I started making these dog beds for a local rescue shelter several years ago. To be honest, it wasn't for the dogs as much as it was a way to use up sewing room scraps. I did a tutorial for these a couple of years ago but the photos weren't very good. I though it was time to re-write the tutorial. Following this post I will have a tutorial for a pet pad. I make the pet pads from large quilted samples.
Keep in mind that these are functional, they are not pretty! I use any fabric that I get free and I don't care at all about thread color, shape or accuracy.
For the pet bed you need:
- some remnant heavy fabric. Decorator fabrics are great
- thread - not your Masterpiece or Bottom Line. Heavier threads are better and this is a great time to use up partial bobbins. I do not worry about thread colors. Dogs are color blind.
- stuffing: chopped up batting and fabric, fleece and stuffing from old bed pillows. Stuffing from bed pillows helps to keep the weight somewhat under control. I cut up the batting and fleece bits into something close to 2" chunks.
Here's my bag of scraps that I have been saving. I chop up batting as soon as I trim a quilt and store it in this bag in the corner of my sewing room. I have a whole drawer of these lovely decorator fabrics that someone gave me. Just mention it at a Guild meeting and someone will show up with a bag of the stuff for free!
I make my dog beds large since most shelter dogs are large dogs. If I fold the fabric on the diagonal and cut near that folded edge I wind up with a dog bed that is about 26" square. You can make them any size you want.
Fold the fabric right sides together and stitch two sides closed, leaving one edge open. I don't worry about seam allowance but usually make it a bit wider than 1/4". Turn the bed right side out.
For a 26" dog bed, I create 3 stuffing channels. To create the channels, stitch 2 seams through both layers perpendicular to the open edge. They are illustrated here by the 2 green lines. Stitch these from the bottom of the bed and STOP about 1" FROM THE TOP EDGE.
Draw two line across the width of the pet bed, parallel to the open edge. I spaced them about 8.5" apart on a 26" bed. These are sewing guidelines to create the stuffed cells.
Grab fist fulls of stuffing and start stuffing the channels. Do them one at a time and only stuff to that first drawn line. Stuff them VERY FULL. I let not-our-dog-Stanley use one of these beds this past winter and learned that they flatten out a lot if they are not stuffed really tight.
Pin the channel closed as you stuff it. You can see in this photo how tight the bed is stuffed. I usually pin the corners of the cell first and keep stuffing as I pin toward the center of the cell. The other thing to keep in mind is the direction of your pins. I sew with the stuffed part to the left of my needle and pin so that I can pull out the pins as I sew.
Sewing these required an good bit of man-handling. Just take your time and try to shift the stuffing out of the way of the presser foot as you go. The fabric will occasionally pleat and I don't worry about that at all. The dogs don't seem to be too picky about it.
Here's the first section of cells stitched. Fill and sew the second row of cells next.
The reason that you left the top 1" of the channels unsewn is so that you can fold the top edges to the inside for finishing. Fill this last row in the same way but fold the top edges in about 1/2" and pin the channels closed as you fill the last 3 chambers.
Topstitch the bed closed and you are done! That big bag of stuffing at the beginning of the post was just enough to fill two 26" square beds. They are pretty heavy but I hear that the dogs love them.