For months I’ve been asking friends & guild members to save their tiny fabric & batting scraps for me to stuff dog beds, but I keep forgetting to post a tutorial. So during a recent bed stuffing session, I finally remembered to take photos & notes of my process. Here’s how you can make dog beds too!
The fabrics I use for the dog beds varies, but it’s usually medium/heavy weight upholstery or indoor/outdoor fabric that I find at a discount. My current dog bed fabric is a striped indoor/outdoor fabric that I purchased for about $3.50/yard when it was on clearance. My favorite haunt for deals is Fabric.com. I usually buy at least 10 yards of fabric at a time to get the free shipping.
Home decor fabric is usually 54″ wide. I make 3 sizes of dog bed so that I am not wasting any of the fabric, so I base my measurements on the width of the fabric.
The small dog bed is cut 24″ x WOF, and then that is cut in half along the width, to yield two pieces that are 24″ x 27″.
The large dog bed is cut at 36″ x WOF. The entire piece makes one dog bed.
You can actually make these ahead of time, and stuff them as you go. I usually have two of the smaller ones clipped to my cutting table on either end so I can sweep cuttings into them. Since I also collect scraps from other people, I end up also with plastic bags full of scraps. When I get too many bags to store comfortably in the studio, I have a marathon dog bed making session.
To make the dog beds, you just take the fabric you cut, fold in half with right sides together, and stitch the bottom of the bag and along one side. I use a serger with a 4-thread overlock, which is pretty secure, but if you’re using a regular sewing machine, you should reinforce your stitches by using a 1/2″ seam allowance, and sewing 2 rows of stitching close together.
For stuffing, I have some tips. The smaller the stuffing pieces, the better. If the pieces are smaller, they are easier to distribute and they don’t clump together.
Also, if you have trimmings from squaring up yardage, you should try to chop those up a bit too. They tend to get tangled together and form dense clumps that are hard to distribute in the bed.
I also recommend mixing some batting scraps in with the fabric scraps, because an all fabric dog bed is unbelievably heavy!
If you are collecting fabric scraps for donation, please make sure you’re not collecting trash in the same bin. In a recent donation, I found candy wrappers, paper, lollipop sticks, and even a cell phone case.
Also, I want to reiterate again about small pieces. It’s so much easier to make the beds if you cut down your scraps first. If you aren’t going to cut down scraps, don’t mix cut scraps and uncut scraps together, as it makes such a mess trying to separate them from a big donation bag. Here are some recent pieces I had to dig out.
It’s really easy to cut these down; just lay them out flat on your cutting mat, and run your rotary cutter over them randomly.
Now we’re ready to stuff! Take one of the beds and roll down the top to make it easier to stuff.
Add some stuffing, mixing in fabric & batting scraps. Make sure you stuff the corners, and pack it fairly tightly about 3/4 full.
If you’re not sure how full to stuff it, you can pin the top closed, and then shake it out to see if the dog bed has a good stuffing level. You don’t want it to be too tightly packed, so the animal can get comfortable, but you don’t want it to be so loose that it would be like laying on the ground. Sit on it yourself to see if you can get comfy.
After I’ve stuffed a dog bed, I serge the top closed, just to make it a bit easier to handle. To fully close the top and make sure it is secure, I double-fold the top edge, and pin it.
Then I take it to the sewing machine and zig-zag the heck out of it, about 4-5 times. Because of the number of layers (6-8), I use a 110/18 needle. This is the largest needle I could find, and it does pretty well.
They aren’t the most gorgeous things on the planet, but they serve their purpose well, and make me feel better about tossing scraps. It actually is very freeing to be able to take a larger scrap, decide I don’t want to be bothered with it, and hack away at it with the rotary cutter!
Thanks to all my friends & guild members who remember to save these scraps for me. I was able to make 7 dog beds from all our scraps! There are four small, two medium, and one large dog bed. I hope the shelter likes them! They are getting donated to Animal Education and Rescue here in Lake County Illinois.