If you love your pet and you love your home, chances are you’ve been frustrated by the challenge of finding pet accessories that work with your decor. Luckily, this is nothing that a little DIY power can’t fix! It’s super easy to sew your own pet bed, which you can customize with a fabric that suits your room and a filling that your pet will love. In this post you will learn how to make a simple bed that you can easily sew in any size and a trick for making sharp corners that will look totally professional.
- 1–2 yards medium-weight fabric, such as cotton ticking or cotton duck
- 1/2 yard leather strap (available in the trimming section of fabric stores)
- stuffing of choice (I used poly-fil; suggestions for alternatives are below)
- basic sewing supplies
1. Cut the fabric.
Note: Be sure to wash your fabric to pre-shrink it before cutting and sewing. Skipping this step could cause your seams to bunch when you launder the finished bed in the future.
Determine how large you’d like your bed to be, and cut two pieces of fabric for the top and bottom of the bed and two pieces for each side, adding 1″ to each measurement for seam allowance. The side pieces will need to be exactly the same length as the sides of the top/bottom and about 6″ tall.
2. Make and attach the handle.
The leather strap I’m using here is quite thin, so I’ll be doubling it to make a sturdy handle. If your strap is thicker, you won’t need to double it (but steer away from choosing a really thick strap, which can be too thick to sew on a regular home sewing machine).
Cut two pieces of strap 10″ long. (If using a thick strap, just cut one piece.)
Layer the two pieces together, and top stitch all around the perimeter of the piece. Here, I’m using a heavy-duty thread and a slightly longer stitch length (3.8mm), which creates a nice look when sewing on leather. If you don’t have heavy duty thread, you can use regular thread and it will work just fine; the stitches will just look lighter. Using heavy-duty thread here is aesthetic only; it creates more of a traditional heavy top-stitching look that you typically see on leather.
Next, working on one of the pieces of fabric you cut for the sides of the bed, fold the piece of fabric in half to determine its middle and mark that spot with a pin. Center the handle over the middle point, and tape it in place with a bit of a bend in the leather so the handle will bow out. You want to avoid pinning the leather in place, as pins will leave permanent holes in the leather. I like to use tape instead of pins, or binder clips.
Then, just sew each end of the handle in place with an X, and that’s it.
Note: When I removed my tape, I discovered it had left a mark on the leather (yikes!). This isn’t typical, but sometimes surprises like this happen. To fix it, I used more tape to distress the leather all over and conceal the original mark. Just a tip in case the same thing happens to you! You also may want to test your tape on an extra piece of your leather strap to be sure it doesn’t leave a mark; if it does, try holding the handle in place with binder clips instead of tape.
3. Sew the sides.
The only slightly tricky part of this project is sewing the corners of the bed. Because it’s a 3D corner, you have to use a special technique so that the fabric doesn’t bunch at the corners.
Begin by placing two side pieces together with their short edges aligned (and right sides of the fabric facing in). With a ruler or tape measure, mark 1/2″ in from each corner and place a pin to mark those spots. Sew the seam with a 1/2″ seam allowance, sewing only between the two pins. This means you’ll have a little 1/2″ flap at the beginning and end of the seam where the fabric isn’t sewn.
Here’s the 1/2″ flap at the end of the seam on this piece.
Continue sewing all the side pieces together until they’re all attached in a big loop. Press all the seams open with a hot iron.
4. Attach the top and bottom.
Next, take one of the top/bottom pieces and align one of its edges with one of the side edges. Pin the two pieces together and sew them with a 1/2″ seam allowance, starting and ending the seam 1/2″ before the edge of the fabric just as you did for the sides. It’s very important not to catch the seam allowance of the side seams in the corner seams; fold the seam allowance out of the way when necessary.
Here, one edge has already been sewn (the top seam), and I’m getting ready to sew the next edge along the side seam. Note that the fabric from the top seam is folded out of the way.
Here’s how the corners will look once you attach the top/bottom to the sides. What you’ll have is three pieces of fabric meeting at the corner, where a 1/2″ flap has been left at the beginning/end of every seam.
For best results, sew each side section separately (don’t try to sew all the way around the entire perimeter of the piece at once; rather, start and stop each one side at a time).
When one top/bottom piece has been attached to the sides on all four edges, you’ll have a piece that looks like this.
Next, repeat the whole process to attach the second top/bottom piece, but leave an 8″ opening in one of the side seams.
Trim the seam allowance from all three sides of each corner (this will reduce bulk from the extra fabric in the seam allowances, and help create sharp corners).
Turn the whole piece right-side out and press all the seams, and you should have nice 3D corners!
Finally, stuff the bed with your stuffing of choice. I used fiber-fill, but you could also consider options like special filling made for pet beds that contains cedar chips (like this one), or you could recycle filling from something else, like an old bean bag or a pillow. Once your bed is stuffed, just sew up the opening, and you’re done!