There are several patterns of teepee cover available, some are of which are traditional characterising the different Native American tribes, while others are modern and have been developed by individual teepee makers.
We usually work with two types of patterns based on historic Sioux and Blackfoot models. Both of these models share a common feature which utilises an egg-shaped floor, and a slight backward tilt of the structure. The inner diameter is measured from the door to the rear of the teepee.
It must always be taken into account when calculating the final space needed for the structure, that the poles of the smoke flaps will need an additional meter around the teepee in order to be able to move them when necessary. Therefore a tipi of 6m diameter will need a minimum space of 7m in diameter.
The Sioux teepee is considered a "classic pattern", preferred by many modern manufacturers. Its most outstanding feature is the shape and size of the smoke flaps, which favor the escape of smoke more than in other teepees. Also, thanks to this detail the cover is more easily adjusted at the top, leaving much less opening around the knot of the poles. The results are fewer leaks and a more stable smoke flow.
The Blackfoot teepee is characterized above all, by having wide and short smoke flaps and a wider opening, thus allowing a greater light input, especially if the cover has blackened over time due to the smoke. An advantage over the Sioux teepee is the system of fixing the outer poles to the flaps which makes them easy to manipulate. It also makes them more stable in the face of strong winds. There are other historical patterns that have this same system.
The forms of the entrance
The entrance is an important detail to take into account depending on the use of the teepee.
The closed down, oval-shaped entrance (forming a "step"), makes the cover more tight, and acts like a belt that always keeps the canvas tensioned. Another advantage of the oval shaped entrance is that the door closes better than with other types of entrances. It is the form most used in traditional teepees.
The disadvantage of the oval-shaped entrance is the discomfort of entering over the step and of introducing large objects in the teepee. This type of entrance can make it relatively difficult, especially for children or people with reduced mobility.
However, thinking of the teepee as a home, we would recommend this type of entrance.
As an alternative to the oval-shaped entrance, the triangular-shaped entrance which opens at the bottom, creates a more comfortable access to the teepee. It is ideal for events, workshops or camps, where there are people who are not familiar with this structure.
But this type of entry also has certain disadvantages especially when it comes to a teepee mounted permanently. Namely the cover loosens at the bottom more quickly than having an oval entrance meaning it is necessary to repeatedly tighten the pegs, and also it is more difficult to seal the door entrance especially in windy conditions.