thrown in the corner. The last thing I added was a banner from Vistaprint with my company name, Denim Chic & More, to advertise from afar. It catches the eye and draws them in. Well worth the price of the shipping! Learn more about my business at 3713.vaultdenim.com and you will see why I needed the changing room!
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photo and text copyright 2012 Deborah M. Carey Updated 2015