A recent birthday party got me back into the tent making game and I created a few shortcuts to make it painless to make these great kid toys!
1) get your self a 6 ft straightedge. I use a 1x4 that was used for a valance but now is reserved for an extra long straightedge. This will make it really easy to draw your cut lines.
2) do not turn your raw edges under to make the rod pockets. This was too much ironing and too much hassle when sewing. I cut my tent with pinking shears and then leave the edges exposed. It looks great and is so much easier.
3) Because I cut with pinking shears, I also don't hem the top. This just shaves a little bit more time off and makes it that much easier.
4) I use 1/2 in. PVC pipe because it is more bendy and thus fits into my car. The home improvements stores sell them in 10 ft lengths and don't cut them anymore so I had to bump it down from 3/4 in. to 1/2 in. but I have not noticed a difference in strength. This makes the rod pocket at 1 1/4 in.
5) I use a strip of blue painters tape to mark my seam allowance for the rod pockets. The bright color makes it very easy for me to notice and keep my seams lined up.