2008 diy winners: 1st place!

by Grace Bonney

after 500 entries and thousands of votes, the 1st place winner of the 2008 d*s diy contest is….drumroll, please….kirsten’s vintage suitcase petbed! kirsten’s creative petbed took the lead from day one and held strong throughout the entire contest, coming in with a sizable lead. i’ll have to admit this was one of my personal favorites (which was tough with so many fantastic entries) so i’m thrilled to have kirsten’s work as part of the contest and to award her a $500 gift certificate from 2modern.com and a check for $150. the full instructions for kirsten’s project is below the jump so click here for the full post or just click “read more” below. congrats, kirsten! [want more from kirsten? check out her etsy shop and blog where you can buy more of her handmade goods]

i just wanted to send a big thank you again to our generous sponsors this year: 2modern.com, sparkability, growmodern and readymade magazine. you can visit their sites by clicking on their banners below. and a big thank you to the talented julia rothman for creating our 2008 diy contest icon this year. thanks, julia!



Kirsten’s Suitcase Pet Bed

-Old suitcase
-4 “feet” (wooden doll heads/these work well because the have a flat side, finials, etc)
-Gorilla glue or other heavy-duty glue
-2 large snaps
-Ribbon or strap material
Optional: two large buttons and upholstery thread and needle


1. Clean that suitcase! Febreeze that musty smell! Repair any damage to lining.

2. Measure for pillow. Using a tape measure, measure the width plus the depth of bottom suitcase cavity x 2. This gives you the width of your pillow. Then measure the height (from front to back) plus the depth of the bottom suitcase cavity x 2. This gives you the height. You must add the depth of the suitcase x 2 or else your pillow will end up too small. Believe me I made that mistake the first time!

3. Sew your pillow together. Put right sides of fabric together and sew around leaving about a ½ inch seam allowance. If your suitcase has rounded corners you might want to round the corners of your pillow. Leave an opening for stuffing. Turn pillow right side out and stuff. Sew up opening by hand.

4. Optional: Tuft your pillow. I used two large buttons, heavy-duty thread or upholstery thread and a long needle. Using the long needle sew the buttons on the pillow. Enter the front of the pillow and exit at the back, repeating this over and over. This will make nice tufts and give your pillow some shape and a more finished look.

5. Attach a strap to the back of the suitcase so it will not close on your pet.
Place a mark about 4 inches in from the back of the suitcase on the top and bottom of your suitcase. Open the suitcase and measure the distance between these marks, making sure your measuring tape is taut. Cut a strap using that length plus about 1 inch. Attach snap tops to both ends of the strap following manufacturers instructions. Now depending on your suitcase this part is tricky. Improvise if you need to, every suitcase is different. Choose a drill bit that will be just large enough for your snap shaft to fit through. Drill a hole on the top and bottom of the suitcase at the marks you made. Be careful of the suitcase lining. Attach the snap bottom to your suitcase following manufacturers instructions. Like I said this can be the tricky part, you might need to use a craft knife to clean up the hole and make it just right for the snap. Be creative. Once you finish this part, you should be able to snap on the strap and it should keep the bed open and not allow it to close on your pet. It can also be removed when you want to travel or close up the bed.

6. Attach feet. Once again, every suitcase is different; you may need to be creative with this step. I attached the painted wooden dolls heads with gorilla glue to the bottom of the suitcase. Clean the area you are gluing very well and sand the area of the wooden dolls head and make sure it has no paint on the contact point. You may also be able to screw the feet on depending on what you are using.

Don’t forget to improvise if you need to! The main objective is to have a comfy cute and unique place for your pet to sleep in. However you arrive at that goal is great! That’s what DIY is all about.


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  • Congratulations to everyone that entered and put the dedication and excitement into creating a DIY project :) That’s what this was all about right! Great job everyone! And Congrats to you Kirsten!

  • I appreciate the prospect of closing a suitcase to cover up a hair-covered pet bed when guests come over. I think I might still want to use the suitcase as a suitcase though (luggage is a little boring these days).
    The entries were all quite creative (and design spongesque), however, I will say that I was a bit disappointed that the contest instructions were so ambiguous. I would imagine that more than a few people worked quite hard only to find out that their pieces didn’t fit the criteria (I know I would have gone a MUCH different route had I known).
    Something to include in next year’s contest description for certain :)

  • I agree with Chris and others above. Thought the contest was a brilliant idea…a chance to see some amazing, unique, fresh, creative projects from all over. When the finalist were revealed, I was also a little disappoint, as we’ve seen so many of these before, and I questioned the “do it yourself” aspect of some on the entries. Q- if you open a jar of spaghetti and heat it up…is that the same as making it from scratch?? But I “made it myself”? I don’t know…something to think about for next time. “DIY” is such a broad category….maybe next time it’s divided into a couple different categories :

    – before & after (using existing objects)
    – replicating high end items (ie…the diy version of the ____ we love, but can’t afford)
    – original ideas/concepts/projects

    Bottom line… it’s so wonderful to see design and DIY getting their day in the sun! And though some of the details may have ruffled some feathers it’s okay….it just shows how passionate people are about the topic.

    Congrats to all the winners, finalist, and entries! Let’s celebrate the “D” part of it….isn’t the “doing” the most fun anyways?? :)

  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Chris and JS—you said it!!!!! This is what I was thinking but didn’t articulate like you did. It was kind of like grade school, when you worked hours on a Science Project only to find out the winners were the kids whose parents “did” the experiment for them or the person who did something that didn’t take a lot of effort, or it was the same ol’ same ol’ volcano explosion. Can you tell I’ve been there before, lol!!!??? I have DS as my homepage and look forward to it every morning with my coffee. So, yes I hold this site in highest regards and was a bit surprised, I guess I was just expecting to have my mind blown away from creativity as many of the entries expressed.

  • I would like to see more of the type of thing that “Susannah’s Shelves” did.

    Taking a very expensive design – that most of us cannot afford – and translating it into something that we can make ourselves.

    Crafty stuff is nice, but I personally would like to see some more -DIY-rip-offs of cool high-end design pieces!

  • Ok, I don’t see what on earth any of these projects have in common with “projects that people’s parents made”- when in fact everyone made these pieces on their own, by hand.

    I get it, you don’t think this was original enough to win, or that the entries weren’t what you were hoping for, but between the Sanjaya comment and the kids science fair comment I think you’re far from “lol” type comments and closer to just being mean to people who obviously put time and effort into work.

    If you have a problem with the contest you should email Design*Sponge rather than taking it out on the winners who did nothing but enter projects they spent a lot of time on.


  • I love the dog,he or shes so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The dog bed not so much.
    I think that it needs more bright colors.

  • I think the bed looks very cool. Good job! I was disappointed by most of the entries, though. (and also in the AT contest) Nothing knocked my socks off. Come on people! Be creative!


  • I just came across this and I have to say, I love this bed. I love the color and the idea. It’s sad that so many people have to put it down and bicker about it as if we were in “grade school”. Honestly, if you have nothing nice to say, just say it once and leave it at that.

    This is a project I actually want to do myself. Congratulations to the winner!

  • Lighten up Pamela… sheesh. As if some contructive criticism cannot be said on terms of the contest as a whole.

  • I like the dog bed. Great job.
    I know my cat would sleep in that bed.

    “Some of simples ideas are the best.”

    I think I will be making one for my cat. Then I will only have to clean one place from cat hair. Thank you for the good idea.

  • I love this bed! I just thought it would be very important to note that you should NEVER keep Gorilla Glue anywhere that your pets will be able to access it. It is very delicious in a dog’s eyes, but if ingested, will cause serious problems requiring emergency surgery. Other than that, great project!

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